On my trip to Indy, I visited a few art museums. And while the art you can pay for is intriguing, I was most impressed with the free art in Indianapolis, which you can find along the Cultural Trail and in the wonderful art exhibitions in two hotels: the Conrad and the Alexander.
Free Art in Indianapolis
While the exhibits are constantly rotating at the Conrad, the collection in the lobby, at the time of my visit, featured David Datuna’s strange, yet captivating medium: newspaper clippings and eyeglass lenses. Datuna had pasted newspaper clippings to the backs of large boxes and then covered the open front with eyeglass lenses. The result refracts the clips and presents various images through the lenses, mainly blurry American flags or the CC symbol of Chanel.
The Conrad also had a few cool pieces by Whitfield Lovell.
While the Conrad’s art fits the frame beautifully, the Alexander’s works literally burst from the walls. Standing waves built from acrylic refracted every color of the rainbow, which changed depending on time of day or where you stood. To get to the second floor lobby, walk beneath Jorge Pardo’s 99 lamps. The number 99 is a salute to Indy’s urban planner, Alexander Rolston, who is the namesake of the hotel and who labeled the site where the building stands as plat 99. (Plat 99 is also the name of the hotel’s cocktail bar that features famed mixologist Michael Gray’s tasty and artful libations along with menu covers that are each a simple work of art. Downstairs is Cerulean, one of Indy’s best restaurants, serving up food that can pass as art.)
All of the pieces displayed in the Alexander tell a story of the state. Visitors will find 3,840 overlapping and hanging combs that the artist Sonya Clark used as her medium to depict the likeness of Indianapolis’s most famous woman, the first female US millionaire, Madame CJ Walker, who had built her fortune in the beauty industry.
Paul Villinski had carved and bent his old record collection to form birds exploding from an old record player, trapping themselves in flight upon the white hotel walls. The bird closest to the record player was crafted from a Jackson album, paying tribute to the family from Gary, Indiana.
Another wall looks like it had been slashed open to reveal an aerial view of the many quadrilateral cuts of farmland that make up much of the state. The most time I spent consuming a piece of work was when I stood before Mark Fox’s laser cut stainless steel collage. It’s a confusion of words and phrases that reference historical and scientific information that allude to Indy.
Take a look at Fox’s piece. What can you make out about Indy from his stream-of-consciousness piece?