Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Do you like this story?
Early last Saturday morning, I walked from my home in Fountain Square to the grassy field south of Anthem Headquarters on the southeast side of downtown Indy.
My wife, Audrey, had been asked by the IMA to assemble volunteers to carry "Mr. T T T," an inflatable shape-shifting worm from outer space, in the On Procession art parade that day in Fountain Square.
Volunteers were told there would be free donuts and coffee and pizza and t-shirts, which there was.
Mr. T T T was created by the Friends With You design collective from Miami, Florida. Samuel and Arturo, the two members of Friends With You, greeted the volunteers, mostly art students from Herron, and gave a brief training course in Massive Balloon Care and Control.
Confused over what number of participants constitutes a collective, I became distracted and wandered off to look at the other parade participants.
I googled "art parade" the day before and was excited by what oddities might be manifested in Indianapolis' version of the idea. I was pleased to see The Lone Blogger in attendance, and surprised to see more than twenty contemporary artists I knew from around the neighborhood and around the city participating in various floats and performances.
I was surprised because none of these artists had been included on the list of participating artists on the IMA website for the parade.
Big Car Gallery was out there with their sound machine. I saw Jim Walker and Kipp Normand and John Clark (of Ploplop) in that group. Jim, Kipp and John are big reasons Big Car Gallery exists, and that Fountain Square is an art destination in the first place.
Then I saw Judith Levy with Artur Silva, fabulously dressed in camo with flat screens on their chests playing marching scenes and marching music.
Funny. Judith and Artur weren't on the IMA website either. Neither were any of the other native artists I saw in the parade.
My question to the IMA is: What's the point of us busting our asses to make an art scene if you are going to dis us in our own neighborhood? If you won't even give us the credit we earned, maybe we should stay in our studios next time and save ourselves the sweat.
Seriously, if you want to kiss up to contemporary artists from outside the state, fine. But don't come down to my neighborhood, and march a parade down my street, and ask my friends to get out the word and participate, and then not even mention our names with the other artists.
I know. Breathe.
Once the parade started, I left my anger in the port-o-potty and happily marched alongside Mr. T T T, enjoying the glee on the faces of the kids and other spectators who danced when they heard Mr. T T T's happy-psycho-techno theme song blaring through the speaker that preceded the massive, rainbow colored balloon.
The parade was organized so that one group started on the east end of the hood and one on the west, so the two processions would pass each other in the middle.
Since Mr. T T T was last in line on the west side crew, in the very back, I thought we'd get a clear view of the east side group as they walked by. But what did I see when I looked behind me about half way through the route? Carolene Mays, 7th District Congressional Candidate, had pulled up behind us in her pace car!
Was this a performance piece? Absurdist political street theater?
Then I looked up ahead in front of Mr. T T T, and there was Woody Myers, another 7th District Congressional Candidate, riding in a gigantic SUV!
The IMA let political candidates rub up on the art parade!
And as if that's not bad enough, instead of just walking their legislative asses the six blocks, Carolene and Woody made the rest of us--their would be constituents--breath in their exhaust so they could ride through the parade in the comfort of their gas guzzlers.
Any fantasy I had about Julia Carson's replacement having an idea how to connect with environmentalism or community issues, or even common decency, is gone.
Three words for Woody Myers, Corolene Mays and the IMA:
Out of touch.
But listen, if you want to make the scene, you have to ignore most of it or you'll be angry most of the time. You've got to breathe! (Unless you're sandwiched between Woody Myers and Carolene Mays in their silly cars from the past, that aren't even hybrids.)
I shook my head and decided to shrug off Procession-Gate and put a smile back on my face.
I walked onward, guiding Mr. T T T with the help of the other eleven volunteers, waving at the children and the neighbors who came out to see the show, yet admittedly starting to wonder why there were only about 500 people in attendance instead of the five thousand the IMA had hoped for when they hired the marketing firm to promote this event.
Mr. Marketing had called Audrey earlier in the year to find out where in Indianapolis to rent big tents, because I guess Google hasn't made it to Chicago yet. (Ha ha, just kidding! Have a sense of humor!)
Audrey helped with that and more to help On Procession happen. I am proud of her contribution, and her awesome attitude, and I am proud of the rest of the dissed and dismissed locals who made up most of this fun day and got zero credit for it from the bigwigs.
So even though the 5,000 didn't show (maybe 4,500 of them couldn't read the posters) I was still happy marching along with Mr. T T T, and looking forward to the after party.
The IMA set up shuttle busses to take people from Fountain Square to the big party after the parade, on the IMA's front lawn.
The parade was over at 12:45, but the sign at the shuttle pick-up said the shuttle didn't start till 2:30, and the party didn't start until 3:00. That's maybe why the gen-pub didn't make it out, yo. Limited attention span.
When Audrey and I got to the party at 3:30, there were about 40 people there. Ten were with Big Car. Ten others were with Friends With You (eleven counting Mr. T T T). Chris from IMOCA was there with his friends. They were cool and had scooters and sweet sunglasses. (Electric scooters, Woody and Carolene! E-lec-tric!)
There was a huge food spread featuring gigantic bowls of potato salad, hot dogs, veggie burgers and desserts. When Audrey and I went up to get some of that, the waiter said we needed arm bands.
We went to get an arm band and the girl said, "You're not on the list. Five dollars please."
We said, "Five dollars? Yeah, we're not doing that."
Audrey has an awesome attitude, and was very understanding that she wasn't put on the list, because she wants the IMA to make money and succeed. And of course I wasn't expecting that I would be on the list, because who do I think I am, right? (Even though the guys from Friends With You said their volunteers would get in free).
It's just that I saw a lot of names on the list with the word "complimentary" next to them. And I also saw Audrey put in a lot of hours for free helping the IMA, the marketing firm and the Miami design collective get things together to make this a successful parade (as defined by wikipedia). So what, Audrey can't even get a veggie burger?
I just wonder who did get in free? The participating artists from out of town that were listed on the IMA's website maybe.
We left and went to Earth Day and spent our money at The Abbey instead, where at least the food we were paying for hadn't been sitting in the sun for an hour.
By the way, what happened to all that potato salad after the picnic? Did the IMA take it to Wheeler Mission and share it with the needy? Or did they stuff it into Woody Myers' SUV for express delivery to the moon for the aliens who run our city to eat at the moon parade?
Only Robert Indiana knows.
For onthecusp, I am Phil Barcio.