Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wikipedia Deems "On Procession" A Success

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.

24 Responses to “Wikipedia Deems "On Procession" A Success”

The Urbanophile said...
April 30, 2008 at 3:48 PM


I was at the parade on Saturday and noted the sparse attendance. But in a sense thought it had a sort of cool Fountain Square vibe.

L.Z. said...
April 30, 2008 at 11:13 PM

I got to the parade at one o'clock thinking that it started at twelve and would go on longer than an hour!
Next time maybe an end time on the parade flyer/email would be good.
"12-1 be there or miss it"
I knew about the parade months ago, but my friends who do things other than blog at 11:07 at night did not know about it.
I will go see the exhibit of the parade, after all its end result is an image....

Donna said...
May 1, 2008 at 9:02 AM

Phil, I enjoyed reading your writeup, even though it's in a cranky tone you do make all good points.

The low attendance was disappointing. It was a FUN parade and was definitely a big undertaking for Naptown - there is no shortage of creative thinkers in this city (witness Pecha Kucha2 the night before, too), but getting them rallied around a single/few events is hard. I wonder if people were fearful of this parade because they thought it would be all "arty" and maybe feature acts that would offend their young kids' eyes?!

In any case, I had a total blast watching it and am so glad the event happened - perhaps it can grow and be annual? I love parades but have never felt interested in getting out to see any of our sports-related processions!!

Anonymous said...
May 1, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Phil, you gotta relax man. Why does everything with you have to be such an injustice? Your whole world might look better if you wouldn't let small shit like recognition on the IMA website and free hot dogs get you down.

Jim Walker said...
May 1, 2008 at 12:01 PM

While there were certainly things that slipped through the cracks with this big undertaking (see above) I was really pleased to see the IMA moving out of its walls and grounds and into the community. And not just the arts community. All kind of people who may never set foot in an art museum stood outside of the Peppy Grill or Top Cat Motors and saw this happening on the streets.

As a resident of Fountain Square and as a person who helps with Big Car, a community arts organization in the same neighborhood, I saw this event as a win-win situation for Indianapolis. Everybody I talked to who watched the parade told me it was their favorite parade ever in Indianapolis. Fountain Square businesses owners told me they enjoyed a lot of extra traffic that day, which is crucial right now for the neighborhood.

It's also worth noting that the exhibit, opening Friday in the Forefront Gallery, features the work of local artists as seen in the parade last weekend. (The local work includes a video from Big Car's noise machine project).

With On Procession, the IMA was able to reach into the community and work with local artists at a variety of levels. While everything didn't come off without a hitch, the IMA and the city made a big step here.

It's important to remember where the IMA was less than a decade ago, how cold and disconnected it really was -- how far away it stood from the people, from the community, from the local art scene. This is a big step in the right direction. I hope we see more soon...

Anonymous said...
May 1, 2008 at 9:32 PM

Way to spread the love man! I love OTC, but I notice that when ever the IMA is turns into a lynch mob. Isn't the IMA a part of the local art scene? Why drive the wedge even deeper? There is no absolute no need to call people out for their short comings, unless you want someone to point out yours.
You are TOTALLY missing the point....the IMA could of done their parade anywhere else, perhaps Mass Ave or on their own grounds...but they featured Fountain Square. Kudos to the gang at the IMA. Any major city-wide event will have its catastrophes and short-comings (at its first attempt). I am sorry no one threw you parade or gave you a gold star for your effort. But you were not the only participant there, so don't feel free to speak for others. You obviously didn't work that close to the event, I am sure there was more going into it than tents, pizza's, and doughnuts.
I thought the art community is inclusive and not exclusive.
Get a grip Phil...and way to spread the love.

Anonymous said...
May 2, 2008 at 10:14 AM

The IMA is a reflection of this town and its insecurity about anything homegrown. To those who naively believe this is a good start, rest assured that the organizer on the IMA side has already dictated this will not happen next year. And that is probably the worst aspect of the entire experience. I put too much effort into our group's entry to be invited to spend $10 (w/o coupon), for hot dogs and potato salad, and not even getting the proverbial stupid t-shirt. Phil is right on point.

