Offsite curatorial projects and partnerships
Mari Evans Mural
Several cultural and community partners worked together to complete a mural honoring Indianapolis-based poet and artist, Mari Evans — one of the founders of the Black Arts Movement. The mural is located at 448 Massachusetts Ave. on the southeast end of the historic Davlan. Evans selected artist Michael Jordan, aka ALKEMI, to paint the large, photo-realistic portrait. The project is funded by a grant from The Indiana Arts Commission as part of the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration and with support of The Efroymson Family Fund and in partnership with Riley Area Development. Born in 1919 in Toledo, Ohio, Evans has called Indianapolis home since 1947. See pictures of the mural in process and completed here. Read coverage by The Indianapolis Star, USA Today (via The Star), and NUVO — also a Best of Indy editors’ pick.
Our curator Shauta Marsh started meeting with Mari Evans, March of 2015 to start a series of projects raising awareness of Evans. “We are excited about championing a project that highlights Mari Evans’ work because we noticed that not enough people in our city and state know about her and her unique and powerful voice,” said Marsh. “Mari’s work paved the way for minority writers. And she truly represents the diversity of our state as a powerful role model for young people. While male artists like Kurt Vonnegut and Wes Montgomery are memorialized in public art pieces around Indianapolis, Mari’s legacy was not yet visible. We’re thrilled to be able to help change that.”
Big Car chose the historic Davlan building for the mural’s location due to the high traffic of the area and its proximity to a mural of Evan’s contemporary, Kurt Vonnegut. Eric Strickland of Riley Area Development, which owns the building, views the mural as an important addition to Mass Ave, “It ensures that culture and diversity remain an important aspect of the district,” says Strickland.
Another partner on the project is the The Links, Incorporated. “We the members of the Indianapolis Chapter of Links have long been admirers of Mari Evans—she leads with excellence and serves with grace….Indianapolis is blessed to have someone of her character and talent among us, ” says president of the Indianapolis chapter of the organization, Jarnell Burks-Craig. The Links is a volunteer service organization of concerned, committed and talented women who, linked in friendship, enhance the quality of life in the larger community, is concerned primarily with enriching, sustaining and ensuing the identities, culture and economic survival of African-Americans and persons of African descent.
In addition to the mural, Big Car commissioned an art exhibit from artist Carl Pope related to Evans work that opened Nov. 5, 2016 at Tube Factory artspace.
About Mari Evans
Mari Evans’ mother passed away when Evans was 10 years old. Her father immediately felt the need to encourage her in any way he could, cultivating her talent of writing that would later serve as her main career focus.
After attending public schools in her hometown of Toledo, Ohio, Evans attended the University of Toledo in the 1940s where she studied fashion design, but left without a degree. Her interests shifted to writing poetry and by 1969 she was a writer-in-residence at Indiana University where she taught courses in African American Literature.
An influential member of the 1960s Black Arts movement, which included Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni and Etheridge Knight, Mari published in 1969 her first work Where Is All the Music?, followed by her more famous I Am a Black Woman (1970). During this time Evans also worked as a producer, writer, and director of The Black Experience (1968-1973) – a history documentary that aired on prime time in Indianapolis. She also worked in theatre, adapting the musical “Eyes” (1979) from Zora Neale Hurston’s novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” as well as writing a choreopoem, “River of My Song” and a one-woman theatre piece called “Boochie.”
Her books for children include “Dear Corinne, Tell Somebody! Love, Annie: A Book about Secrets” (1999), “Singing Black: Alternative Nursery Rhymes for Children” (1998, illustrated by Ramon Price).
Evans also served as a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts from 1969 to 1970. She published two collections of her poetry, “Nightstar: 1973-1978” (1981) and “A Dark and Splendid Mass” (1992). In 1984, she edited the first significant collection of black women’s poetry – the groundbreaking Black Women Writers (1950-1980). A new book of poetry “Continuum” was released in 2015.
