INDIANAPOLIS — Broad Ripple is widely known for its bars, restaurants, and boutiques. But beyond the avenue, you will find a place that builds community through paintings, sketchbooks, and ceramics.
The Indianapolis Art Center is nestled on 67th Street along the White River. The location opened in the 1970s, but the Center dates back much further — and it has a history of overcoming hardships.
"The Indianapolis Art Center was actually born during the Great Depression in 1934 so the pandemic doesn't have much on us," said president and executive director Mark Williams. That may explain how the Center has been able to adjust so seamlessly to the hurdles created by the COVID crisis.
From professional artists to people looking for a hobby, to those who just admire art — the Indianapolis Art Center offers something for everyone.
When it comes to showcasing professionals, Williams says, "our exhibitions are well known, and they're well-received, and the diversity of exhibition offers artists opportunities that they just might not find anywhere else."
They range from an annual student show to large calls for juried exhibitions, that may be decided by an independent panel of artists.
Now those exhibitions can be found online. Virtual tours of galleries have been added, for those who do not feel comfortable going to the Center in person, as the pandemic continues.
The organization also recently launched an online marketplace, where you can not only view local artwork but buy it.
"Basically, it's an Amazon for art," explains Williams. "You get your own storefront and the artist then manages their relationship with the buyer."
Heather Nuber is among those taking advantage of the marketplace. The local artist primarily works with textiles, metals, and painting. Nuber also teaches at the Indianapolis Art Center. She says it is special because it does not force her to choose one medium.
"There's lots of art centers that have painting and ceramics, those are very popular," Nuber said. "But they don't have also a wood, and a sculpture, and glass blowing and like multiple painting studios. We just have so many resources here it's like a really incredible place."
Williams agrees. "You're not going to find many art centers left in the country like the Indianapolis Art Center. It really is one of a kind," he said.
Both stress you do not have to be experienced or even be a talented amateur to enjoy taking a class. "We like to say that we meet people where they're at with art," said Williams. "It's kind of that judgment-free zone, right, you come in and you're here to be creative and we're here to be supportive."
"We have students of every single level, students that are just walking in taking their very first art class, and others that have been taking them for years, we have students that are professionals and they're making money at it," adds Nuber.
Classes are now offered in-person with capacity restrictions and online. They range from 2 hours to 15 weeks.
Finally, if you just like to take in the beauty of art, anyone can visit the Indianapolis Art Center's galleries. Williams says remaining "free and accessible to all" is critical to the Center's mission.
No matter how you engage with the Indianapolis Art Center, Nuber says it is a place where all are welcome.
"Being part of the Art Center, it's more than just learning art skills it's also becoming part of a community," she said. "It doesn't matter how much money you have, or what your race is, or any of those things, don't matter. You're just coming together to create."