HAMILTON CO. — As cities like Fishers and Noblesville turn to art to help shape their identities and economies, local organizations are leading the mission.
One of those groups is Nickel Plate Arts. Founded in 2012, the organization supports artists, provides resources, and helps the economy in general.
“One of the key things that we want to do in this community is provide sort of the first opportunity, or the first touch point for artists of all different backgrounds and skill levels,” said Nickel Plate Arts executive director, Aili McGill.
Those opportunities can range from displaying one piece of art, putting on a full solo exhibit, teaching, selling at a local fair, and much more.
Local artist Alyssa Overton has been involved with Nickel Plate Arts for about two years. Her work is on display through the month of March, at the organization's campus at 107 S. 8th Street in Noblesville. The gallery is free and open to the public.
The exhibit is called "Explore: A Trip Around the World."
“I just started drawing the different places that I wanted to be or some of my favorite vacation spots and just different things that I like about the world,” said Overton. “I wanted to have a vacation feel in one show.”
While this type of showcase is available through a membership level with Nickel Plate Arts, you do not have to be a member to work with the organization.
“They do artists call-outs, so if you have something that fits into the exhibit coming up, you just toss your name in the hat and it’s a great opportunity,” said Overton.
This type of support is crucial, according to McGill, because the creative economy in Indiana is a huge part of the workforce, but most creative entrepreneurs and creative workers are self-employed.
“So that’s a segment of the population that doesn’t necessarily get served by other organizations, even like chambers of commerce don’t always tailor things to the needs of artists and creative people,” McGill said.
The Fishers Arts Council is another Hamilton County group that helps fill that gap.
The organization has been around for about 25 years. It was all volunteer until January 2021, when it hired a part-time executive director.
The council’s goals are similar to those of Nickel Plate Arts.
“So many cities now are cookie-cutter, so the question is what can you bring?” Fishers Arts Council president Tom Rich said. “Art draws people, it’s an add-on, but it’s a significant economic add-on.”
Some of the council’s efforts include pop-up art venues, entrepreneurial opportunities, and online interactive art classes.
The Fishers Arts Council also operates an art gallery inside of city hall, that is free and open to the public. It is a place for local artists to not only exhibit their work at the market and sell it.
In March, the gallery features a special showcase, the work of international artist Hugh Syme.
“He’s an artist, he’s an illustrator, he’s a musician and he’s had a 40 year run with the band Rush,” said Rich, “and he’s done an amazing number of cover art for their albums and not only that, he’s worked with Celine Dion, Diana Ross, Megadeath,“ the list goes on and on.
A fond memory played a role in Rich’s enthusiasm when given the opportunity to display Syme’s creations.
“My daughter was a fan and when she was a percussionist her music director made her do all of Neil Peart’s music, so I go, I got to get involved,” Rich explained with a laugh.
No matter your musical or artistic tastes, the community is encouraged to get involved in the Hamilton County arts scene.
“Start your creative journey no matter where you are in that creative path if you’re really experienced or you’ve never picked up a pencil,” said McGill.
“It’s a great time to get inspired and get involved.”
For more information about Nickel Plate Arts, go to nickelplatearts.org.
For more information about the Fishers Arts Council, go to fishersartscouncil.org.