What the Harrison Center Does
“I want to live in a place where I can have an open door. I walk down Bellefontaine and find what I’ve been looking for.”
from Good Health by Paul Smallman
On Saturday evening, I sat in the City Gallery watching shoppers making their last impulse buys from the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange. I saw quirky T-shirts, laugh-out-loud cards, gorgeous jewelry, hand carved pipes and kitchen utensils. Literally thousands of people strolled through, munching on caramel corn from Just Pop In and Chocolate-Merlot ice cream from Lick. “The Pinstripes,” final band of the night, struck up outside to wild enthusiasm at the 12th annual IMAF (Independent Music + Art Festival). The chairman of our board was out there with his teenage daughter. College students home for the summer mingled with young professionals, grandparents, families with kids, prominent local businessmen . . . even the mayor. It was a beautiful example of what we at the City Gallery celebrate on a daily basis -- very diverse people building community here in Indianapolis.
IMAF is one of the most visible events that we pull off, but it’s really a reflection of what happens here every single day of the year. No, we don’t have class act bands playing all the time and a beer truck parked outside. But every day, people come in like they did on Saturday to ask about how to live in downtown Indianapolis. A builder and contractor came in who wanted to build in the new King Park development. This area has been targeted as the State’s Rebuilding Neighborhoods project, and will receive up to $20 million in construction money in the next few years. A young professional woman who is thinking of moving her law practice to Indianapolis wanted to know where she should buy a house. She loves the vibe, but she wants to feel safe. A couple with two toddlers and a high school son wanted to talk about moving downtown from the suburbs. The wife said, “I come to First Friday, but this was different . . . more community. I loved it.” Her older son is one of our talented high school interns.
As part of our long partnership with Herron High School, the Harrison Center for the Arts has several high school interns throughout the year. They assist us in the day to day running of the Arts center, but they also create video content for our website and facebook pages, publish photo essays featuring our artists, and sometimes take on the management of huge events. IMAF was coordinated this year by high school intern, Brandon Lott. This summer we’ve added several college interns, including Paul Smallman, a singer/songwriter who is writing a song a week celebrating our downtown neighborhoods; Andrew Christenberry, a business/marketing major who is helping in our office; Kathryn Allison, a talented artist who is redesigning our mailings; and Maddie Zook, an artist from IU who is working on a huge community development project in conjunction with the King Park Area Development Corporation. Also this summer, Pattern magazine, Indianapolis’s own fashion magazine, has moved their operations here to the Harrison Center. They have a great group of fashion merchandising and design interns from IU, Butler and Purdue that bring their energy to the magazine and to our building for the summer.
Our office is abuzz with joy. Several neighbors stop in regularly for a cup of coffee, maybe pull out a sketchbook and draw for a bit, or help us with odd jobs. It’s summertime! Stop in and see what’s happening here . . . our door is open.