First-Place Ribbons

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Indy got it right. We had a shot and we hit it, spot-on. I spent my lunchtime last Friday walking around for an hour. I started at The Hall and walked down Market Street to Monument Circle and back around, checking out the pieces of Art in Odd Places Indianapolis. When I got to City Market, I saw a giant bundle of vintage lighting. Lots of wires and bulbs and gold intertwined, sitting there in the triangular space. And then I saw a mobile museum. Prints and originals were being sold from what looked like a shed. I could go in, but I decided to keep walking. I noticed drumstick-looking wooden objects hanging from a wire with fresh paint dripping from them. They were making a design on the material beneath them.

And then, there were Christmas ornaments lining the gate at the entrance of City market on Delaware. I kept walking. I crossed Pennsylvania before entering the west spoke of Monument Circle. That’s when I saw them. Hundreds of colorful ribbons blew in the air but all attached at the top to the awning at Hilton Garden Inn. People smiled as they walked through them. Some paused from looking at their smart phones and glanced up. It was exactly what I’d been wanting for Indy.

Melissa Steckbauer's "Free Now!" brings a joyful splash of color to downtown.  - COURTESY OF BIG CAR
  • Courtesy of Big Car
  • Melissa Steckbauer's "Free Now!" brings a joyful splash of color to downtown.

When I think about New York and Chicago and when I ask people what they want for Indy’s atmosphere, I get some of the same answers. We crave that sense of childhood wonder. An environment of fun. We want unexpected little breaks to distract us from the complexity of our thoughts and our days. We want surprises. Ribbons of nearly every color blowing in the wind on Market Street totally did that for me. And for everyone else. I saw one kid stop and just lift his head and arms as if he were honoring the god of ribbons. It was perfect. It was integrating the art with its environment -- downtown Indy, in this case.

Within the Love Indy committee, we’ve talked a lot about pushing for more art and design –- not necessarily public art. But we're not opposed to more public art. Cities want art that isn’t simply plopped into a space, instead they want art that merges seamlessly with their environment. Cities want beauty and natural distractions. The art I found along my way made my walk shorter. And isn’t that true of other cities. We walk and walk and walk and don’t realize it because we’re visually stimulated? That’s what beauty does. It keeps you walking. It creates more places where people meet. I enjoyed the ribbons because they gave me a reason to make a new connection. Strangers were talking. I’m always amazed at what art can do when we’re least expecting it.

My personal quest is now to get countless colorful ribbons installed in such a place, or various places, that allow people -- whoever might happen to be passing by –- a few seconds of relief from their phone, their fears or their schedule, to just enjoy life. Good job, Indy!

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