Sunday, June 08, 2008

Thirty Minutes AND It's Free: The IMA

This is the first of the series of new posts I shall do (or the only post in a series of one -- we'll see) about places around town where you can do something cool in just 30 minutes for free.

On Saturday, after an event in the city, I was heading home and decided to stop at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Here's how I spent 30 minutes (in minutes:seconds format) and $0 total.

0:00 to 0:30
Park my car, walk to museum entrance

0:30 to 1:30
Talk to woman at visitor desk about exhibits, give her my zip code for free admission.

1:30 to 1:45
Take escalator to Gallery Level One.

1:45 to 6:45
Become entranced by Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing No. 652, a careful jumble (if there is such a thing) of geometric color at the very entrance to Gallery Level One.

Every time I visit the IMA, I try to look at good ol' 652 from a different location, and I always give myself a couple minutes to see something different -- even if it's observing someone else's reaction to the soaring, thirty-by-sixty-foot creation.

6:45 to 16:45
Explore the Gates of Hell. No, really.

The French sculptor Auguste Rodin designed a famous piece for a museum in Paris -- the project was conceived as these huge doors decorated with anguished humans, writhing demons, and other assorted creatures who've been damned. Remember that scene in The Devil's Advocate where the wall behind Al Pacino comes to life and starts moving? It's like that, only in bronze.

The eight or nine tragic and somewhat creepy pieces are on display right beside LeWitt's colorful wall art -- a bit of a noggin-scratcher, that juxtaposition -- but they're really compelling. You can see how each of the pieces (cast from Rodin's originals) was either a practice for Rodin while working on the bigger piece or actually a component of the finished project. The movement and line of each piece tells a story that adds to the larger Dante-inspired narrative.

16:45 to 18:00
Field urgent text messages from friend who is concerned about flooding. Mention in a reply that I am standing at the Gates of Hell. Her reply: "No kidding. So's Prince's Lakes."

18:00 to 18:05
Decide that if my home is, in fact, flooded, it can wait another 20 minutes while I look around.

18:05 to 18:20
Wander aimlessly around Gallery Level One. End up at the Star Studio, where the IMA displays art and gives museumgoers an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and give it a try themselves.

18:20 to 28:20
Freak out over how I never would have guessed how cool paper-folding can be.

Right now, in the exhibit "Squares-Folds-Life," the work of origami artist (I would say "origamist" but that sounds like someone who's running a compound in Texas) Robert J. Lang is on display in the Star Studio. A physicist by training, Lang has found his way into the art world through the somewhat exact science / somewhat creative art of paper-folding.

Lang's work includes both nature pieces (all manner of flora and fauna, like the lobster made from a single piece of paper, left) and geometric/abstract works (including a pretty cool American flag also folded from one piece of paper).

Off to the right, in the hands-on area, a family of four (very patient mom and very patient dad and two trying-their-hardest kids) is getting instructions from an even more patient museum worker who is teaching them all how to do origami.

28:20 to 29:30
Make my way back to the front lobby (via elevator because the down escalator is closed for repair) and take a quick look at Dream Maker, the mobile of huge, brightly-colored inflatables slowly parading around the top of the lobby.

29:30 to 30:00
Back to the car, zooming past Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture for good measure on the way out.


Of course, there's way more at the IMA than just these four or five pieces of art. Like a huge collection of European Art, and another collection of Asian Art, and another collection of African Art. And all the outdoor gardens. And Puck's -- my God, the Chinese Chicken Salad! If you have a couple hours or more, you can find a ton of stuff to do at the IMA.

But if you find yourself near 38th & Michigan with just a little time to kill, head to the IMA and check out the itinerary above. Or, better yet, see what YOU can find in just 30 minutes!

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