A night in the life of Fountain Square
Jeremy Efroymson tried his luck running an art gallery in Fountain Square nine years ago, when people touted the working-class neighborhood as a cultural district on the rise. “They said, ‘It’s only a year or two away.'”
The Efroymson Martin Gallery didn’t last. But fast-forward to 2010 — there’s evidence of major momentum throughout Fountain Square. While the neighborhood has slowly developed into a destination, several key pieces to the puzzle snapped into place in recent months as new restaurants, bars and arts destinations opened their doors.
Efroymson, executive director of the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, has returned to the neighborhood 1 1/2 miles southeast of Monument Circle with renewed optimism.
iMOCA’s debut on a frigid Friday night in December on the first floor of the Murphy Building attracted everyone from well-known art-scene luminaries to frustrated, well-dressed moms whose kids wouldn’t stop touching the art.
Upstairs, Big Car Gallery presented an installation of walk-through sculptural paintings and live hip-hop. Next door, an avant-garde crowd milled about the clothing boutique IndySwank.
Most of the action in Fountain Square happens along Virginia Avenue, the spoke of the circle that extends southeast from the center of the city and meets Prospect and Shelby streets in the heart of the neighborhood.
The best night to visit is on the first Friday of each month — the next is Feb. 5. The energy steadily builds throughout the evening in the gallery and studio spaces and elsewhere throughout the neighborhood (including, no joke, the Family Dollar store).
Regulars know Fountain Square is the place to end their nights, often venturing to other spots first — like the Harrison Center for the Arts and Mass Ave. — as they travel through the monthly Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association First Friday gallery tour.
But, as Fountain Square insider Jim Walker found on a recent First Friday, there’s enough to do to fill a full evening. Here is what he wrote about his tour: