View Post
Sample the work of 65 composers, video artists, and poets on Monument Circle, Oct. 19

Sample the work of 65 composers, video artists, and poets on Monument Circle, Oct. 19

SPARK has always been about showcasing the work of artists of all types in the Circle City in our favorite public places. But on Wednesday, October 19, from 6 to 9 p.m., we’re taking that idea to the max in a way that’s never been done before. In a very short time span, you can sample the commissioned work of about 65 local artists: musicians, composers, video artists, and poets. Like all SPARK programs, it’s free.

What a Wednesday is an assemblage of experiences:

Evening Embers — Let the ambient sounds of new compositions and improvisations by Indianapolis-based musicians Jordan Munson and Rob Funkhouser wash over you, through the Monument Circle sound system. Starts at 6 pm.

Public Art Tour — Inspired by the recent Public Art Census produced by Rokh – a cultural equity research & design studio – take a tour highlighting Downtown’s public works by artists of the global majority (Black-Diaspora, Asian, Latinx, dual-heritage, Indigenous, and Women). Tour led by artist Greg Rose. Starts at 6 pm.

Circle Anthology — At 7 pm, 27 poets share the (up to) 200 words they write to respond to the history, spirit, and symbols of the Circle. A sample from Lasana Kazembe’s wartime:

history comes a-calling
demanding it be listened to
dissected dealt with
who whose
lives that
gave their lives as
sun and sea do or
once did? who? sons?
sons of ones?

The roster includes Kazembe, Chantal Massey, JL Kato, Alessandra Lynch, Nasreen Khan, Karen Kovacik, Mitchell Douglas, and many more. Read all their poems here. The poems will air later on WQRT FM from the Monument Circle speakers as part of the Circle Sounds series. Hear all of the poems here.

The Indianapolis Review Editor Natalie Solmer and Big Car Executive Director Jim Walker invited the participating poets.

No More No Place — Curated and organized by Indianapolis multimedia artist and IUPUI professor Jordan Munson, this audio-visual collage pairs two-minute instrumental audio works by local composers with eclectic video art beamed onto Monument Circle’s ten-story projection system and played through the 360-degree speakers. The show kicks off at about 8 p.m. See the trailer here.

The cumulative power of the work, Jordan says, is the best way to bust the old myth of “India-No-Place” once and for all.

“It has been an amazing opportunity curating such a large collection of works from Indianapolis musicians and filmmakers,” says Jordan. “It has once again confirmed for me that this city has a deep and diverse pool of talent in our creative community. More than many people realize.”

Jordan enjoyed selecting whose sounds to pair with whose images—and the surprising, stylistic effects created, from intense to contemplative. Jordan hopes the project will “spark” conversation and future collaboration among the artists involved. He also believes No More No Place paints a fairly broad picture of Indianapolis. “We are all experiencing the same place, but in often wholly different ways.”

With mammoth-sized projection, immersive sound, and so much local creativity, No More No Place couldn’t happen anywhere else but Monument Circle. Or Indianapolis.

Share What a Wednesday on Facebook.

ABOUT SPARK: SPARK Monument Circle is presented by Big Car Collaborative, Downtown Indy Inc., and the City of Indianapolis — with support from the Capital Improvement Board and the Indiana War Memorials Commission. The goal is to spark Monument Circle with art, games, music, and socializing. SPARK at the Circle goes through Friday, October 28— Mondays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday evenings 5-8 p.m., and Fridays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.


View Post
Sounding a Space: Evening Embers at Monument Circle

Sounding a Space: Evening Embers at Monument Circle

by Rob Funkhouser

Living near and working downtown, and growing up in Indiana in general, I always took Monument Circle for granted. On the face of it, it’s a cool architectural hub, but it’s also a big traffic roundabout, when it isn’t being shut down for American Ninja Warrior. What I thought the least about in general was the sound there. Sure, there are speakers everywhere, but, up until recently, the most interesting musical moment for me was walking around the Circle near Christmas and playing a game with my buddy trying to recognize which song the muzak engine was trying to imitate. 

