A light-up art installation will be unveiled this fall in Franklin

The stars will shine brightly in Franklin this fall.

Two hundred stars, in fluorescent blues, greens, yellows, pinks and other colors, are specially painted to glow as pedestrians and visitors to the Town Center Square walk below.

Discover Downtown Franklin and Festival County Indiana have worked together for a unique art installation to celebrate bicentennials taking place throughout Johnson County. The 200 stars will be strung in the aisle adjacent to the Historic Artcraft Theater, to infuse the space with a sense of whimsy and wonder.

With a brilliant backlight on the fabricated stars, the artwork will radiate vivid color throughout the night.

“Through our research we found that other communities have similar art facilities, it really galvanizes the residents. It’s a source of pride for them, as well as being a major tourist attraction,” said Ken Kosky, executive director of Festival Country Indiana, the county’s tourism organization.

The installation was born out of a broader effort by Franklin arts leaders to make downtown a state-recognized arts district, in the same vein as neighborhoods in Bloomington, Columbus, and Carmel.

The statewide Cultural District Program was established by the Indiana Arts Commission, which advocates for arts development opportunities throughout the state and is a steward for efficient use of resources. public and private for the arts.

Cultural districts are defined as a well-recognized and identifiable mixed-use area of ​​a community in which cultural assets serve as an anchor.

Artcraft Alley, the walkway next to the Historic Artcraft Theater, will be upgraded this fall with an art installation made up of 200 fluorescent stars suspended with wires and bows. The black lights will make the stars shine at night. RYAN TRARES | DAILY NEWSPAPER

Kosky and Jess Giles, executive directors of Discover Downtown Franklin, serve on the Franklin Public Art Advisory Commission, which coordinates efforts to add arts to the city.

“This (public art commission) came up with a million ideas for downtown – decorating utilitarian boxes, painting crosswalks, the banner program along the streets, murals,” Kosky said. .

One idea Kosky had come across was called Project Umbrella Sky, a public art installation that began in Águeda, Portugal, and arrived last year in Batesville, a town southeast of Franklin. In the exhibit, a rainbow of umbrellas hung above public walkways for people to pose under.

“He’s been to other cities and regions, and it seems to be a magnet for people who wanted to visit him and take pictures of themselves on Instagram,” Kosky said. “If you’re looking at art, let’s do something big, bold, and get a lot of attention.”

While Kosky and Giles loved the idea behind Project Umbrella Sky, they also wanted to do something that was uniquely Franklin. Considering the county celebrates its bicentennial in 2023 and Franklin recognizes its 200th anniversary in 1824, they suggested an aerial art installation featuring 200 stars.

The stars would be of several colors, to represent the different communities in the county – green for Greenwood, blue for Franklin, etc.,

Giles took the lead in seeking funding for the project. She applied for a grant from Festival County, as well as the Public Art Advisory Board and the Franklin Development Corporation.

At the same time, Kosky sought proposals from companies that could carry out the project. Expo Arts, an Indianapolis-based design firm that specializes in making custom props, was hired to do the job for less than $75,000.

The 200 stars will be suspended in Artcraft Alley with cables and airplane arches. Treated with black light paint, the installation will provide a different look at night compared to day, Kosky said.

Organizers hope the project will be completed by September, in time for the Artcraft Theatre’s 100th anniversary celebration.

The nature of the installation will allow the functionality to evolve and change over time.

“The arches and overhead cable will be permanent. But the stars could be removed in the fall and the Christmas lights could be put in its place. In a few years, if they want to change stars and do something new, that’s a possibility,” Kosky said. “It really sets the table for a better future for this alley.”

About Irene J. O'Donnell

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