Evans has taught at a number of other institutions including Cornell, Northwestern, Washington University in St. Louis, Spelman College, the University of Miami at Coral Gables, and the State University of New York at Albany. But she is best known for her poetry with her work has appearing in more than one hundred anthologies. Most of that work focuses on the celebration of Africa and the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement as well as other themes bringing to light the reality of the African American experience. These projects were largely influenced by close friend Langston Hughes, who pushed Evans to write with confidence and to evolve into a well-respected figure in the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The most important of her countless awards for writing came in 1981 when she received the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Award.
About Michael Jordan, a.k.a. ALKEMI
Jordan is a professional artist and poet living and working in Indianapolis for over 40 years. Norman Rockwell and Salvador Dali are among his influences and he has completed over 40 murals, including one for the Arts Council of Indianapolis’s 46 for XLVI. Jordan’s work has been part of both group and solo exhibitions at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, Indiana Black Expo Fine Arts Pavilion, Crispus Attucks African American Museum, Jefferson Gallery, Central Library’s Meet The Artists, Athenaeum, the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, etc. He has lectured at Indiana University, Purdue University- Indianapolis, several high school and is a published writer.
The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of nearly 14,000 professional women of color in 280 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.
Big Car participated a long-term partnership 2009-2015 with the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA) via our Design For Good program. During that time we also partnered with iMOCA to bring several exhibits and performances to Indianapolis. When the organization lost it's space in the Murphy Arts Center we hosted their exhibition Museum of The Odd and Real, in 2017 in our Jeremy D. Efroymson Gallery.
The truth is out there. And so is the art. In partnership with Big Car, we bring the work of 13 contemporary artists exploring the idea of UFOs and the paranormal to the Tube Factory at 1125 Cruft Street.
Museum of Real and Odd, curated by Jeremy Efroymson, was a commissioned exhibit with artists from around the country making new work for the show. After an open call for submissions received 250 proposals, Efroymson selected the 13 artists: Nayda Collazo-Llorens in collaboration with Ander Monson, Scott Raymond & Heather Abels, Jennifer Scheuer, Ed SYKES, Robert Thurlow, Katy Unger, Alex Grabiec, Julio Orta, Pato Hebert, Cassandra Klos, Josh Haines, and Michael Jordan, aka Alkemi.
Brent Green’s Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then is based on a true story and expressed through hand-drawn imagery, live action, live music, and stop-motion animation, Brent Green’s Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then tells the tale of a man named Leonard who fought against reason and nature to create a miracle that would save his wife from a terminal illness. Heartbreaking romantic, darkly humorous, and philosophically challenging, Green contemplates everything from the power of human will and the futility of our actions to the vastness of space and the existence of God. Gravity is Everywhere Back Then cuts from the film to live music performed by the director and his band (including Brendan Canty/Fugazi; Todd Chandler/Dark Dark Dark; Drew Henkels/Drew and the Medicinal Pen) using the film as a backdrop, with sequences contributed by award-winning American filmmaker Jem Cohen (Benjamin Smoke, Instrument, Museum Hours).
Bodies of Waters, an exhibition inspired by characters in John Waters films created by top pop surrealist artists: Elizabeth McGrath, Glenn Barr, Amy Casey, Paul Chatem, Ken Garduno, Lisa Petrucci, Aunia Kahn, Yumiko Kayukwaw, Floyd Jaquay, Shaunna Peterson, Casey Roberts, Mab Graves, Philip Campbell, Kristen Ferrell, Jacqueline Pichardo,Angie Mason, and Danielle de Picciotto .
Color Me______: We all like to have fun. We all like to play. And we all remember the simple joy of transforming black and white pages into visions of vibrant color. Humorous and welcoming, the work of Andy J. Miller and Andrew Neyer connects people of all ages to fond memories of uninhibited and youthful creativity, to a time and place when the world was at the disposal of our imaginations. By inviting everyone to participate — to color — the work becomes a true collaboration, a game, and a chance for us all to harken back to our youth — something surrealist Andre Breton considered crucial to a life well-lived. “If man retains some lucidity, he cannot help turning back towards his childhood which, spoiled though it was by his trainers, seems to him to be full of charms,” Breton wrote. “Every morning children leave without anxiety. All is ready, the worst material conditions are excellent. The woods are white or black, they will never go to sleep.
