Indianapolis is cool: A guide to the city’s art scene

Posted by Torrey Ratay in blog | January 19, 2017

Torrey Ratay

Cool Things to Do in Indianapolis

It’s happened. Indianapolis is cool. Some people have known it all along and if you didn’t, you probably found out when Forbes named it one of the best cities to live for young professionals 2016. In my opinion, Indy has been cool for a while, but I know others need convincing. If you are one of those still unconvinced folks, take a look at the art scene happening around the city. I’ll even make it easy for you by making a list of places you should check out for a guaranteed mind broadening, culturally enriching, good time.

Here are my favorite picks for enjoying a little slice of culture and art in this grand city of ours.

Places to Enjoy A First Friday

First Fridays at The Harrison Art Center: One of my personal favorites on this list. You are likely to find me here on the First Friday of any given month. Enjoy a Sun King brew or some wine while you wind around the seemingly endless hallways, nooks, and crannies of the art studios and galleries. Most First Fridays artists will be in their studios, either working or talking with passersby. It’s truly a magical place full of incredible Indianapolis artists.

Murphy Art Center: Located in the hip Fountain Square district, this First Friday has something for everyone. The Murphy Art Center holds establishments like Heartland Film, iMOCA, The Hi-Fi, individual artist studios and galleries, Do317 Lounge and Gallery, Girls Rock! Indianapolis and more. All that art and culture is accompanied by a couple of delicious food options, including La Margarita and the Red Lion Grog House. So, whether you are looking to discover a trendy new pop-up shop or just to have a delightful meal, this historic building has it all.

The Tube Factory: This is a cool spot to visit anytime, but they are open until 10pm on the first Friday of the month. Go in and see their gorgeous, newly renovated space and hear the inspiring story behind the imaginative group, Big Car Collective, that made it happen. A true place for artists, they provide a space for the public to go and create or enjoy art and community. Browse their website to see the all of the awesome projects they have going on in collaboration with the city.

For The Bibliophile

Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library: Eagerly awaiting their move into a brand new space on Mass Ave, this homage to one of Indiana’s most beloved authors has an abundance of neat stuff to go through. You’ll find things like a replica of Vonnegut’s writing room, first editions of his books and rejection letters from editors throughout the years. It’s a fun and interactive place to spend the afternoon.

Indy Reads Books: I LOVE this place. It is an awesome establishment doing great work for people around the city. Their books are donated, so going to shop there is like going thrifting for books. They always have hidden gems on their shelves. It’s a cozy place to spend a few hours curled up with a book or even volunteer to tutor members of our community.

To Talk With Creatives About Creativity

Creative Shift: A group that started this past year for Indianapolis creatives, it gives creative people a great opportunity to come together and work on a different design project each month. Eat, drink and share in good conversation with people who have similar interests. The location rotates monthly, hopping between cool Indy spots. Not only is it a fun event, it’s also a chance to try out different Indianapolis bars, breweries, and restaurants.

Creative Mornings Indy: This is a nationwide event held in multiple cities all over the US. Once a month, people working in the creative field in Indianapolis get together to drink coffee, eat doughnuts and hear from some seriously incredible locals on a different topic each month. If you’re not sure whether this one is for you, check out the archived videos on their site and you’ll be sold. Plus, there IS the added benefit of getting free coffee and doughnuts to start your Friday morning, but that’s secondary.

To Catch A Lecture or Class

Herron School of Art: With their many galleries and gaggles of talented young art students, there is bound to be art here that will amaze. But, I put Herron in this category for the Jane Fortune Outstanding Women Visiting Artist Lecture that is held there. Jane Fortune, brilliant author, philanthropist, and champion for women artists everywhere, brings to Herron and the public a variety of women artists to speak to their art and art around the world. The event is free and open to the public. Check their site for dates and go already!

Garfield Arts Center: Garfield is home to art exhibits, but also hosts a variety of classes that are open to the public. Free on Saturdays from 12 to 4 is Arts for All, where anyone can come to do an art project that the center has prepared. The center also provides classes for adults led by experienced artists in subjects including pottery, watercolor and flamenco dancing.

If You Want to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

The IMA: The 100 Acre park adjacent to the IMA is a super fun way to spend the afternoon. Part woodlands, part modern art installation, there are things to uncover around each bend in the trail. Take a picnic basket and your walking shoes to make it a day-long expedition, and if rains or the weather turns nasty, as it does here at times, there is direct access to the IMA, which is a fantastic museum for the art lover in all of us.

Your Own Two Feet: Did you know Indianapolis has the most public artworks and monuments of any city in the US besides Washington, DC? Get out there on your bike, scooter or hoverboard and just look around. You’ll be surprised by the amount of art you can spot around this city by just taking a walk.

It’s a great time to be a creative type living in Indy; there is inspiration to be found around every corner. So, whether it’s enjoying a First Friday, exploring a good book, networking with other creatives or taking in the great outdoors, Indy is the perfect place to experience exciting art and culture. Convinced yet? I thought so.