In Indianapolis, 100 Acres of Art Open to All

100 Acres, the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s new art park, open all hours year-round, is a place where art appears out of the landscape, or is even part of the landscape, writes The Architect’s Newspaper. The new open-air museum, built on the site of a former gravel pit, is now a “hybrid of landscape, art, and architecture.” Created by Edward Blake, ASLA, a principal with landscape architecture firm Landscape Studio, the site features eight of art installations set within woodlands, wetlands, meadows and lake, and designed for all- weather heavy-duty usage (see earlier post).

According to The Architect’s Newspaper, the new art landscape architecture is an act of “recuperation and subtle adjustment of the non-native ‘blow-ins’ and planted trees and bushes,” which now “define larger and smaller spaces.  [W]inding paths through the park connect it all together.”

Eden II, an installation by Tea Makipaa, features a dilapidated 50-foot-long boat that cuts across the museum’s 35-acre lake. From a nearby guard tower on the shore, visitors can listen to sounds of imaginary refugees fleeing from an environmental disaster. “In this bit of set design, invisible performers, whose voices you hear in the tower, worry about illegal immigrants trying to come onshore, and gunfire rings out somewhere in the woods.” The New York Times quoted one curator as saying: “We can imagine leaving Tea’s piece to become a shipwreck. Why not just let it do what it needs to do?” Visitors can also watch the lake art installation from a metal pier created by Kendall Buster.

On the lake, there’s also “Indianapolis Island,” a fiberglass igloo created by artist Andrea Zittel that bobs itself around untethered. In summer months, visitors can access it via rowboat, and art student are even working within the igloo, creating installations of their own.

“Benches around the Lake” by Jeppe Hein is a set of 15 benches spread throughout the park, forming one continous thread. “All 15 benches are functional, though some are more roller coaster or slide than stable platform, putting guests in close proximity to friends or strangers.” One is even known as a “kissing bench” because it dips in the middle. “When two people are sitting on it, they slide in together, wanted or not,” said the artist. 

There are a number of pieces of larger landscape art: Artist Alfredo Jaar’s “Park of the Laments” is an “isolated, empty, demarcated space, where he encourages you to contemplate all those who have been displaced or lost in wars,” writes The Architect’s Newspaper. “Team Building (Align)” by Type A features two aluminum rings hanging between trees. “At the summer solstice, they project a perfect circle in the middle of the little clearing they define.” Los Carpinteros’ “Free Basket” (seen at top) includes vibrant steel loops that trace the paths of bouncing balls and surround basketball backboards — an installation neighborhood kids have taken to. Dagoberto Rodríguez Sánchez, a member of Los Carpinteros, told The New York Times: “It’s an endless game, with all the connotations you can take from that situation. With every bounce the geography of the game changes.” The site can be used for “anything except basketball.”

The museum is free and open around the clock year round. Learn how to visit.

Image credits: Indianapolis Museum of Art (except Indianapolis Island / The New York Times)

One thought on “In Indianapolis, 100 Acres of Art Open to All

  1. Patricia M. ODonnell FASLA 09/08/2010 / 11:29 am

    IMA Art and Nature Park

    Ed Blake, Landscape Studio principal, died very recently. He was a very special man and landscape architect with a highly regarded canon of work, including the widely known Crosby Arboretum hydric landscape.

    For the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), there was a large project team in the planning stages which included our office as the Oldfields Estate, National Historic Landmark, Olmsted Brothers, Percival Gallagher designed landscape is adjacent to the new Art and Nature Park. The local landscape architect team members and collaborators with Ed Blake’s office was NINEbark, of Indianapolis.

    We very much appreciated the opportunity to work with Ed Blake at the IMA.

    The planning team also include sculptor, Mary Miss whose bridge is unbuilt. IMA has selected the contemporary artists for the first group of installations within this very interesting 100 acre land, river, and quarry pond landscape. The IMA has an unparalleled set of resources with a land area of about 150 acres, including Oldfields, IMA Museum Gardens, and the Art and Nature Park.

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