Anonymous said...
May 2, 2008 at 1:51 PM

Yes. I spent over twenty hours as part of my group's effort. I saw no mention of my group's project and no free hot dog... It may seem petty to some, but I'm doing art full time and have an income below the poverty line. In what other career are people REGULARLY EXPECTED to support PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS WHO HAVE A GREATER INCOME THAN THE CONTRIBUTOR?

Grumble, grumble.

- e

Anonymous said...
May 2, 2008 at 4:12 PM

Duh its not going to happen next year......its a one time exhibition. Thats what I understood from the web-site.

The Dude said...
May 2, 2008 at 9:16 PM

Hmmm... so none of the grumblers here are listed on Fritz Haeg's web page?

I see lots of projects listed on that web page that are from Indianapolis.

I wonder how many of the complainers got there picture taken in front of one of his banners and are also listed on that same website?

Finally, did you spend the "20 hours" to be recognized by the IMA, get some free lunch and a t-shirt? That's funny.

I think a lot of people are missing the point here.

Lirio said...
May 3, 2008 at 7:45 PM

For what it's worth....Thanks to all you hard working local art is some virtual fried chicken, deviled eggs, fruit salad and sangria! Artists are #1...local class is where it's at.

Anonymous said...
May 3, 2008 at 8:52 PM


Art for lunch and t-shirt.

Why don't you make your own parade next year and give out free stuff to people for making "art". Or why don't you a be a realtor and complain about everything.

LOL. Artist #1.

Lirio said...
May 4, 2008 at 10:48 AM

HEY Anonymous! It's not art for lunch and a's free time and work for lunch and a t-shirt....get it?

My statement "The artist is #1" is made for museums, gallerys and event organizers to mull.....not the public. The public care? Hell....the public doesn't care about visual "art"...unless there is a sustained, believable buzz that there are
A) bargains
B) Dazzling beauty
C) acctual personal enjoyment

Imo, the buzz that matters to the public comes from the ground up, (or celebrities hahahah!) it doesn't trickle down from big media or museum/foundation bureaurcrats The public here in Indiana doesn't give much care for something that is just media/egghead touted.
I live in a doughnut mention of the parade was made in our local papers, radio, message boards or even billboards on the highway that I saw....
Maybe Fountain Square was not the right choice? I dunno.... perhaps a straight up artsy fartsy location such as Mass Ave or "wannabe" Carmel would have attracted more of the type of people that might care about an art parade first time out?
But, in reference to the original post.... to not make the local artists feel appreciated is bad form, and kills off an obvious source of good, real, local buzz. "Local class"! heh!

Donna is correct succeed with a public event, you need to learn from your mistakes and keep trying. Eventually you will get the right combo and the parade could become what it needs to be, to be successful.....which might not be what the original planners had in mind.....because we (Hoosiers) are still free range sheeple.

Anonymous said...
May 4, 2008 at 9:18 PM

I don't even know what Lilrio's point here is.

Is that what people here need, recognition from the IMA? You'd better check yourself if that's your goal in making art.

Lilrio, I think I've seen your name on this blog before and this parade was announced on this blog in October of 2007:

Lirio said...
May 5, 2008 at 7:32 AM

Two points, weaving in an around each is that the IMA should have gone out of their way to treat all the artist volunteers with great appreciation and respect, so the original poster would have never felt the bilious need to tell his this story. The artists should be #1 to the IMA and other not for profits and businesses trying to bring art to the public. The artists are the ones who do the work. I believe that is the concept of "local class" that someone brilliantly mentioned on OTC last year.

A second point is my (for what it's worth) analysis of the small turnout from the have to give the public what they want, cause a trickle up have to advertise in places the public will see (not OTC).

Hope this is clear enough for you to understand, anonymous.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008 at 8:22 AM

Maybe you and some here need a lesson on what volunteerism means.

A volunteer is someone who offers to help another out for free. That's simple.

Volunteering is usually done for the benefit of the community. Volunteering is not done for the benefit of the volunteer. This is funny, isn't it?

In this case if someone volunteered to help out in the parade then why would they expect or demand to get something back in return? This is simply not volunteering.

If you want something in return don't volunteer. Ask to get hired.

