In Fishers, Art Is Here to Stay

In Fishers, Art Is Here to Stay

 

Sidewalk art by Jessica Springman comes to life with a little water.

Jessica Springman’s hydrophobic art installation, INVisible Art, on the sidewalks in the Nickel Plate Business District.

When Braden Business Systems moves its headquarters to the downtown Fishers Nickel Plate District in 2017, you can expect to see some kind of public art — a painting in the lobby, sculpture on the grounds or mural on a façade, perhaps — on its property. In fact, any new construction in downtown Fishers that requests a variance must include public art in its plan. Thanks to city leaders, it’s written into the city code.

This is the kind of work the Fishers Arts Council is helping make possible as they build partnerships with leaders in business, government and education. The nonprofit organization is consulting with Braden to help find the right artist for its big project, as it will for future companies planting a stake in the Nickel Plate District. Through initiatives like these, the FAC is making arts integral to the city for the long haul.

“One thing that Fishers has is a real entrepreneurial can-do spirit and that’s been a huge benefit. Any time anyone has an idea, it’s always ‘How are we going to do this?’ instead of ‘We can’t do that,’” says Lisa Vielee, president of the Fishers Arts Council.

Since 2014, the FAC’s toolbox has shifted from using a few robust annual events to executing a collection of strategies designed to support sustainability of its board and arts projects.

Three years ago, the FAC sat down with Hamilton County Tourism and other partners to look at how they could build a runway from which the arts can launch in Fishers. HCT awarded the FAC a grant to pursue strategic planning, and a four-pronged plan was developed, focusing on arts advocacy, resident engagement, sustainability, and education of others such as artists, students and businesses.

Photo by Lisa Vielee of the Mudsock Jazz Combo playing on Central Green during the July 2016 Arts Crawl.

Photo by Lisa Vielee of the Mudsock Jazz Combo playing on Central Green during the July 2016 Arts Crawl.

While the board is made up of individuals representing marketing (like Vielee), finance, insurance, architecture and community volunteerism, they all are patrons of the arts, a deliberate shared characteristic meant to support the FAC’s focus on supporting working artists. Artists and arts organizations come together through the FAC’s “Cultural Alliance,” a collaborative group that brings ideas and programs to the board for funding, marketing and advocacy support.

The canvas on which Fishers’ arts culture is being created is still unfinished — prepped to receive layer upon layer of artistic influence. In 2017, some of those influences will be found on six signal boxes on Lantern Road and 116th Street. Artists Jacque Hammonds of Fishers, William Denton Ray of Indianapolis and Canadian artist Guiseppe Percivati will be attacking the big green metal structures with their imaginations and paints to turn them into public art pieces.

Also in 2017, the FAC will continue its cosponsorship with the City of Fishers of Art in City Hall and the Arts Crawl, a family-friendly, walkable tour of 20-25 businesses that partner with artists to provide visitors with a fun way to experience fine art and performing arts, and shop local. Two Arts Crawl events took place during the summer of 2016, and that tradition is set to continue.

Performances will also be staged at a number of locations in Fishers such as the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater, Ambassador House and local churches. In addition to regional acts, look for a full season from Fishers Music Works ensembles such as the Nickel Plate Jazz Orchestra, Fishers Chamber Orchestra, White River Brass Quintet and Mudsock Jazz Combo, as well as new productions from Projekt Opera and Nickel Plate Players.

Vielee moved to Fishers with her family 15 years ago and joined the Fishers Arts Council board five years later. While working in downtown Indianapolis, most recently with Well Done Marketing, she has had the opportunity to get involved with Indianapolis’ arts and cultural scene, working to make art more visible and relevant in the city.

“I wanted to be part of my community here — not just Indianapolis. I’m a firm believer that art makes everything better and I wanted to give people reasons to stay here in Fishers instead of having to go to Indianapolis or Carmel,” she says.

Fishers already had valuable yet not wholly tapped assets, she adds. The school district had a strong arts program and there were more working artists living in the city than Vielee had expected. As the FAC continues to tap into Fishers’ organizations, businesses and budding relationships, the city’s vitality is sure to continue to grow.

Find the Fishers Arts Council at fishersartscouncil.com.

Top Photo: The Entrepreneurs, images of the first banner installation for The Edge building, artwork copywrited and owned by Rachel K. Johnson.

Casey Kenley
casey@caseykenley.com