Even during the original iteration of Spark, in the halcyon days of 2015, when I had the chance to perform on the Circle, the experience was one that felt like glorified busking, playing near the edge of something magnificent, but short of the center. That all changed for me when I played on the Circle earlier this year when Spark started up again. Playing a sound on the central sound system in that space as an artist is a revelation, and gets at the heart of what music can do when it is effectively married to a space.

Evening Embers, which takes place each Wednesday evening at 6:30 through October 26, has been a study in just how easily a space can become an immersive experience when sound becomes a dominant factor in the environment. It has been a chance to allow artists to hear themselves in a way they probably never considered, and for people to engage with the peace of the quieter spots in the central grounds. Throughout the series so far, we’ve heard artists that live right in the zone where the beauty of the sound has equal standing with the content of the music to completely transform the atmosphere of Monument Circle from that of traffic din, to a space of deep calm and exploration. 

Performances so far have included Landon Caldwell creating a collage of sound from woodwinds, voice, and sampled instruments, Mark Tester building a whole world out of a single synthesizer, Michael Raintree playing glacially paced abstractions of his songs, Airport People’s plaintive tunes, and Clare Longendyke playing a set that reached back to the very beginnings of ambient music. Most recently, DJ Little Town breathed some drum-heavy life into the series with an hour-long mix of varied instrumentals.

Clare Longendyke performing at Evening Embers, 9/14/22.  Photo by Jim Walker.

And there’s more to come: 

October 12 – Jordan Munson and Rob Funkhouser in duo preceding a huge night of art including an anthology reading of poems written about Monument Circle, and the premiere of No More No Place, which features 40 of Indianapolis’ most talented composers and videographers paired together for shorts to be projected via the Circle’s ten-story building projector.

October 19 – Composer and performer Hanna Benn will bring a touch of the sacred in her vocal improvisations.

October 26 – Classical Music Indy is partnering with SPARK for a screening of the 1920 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with a live score by Jennifer Page, flute; Eric Salazar, bass clarinet; Allison Vickery, piano; and yours truly on percussion. 

It is my hope that as many people as possible will come to experience the art of sound at Monument Circle for themselves and see the possibilities that imagination can bring. 

Because, whether you like the art itself or not, hearing it in such a massive context will change the way you view the space, will hopefully open up new ways of thinking about public space, and, perhaps most important of all, it will be interesting.

Landon Caldwell performs at Evening Embers, 9/21/22

View Post
All the SPARK details for Fall!

All the SPARK details for Fall!

We at Big Car are teaming up with Downtown Indy and the City of Indianapolis — with support from the Capital Improvement Board and the Indiana War Memorials Commission — to spark Monument Circle with human-scale activities like games, live music, artmaking, and socializing in a comfortable place. Everything is free for people to enjoy. 

We’ll be going through the end of October — Mondays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. In September: we add 5-9 pm Wednesdays and Circle SPARK Festival on Oct. 22-23 (Saturday and Sunday). Our last day will be Oct. 28. Find us at the southwest quadrant.

Most everything is found under the calendar tab here, and also on Facebook for easy sharing.


Circle Sounds — During all open SPARK hours, Big Car artists are programming Circle Sounds through the Circle’s amazing audio speakers. Circle Sounds also airs citywide on our community radio station, WQRT 99.1 FM and streaming at wqrt.org. It’s a mix of upbeat instrumentals — from jazz to world music to pop — that also includes work by local musicians. In between batches of songs, we share, instead of commercials, audio projects being created there. This includes commissioned poems in response to the Circle, haikus submitted by the public visiting the Circle, quick thoughts by visitors on why they love the Circle, and more. WQRT is also doing live DJing at the Circle and taking requests Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. Hear the kind of music and audio projects we’re sharing at the Circle here.

All weekdays A range of pop-up offerings and opportunities to play games, make art, record poems, send free postcards, hang out in a shady spot, and get info from staff artists on site. 

Tuesdays — Each week at noon, we offer Lunch Break Live presented by Lake City Bank featuring local (mostly pop and singer/songwriter) musicians curated by Indianapolis musician The Girl Called Books. (See full musician list below).

Wednesday evenings — Guided walks about history and culture offered the evenings each week. Wednesdays also feature Evening Embers: Ambient Music at Spark Monument Circle — organized by Indianapolis ambient artist Rob Funkhouser. (See full list of walks and Wednesday evening series musicians below).

