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Big Car to leave Murphy Art Center

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The Big Car crew at the Service Center earlier this year. - MARK LEE
  • Mark Lee
  • The Big Car crew at the Service Center earlier this year.

Big Car will close doors on its Murphy Art Center gallery next week, ending a seven-year run during which the organization hosted a variety of programming in the space, including art openings, music performances, film screenings, readings, parties. But they won't drive off under cover of night: Big Car will celebrate its legacy — and preview the road ahead — with a closing party on Wednesday, Dec. 14, from 7-9 p.m.

The Big Car nonprofit organization and collective will live on and continue to serve Indianapolis in multiple ways and in multiple venues, including its recently opened Service Center in Lafayette Square.

“It’s going to be really laid back,” Big Car’s Shauta Marsh says of the party. “Anyone who wants to can bring an instrument and play. It’s going to be a really organic night, just going with the flow a little bit. We’ll probably make some art. People will be welcome to put whatever they want on the wall as long as it’s not spray paint.”

When Big Car Gallery moved into its second floor space in the Murphy Building in 2005, art tours were infrequent and storefronts in the surrounding neighborhood stood empty. But even during the first event that Big Car held — before there was an official Big Car Gallery — Jim Walker and his Big Car colleagues sensed that they were in the right place at the right time.

“People were there dancing in that room that very first night, before we had any lighting or even knew what we were doing at all,” he says. “It was just a matter of what felt comfortable and getting to know each other. I think we knew right away that we had something good.”

Big Car Gallery would go on to record 1500 people coming in through its doors during one particularly busy First Friday opening. The gallery's presence in the Murphy — and the impressive foot traffic it generated — helped to spark an artistic renaissance in Fountain Square.

In fact, the sense that Fountain Square has become an established commercial district like Mass Ave has led Big Car leadership to feel it’s an opportune time to close their Murphy space. The relocation will allow them to focus on other areas of the city that would benefit most from their innovative community-building programs, say Big Car organizers.

Big Car’s Service Center for Culture and Community, located in a former tire shop near Lafayette Square Mall, opened this summer. Big Car will also operate the Made For Each Other Community Art Space on 2807 E. 10th Street as a hub for its social-practice public art initiatives.

And for those people who might miss Big Car’s presence downtown, not to worry. The nonprofit organization will be moving its offices to Earth House, and it will collaborate with that organization on programming.

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