Spotlight: The Monument Circle Motorbike Guy


In general, it’s rather easy to spot the Spark programming on Monument Circle. There are signs designating the various Big Car booths, a wooden sasquatch atop a Wagon of Wonders, a stage for musical performers, etc. However, some of the programming is less conspicuous.

For instance, even if you have visited Spark during Phono Fridays, you may have missed a guy in a tie and dress shirt atop a 1968 Honda CT90 motorbike with a 1980s Sanyo boom box in tow, and two cassettes taped to his motorcycle helmet. Fear not, the free cassettes he offers onlookers do not serve as bait. He’s not crazy, at least not in any dangerous or threatening way. He’s an artist named Stuart Hyatt.


“Just for fun, I kind of dress like somebody who’s on their lunch break from their insurance executive job,” Hyatt says. “The kids don’t even know what these weird things are with this magnetic tape. They love it though.”

Each Friday during Spark, Hyatt cruises around Monument Circle at an average speed of four miles per hour on his motorbike for nearly two hours. Occasionally he stops to disperse random cassette tapes supplied by local record store, LUNA Music. “They’ve just got bins of them,” Hyatt says of LUNA. “I cannot vouch for the quality of music that I’m giving away. There’s a lot of hair metal bands. It’s purely a fun thing.”

Hyatt got the idea for his Spark contribution during trips to Africa and Latin America. “These amazing, resourceful people turn these little motor bikes into stores, basically,” Hyatt says. “It’s something you don’t really see in the states. It’s everything. It could be a refrigerator repairman, but on these vintage motorbikes that have been cobbled together with thread and used vegetable oil. So, it was kind of that wacky resourcefulness of the developing world mixed with the tradition of punk, hip-hop and DIY culture of pedaling tapes out of your trunk. I mean, I love that. … It’s supposed to just put a smile on people’s faces.”

When he’s not cruising around the Circle, Hyatt can likely be found collecting field recordings for his various sound art projects. He’s in the midst of releasing a five-album series of site-specific recordings under the name of Field Works. You may have caught wind of his work on the Indy Sound Map. His most recent LP featuring sounds collected at Pogue’s Run will premiere at LUNA on Sunday, September 13.

Hyatt is very serious about his Field Works project, but his contribution to Spark is more laid back. “It’s just one of those things that puts a smile on people’s faces,” he says. “I kind of bop my head, but I also try to be a good, corporate executive who just had to bust out for a few hours.”

“People talk a lot about food deserts in our city,” Hyatt says. “I just want to make sure there aren’t any cassette deserts either.”


Phono Fridays brings music to Monument Circle


By Rob Peoni, Spark Writer in Residence

For those that don’t know, the city of Indianapolis is using Spark Monument Circle to experiment with placemaking initiatives and evaluate the optimal use of its most prominent public space. In a broader sense, Spark also serves as a case study in Big Car’s mission to “bring art to people and people to art, sparking creativity in lives to transform communities.” Much of the Spark programming is possible to ignore, if that’s your prerogative. That will prove much more difficult with the onset of Phono Fridays, when Spark programming features a full afternoon of live performances spotlighting Central Indiana’s diverse musical offerings.

“I’ve always liked to describe Monument Circle as Indianapolis’ front yard,” says Patrick Burtch, co-organizer of Virginia Avenue Folk Fest and one of Spark’s musical curators. “It’s where visitors go. It’s our most visible, iconic spot in the entire city. It’s really awesome to have our name connected with an organization like Big Car and Monument Circle to put some music that we really like out there. Hopefully, this will become more of a regular thing. It’s just too perfect of a spot for music in particular, I think, to not take advantage of that.”

Phono Friday Schedule: August 14th

  • Noon – 12:30: Classical Music Indy presents Sarah Shreko and Deb Shebish
  • 12:30 -1:30: Musical Family Tree presents Caleb McCoach
  • 4 – 5pm: Rhythm! Discovery Center presents drum circle & percussion demonstration
  • 5 – 6pm: Musical Family Tree presents Rachel & Jonny
  • 6 – 7pm: Virginia Ave. Folk Fest presents Isle of Manhattan

Burtch and his partner Mike Angel are fond of Big Car’s approach to turning atypical venues and public spaces into artistic destinations. This shared vision has led the duo to try some innovative promotional techniques for their music business. Like pulling Kentucky’s Buffalo Rodeo down Virginia Ave. through Fountain Square while the band performed on a trailer or performing on a rooftop during First Friday. “Pat and I both have rebellious spirit,” Angel says. “We’re not going to ask for permission to do things like pull a band around on a trailer. If a band wants to do it, we’re gonna do it.”

Listen to Caleb McCoach ahead of his performance tomorrow:

Phono Fridays will kickoff at noon each week, with programming provided by four different curators. The curators include Musical Family Tree, Virginia Ave. Folk Fest, Classical Music Indy and Rhythm! Discovery Center. “We definitely wanted it to be family-friendly and all-ages friendly, but also wanted to incorporate as many genres as we could,” Musical Family Tree executive director Jon Rogers says of his approach to programming. “Keeping the line-up diverse in terms of having different ethnicities, genders, even different ages of musicians… I think we collaborated to get a line-up that was a good representation of the whole city in different ways.”

All of the Phono Fridays curators were excited about the prospect of bringing music to an audience they may not reach on a regular basis. “There’s a lot of people around here who don’t know what kind of music we have to offer,” Angel says. “It will be a good chance for them to realize that there are really talented people around here.”

Rogers reiterated that sentiment, saying, “That’s one of the main reasons I was attracted to [Spark], because we would be able to reach a different audience – say, people who work downtown and come out for lunch or happy hour. I’m assuming with all the other programming that Big Car and Spark are doing, that there will be increased interest as this thing goes on and continues to build. It’s an exciting opportunity.”