Saturday, August 01, 2009

New Changes at iMOCA

The past year has seem a number of changes and shifts in the local arts community on all fronts. From cut backs at the IMA, to the closing of Ruschman Gallery. For those who have been paying attention, things over the past several months have been shifting at iMOCA (Indianapolis Museum of Contemporart Art) as well. iMOCA had been struggling with funding for a couple years, creating some delays in remodeling and a cut back in the number of annual exhibitions scheduled. I have long been a fan and supporter of iMOCA and a number of the shows that curator Christopher West had put on in the space. But the past year in particular was tough. There seemed, to me at least, a bit of a dark cloud looming. Was iMOCA going to survive or go under?

Well, some major shifts have taken place at iMOCA this summer in what I hope will be a rebirth of sorts. I hope to see a return to some of the energy and vitality that iMOCA had a couple years ago. With some major staffing changes and possible a new mission, perhaps we will get a new and improved venue. As an art lover, all I really want is to have the opportunity to see some quality, well conceived, well executed and creative exhibitions in Indy. Doesn't sound like to much to hope for, but I think most of us would probably agree that shows that hit home on all these aspects are few and far between. I hope these new changes will offer us more of the quality shows we all hope for.

These past several days I have been able to corresepond with Jeremy Efroymosn about many of the changes at iMOCA and what we can expect to see in the coming months.

iMOCA Interview with Jeremy Efroymson:

OtC- As I understand it, iMOCA has gone through some internal changes, both with its staffing and with its programing. How has the staffing changed and what sort of changes might we expect to see in iMOCA's mission?

JE- Kathy Nagler, our former Executive Director left iMOCA earlier this year and has since taken a position at the IMA as Director of Donor Relations. Christopher West, our former Curator, was let go for financial reasons shortly before I took over as Executive Director at the end of May. As far as our mission, it remains the same, to bring contemporary art to the people.

OtC- The economy has had a harsh impact on the arts in Indy and we are seeing more and more cuts to arts funding by the local government. How have these changes affected iMOCA and is there hope that iMOCA will survive the coming months/years?

JE- We are affected like everyone else by the down economy. One funder told us that art is important, but people need to have food and shelter first, so they weren’t sure they’d be able to fund us. I’ve come up with my own pitch line, that is that we need to maintain the “cultural fabric” of Indianapolis even in an economic downturn.

OtC- I believe at one point we talked about the early days and concepts of iMOCA, where as it would be more mobile or shall I say spontaneous in its exhibitions and projects, exhibiting in spaces outside of the walls of iMOCA's current space along with holding shows in a more traditional sense. Might we see iMOCA operating in this way more in the coming months?

JE- Definitely. I think the mobile museum concept made us unique. We’re planning a show in the Murphy Building in conjunction with Big Car on October 2 around the theme of Bigfoot/Sasquatch/UFO’s. I’d love to rent a theater again since we had so much success early on with the Cremaster Cycle by Matthew Barney. Unfortunately, Key Cinemas on the Southside has closed, so we’ll have to find somewhere else. If anyone has any good ideas for installations or whatever, let me know.

OtC- As far as the upcoming season of exhibitions at iMOCA, are we going to see a return to a fuller exhibitions schedule that we have seen in the last year or more? If so, how many shows a year might we expect?

JE- Yes. We are going to be doing at least six shows a year. I think we need to keep busy.

OtC- If what I hear is correct, we can expect to see more exhibitions by guest curators at iMOCA. Is this the current plan and if so, can we expect to see exhibitions by curators from outside of Indy? Any curators already lined up?

JE- We will be having guest curators. I have talked with several people. Paula Katz, the Gallery Director at Herron is scheduled tentatively to curate our January show. I’ve talked with Maiza Hixson, formerly of the CAC in Cincinnati about curating a show. I’ve also talked with Jay Jordan, formerly of the New Center for Contemporary Art in Louisville, but he’s moving to Vancouver, so we’ll see. Though I haven’t spoken with him, I think Sam Lee of the Sam Lee Gallery in LA could curate a good show. In the meantime, we have a show from Tim Hutchings of New York which will open at iMOCA August 14 in conjunction with GenCon.

OtC- iMOCA for the most part has, in the past, exhibited mostly artists from outside of Indy. Any plans to exhibit more local artists in coming exhibitions?

JE- This is one area where I think we can improve. I have scheduled two shows with artists from Indianapolis. On October 9, we will have a show with Casey Roberts and Lori Miles at iMOCA around the Sasquatch/UFO theme. Our December show will be Brose Partington and Jeff Martin in an installation and kinetic sculpture show. I really felt like we needed to reconnect with the local community. We’re also going to have an Evans Woollen (architect originally from Indianapolis) retrospective show in March 2010 and we’ll be conducting tours of his buildings and residences in conjunction with Historic Landmarks of Indianapolis.

OtC- Any chance we will see the web site get a makeover, something that perhaps can be updated regularly by in house staff?

JE- The website was supposed to have been updated already. It kind of got lost in the shuffle. After the GenCon show in August, the website will be a priority. Fortunately, Stephen Schaf, our former Board President, is a designer with website capabilities at his company, HotBed Creative.

OtC- When is the first upcoming exhibit at iMOCA and what can we expect to see?

JE- August 14, “The Cursed Chateau” curated by New York artist and curator Tim Hutchings. It will feature works from 22 artists who are also gamers, and will open in conjunction with the GenCon Convention.

OtC- The last bit of news I had heard about iMOCA, a number of months ago, was that they were in the works to get a new, much larger space in a new building going up in the Fountain Square region. What can you tell us about this news and is it still in the works? And if so, when might we see this all take place? What can you tell us about the plans for the space, what size are we talking?

JE- We have been in negotiations for quite a while for a space in Fountain Square. Local Architect Craig Von Deylen is building a 56 unit apartment building at the Corner of Virginia and McCarty and has presented iMOCA with the opportunity to design and occupy a space on the second floor.

The building will be called the iMOCA Building. Our new space will be 6,500 square feet (five times the size of our current space) with a 2,000 square foot artsgarden/patio. It will have 20 foot high ceilings.

The building will serve as a connector between Downtown and Fountain Square. It will be visible from the interstate. We’re hoping to be able to use a lot that’s next to the interstate for a sculpture garden.

If all goes well, we could move in as early as Spring 2011.

OtC- With the new space in the works, what will be the role of, or rather what will happen with the current space that iMOCA has inhabited for all this time? Will iMOCA operate out of both or simply move to the larger space?

JE- We haven’t really decided about whether we’ll continue to operate in our current space. It’s possible we’ll keep the space open. I would like to thank Katz and Korin, who has donated the space to us, for their support.

2 Responses to “New Changes at iMOCA”

mbnjmntrb said...
August 1, 2009 at 4:03 PM

as much as i feel that IMOCA and art in general need to be part of our social fabric, interviews like these are important to keep leaders and organizers connected to the people.

great iinformation!

LesleySW said...
January 9, 2010 at 11:19 AM

I knew about some of this coming together, but this was a great interview to bring it all together. Thanks for the information!

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