Thursdays — From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., free, quick-stop artist interactions and hands-on activities ranging from block printing or live painting, to portrait drawing or henna hand art.

Fridays — Open until 9 pm for people enjoying the Circle and getting started on the weekend.


Circle Artist in Residence Yeabsera Tabb is working on ideas related to play and exploring the Circle. One project includes playful prompts printed and located on the sidewalks.

Circle Anthology — We’ve commissioned 25 writers to share work inspired by the Circle. Their poems will air on WQRT FM during Circle Sounds playing from the Circle speakers and we’ll do a live reading with this group at 7 p.m. on Oct. 12 as part of What a Wednesday. This is linked to our Haiku Here that encourages people to submit their own haikus inspired by the Circle to air on WQRT and play on the Circle speakers during Circle Sounds each day.  Hear the poems here.

No More No Place — Organized by Indianapolis musician and IUPUI professor Jordan Munson, this project pairs instrumental music by local composers with video accompaniments projected on the Circle. Debuts at 8 p.m. on Oct. 12 as part of What a Wednesday. 

Circle SPARK Fest — Oct. 22-23 from 1-6 p.m. each day. We’ll showcase local artists and musicians with a brand-new, two-day celebration of art and harvest time. Artisan vendors, live music, performance art, pumpkin decorating, and lots more. On Saturday, bands playing are Radar Gold, Books & Straight As, Vertice, and The Brothers Footman. On Sunday; it’s Addie Kosten; Beatty and the Bayonets; Kristen Bales; Ricardo. Artist Derek Tuder will bring his mobile art gallery and selfie studio and Big Car’s Wagon of Wonders will be there.

Halloween on the Circle — Oct. 26 a Halloween-themed walk at 6 pm. and a live soundtrack to the silent scary film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), at 7:30 p.m. on the Monument steps. Film and soundtrack by local musicians in partnership with Classical Music Indy. 

Boot Scoot and Vintage Market on the Circle — Oct. 27 at 6  p.m. Hosted by artist John Stamps, this will be an evening of line dancing and country music on the Circle. Costume contest that night too. Massive line dance and costume contest led by John Stamps.

Lunchbreak Live musicians (Tuesdays at noon, free) 

Sept 20: Florelis Jimenez Vejas (Venezuelan pop)

Sept 27: Bitter Proof (experimental classical, jazz)

Oct 4: The Hammer and The Hatchet (Americana)

Oct. 11: Katie Jo Robinson (Indie jazz-pop)

Oct. 18: Indy Annies (country)

Oct. 25: Crescent Ulmer (folk, singer-songwriter) 

Walking tours (Wednesdays at 6 p.m., free)

Sept. 28 — Ugly Ducklings: Join historians Jordan Ryan and Callie McCune for a look at the hidden tales and amazing stories behind buildings you might love to hate: City-County Building, the Gold Building, the former Anthem building on Monument Circle, and others. You may even learn to love some of Indy’s most unseemly architecture.

Oct. 5 — Magical History Tour: Artist, scavenger, and raconteur Kipp Normand guides you on a stroll through the oddities of Indianapolis history and spaces. Get ready for weird.

Oct. 12 — The Circle City’s Namesake Landmark: Gain deeper appreciation for Indianapolis’s symbolic heart by exploring the history and architecture of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument and the buildings that encircle it. Tours presented by Indiana Landmarks  (repeat of Sept. 14 tour).

Oct. 19 — Public Art Crawl: Inspired by the recent Public Art Census produced by Rokh – a cultural equity research & design studio – take an artist-led tour highlighting Downtown’s public works by artists of the global majority (Black, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, Indigenous). Presented by Rokh.

Oct. 26 — Spooky Mayhem Tour: Brace yourself for a Halloween-ish tour of the seedy, sinister, dark side of Indianapolis history.

Note: All tours meet at the SPARK welcome trailer on the southwest quad of Monument Circle. Expect to walk between a half-mile and 2 miles total. In case of bad weather, cancellation decisions will be made by 3 p.m. Check SPARK social media or website for updates.

