Big Car Collaborative – 30 Days of Thanksgiving

At F.C. Tucker we talk a lot about “paying our civic rent,” so for the month of November, we would like to express our gratitude to the many organizations and individuals who serve their communities tirelessly and make Indiana a better place to live and work. We obviously can’t highlight everyone, but we would like to salute these 30 organizations that are making a difference.

30 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 29: Big Car Collaborative

Careening through Big Car’s projects it’s hard to sum up by output. There are art exhibits, live music and performance, panel discussions, a radio station, traveling activities, public installations, artists residencies, neighborhood improvement projects, workshops, classes, a community woodshop, house rehab and economic sustainability research and efforts, the list goes on. It’s much easier to describe them by their purpose instead. Jim Walker says the drive from the beginning has been “working to make creative things happen in Indianapolis.” And they, like more and more art-based operations today, have more in mind with that mission than just the production and consumption of wall-and-podium art objects.

Best advice here is to see for yourself. First Friday is tomorrow and the Garfield Park creative community is flush with activities! Warm up with the new First Friday Night Market in the parking lot of the Tube Factory Art Space, where local food, farm, craft and art makers are invited to set up their wares and the neighbors and visitors meet and mingle.

Head inside the Tube for the sincerely gripping and potent exhibit “Keeper of my Mothers Dreams” from two artists LaShawnda Storm Crowe and Maria E Hamilton Abegunde. Storm Crowe’s ongoing socially oriented work around the intersections of gender violence and lynching wound together with Abegunde’s written works as a Memory Keeper/ancestral priest in the Yoruba Orisa tradition. The collaboration sings and supports, laying open a deep, terrible hurt with the healing hands of many. Accompanying performance events throughout the exhibit’s stay are the living element and more than worth a plug. Come “examine how the abuse, loss, and commodification of one’s womanhood and humanity can be transformed through processes that lead to healing and the rebirthing and re/making of identity.”

Feeling very much grateful for life and hopefully reconnected to body, cross the busy Shelby Street (a corridor Big Car is working to one day make more pedestrian friendly with their Tactical Urbanism projects). Here is the empty appliance store Big Car converted into a small gallery, radio station and music venue, Listen Hear. This First Friday features Aimee Berry spinning her record collection of albums selected for “being awkward.” Ever wonder what a weird, funny thrift store vinyl find sounds like?

Have a beer, wine, soda, make some friends and take it in. The Tube is located off Shelby at 1125 S. Cruft. The neighbors are nice too – just a few steps south and you’ll find some non-Big Car artists at the Standard Studio Gallery.

For much more, visit http://www.bigcar.org/events/

Big Car is 13 years old. That’s young by Newfields standards, but approaching mainstay status in the sometimes robust, sometimes elusive Indianapolis DIY art scene. Part of its staying power is not just weathering bumps, like location and fundraising challenges, but growing by them and evolving to their solutions. What started in a small studio (once a bathroom) in Fountain Square, has grown to a veritable village that’s city-wide mobile too. The steps and plunges they took to get here were guided early on from an environment rich in collaboration and support from a scrappy small business community, which led to irrigation channels being built by some of the same financial backers for our longest-running art institutions. Their history page is dense with names of mentors and patrons. That’s no dig about the writing, it’s impressive. Art asks a ton of questions. But it doesn’t always know how to ask for help.

Big Car is a success story still unfolding, and still learning out loud. They’re working to understand community connection and what their presence means to neighboring business and residents, blending away lines of thought that hold art apart.