At INConversation with Kim Beck, presented by Indiana Humanities, which took place at the newly constructed Alexander Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, the audience listened attentively to a unique conversation. Kim Beck and Lisa Freiman engaged in conversation about Kim Beck’s new art installation at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), Lisa Freiman’s role at the IMA, the future of the 100 Acres at the IMA, and how art and the IMA have shaped Indianapolis as a city. Lisa Freiman, senior curator and chair of the department of contemporary art at the IMA for over 10 years, will be leaving the IMA to start working as the first director of the Institute for Contemporary Art at the Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, VA, starting July 1. Ms. Freiman boldly shook things up at the IMA by updating all the contemporary art collections as well as jumpstarting the creation of the outdoor sculpture park, 100 Acres. (Ms. Freiman mentioned during the course of the conversation that when she started working at the IMA the only “contemporary art” it featured was from the 1960s and thus was determined to bring the museum’s contemporary collection up to date.)
… the event itself was relevant and successful in that it announced the end of an era at one of Indianapolis’ most well-known museums, the IMA
Additionally, both Ms. Freiman and Ms. Beck discussed Ms. Beck’s installation, entitled “NOTICE: A Flock of Signs.” The installation is truly revolutionary in and of itself, not only in its absurdity but also in that it could very well be one of the last installations in the 100 Acres if Ms. Freiman’s replacement does not carry on her legacy of boldly supporting and encouraging contemporary art at the IMA. Ms. Beck explores peripheral space in the 100 Acres, featuring the absurdity of the language of signs. Sometimes the text on the signs in her installation is useful, other times it is simply humorous and points out the obvious. She also features and emphasizes the concept of the authority of park signage via an absurd “voice” stating things like “I see you” and “Precipitation is imminent.” The Alexander Hotel also houses one of Ms. Beck’s pieces, vinyl cutouts of native Indiana weeds, creatively placed upon the windows of the women’s’ restroom. The cutouts insidiously press against the windows, invading the beautiful, clean restroom. Having seen it for myself, the cutouts are larger-than-life and represent the duality of weeds: plant and nuisance.
Thursday, June 6, 6:00-9:00 pm
Meet @ City Market 222 Market St.
plus 4 other bars
The cityscape and technology have changed, but the debated topics for the past 100 years have not. Indiana Humanities is connecting current issues to their historical roots with an interactive bar crawl in downtown Indianapolis. Participants will begin their night in the catacombs hidden beneath the Indianapolis City Market, then will split into four groups to travel to the city’s oldest bar, historic transit hub, and timely watering holes, exploring critical issues along the way. With the knowledge that heavy topics go down easiest with a suitable beverage, issues up for discussion include human sexuality, transit, economic woes, and foreign policy.
“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”- William Faulkner
What: A historic bar crawl through downtown Indianapolis featuring interpreters and performances
When: Thursday, June 6, 6 – 9 p.m. with optional after party to follow
Where: Everyone will begin in the catacombs below the City Market (Free parking available in the lot east of the market). From there, we’ll break up into four groups; everyone will visit the following locations (but not in this exact order) to discuss various topics within a certain decade, and end up back at City Market for an after-party at the new beer garden (weather permitting).
- Slippery Noodle Inn (Decade of discussion: 1890s / Topic: Human Sexuality – includes a Can-Can performance)
- Union Station (Decade of discussion: 1910s / Topic: Transit – exploration of historic station along with transit maps)
- The Historic Canterbury Hotel (Decade of discussion: 1930s / Topic: Economy – Modern Times silent film screening)
- The Libertine (Decade of discussion: 1970s / Topic: Foreign Affairs – DJ Kyle Long will spin 1970s International Music)
Transportation Info: Transportation will be available (via trolley or walking) from City Market to all locations. The parking lot to the east of the City Market will be available (and free), and has adequate parking.
Indiana Humanities, who put on the event, aims to encourage Hoosiers to think, read, and talk (through relevant events and connections to art, grassroots initiatives, local organizations, and more), and provides grants through the National Endowment for the Humanities. An intern for the organization with whom I spoke told me that other events they put on are sometimes a little more provocative, such as the upcoming 1890’s pub crawl featuring, among other things, can-can dancing, which the intern herself researched. On the one hand, the event itself was relevant and successful in that it announced the end of an era at one of Indianapolis’ most well-known museums, the IMA. Without Ms. Freiman to encourage the IMA to think outside the box, the community is left with the exciting task of continuing her legacy by encouraging more artists like Kim Beck to come to Indianapolis and shake things up. On the other hand, the event was unsuccessful in engaging the audience. Though we were encouraged to check out the vinyl cutouts in the restroom as well as Ms. Beck’s installation in 100 Acres, the audience was very much left to listen to the conversation, with not much time at the end to answer questions.
However, the deeper purpose of the event was in fact to discuss the impacts of art in Indianapolis and how its influences have shaped the city. In this way, Indiana Humanities put on a successful event. The Cultural Trail, First Fridays, Final Fridays, and the 46 murals commissioned for the Super Bowl are just some of the many ways in which the Indianapolis community and visitors alike interact with art. The city is growing and so is art in the city. Indianapolis is not just about sports, Hoosier hospitality, the Indy 500, and great food and drink…it’s about art too.
To find out more about Kim Beck’s installation at the IMA, visit http://www.imamuseum.org/special-event/community-days-summer-solstice-celebration
To find out more about Indiana Humanities, visit http://www.indianahumanities.org/
To find out more about Kim Beck and her art, visit http://www.idealcities.com/
To find out more about events and culture in Indianapolis (alternative to NUVO and Provocate websites), visit Sky Blue Window http://www.skybluewindow.org/
To find out more about Lisa Freiman, visit her blog here http://blog.art21.org/2011/02/18/lisa-freiman/