Evening Embers: Ambient Music (Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., free)

Sept. 28: Michael Raintree 

Oct. 5:  DJ Little Town 

Oct. 12: Jordan Munson and Rob Funkhouser

Oct. 19: Hanna Benn 

Night Calls on the Circle

Mary Goodwin from Aurora PhotoCenter will be in the SPARK project space on the southwest quad to give a short presentation about Night Calls, by photographer Rebecca Norris Webb, and answer questions about the projection exhibition before the showing from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm, with Night Calls showing at 8:30 pm.

Goodwin will discuss how the Night Calls projection exhibition and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument relate to each other at the site, encouraging exploration of the ways lives of service are honored and remembered through art and memorial.

More details about Night Calls: As part of the Shining A Light: Arts & Culture Series of Downtown Indy, Aurora PhotoCenter presents a public projection exhibition of photographer Rebecca Norris Webb’s series Night Calls on Monument Circle in Indianapolis.

Night Calls is an homage to Webb’s 100-plus-year-old father and to our Hoosier landscape. In these photographs, she retraces the route her father took as a doctor on his house calls through Rush County, Indiana, the rural county where both the artist and her father were born. The images feature beautiful scenes from his drives around the area, as well as portraits of people he helped bring into the world and others he attended. In addition to her award-winning photographs, this exhibition features poetry voiced by Norris Webb. The work is a quiet, serene reflection on life and nature, and on the artist’s love of home and family.

This exhibition of Night Calls is generously funded through Shining A Light: Arts & Culture Series with Downtown Indy and the Indiana War Memorials Commission. This projection piece was produced specifically for the Monument Circle outdoor architectural projection system. Night Calls is Aurora’s first collaboration with Downtown Indy, Inc., Innovative, Inc., and Dodd Technologies, the teams that helped bring this project to Monument Circle.

For more information about Night Calls, Rebecca Norris Webb, and Aurora PhotoCenter, please visit www.auroraphoto.org.

Full Schedule of Showtimes (Free and open to the public, screenings of Night Calls):

Oct. 1, 2
8:30 pm / 9:30 pm

Oct. 7, 8
8:30pm / 9:30 pm

Nov. 4, 5, 6
7:45pm / 8:45 pm / 9:45 pm

Nov, 17, 18, 19
7:45pm / 8:45 pm / 9:45 pm

View Post
Circle Spark Fest Artist & Vendor Call Out 

Circle Spark Fest Artist & Vendor Call Out 

Circle SPARK Fest Artist & Vendor Call Out 

Sat & Sun, October 22-23 1-5 PM on Monument Circle

Big Car Collaborative in partnership with Downtown Indy, Inc. are bringing Circle Spark Fest on Monument Circle and are seeking artists to participate.  

400 to 600 guests are expected at the following event, the majority of which are downtown for work, and a good number of downtown residents as well. Vendor Submission Form is due Wednesday, September 29th at 12 pm


Event Details

Event:  Circle Spark Fest

LocationSW Quad of Monument Circle (in front of Emmis)

Parking Provided (1 vehicle per artist) on Monument Circle on the SE and NW quad curb lane. 



Event Time:   1:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Load-in Time:   11 am

Load-out Completion: 9 pm


Artist Requirements:

  • We will require a $50 refundable deposit for artists to participate once accepted. Artisan vendors will be refunded their full deposit upon attendance.
  • Artists must provide their own setup (which could include a 10×10 tent, table, chairs, signage, etc.)
  • A signed Services Agreement that Downtown Indy, Inc. will need returned at least 48 hours prior to event


Big Car Collaborative and Downtown Indy, Inc. will provide:

  • 1- (12×12) space along the curb lane or the inner part of the SW quad of The Circle
  • Access to electrical outlet for $10 fee (limited number available)
  • Overall logistics/event management
  • Police officers to close the SW quad of the Circle
  • Overnight security of vendor booths
  • Port-o-lets and handwashing stations
  • 1 parking space per artist
  • Liability insurance for vendors
  • Marketing and promotion of event (vendors will be required to market their participation of the event, Big Car and Downtown Indy will NOT promote any single vendor)
  • Live music, games, and artist-led activities



Circle Spark Fest is open to all individual artists and artisans over 18 years of age living in central Indiana, but preference will be given to those living in downtown Indianapolis. All artwork must be original art or fine craft and made by the artist/s and/or artisan/s present at the event. We define “fine craft” as functional objects such as unique one of a kind ceramics, jewelry, etc. and also include creative functional non-art objects such as artisan made soaps, clothing, etc.  Imported or commercially made objects will not be accepted.