Likewise, how were the artist that participated in the parade not #1? How more classy could the IMA have been? And how would you be able to judge this if you didn't attend the parade, Lilrio?

I have no idea how the IMA marketed this parade, and don't have a clue how many people attended it.

What I saw during the parade was cool. The participants all seemed to be having a good time, and so did the crowd. I didn't care how many people saw it or not. It just didn't matter.

I too checked out the parade website and found tons of Indy-based participants listed. I don't know why the realtor didn't see them, or why anyone feels dissed here. This is crazy.

Lirio said...
May 5, 2008 at 9:49 AM

Hear that guys.....don't volunteer if the treatment P Barcio described here isn't your cup of tea. Breathe!! End of discussion!

Lirio said...
May 5, 2008 at 9:57 AM

Well....almost the end (blush) On the topic of "how to treat your volunteers, and advertise"....the Fringe Festival does both these things very well...imo.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008 at 3:21 PM

It's a F#@*'in Parade !!!! Get over it.........
Do your Art

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008 at 4:02 PM

Recognition or a pat on the head from the IMA is not the point. People who put in the hours to seed what could be an annual downtown event were overtly dissed by the exclusivity of a guest list and miserly treatment of participants. I don't think anyone is hungry for a bone from IMA, much less a t-shirt. But do they have to treat local artists with disregard, who, even if they are of no import to IMA, are still the most focused audience in the city for IMA's product? From a marketing standpoint, abandoning the parade and what interest in the arts it could generate over the years, while simultaneously insulting the local artists who, after all, work for free, is just dumb if not arrogant.

Scott said...
May 5, 2008 at 8:22 PM

Much seems to be made of the issue about whether the IMA will or even planned on continuing the idea of the parade as an ongoing, annual event. Even before the parade took place, this discussion was going on amongst certain groups throughout town. The amount of time and money it takes to pull off an annual parade is no small means. I for one would prefer the IMA spend its time, efforts and money on bringing in better exhibitions and acquistions over a parade. A parade, more often than not, is little more than a gimmick that prevents people from driving their normal routes to home or work. It is no secret that I have never been a fan of parades but I was interested in seeing how this Art Parade was going to shape up. Unfortunately I missed the whole show, but since being back home have heard both positive and negative feedback. This is of course to be expected.

If the community desires to make this an annual event then this is something the community or any of the arts organizations could take on. After all, most people keep talking about how much time and money they spent on their projects, well, that is art. Time and money spent with little or no guarentee on return.

I want to ask this, what about the art? Everyone seems to be taking sides concerning attendance, respect, and how well the event was organized or advertised, but what about the art? Was it good? Did it make you question the concept of the typical parade or merely mimick it? Was it about the art or about the community (Fountain Square, Santorini's, Political candidates, etc.)? This past weekend was a mini marathon and from what I heard there were a loads of people participating, people are willing to run but not willing to sit still and watch a parade? I do not know the answer, but it seems to be one about the community.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008 at 10:17 PM

Thank you for volunteering your time in the comment section of onthecusp!!!I hope you didn't spend too much time or money.Please leave your address and I will send you a hotdog for your support.We appreciate everything you do. :)

Thank you so much!

Dr.Hamhock for o.t.c.

Phil Barcio said...
May 7, 2008 at 9:42 PM

Hey Anonymous...
The Realtor? WTF? You don't have a job? That must be anonym-awesome.
The IMA updated their website after my original post to include information on local artists that participated in the parade. I can't know if that was inspired by OTC, but at least now everybody's represented. I give the good people at the museum credit. They learned from criticism and adapted.
I'll take that virtual tofu chicken wing now.
Phil Barcio

Anonymous said...
May 8, 2008 at 8:31 AM

Thank you, I am.

You mean this web page?

Maybe you should read the words on that page. They says:
"Among the approximately fifty artists and collectives who contributed to the parade, the exhibition includes selected documents, ephemera, and artworks from the following participants:"
And then it lists a few (I think these are the ones that made it into the gallery, and I don't think this had anything to do with your rant here).

As always, if you wanted to see all of the parade participants all you have to do is go here:

Maybe I'm "in between jobs," but at least I know how to read web pages.

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