IMA ready to experiment with bad flicks, speed drawing: Indy Star
It’s no time to be passive, says museum’s first curator of audience experiences.
Not knowing how the public will react to one of his unconventional ideas is no problem for Scott Stulen. As the first-ever curator of audience experiences and performance at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Stulen is paid to program events that are engaging, provocative and far from routine. Failure, at times, is part of the process.”You’re setting up a platform for something that could happen,” he said. “Sometimes it works, and sometimes it obviously doesn’t.”
On the job since March, Stulen is unveiling his first slate of projects for the IMA. He said the five attractions provide a glimpse of what’s to come for a museum that’s striving to be less passive and more nimble when courting a crowd. In coming months, the IMA will celebrate bad films, offer a minimalist escape from holiday overload and challenge artists to crank out a lot of drawings in a short amount of time.
Stulen’s biggest splash at his previous job, as project director for MNartists.org at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, was his founding of the Internet Cat Video Festival— an event that brought 10,000 people together 2012 and then 11,000 paying customers at the 2013 Minnesota State Fair. Stulen also likes to talk about the lasting impression made by a much smaller event. During the heart of winter in 2011, he brought California’s Machine Project to Minnesota. Two members of the art collective entered a packed-snow igloo outside the Walker to play music for a series of small audiences that visited the igloo.
“People talk about it for years,” Stulen said. “They were there for that moment, and it was never replicated again.” While music isn’t the primary focus of any of the upcoming IMA projects, music is important to Stulen.
“I want people to come here 12 times a year,” he said. “I want them to come 20 times a year.”
Here’s a look at the five projects Stulen is preparing for autumn and early 2015:
“Optical Popsicle 7”: 7 p.m., Oct. 11
The brainchild of arts collective Know No Stranger, “Optical Popsicle” is an annual variety show built upon puppets, video, live music and dance. This year, the show will be presented at the IMA’s Toby Theater. “I think their work is really playful, very inventive,” Stulen said.
“B-Movie Bingo”: 7 p.m., Nov. 21
This event invites attendees to find something great within something horrible. Oregon-based collective Wolf Choir began making a game of Chuck Norris flicks in 2006. At the Toby, Wolf Choir’s “B-Movie Bingo” will dissect 1984 Indonesian action film “The Stabilizer” for cliches ranging from “three mustaches onscreen at the same time” to “weapon that needs to be assembled.” Prizes will be awarded for bingo cards marked with five in a row. “Drinking is involved,” Stulen said, “and it gets to be a very interesting way to celebrating truly bad cinema.”
“Silent Night”: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 29
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the IMA’s “Silent Night” offers counter-programming to a steady diet of food, shopping and family time. The event will feature silent films, yoga, meditation and headphone concerts. “We don’t take enough time to just stop,” Stulen said of the free event. “Not be on your phone, but be in the now a little bit.”
“Monster Drawing Rally”: 6 p.m., Dec. 11
Bringing to Indianapolis an idea that succeeded in Minneapolis, Stulen will invite 60 Hoosier artists to create two-dimensional works in the IMA’s Great Hall. The public is invited and each work of art can be purchased for $35 as soon as it’s completed. Stulen said the speed-drawing sessions, which double as a fundraiser for a future teen project at the museum, can spark a lifetime of collecting art. “You can see the artist make original art, and then buy it that night,” Stulen said.
“Art History Crossfit” January 2015
More about brain power than a powerful physique, “Art History Crossfit” is billed as a six-week course of intensive learning. Noting that the IMA is an encyclopedic museum, Stulen said “we can mine our collection in different ways.” Attendees can expect lessons that combine examples of antiquities and modern art, with content designed to encourage new connections and insights.Enrollment in the course, expected to be priced in the neighborhood of $60, is limited to 20.
Call Star reporter David Lindquist at (317) 444-6404. Follow him on Twitter: @317Lindquist.