All 2D and 3D media are welcome. However, due to the nature and timing of the event, it is recommended that all items are offered in an accessible size and priced relative to the environment ranging from the low end of $5 to a median $50 and higher end between $150 and $250.


Selection Process:

Artists/Artisans will be selected based upon the quality and uniqueness of their work as well as its appropriateness for a variety of downtown audiences.

 Fill out the Submission Form here.

  • This form will take 5-10 minutes to fill out if you have your upload materials ready.
  • Via the online form, applicants are to submit 5 images depicting examples of the artwork/fine craft they intend to sell at Circle Spark Fest as well as an (optional) photo of their booth set up.
  • You will be notified by October 3 if you’ve been selected to be a featured artist/artisan for the Fest.



Wednesday, September 29th by noon: Application Deadline

October 10: All artists/artisans are notified whether or not they have been accepted into Circle Spark Fest. Those accepted will receive further instruction on load in that they have been chosen and will be given further instruction on load-in and parking.

By Friday, October 14th: All required documents must be returned.


More information about the organizers of Circle Spark Fest:

With SPARK on the Circle in 2022, the artist-led cultural and community organization, Big Car Collaborative, is teaming up with Downtown Indy and the City of Indianapolis to spark downtown with free, human-scale activities like playing games, enjoying live music, making art, and socializing in a comfortable place to take it easy, spend time together, and enjoy our city. SPARK activities are free for everyone to enjoy.


For specific questions, please contact [email protected] 



View Post
Meet Yeabsera Tabb — Artist in Residence for SPARK on the Circle

Meet Yeabsera Tabb — Artist in Residence for SPARK on the Circle

Hello! My name is Yeabsera Tabb. I’m a Social Impact Designer and an artist based in Indianapolis. I’m interested in how physical places shape our daily experiences and our identity. I love the serendipitous interaction and connections that occur in public places between people of all backgrounds.

The physical and conceptual aspect of places and identity has been a huge part of my art and design exploration. I was born in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and lived there until the age of 13. Buildings and public places looked and functioned differently there than they do here. And spaces possessed similar yet different identities and memories. I was drawn to exploring the built environment in terms of form and structure and socially constructed ideas of belonging and identity. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to foster human connection through place, art, and play at the Monument Circle Artist Residency.

My work often addresses my lived experience inhabiting multiple identities both as a Black woman in America and as an immigrant. Through printmaking, textiles, and other forms of visual art I explore the nuance concept of home and place. During my time as a Design for Social Impact student, I conducted a year-long research project on the experiences of Black women in America, particularly, Black women navigating predominantly white spaces. I transformed this collection of qualitative data into my show Black Presence to create safe spaces of healing and joy for Black women. Black Presence was on display at 1920 Gallery in Marion, Indiana, and 1000 Words Indy in Indianapolis. After graduating with degrees in both Design for Social Impact and Fine Arts, I held multiple solo shows in Indianapolis as well as group shows including The Truth of Freedom Newfields. Additionally, I was one of 10 Black woman artists named as an Emerging Visionary Artist by Shea Moisture.

All the connections I made through these explorations empower me to continue to create work that is human-centered at its core. I am excited to be Big Car’s Monument Circle artist and resident this summer and fall. I’m looking forward to creating opportunities for connection at Monument Circles through artful play. Monument Circle is a major point of connection in the city of Indianapolis. The space functions as a threshold that connects people of all backgrounds such as business professionals, residents, tourists, and so much more. It’s a transient space that acts as a study point of intersection. I hope to honor the place by knowing it well through being present and recognizing the assets as well as the needs. I am looking forward to growing as a person and an artist through connecting with people and collaborating with the team.

About SPARK on the Circle: This is an inclusive, artist-led, site-specific partnership between Big Car and Downtown Indy for free daily programming, arts activities, games, live entertainment, and recreation. Also working with the City of Indianapolis, SPARK is made possible by the Capital Improvement Board and Lake City Bank. Learn more at circlespark.org.


