2014, The Year in Review

citygallerybillboard2 for webphoto by Justin Vining


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If you have traveled north on Delaware Street in 2014, you probably noticed a change at 16th Street.  Always looking for new ways to celebrate place, we decided to reclaim the billboard at this busy intersection and use it as a “frame” for local art. Each featured painting has told a story that celebrates Indianapolis. This first foray into public art spawned others for us—a five-piece interactive sculpture installation at low-income housing complex 16 Park, playful Lego installations that filled potholes and replaced missing bricks on abandoned buildings, two new murals and, by popular demand, another billboard art piece at 22nd and College. Art changes things and our neighborhood has never been more vibrant.

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The Harrison Center is an important gathering place where we build community through the arts.  Our July exhibit, Porch Party, featured not only paintings of neighbors congregating on their porches, but porch swings and macramé plant hangers as well. With partners Downtown Indy and Urban Times, we invited the community to join us in a city-wide porch party later that month.  Hundreds participated and we received many blogs and photos documenting the festivities. We built on this success by launching a fall City Suppers series. More art, more food and more community.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on these initiatives and more.

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In August, we hosted a crowd of 400 who heard five finalists present innovative arts ideas in the Indy 5x5 Ideas Competition.  Kristopher Owens won the $10,000 prize with his “Overwhelming Underpass” project that, with the help of the Arts Council of Indianapolis, will enliven 11th and Alabama in the Old Northside neighborhood.  The 5x5 was part of a series funded by the Central Indiana Community Foundation, the Efroymson Family Fund and the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation. We are grateful to the many partner organizations that helped make this event a success: Urban Times, Two21, Sun King, Indy Reads Books, Downtown Indy, and Leadership Indianapolis.

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Leila Vanest and Evelyn Allee, 2014 IMAF interns Jason Moore, Mike Williams aka KPMixtape

We continue to marvel at the talents of the high school and college students who participate in our Cultural Entrepreneur Internship Program.  This year, Leila, 16, and Evelyn, 16, planned our Apparatus Independent Music + Art Festival and over 7000 attended.  Others blogged, wrote music, made videos, helped with mailings and planned events. “Big Mike,” 15, and college student Jason expanded our place-based music portfolio to include rap with KPMixtape, a hip-hop neighborhood history project. These placed based pieces can be found here.

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We hosted New York City, Chattanooga, North Carolina, and even Wyoming artists for residencies. NYC’s Asa Gauen’s magical video series, “Studio Visits” spotlighted HCA artists Erin Hüber, Bobby Gilbreath, Carolyn Springer, Allison Ford, Atsu Kpotufe, Josh Rush, Kipp Normand and Johnny McKee.


Art intern Emily designed envelopes for our annual mailing and interns helped to block stamp over 4000 pieces.  This was a highly ambitious and involved process that demonstrates both artistic mark-making capabilities and our organization’s ability to turn just about anything into a creative project.

Our ongoing partnership with Herron High School is thriving. This includes Summer Academe, which offered arts-infused academic classes, internships, and community service projects for over 575 students from 34 different schools June through August.  Support from the Summer Youth Program Fund helps this program grow each year.

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Our four galleries presented over 50 new exhibits throughout the year, including the thought-provoking installation “Intersection” by Anila Agha, whose wood-cut lantern cast beautiful shadows on our gallery walls.  Another stellar event was “Cities & the Field,” a unique sound installation and album debut by Grammy-nominated interdisciplinary media artist Stuart Hyatt.

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We celebrate the successes of our talented HCA artists.  Quincy Owens traveled to India and Romania for residencies while Kyle Ragsdale participated in his 7th Vermont Studio residency. Quincy and Kyle’s work was also accepted for the second time at ArtPrize, an international art competition that takes place in Grand Rapids, MI. Justin Vining was featured creating a painting of the Indianapolis skyline in a time-lapse video produced by Indy Partnership to promote Central Indiana’s innovative, creative and business-friendly culture. Check out our blog at harrisoncenter.org for updates on our artists and exhibits.

The work of the City Gallery focused on creative place-making in partnership with ArtPlace America. This grant and partnerships with the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership and the Central Indiana Community Foundation enabled us to offer over 60 art and community programs, and continue to do what we do best—connect people to culture, community and place to strengthen core neighborhoods. You can explore these efforts through our website, citygalleryindy.org.

We especially benefitted in 2014 from the encouragement of friends like the Lilly Endowment, Allen Whitehill Clowes Foundation, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, Central Indiana Community Foundation, the City of Indianapolis, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Indiana Arts Commission and individual givers like you who have helped us build capacity in new media, renovate the VSA exhibit hallways, and continue our programming as a stable and safe place to support the work of emerging artists.

The Harrison Center is more than a building to showcase creativity and is more than a space for artists to produce their work.  The Harrison Center provides a refreshing, ambitious model that uses the arts as a platform for holistic community development and cultural renewal. Week after week, we are invited to share the Harrison Center’s story and in 2014 we have done just that in Philadelphia, Charlottesville, Columbus, and Delhi, India as well as at civic and academic gatherings in central Indiana.

This year we are seeking to raise $150,000 for our annual fund.  This is a daunting task, but it can happen with the help of individuals and corporations who love art and community and understand how vital they are to our city’s cultural future.  Your help will keep us moving forward—building our place-based programming to strengthen Indianapolis’ urban neighborhoods, raising up cultural entrepreneurs, supporting emerging artists, growing emerging patrons, continuing to host the billboard at 16th and Delaware and offering some of the city’s best-attended art exhibitions.

Please consider supporting us with a donation.  You can visit our website at www.harrisoncenter.org and click “donate.”  You can also support us by attending our events (with your friends!), purchasing work from our artists, or “gifting” this opportunity to your loved ones with a gift certificate. In some capacity, big or small, we hope you will join us in this exciting work.