By Anne Laker
It’s safe to say that Indianapolis no longer has one particular arts district. And that’s surely a good thing. But it doesn’t mean that Broad Ripple can’t reinvent its creative mojo. Three new art spaces—and the return of the Third Thursday Art Walk July 15—symbolize the Village’s post-COVID “re-artification.”
Stroll down Carrollton just past the Broad Ripple Post Office and you’ll find Chromatic Collective at 6216 Carrollton Ave. in the former Dinwiddie’s space. Chromatic Collective is a four-headed chameleon: It’s an art supply source (specializing in spray paint for muralists), part music venue (featuring sidewalk hip-hop shows), part studio (six artists share a big desk), and part gallery (two upcoming shows feature the work of recent Herron School of Art grads).
Chromatic Collective co-founder Erica Parker is as energetic as her partner Rafael Caro is mellow. The pair has been painting murals around Indy for five years now, until one thing led to another. “We offered to paint an ugly 10’ x 10’ wall on our landlord Rich Ritchey’s building,” says Parker. “Eventually, he asked us if we knew any artists who needed a gallery. After a minute, I thought: ‘Oh yeah, we do!’”
Parker and Caro renovated the space, being sure to retain the bathroom festooned with blue sky and white clouds from days gone by. Chromatic Collective opened in April and the response has been heartening. “There’s a pretty big demand for something like this,” says Rafael. “Lots of people come in to say thank you.” Since the closing of Prizm two years ago, the city’s growing cadre of muralists are grateful for a local place to buy mural-specific spray paint, which has a higher pigment-to-water ratio, and comes with differently sized nozzles for fine or broad strokes.
Parker believes that COVID has actually energized the art scene. “The pandemic has taught people how much art is a coping mechanism and a beacon of hope,” she says. “Rent was more affordable, too. After sitting dormant—almost like cicadas!—art spaces were the first places people went once you could go out again.”
Parker and Caro are focused on making the collective a viable one. Along with collaborating artists Mike Kane, Hailee Smith, Nathan Holmes, and Josh Brinson, Caro and Parker are busy planning shows, learning the retail ropes, and making their own work.
Art shows in July include Together Again: Ellen-Ross Musick & Lizbeth Rojas (July 23/24). “In-person shows are a big deal as we’re breaking out of the pandemic,” notes Parker. Caro and Parker are especially excited about their offering for the July 15 Art Walk—a crowd-sourced show called Canamorphic. “We’re turning artist tools into works of art,” says Parker. “We’re upcycling spray paint cans and making them into sculptures and collage.” The open call for artists runs through July 10. The event will feature electronic music by David Peck, and food, including vegan eats. “We’re excited to be partnered up with the Art Walk and to help uplift all the art in the Village with a family-friendly, all-ages vibe,” Parker says. Speaking of families, don’t be surprised to see Julian, 12, and Leila, 11, the children of Parker and Caro, helping out at the shop.
Chromatic Collective aims to be a dynamic art resource. “If you need to connect with an artist, we can start that relationship … we have tons of artists in our docket,” says Parker. “Part of our mission is education and accessibility.”
Broad Ripple Paradox
Whip around the block and you’ll arrive at what used to be Crackers Comedy Club, the Broad Ripple institution that closed in 2017 after a 20-year run at 6281 N. College. Property manager Kosene & Kosene had the smarts to offer the space to PATTERN, whose executive director Polina Osherov re-christened it Paradox. It’s poetic justice, since PATTERN runs a program called St’Art Up 317 that pairs creative entrepreneurs with empty storefronts.
“PATTERN has always been an event-based platform,” she says. “But we’ve never had our own event space and have been nomadic for almost the entire 11 years of our existence. I have been looking for an opportunity to have our own event ‘home.’ We found the Crackers space in February 2020, and signed a lease in May hoping that we could open up in the summer … but COVID had other plans.”
After light rehab and a yearlong wait, PATTERN flung open the doors in May 2021. “Paradox is a versatile, multi-purpose space that can support a variety of programming from panels, to virtual events to photo shoots and gallery shows, and everything in between,” Osherov says. It’s a logical approach for a non-profit whose mission is accelerating the creative economy in Indianapolis. The inaugural event was a photography show, followed by a drag show, and a second photography show with a Juneteenth theme. All have been robustly attended.
