When Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl in 2012, the city looked at this event not only as an opportunity to host one of the greatest spectacles in modern sports, but to take this chance to make sustainable improvements to the many neighborhoods that make up the city. One of the many endeavors put forth by city officials included the “46 for XLVI” program. This was a citywide initiative done by the Arts Council of Indianapolis in collaboration with the City of Indianapolis to commission artists to create 46 murals all over the city. Elevating the artistic culture of cities has been an ever-growing motive across the country in recent years, and Indy is leading the way!
It’s well known that the addition of murals to an area can bring a certain atmosphere that may have otherwise not existed. This is precisely what Mayor Ballard had in mind when he consented to the project. “The arts play a vital role in enhancing our urban environment. The “46 for XLVI” murals will beautify our neighborhoods”, says Ballard “(it’s) an innovative and creative way to augment the extensive infrastructure work underway across the city.”
The Arts Council of Indianapolis was responsible for the solicitation of artists for the project. They subsequently received more than 100 submissions from artists around the country, many of who were from Indiana, and including some from International arts communities. The council chose artists based on their diversity of technique, as well as their geographic location around the country and the world. Along with the diversity of the artists themselves, the diversity of locations for the murals was equally as important. The council chose locations based on neighborhood assessments, general inquiries, and even via requests from neighborhoods themselves around the city; all in all, the council locked-in 46 mural locations citywide.
A total of 34 artists completed 46 murals in Indy, all wrapping up just in time for the start of Super Bowl XLVI. The artists responsible for the completion of this massive project included artists from numerous mediums. For example, take well-known Indy graffiti artists FAB Crew who’s mural, entitled “Wormin’”, can be seen on Olive St. on the SE side of the city. FAB Crew used aerosol cans to depict the beloved Hoosier pastime of fishing, although with a slight twist. In this painting, the fish are the ones casting the lines! With a vibrant, sunset drenched backdrop, these fish are aboard a rickety handmade boat, angling for worms.
Another mural, done by Eduardo Mendieta, shows a woman emerging from sky blue water. Covering the entirety of a South facing building directly on the Mass Ave strip, “Dimensional Shadows” is Eduardo’s reference to the breaking of planes found in work, relationships, and life in general. Eduardo says his mural represents the “importance of self-empowerment”. There’s no better place for a mural about the “self” than Mass Ave, which is known for it’s bohemian style and free-spirited attitude.
Another Mass Ave mural, and possibly now the most popular mural in the city, is one depicting Hoosier native and famed author Kurt Vonnegut. This isn’t just any normal painting of a celebrated individual; in this mural Vonnegut stands over 3 stories in height! Indianapolis artist Pamela Bliss decided to honor the Hoosier hero by allowing him to eternally stand within the heart of the city he so loved. Entitled “My Affair with Kurt Vonnegut”, this mural allows Hoosiers from a new generation to appreciate the man who dedicated his life, and his work, to the city they call home.
Let’s allow Mr. Vonnegut to close this article with a lovely quote about his (our) city:
“All my jokes are Indianapolis. All my attitudes are Indianapolis… if I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, 1986