Newsflash: This capital city is much more than motorsports, football and basketball. While Indianapolis is great for all things sports-related, that’s not all it’s good for. In fact, it arguably offers one of the most notable up-and-coming art scenes in the country. Here are four ways Indy is challenging its “sports town” stereotype and why it’s worth visiting for its art scene alone.
The NDY sculptures are arguably some of the coolest forms of art that the city has to offer. Upon first glance, it appears as if the town’s name has been misspelled; the “I” is missing! But that’s because this sculpture invites YOU to be in the “I” in Indy.
You can find this interactive art form at the Indianapolis International Airport, the intersection of Mass Ave and Alabama Street and in the Lucas Oil Stadium.
2. Ann Dancing and Other Downtown Sculptures
While Indy is traditionally associated with sports (go Colts!), the city is a surreptitious art mecca. Aside from their already popular Indiana World War Memorial and Soldiers and Sailors Monument–which, I must add are quite magnificent and worth visiting–Indy’s streets are full of uniquely-crafted contemporary artwork.
“Ann Dancing” is one of these sculptures and is located on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an internationally-acclaimed trail system that connects all six of Indy’s cultural districts. Ann Dancing is made of four LED panels that emit Ann, as she sways side-to-side in an entrancing, yet elegant dancing motion.
Also located along Indy’s Cultural Trail is the beautiful “Looking Through Windows” sculpture, the Glick Peace Walk and, my personal favorite, “Chatham Passage.” This work of art is best described as an experience, as it requests the engagement of more than one sense. The passage includes fairy-like LED lighting, a sunken concrete vault, an artfully-crafted steel grate and a scent machine.
When I arrived in Indy, the last thing I thought I’d find was a world-class art museum and nature park all wrapped up into one. But that’s exactly what Newfields is. The Newfields campus is actually over 150 acres of rich gardens, a beautiful sculpture park, a historic home, art galleries and exhibits, performance spaces and even a nature preserve. It’s home to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the historic Lilly House, The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park and a working greenhouse and orchard. So, yes, it’s not your traditional art museum–it’s so much more.
Located just 15 minutes from downtown Indy by car, Newfields is easily accessible via a taxi, Uber or Lyft. I recommend planning an entire day to spend at this vast mecca of nature and art. Don’t worry, they have a fantastic café that can cater to just about anyone’s dietary needs.
The IMA exhibits at Newfields include over 50,000 works of art, including the original “Love” sculpture by Robert Indiana. My favorite exhibit, The Design Gallery, will be on display until late July 2019. It showcases more than 150 pieces of modern and contemporary design. From funky couches to an innovative vacuum, it’s not your typical exhibit, but that’s what makes it all the more enjoyable. It even includes a Design Lab where guests can design their own prototypes using analog and digital tools. Also worth visiting is the only piece of art in the museum that you can touch. Yes, you can actually place your palm on the piece of work and feel what the artist has created. (This is not located in the Design Gallery, however.)
Take note: You cannot visit Newfields without strolling through The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. (Like I said, plan out an entire day here so you don’t have to miss anything.) It is one of the largest museum art parks in the country, and includes “Funky Bones,” a large fiberglass sculpture that was popularized by the young adult fiction novel (and film), “A Fault in Our Stars” by John Green.
4. The Alexander
There is nothing better than coming back to a chic hotel with a warm bed surrounded by luxurious furnishings and, you guessed it, more incredible art, after a long day out on the town. The Alexander, A Dolce Hotel, presents unparalleled hospitality and more than 40 works of art curated by the IMA and even more commissioned pieces on top of that. The hotel is simply breathtaking and the artwork is unlike any that I’ve ever experienced in a hotel.