Spark by the Numbers

2015 SPARK By the Numbers by Big Car

We’ve pulled numbers together from surveys and counts from Spark. Check them out above or download a one sheet here.


Nifty Spark video wrap up

10 Things that happened at Spark: Monument Circle from Big Car on Vimeo.

This gives you an idea of what Spark Monument Circle was all about between Aug. 1 and Oct. 16, 2015. More great videos from Spark by Kurt Nettleton of Big Car Collaborative coming soon!

View Post
Celebrating the people of Spark

Celebrating the people of Spark

What’s Spark? Many things: A placemaking effort to energize our city’s most important space, a tactical urbanism test to examine the approaches of a redesign in progress, a complicated and rewarding partnership that brought Monument Circle stakeholders and officials together with an array of cultural organizations, and a socially engaged art project that focused on interacting with people as the main ingredient to the success of all of the above. The participants in the human-scale programming at Spark during 11 weeks in 2015 were both members of the public who joined us there (by chance or on purpose) and the artists, program designers, and facilitators who created and cultivated opportunities for the public to play, create, socialize, and have fun.

The photo mosaic above includes many of the people who worked with us at Big Car on this project. We involved more than 50 artists and creatives in this project — all in paid positions. To them, though, it was more than a job. It was an opportunity to celebrate Indianapolis and help make this city a better place — and help people feel connected with the culture of our community. We appreciate the creativity and dedication of this group and the participation of all of the visitors to Spark. And, we are so thankful to our funders and partners for the opportunity to help make this happen on Monument Circle. We hope to be back in 2016 and beyond!  — Jim Walker, executive director of Big Car and lead artist on Spark 

Photos by Kurt Nettleton of Big Car. See his Spark wrap up video here and more of his great work and photos from Spark and everything else we do here.


View Post
Spark boosts Circle businesses

Spark boosts Circle businesses

By Chris Schumerth, Spark writer in residence 

Ever since seeing Spark “on the news,” Shawn Jones, a 19-year-old freshman at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, walks to Monument Circle almost every day to play ping-pong and meet new people.

“I love my city,” Jones said, enthusiastically, as he sat with four others he’d just met — one celebrating her 30th birthday. Part of Jones’ routine, he said, is to stop in at Rocket Fizz to choose from the stores array of eclectic sodas.

Jones isn’t the only Spark participant who is frequenting Monument Circle eateries.

The owner of Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Chuck Brewer, said that while there’s no way to for him to be completely certain of which traffic comes from Spark, his store’s sales have increased up to 20 percent per week since the program began August 1. The consistent boost in sales has allowed him to hire two new workers to cover shifts.

Brewer pointed in particular to the green outdoor seating that Spark has placed around the Circle. He said the new outdoor seating has provided more seating inside his restaurant because a lot of customers have chosen to sit outside. “It’s a simple math equation,” Brewer said.

Soupremacy is right around the corner from Potbelly. Store Manager Danielle Shipley, who has worked at the restauarant since it opened, confirmed that while sometimes her restaurant’s location on one of Monument Circle’s “spokes” leads to less food traffic, Supremacy has also have seen increased sales of up to 10 percent per week since Spark began. The weekends, she said, have been especially busy, and she has noticed Spark workers frequenting her shop for meals.

Shipley also noted that Spark has brought positive publicity to a place that too often only gets negative media attention. And that spreads the perceptions outward to the city as a whole.

Both Shipley and Ernesto Small, an associate at The South Bend Chocolate Company – located just a few feet from Spark’s welcome trailer – mentioned that they’ve noticed a difference in the kind of traffic at Monument Circle. The Circle, they said, tends to get a lot of business and motorcyclist traffic. But they have recently noticed more families, young people, and tourists spending time there. The credit for bringing that crowd in, Shipley and Small said, goes to Spark.

Small has worked at The South Bend Chocolate Company for more than a year. He he has played chess outside on one of the Spark tables and has learned the names of Spark staffers. He doesn’t have access to the exact numbers, but he knows The South Bend Chocolate Company has seen increases in sales as well.

