Great Ideas Competition

Great Ideas Competition



Artists’ ideas for enhancement of public space often differ from those of city and neighborhood leaders, elected officials, site owners, and the general public. What if artists were empowered to do anything they wanted?  Where would they put it, and what would it look like?

From 2004 - 2008, the Arts Council, with primary support from the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission and additional support from private, foundation, and corporate donors, sponsored competitions for Indiana-based artists wishing to complete “dream” projects in Indianapolis’ public spaces. From submitted artist qualifications, panels of experts selected a group of finalists and awarded them a fee to identify sites and develop proposals, for which the Arts Council provided assistance and facilitated networking with site owners, permitting agencies, and potential fabricators. The proposals were then made public for anyone to comment on. The expert panels, taking public opinion into consideration, then selected the artists and projects to commission.

The four commissioned Great Ideas projects, highlighted in the slideshow above, were:

Sean Derry, Charting Pogues Run
Patrick Manning, Speak/Spoken

Jeff Martin, Urban Silos
Tom Torluemke, Light the Way

In addition to the Arts Council commissioning several artworks, the proposals were  seen by people who would become enthusiastic about them and find other funding sources to get them completed. The energy generated around these artist-initiated projects helped city leaders, neighborhoods, and site owners understand the impact art can have on calling attention to public space and introducing new and interesting ideas to the common conversation. The project enhanced respect for artists’ ideas, and raised awareness of the participating artists’ work.

Charting Pogue’s Run, which combined neighborhood cleanups, local history, and public space awareness and left a physical legacy in the form of street-level medallions throughout downtown Indianapolis, received a prestigious award as one of the 50 best public artworks of 2005 by the Public Art Network of Americans for the Arts. Because of the exposure of his work through the Great Ideas competition, Derry was commissioned to execute Chatham Passage, a permanent installation, for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

Urban Silos, although originally intended to be temporary, attracted so much positive attention that it was permanently installed in its site at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

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Thank you to our funders

Indiana Arts Commission
Clowes Charitable Foundation