Fountain Square is home to many things. Bars, restaurants, and obscure shops line the streets, providing Hoosiers with a range of activities. For those looking for new cassette tapes, vintage sweaters, and abstract art, only one shop is needed.
For two years, General Public Collective (GPC) has brought music and art to the public. Live shows, shelves of cassettes, and free art galleries give local artists the chance to connect with audiences while promoting their work.
“Six people, not including myself, were involved in creating this space,” GPC worker Erin Drew said. “I think they decided that it made sense to pool resources to have a physical location where they could work on different projects.”
When it comes to finding art to showcase, the staff and artists work together scheduling events and procuring pieces for display.
“A lot of people are friends of friends, a lot of people have contacted us specifically,” Drew said. “It’s been really organic. There are multiple people involved, and we all have larger webs of friends and acquaintances. Different people have taken the reigns different months, and are in charge of contacting people and setting things up.”
There is no official criteria for the artwork GPC accepts. This can encourage artists to explore their own creativity and set their own standards. GPC also makes a point of giving new artists a chance to show their talent.
“I think we’ve basically had a rule of not doing repeat shows,” Drew said. “There are so many different artists we could show that there isn’t a point in showing people twice.”
Paul Erschen, an exhibiting artist based out of Chicago, believes that the GPC has far more to offer than just art galleries.
“Spaces like General Public Collective and Learning Machine counter the incessant commodification and canonization of art that we see at most commercial galleries and museums,” Erschen explained in an email.
“More importantly, however, they provide comfortable, respectful places where people can meet and socialize. While installing my show at Learning Machine, it was heartening to observe drawing groups, literary readings, and studio visits– all happening naturally throughout the space. It is a relief to see exhibition spaces that do not function solely to promote individual artists or curatorial programs, but actually become welcoming places for the exchange of ideas and culture."
While Drew believes that the art scene of Indianapolis is “sort of disconnected,” she also believes that GPC provides more visibility for the art community as a whole.
“I think that GPC is important because maybe there’s not a lot of street level visibility when it comes to art space,” Drew explained. “I think that that has been reflected in people's enthusiasm in supporting the space.”
Whether you’re looking for live music, modern art, or a comfy sweater, General Public Collective likely has what you’re looking for.