Before connecting the dots that I’d be visiting Indianapolis during the Indy 500 weekend, my main reason for heading the midwestern city was to check out their new Cultural Trail. I’ve always thought of Indy as more of a sports destination than anything else so when I learned about this urban bike and pedestrian connecting five of their downtown districts, I was eager to experience this for myself.
In my everyday life in New York I’m often hesitant to bike outside of Central Park or my downtown neighborhood but when I travel, biking is often my favorite way to explore my new surroundings. In Indy’s case, an entire lane of traffic was removed to make room for the bike trail.
The Cultural Trail connects Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave, The Canal & White River State Park, and the Wholesale District and from a traveler’s perspective, these are the areas you definitely want to hit. The trail also connects with the Monon Trail which gives bikers better access to Broad Ripple Village. Right now about 8 miles are completed and they are making improvements everyday.
What I really liked about the trail was how easy it was to navigate the streets. I was able to start and stop as I please without getting in anybody’s way. Best of all, the trail highlights a series of 46 murals that the city rolled out. The Arts Council of Indianapolis created the 46 for 46 mural program on behalf of the city, which really says a lot about how important art is to the Indy community.
Before biking the trail myself, I envisioned it as one continuous loop it’s far less structured than that. What the trail does do is make it easier to cross from one neighborhood to the other so unless you have a local leading you around like I did, I’d recommend bringing along a map or downloading a mobile map app.
Kurt Vonnegut, Camels & Returning to Innocence
Pamela Bliss’ “My Affair with Kurt Vonnegut” is a mural she created from a compilation of various images of the famous artist, activist and writer. Vonnegut was born and raised in Indianapolis and included the city in many of his writings. You can find this one at the Massala Building (345 Mass Ave).
The image on the top right is “Return to Innocence” by Cecilia Lueza. I spotted this one along the canal (Canal – Ohio Street East) and it immediately transported me back in time to when I was a young girl. There is another figure of a little girl on the other side of the mural and the bubbles showcase different moments in the artist’s life.
Finally, the image of camels is some art I spotted near a local mosque. Technically it’s nothing special, but I personally loved it.
Similar to my camel spotting, this must be from a local artist and while I’m sure most people overlook this mural, I’m obsessed with Orca Whales so this pretty much made my day. Thanks to a few of my readers, I learned that this seemingly random Orca mural is actually one of the “Whaling Walls” by the renowned artist, Wyland. The project features 100 life-size public marine murals and was completed in 2008 on behalf of the Wyland Foundation and the artist himself.
This mural seemed perfectly appropriate for my trip to Indy, seeing as a race car is the focal point of this piece. I like how the artist played around with color and perspective and of course as a traveler, I appreciate the map component.
Quetzalcoatl Returns to Look in the Mirror
This piece by Hector Duarte is among those located along the Canal on West Street – North. Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity, also known as the Plumed Serpent, who returns to earth to see his reflection in a mirror. Quetzalcoatl is often described as the god of the arts and of knowledge so many interpret this mural to be about self-reflection and civilization as a whole.
This was one of the last pieces I saw while in Indy and it’s easily one of my favorites. The artist, Eduardo Mendieta, was inspired by Lalique crystals and his goal was to evoke the importance of self-empowerment. The women depicted in this image is emerging from water and according to Mendieta, the mural represents the breaking of planes in one’s life. You can find this one at 609 Mass Ave.
Poetry in Motion
This might look like an ordinary bus stop but it’s actually an innovative art concept called “Moving Forward” that is a series of custom-designed and environmentally friendly bus shelters that display original poetry.
You can find these select shelters on the Cultural Trail on Virginia Avenue near Lexington Street and on McCarthy Street and Woodlawn Avenue. The shelter is made of ecoresin panels and installed on TX Active photocatalytic cement pads which are self-cleaning.
The coolest thing about this project is that when the sun hits these panels, the poetry is reflected and completely readable. Now, that’s a great way to pass the time while waiting for your bus.
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This trip was hosted by Visit Indy. All opinions are my own.