According to Small, several tourists recently visited The South Bend Chocolate Company en route to Minneapolis from Cincinnati. They had never been to Indianapolis before, but they were impressed by how inviting the Spark program made the Circle as a whole. Small said the guests told him it made them want to come back to Indianapolis.

Along the way, Spark has been surveying hundreds of visitors — both tourists and locals — and gathering data about how people are using the Circle. Spark will also work with nearby businesses to gather numbers to support the positive stories.

With Spark programming nearing its end this week, this leads to the question: what can or should be next for Monument Circle, particularly as Indianapolis makes decisions about how to program and design the Monument Circle area?

Jones, Brewer, Shipley, and Small all seemed to agree: they want more of what Spark has started.

“Spark is such a new and innovative idea,” said Brewer, who noted he’d be glad to see Spark return next year. “This has caused people to think differently about how to use public spaces.”





View Post
Preview: Monument Circle Art Fair

Preview: Monument Circle Art Fair

Fall has proven a season of firsts on Monument Circle this year. The tally of premieres sparked by Big Car over the last couple of months proves too innumerable to count. That’s what happens when you experiment. New territory gets explored.

Yet, Big Car is not alone in its inaugural efforts in the heart of Indy. Local ceramic artist Ruth Stoner will bring nearly 70 artists and six musical acts to Fountain Square for the free, family friendly Monument Circle Art Fair.

“I used to have a job on the Southside, and I used to stop on the monument at the end of the day because it was right on the way,” Stoner says. “I would hang out for 10 or 15 minutes. I just loved the space.”

After a bit of investigating just 15 odd months ago, Stoner discovered the Monument was available for at a relatively inexpensive price. That’s when the gears began to turn. “As somebody that’s done art shows,” Stoner says, “I was thinking gosh, you know, it seems like a logical place to have an art fair. It’s such a great space.”

As a new event, Stoner decided to limit applications to Indiana artists and kept booth prices low relative to more established art fairs around Indy. Despite the local focus, the applicant pool swiftly surpassed Stoner’s expectations – a fact she says is a testament to the Central Indiana arts community. “I figured we’re in the heart of Indianapolis and Indiana,” she says. “Let’s have some Hoosier pride for our Indiana artists.”

A registered pediatric nurse by trade, Stoner never shook the love for ceramics she found while still in high school in South Bend. After nursing school, she continued to take art classes at everywhere from IUPUI and Herron to Indianapolis Art Center. Stoner continues to work as a nurse around 25 hours per week, while operating a studio out of Broad Ripple called Artistry In Clay. It wasn’t until her kids reached adulthood that she began to consider ways she might give back to a community that has fed her creativity over the years.

Music Schedule:

  • 10 am – Elizabeth Efroymson Brooks with the Suzuki academy (weather dependent)
  • 11 am – Nick Zyromski
  • 12:30 pm – The Yellow Kites
  • 1:30 pm – Luke Austin Daugherty
  • 3 pm – Cathy Morris
  • 4 pm – Blue Moon Revue

When Stoner initially decided to pursue the idea of hosting an art fair on the monument, she didn’t realize that Spark would be overlapping. The circle is an interesting space, in that the Monument itself belongs to the state while the surrounding streets and sidewalks belong to the city. This has led to some interesting complementary programming throughout Spark. For part, Stoner is thrilled with the timing.

“I just think Spark has brought such an awareness to the circle,” she says, “and they have been so supportive in getting the word out. It’s just such a nice setting for us, because of all the seating. It’s great.”

If the event is successful, Stoner hopes to make Monument Circle Art Fair an annual event. With food trucks, live music, a glass blowing truck and Spark as a backdrop, she hopes the event will offer something for everyone. At the end of the day, the artists who participated will measure the success.

“It’s all about the artists for me, and how they feel,” Stoner says. “If it’s successful and the artists feel like it’s worth it, then I would love for this to be an annual event. We’ll just have to see how it goes, and go from there.”


What: The inaugural Monument Circle Art Fair brings nearly 70 artists and 6 musical acts to Monument Circle for a single day festival in celebration of Hoosier art.

Where: Monument Circle

When: Saturday, October 10, 2015

10am – 5 pm