Sublime is Not a Guilty Pleasure — Pieces of a Man Living Next Door to Nathaniel Hammond: The world of Benny Sanders is a funny place: humorous, strange, surreal, crazy, sad, and sometimes lonely. And he often shares his real-world experiences — along with the thoughts in his head — in the virtual world, through Facebook updates and Tweets. This exhibit brings together these ideas and impressions with the street-video work of Nathaniel Hammond. Like Sanders, Hammond is an observer of Indianapolis — allowing his camera to reflect the people and energy of this city he wanders, often by bicycle. And the video by Hammond gives viewers an inside perspective of what goes on in his mind — and through his camera — on a daily basis. The exhibit also includes a book by Sanders written to commemorate the “bewildering times and awful memories” of living with a group of people next door to Hammond (one of the most inspiring people Sanders has met). The text and photos for the book come from online posts Sanders made in the last five years.
Rutherford Chang’s We Buy White Albums: It looks like a record store. But upon closer inspection visitors will discover that the store only stocks one title: The Beatles’ “White Album.” And nothing is for sale. In fact, Rutherford Chang is interested in buying more copies. Pursuing an interest in exhaustive cataloguing, Chang has collected over 750 first-pressings of “The White Album,” featuring an all-white cover designed by Richard Hamilton. He considers the serialized first-press, an edition running in excess of 3 million, to be the ultimate collector’s item, and aims to amass as many copies as possible. Chang has created an archive, listening library, and anti-store to house and grow his collection of the Beatles’ iconic record. The album covers are weathered, often with marks or writing from previous owners, and the vinyl discs are usually scratched or warped. The character of each copy, distinctly shaped by its history, is told through the physicality of the media. This phenomenon, at the cusp of extinction due to digital technologies, is made apparent by the identical yet unique multiples that comprise Chang’s collection.
The Opposite of Lost: Indianapolis-based artist and musician Nathaniel Russell created an exhibit of “fake fliers.” Most are about imaginary lost or found things. Some are offbeat and funny, others touching or mysterious. Some of these fliers have been posted online to later appear, anonymously, in cities around the world. Nathaniel Russell makes drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, photos, and music. After receiving an undergraduate degree in printmaking, he spent several years in the bay area making poster, record covers, and woodcuts. He now splits his time between central Indiana and northern California, where he spends most of his time creating large drawings, silkscreens and wooden cut-outs. His work has been shown internationally, including solo and group exhibitions in San Francisco, New York, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Tokyo. His design work has been seen on numerous t-shirts, record sleeves, and posters throughout the world. Nathaniel also regularly updates his blog, Crooked Arm, with new drawings, photos, and sketches.
We conducted series of artist exchange exhibitions in Bloomington, Indy, and Iowa City. The exhibition is part of the Big Car Collective’s ongoing project to visit other cities and towns and create shows about these places from our outside perspective. Outside/In is about discovery, spontaneity and the importance of perspective and place. This program will start back up fall of 2018.
Iowa City, Iowa
A project and show at Public Space One opened on May 1, 2009 in Iowa City, Iowa. The show titled “Iowa?” featured work by artists Cindy Hinant, Jeremy Efroymson, Anna Rae Landsman, Tre Reising, Todd Bracik and Jim Walker. This is part of Big Car Collective’s ongoing exchange program where Indianapolis artists go to other cities to do shows made in those cities and from those cities. Artists from Iowa City did their part of the exchange in Indianapolis in February of 2008.
As part of his ongoing Outside/In project, Walker showed photos taken in Highland, IN and in Indianapolis at Uncle Freddy’s Gallery in Highland in a two-person show with local painter Jim McKern. The show opened on March 14, 2009.
Bloomington, IN (Art Hospital)
For this show, we focused on the south-Bloomington neighborhood surrounding the Art Hospital location and the town as a whole. Participants included: John Clark, Shauta Marsh, Anne Laker, Jim Walker, Matt Hale, Tre Reising, Jeremy Efroymson, Erin K. Drew, Robert Meko and NERS. Also, Normanoak performed live on the back porch. Work included photography, drawing, video, collage, installation, poetry and audio.