Massachusetts Avenue is one of Indianapolis’ premiere place to soak up some Indianapolis culture. From amazing downtown Indianapolis shopping boutiques to Indianapolis theater and some terrific Indianapolis restaurants, there is plenty to do on Mass Ave. But what makes this Indianapolis cultural district so special is the public art that peppers the sidewalks. Visitors to Mass Ave never know what’s around the next corner. From a giagantic painting of Indianapolis’ own Kurt Vonnegut to a perpetually dancing party girl named Ann, Mass Ave holds a wealth of public art in Indianapolis. Take a look at what you might see on your next visit to Mass Ave
Visual and Mental Paradoxes
“Visual and Mental Paradoxes,” by Jerald Jacquard, was erected at the intersection of Mass Ave, St. Clair Street and College Avenue in 1999. This steel structure is approximately 192 inches by 28 inches by 58 inches. Through the use of abstracted forms and unnatural juxtapositions, this piece is a visual representation of contrasting thoughts and emotions. Take a look at this piece of public art and meditate on your own personal inner conflicts.
Care/ Don’t Care
“Care/ Don’t Care,” by Jamie Pawlus, was erected on Mass Ave in front of the ArtBank Indianapolis art gallery in 2010. This interactive piece of artwork take the traffic signal to the next level. Placed outside of a functional context in the middle of pedestrian traffic, passerbys are encouraged to push the signal button to change the art’s message to either “Care” or “Don’t Care.” In addition, the sign changes at random intervals without intervention. The immediate effect of this artwork on those that encounter it is to ask viewers to connect to their current state of mind.
An Indianapolis artist, Jaime Pawlus works with re-purposed objects from daily life turning them into statements with social relevance. Interact with this piece of Indianapolis art and let the city know your choice to care or to not care.
Brick Head 3
“Brick Head 3,” by James Tyler, was erected outside of Starbucks on Mass Ave in 2004. Made from ceramic bricks, this sculpture measures up at 84 inches by 60 inches by 65 inches and has an interesting sound element. This mammoth head is composed of 550 individual bricks and a sound element activated by motion sensors. The soundtrack features sounds like writing on a chalkboard, hammering and car horns, which references the mind’s ability to construct ideas. It is the third of a series of ceramic brick heads that incorporate interactive audio elements and the only of the series to enjoy a permanent installation. You’ve never seen a head this big before.
In 2007, the Indianapolis Museum of Art welcomes world renowned artist Julian Opie with open arms for an intriguing art exhibit in their rotating gallery. Though Opie’s exhibit at the IMA has long since closed, he left his mark on the Circle City with a permanent art installation: “Ann Dancing.”
Located in the heart of Indianapolis downtown outside of Old Point Tavern on Mass Ave, Ann Dancing reflects the many Hoosiers who enjoy Indianapolis nightlife in the area. The animated artwork is a four-sided light emitting display (LED) that depicts a female swaying to a syncopated rhythm. Do a little dance and get down tonight with Dancing Ann.
At the intersections of Mass Ave, New York and Pennsylvania Streets sits “Viewfinders,” by Eric Nordgulen. These three independent structures , these are made from aluminum, Fresnel lenses and polycarbonate plastic. A combination of sculpture and architecture, these figures are meant to be a visual link between the architecture of Indianapolis downtown and Indianapolis people on the street. Created from traditional architectural materials that gather and reflect images of passing pedestrians and the surrounding landscape, this piece of art is meant to stand as a reflection of daily life downtown. See your daily life reflected in Viewfinders.
Every Summer a light box on the East end of Mass Ave showcases a local artists work. In 2011-12, “The Limelighter” looms over all who enter Mass Ave. Indianapolis artist William Denton Ray created this 112 inches by 309 inches image, which represents one’s inner artistic muse. In a statement Ray says, “The source of our inspiration, the limelighter is portrayed as a deity or ethos set against a festive, bold and colorful backdrop inspired by 1960s poster art. The limelighter is flanked by two smaller characters, which represent tragedy and comedy, two human behaviors often showcased in the arts.” This colorful light box installation will lift your spirits and provoke your inner muse.
“Dimensional Shadows,” by Eduardo Mendieta of West Palm Beach, Florida, was part of the 46 murals for Super Bowl XLVI. Inspried by Lalique crystals, Mendieta’s mural depicts a woman emerging from water. The image is symbolic of breaking planes in our daily life: planes found in work, in relationships and in life. A representation of the importance of self-empowerment, “Dimensional Shadows” is a breathtaking sight on Mass Ave. Break through a plane in your life as you stare at “Dimensional Shadows.”
My Affair with Kurt Vonnegut
“All my jokes are Indianapolis. All my attitudes are Indianapolis… if I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis.” — Kurt Vonnegut, 1986.
Indianapolis artist, Pamela Bliss, honors this Hoosier hero with a mammoth likeness of him in the heart of downtown. Entitled “My Affair with Kurt Vonnegut,” the image celebrates the life of this notable Indianapolis person. Vonnegut was born and raised in the Circle City. As an artist, peace and environmental activist and prolific writer, Vonnegut memorialized Indianapolis in his novels. Now Indianapolis memorializes the author, allowing him to stand in the heart of the city he always loved. Celebrate this literary hero of Indianapolis.
Even the place you rest your feet on Mass Ave is uniquely beautiful. An anonymous artist transformed this everyday bench into a piece of art using repurposed car tires to make the sitting area a little more comfortable. See this unique public art bench in person. It’s one of the most functional pieces of art in Indy.
See more pictures of public art on Mass Ave.