What’s next at Paradox? “We’re in the middle of streamlining operations and preparing for renting the space out to other groups,” says Osherov. “We’ll have special pricing for non-profit groups and micro businesses to ensure that folks without a huge budget are able to host their happenings in a great location.”
Osherov is loving the locale. “Everyone has been super supportive and excited to have another alternative, flexible venue in the city that supports indie arts and culture,” she says. “The location is perfect, and we have some great neighbors—The Vogue on one side, and Storefront Theatre on the other, with Indy CD & Vinyl just around the corner.” While Paradox isn’t part of the July 15 Art Walk, look for events there to pop up with regularity. And don’t miss the Paradox Instagram account (@317paradox), a curated gallery in the palm of your hand.
Art and Fun at Gallery 6202
Amble across College Avenue and you’ll spot a familiar cottage at Gallery 6202. What used to house Jeff Evans’ law office since 1993 is now an art gallery bursting with color and works in every medium. Jeff and his wife Jackie (a doctor with Cornerstone Family Physicians) met in high school. The couple’s world travels landed them on a cruise ship with artists aboard. They became smitten with collecting art, taking cues from Park West, a global art dealer based in Southfield, Michigan.
Gallery 6202 reflects that panoramic view. Stop in now and you’ll see paintings by Turkish artist Anatole Krasnyansky (an architect and set designer for the ‘70s group KISS) alongside boldly painted flower pots by Broad Ripple resident Laura Crawford. Other works on view and for sale include moody but colorful street scenes by Israeli painter Itzchak Tarkay, glossy lacquered eggs by Indy artist Nancy Miller, prints by pedigreed ‘60s Pop artist Peter Max, metalsmith jewelry by Indianapolis Art Center teacher Heidi Mandich, and large-scale still lifes by Alice Harpel of Crawfordsville.
“Local is critical,” says Jeff. The gallery even has a historic Indiana Room with works by George Jo Mess, Carl Graf, Louis Bonsib—all landscape painters working in Indiana in the early 20th century. There are art pieces for all budgets, from a $20 metal sculpture to a $10,000 Peter Max painting. There are also a few vintage curiosities, such as vaseline glass—a Victorian era trend in which a decorative glass object turns phosphorescent green under ultraviolet light, thanks to a little uranium added during firing.
The comment aesthetic element in the Evans’ offerings? Color.
“We just want people to enjoy art,” says Jeff. “Our motto is ‘Fine Art & Fun Stuff.’” Jeff and Jackie went so far as to get a yard sign made up that says “Not Stuffy.” While their approach is not stuffy, the gallery is dense with objects. “One reason for opening Gallery 6202 is that we wanted to downsize,” Jeff says. “We needed to share our 600 pieces of art. Because no one really ever owns art; we’re all just stewards of it.” Jeff also offers an art appraisal service.
Jeff and Jackie opened the gallery in December 2019 but shut down three months later, in March. By May 2021, they were ready to open again. “We’re all about rebuilding the art gallery scene in Broad Ripple,” Jackie says. Through July 4, the featured artist is John Atkins, whose work has a Cubist slant. As part of the July 15 Art Walk, meet the featured artist-of-the-month Joe Cancilla, longtime art teacher at Brebeuf. In August, Gallery 6202 will feature guest artists from the Lost Dog Gallery in Holy Cross.
Jeff is especially focused on September’s show, showcasing the work of R.A. Buys. Days after Jeff and Jackie agreed to show Buys’ work, the artist passed away. He left behind many abstract portraits drawn with brightly-hued markers, vibrating with color, that will fill the gallery.
Broad Ripple Art Walk Reboot
“The arts have been signature in Broad Ripple over the years,” says Broad Ripple Village Association Executive Director Summer Keown. “Murals, for example, had been there the whole time but hadn’t gotten attention in a while. It’s time for a renaissance.”
Factor in three vibrant new art venues, plus an appetite for post-pandemic socializing, and the revival of Third Thursday Art Walks is a no-brainer. “Broad Ripple is home to lots of creative people,” says Keown. “We want to amplify what they’re doing and add to the vibe.”
At least 10 venues are taking part in the July 15 walk. Maps will be available at any of the stops. Keown encourages people to take the Red Line or bike from spot to spot, and to be on the lookout for live music and food. The Art Walks run through November. Details about the July walk are online.
Freelance writer Anne Laker is a former arts administrator who has been involved in the local arts scene for many years. Follow her on Twitter @laker_anne