Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Scene in Flux

One of the things that every art community must endure is a state of constant change. Sometimes things evolve for the better, while at other times it seems we take a step backward until someone or something fills the missing gap. Within weeks, our city will no longer have the advantage of one of its best spaces for artists to put on exhibitions, the Madison Studio's and Gallery. The Madison (formerly the Bodner Arts Building) will close for good. As it stands currently, most artists have already evacuated the space for new studios, something many of the artists had done many months ago when the sale of the building to its current owners took place. The fate of the building has been known for some time now and could be seen in the sparse number of shows held there over the past months.

What is it about the Madison that made it a great spot? For me, it was that it initially offered hope and possibility. Hope of a community of like minded individuals,a gallery that allowed for possibility and it was quite affordable. The gallery was open and democratic to both artists and curators who were allowed to put on whatever exhibitions they wanted. Money was never a deciding factor in what shows were to be seen. This openness allowed for some of the most interesting shows I have seen locally over the past few years.

The closing of the Madison has made me think about our art community and how it has changed over the last ten years as well as reminding me of the closing of the Farris Building several years ago. The Farris Building offered what I considered the best artist studios and had some wonderful galleries when it was around. I remember that the open studio nights were a blast. The building was easy to navigate, always full of energy, and a nice mix of artists. When it closed there was something missing in the community that has not yet been fully filled; though, in some way, the opening of locations like the Bodner(later the Madison) and the Murphy Art Center helped. Although the Madison could never be like the Farris, it did offer a space for numerous artists and musicians to work and create. One of the down sides of the building was that it was a bit out of the way for some and the studios were often hard to navigate through preventing the possibility of open studio nights. Its location did have some impact on the attendance of gallery exhibitions but with proper advertising that was often lessened.

With there no longer being a cheap, available, and open gallery for artists to put on shows I wonder what to expect in the way of grassroots exhibits in the coming years... Galleries and studios will always come and go as will many of our artists and artist run spaces but it will never be easy to get used to. I for one will miss the Madison and its gallery once it is gone. I will now have to wait and see who or what will come and fill the hole that will be left?

3 Responses to “A Scene in Flux”

Anonymous said...
August 31, 2006 at 1:50 AM


Anonymous said...
August 31, 2006 at 9:45 AM

Regardless of the background details, this is symptomatic of the overall state of affairs in the midwest concerning visual arts and, magnified, the lack of interest/buying from the Indy community as a whole.

Would this building be shutting down if a vibrant, art-buying, supportive community, like San Fran, existed here?

Doubt it.

Opening nights are always exciting and fun. But to ensure more of them, someone has to grease the skids with some commerce or the whole thing comes crashing down sooner or later.

Attendance is nice, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Christopher said...
September 1, 2006 at 10:09 AM

Very sad that the Madison is shutting down, but this is not just symptomatic of the midwest.

Interesting that you mentioned San Francisco. Artists there get thrown out of their spaces more frequently than a dot-com'er loses a job. Remember SoHo in the 80s? It's a little different now. Even China Town in LA is getting expensive. It's unfortunate but it's what happens all over and has been going on for decades.

There will be other creative spaces in Indy. And hopefully those will feed a growing gallery scene. It just takes time.

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