I’m in Indianapolis this weekend for an Inuit art conference.
Yes, Indianapolis, Indiana.
I actually planned to skip this conference. I figured things would be busy at work (as they are) and, well, Indianapolis wasn’t exactly in my top 50 (or even top 100) places to see.
Fortunately, a good friend insisted that he really liked Indianapolis and that I would too.
He was right. I like Indianapolis. I like it a lot, even though this weekend is so cold and wet I don’t even want get outside and really check out all the city has to offer.
And it has a lot to offer. What Tim knew (and I didn’t) is that Indianapolis is a pleasant, walkable, architecturally interesting place with a lot going on. There has been a Renaissance underway here for some time now and the dividends are obvious.
It is too miserable for me to spend much time out taking pictures. That’s frustrating because there are wonderful images of urban architecture everywhere. While few buildings are as elaborate as the Murat Theater, there are so many wonderful details everywhere!
Luckily, there is a lot to do inside too.
Our conference is being held at the Eiteljorg Museum, a gorgeous facility that houses a great collection of Native American art and, apparently, a lot of Western and cowboy art. (We never actually got into that part of the museum.)
Also joining us from the Arctic are Inuit throat singers Charlotte Qamaniq and Kendra Tagoona.
I love watching the throat singers.
They stand close together, swaying slightly as they sing, completely focused on each other and the sounds they are making until they start giggling and dissolve in laughter. It’s amazing and intense just to watch (How do they even do that?), but I’m just as impressed with Peter, a thoughtful and entertaining man who began life in an igloo in the Arctic, was forcibly taken from his family as a youth, and then returned as an active member of his community and a leader in the government of Nunavut. Along the way he has managed to travel widely, including a visit Mongolia. Somehow his life story makes me think there is hope for the world.
There is enough to do at the conference and within the museum that we never even make it next door to the fancy looking Indiana State Museum and the weather is too cold for wandering between the two museums toward the inviting walkway along the canal.
We miss our opportunity to tour the statehouse, although I can admire its dome from the meeting room at the Eiteljorg. Nor do we wander around the monuments or through downtown. (Too cold and windy.) I don’t even go shopping, except to buy a few truffles at The Best Chocolate in Town. (I have my priorities!)
However, we do get to the Indianapolis Museum of Art (in 2018 it’s the Newfields, with a dumbed-down website, but – hopefully – the same great collection) where a special exhibit of Ming Dynasty pieces is on display. It is a great show, but it turns out that there is much more to see, including more Asian art, textiles, modern glass, and an absolutely wonderful African section. They practically have to chase us out at closing time!
Luckily the Inuit Art Society meets here fairly regularly, so I will have another chance to visit Indianapolis again sometime in the future.
I can’t wait!