Why does Carmel purchase so much public art from out-of-town artists, instead of local artists?

When people raise questions about public art in Carmel, they typically are focused on the big-ticket items, such as the Seward Johnson statues or the roundabout sculptures seen all over the city. But the truth is, because of Carmel’s dedication to the arts – whether that is music, stage performance, painting, sculpting or many other forms of art – we have provided many opportunities for local artists to become engaged with the public.

“We have provided many opportunities for local artists to become engaged with the public.”

Many years ago, the City began a relationship with Seward Johnson for his slice-of-life statues that were placed throughout the Arts & Design District. Those were added at a time when the District was still a relatively unknown place to visit and our goal was to find ways to attract people to what was once called the “old town” area with some fresh, new takes on public art, not to mention art galleries, design-related businesses and plenty of new restaurants. That relationship continues today – and the statues have become a favorite thing for visitors and residents to include in their photos and their selfies. We think this adds to the overall quality of life in Carmel.

As time permitted, a number of Indiana artists began to show interest in Carmel, including a wonderful artist who teaches at Anderson University, just one county over. Arlen Bayliss is his name and he created one of the most popular pieces of art at the roundabout at 96th and Westfield Blvd.

So how are other local artists included in the mix of Carmel’s art scene?

We can start with the concrete stage located at the SE corner of Main Street and Veterans Way, where local artists have been invited to feature their pieces. The current piece was done by Carmel native Scott Osborne, a student from the Herron School of Art. Scott is also putting the finishing touches on a sculpture that will soon be placed near the Monon Depot by the Carmel Clay Historical Society.

The City also hosts an event each year called Carmel on Canvas, where local artists are able to compete for prizes with other artists who come from all over the country. If you look around the Arts & Design District and Midtown, you will see a number of murals on the walls – most of which were designed and painted by local artists, some of them students.

As the City continues to grow in the Midtown area, there will no doubt be more public art installed as we see this is an important piece to the overall puzzle of creating a great place to live.

Just think, we have nearly raised a generation of young Carmel kids who have experienced public art in their daily lives. No doubt, many have been inspired to be creative artists themselves.

We look forward to what the future may hold for our local artists and we stand ready to provide additional opportunities for their works.