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Mega-Gem by John Francis Torreano

Mega-Gem by John Francis Torreano

TITLE: Mega-Gem
ARTIST: John Francis Torreano
DATE: 1989
MATERIALS: Welded aluminum
DIMENSIONS: 7′ x 11′ x 7′
TYPE: sculpture

Mega-Gem (1989) has a long history in Indianapolis. Owned by Newfields, but lent to IUPUI, this oversized gemstone featuring three dozen colored metal rosettes, was part of a series completed by John Francis Torreano that played with the idea of the preciousness of art. How do you feel in its presence?

As with precious stones, there is always the question of the value of art. What does playing with scale and composition, as Torreano has done here, achieve with regards to how we think about precious things?

If gems often appear as pure, sparkling adornments that signal wealth and status, is Mega-Gem a kind of jewelry for the body of the campus? And is it meant to do similar work? Torreano (born 1941) is an American artist from Michigan, a clinical professor of studio art at New York University in Abu Dhabi.

Torreano has observed that all art “exists somewhere between a totally abstract creation and a total reproduction of physical things in the world.” In this regard, he describes his own work as “real fake art.”

To learn more about this artwork, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mega-Gem, which includes information created by Herron School of Art and Design and IUPUI Museum Studies faculty and students in 2009 as part of “A Survey of IUPUI Public Art.”

Jammin’ on the Avenue by John Spaulding

Jammin' on the Avenue by John Spaulding

TITLE: Jammin’ on the Avenue
ARTIST: John Spaulding
DATE: 1989
MATERIALS: Brass
DIMENSIONS: 9.6′ x 4′ x 4′
TYPE: sculpture

Indianapolis native John Spaulding created Jammin’ on the Avenue (1989) as a tribute to the jazz heritage of Indiana Avenue that flourished from the 1920s to the 1950s. Famous Jazz musicians JJ Johnson, Freddie Hubbard, and Slide Hampton all got their starts in the jazz clubs along Indiana Avenue.

Lockefield Gardens Apartments, located just behind Jammin’ on the Avenue, is a former government housing project and Spaulding’s birthplace. It was home to many African-American families seeking a better life. Sixteen of the original twenty-four units were leveled in the early 1980s to make way for new developments, similar to much of the Indiana Avenue district.

Consider how public art like Jammin’ on the Avenue can be a touchstone for collective memory or even act as a challenge to institutional narratives.

Spaulding was an internationally exhibited artist. You can see more of his work at the intersection of Indiana Avenue and West Street, where Untitled (Jazz Musicians) is located.

To learn more about this artwork, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jammin%27_on_the_Avenue , which includes information created by Herron School of Art and Design and IUPUI Museum Studies faculty and students in 2009 as part of “A Survey of IUPUI Public Art.”