iMOCA Squared

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In September of this year, downtown Indianapolis will welcome a new first-class venue for the display of contemporary art. This is the result of a multiyear partnership recently inked between the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA), CityWay and The Alexander

The Alexander is a 209-room luxury hotel located in the heart of downtown at the corner of Delaware and South streets. The hotel is a stunning new addition to the city's offerings and conveniently located on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Legacy of Gene and Marilyn Glick. 

The Alexander was built with an art-centric aesthetic that makes the iMOCA expansion a natural fit. - MARK RUSCHMAN
  • Mark Ruschman
  • The Alexander was built with an art-centric aesthetic that makes the iMOCA expansion a natural fit.

Shauta Marsh, iMOCA's executive director, has been working with her counterparts at CityWay for the past several months to secure a newly built 3,000-square-foot gallery space in The Alexander's south plaza lobby. The new gallery space will be in addition to iMOCA's Fountain Square location and will be under the direction of Marsh. It will feature rotating exhibits and installations by local, regional and nationally known artists, and they will be on display to the public for free. Those already familiar with iMOCA's Fountain Square location and its quality exhibits and programs, can look forward to more of the same at The Alexander.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've been an iMOCA board member for the past five years, and curated Inner City Inspirations by Bloomington, Indiana-based ceramic artist Malcolm Mobutu Smith at iMOCA in 2011.

For their part, this venture with CityWay and The Alexander should not come as a surprise. Since opening in 2013, they've received a great deal of press and built a solid reputation for their efforts in supporting a vibrant visual arts community and incorporating contemporary fine art into their world-class hotel, apartments and restaurants. They started by commissioning the Indianapolis Museum of Art, under then Contemporary Curator, Lisa Freiman, to assemble a collection of site-specific, cutting-edge works that are clearly meant to do more than just decorate.

To gain a better understanding of how and why this project came about, I asked Marsh for her take on the partnership. "The initial conversation started when CityWay expressed an interest in hosting rotating exhibitions within The Alexander facility to complement their permanent collection," she said. "With the recommendation of Freiman, then iMOCA President, Brandon Judkins, recognized there might be a role for iMOCA to play and contacted the principals at CityWay."

"CityWay is a game changer for iMOCA", says Judkins. "I'm thoroughly impressed with all they've done with art in their public spaces and their ongoing commitment to the local art community. It's a natural fit for us." 

Some may ask why should the city have two iMOCA venues so close to each other? This topic was discussed at length by the iMOCA board. The Virginia Avenue location has become a staple of IDADA First Friday Art Tour, drawing thousands to the area for opening receptions and other amenities in the area. It's clearly a major draw for Fountain Square and has established itself as an important cultural amenity for the City. The board also recognized that The Alexander's stature and location provide a unique opportunity to expand iMOCA's reach to out-of-town visitors and patrons of the CityWay experience, while providing additional high-quality exhibition space to display art and create programs. After careful deliberation, the board determined that having the two locations would best serve both institutions and the public.

In a recent joint press release, iMOCA and CityWay recognized the value each brings to the table and reaffirmed their commitment to supporting a vibrant arts community through the partnership. In my opinion, the new gallery space is significant and will be a great addition to the art scene. But equally important, is the relationship forged between the two organizations and their mutual desire to continue Indianapolis along the path of being a world-class city and a terrific place to live and work. 

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