St’Art Up 317 Vendor Spotlight: Primary Colours

photo by Tad "Hadley' Fruits

St’artUp 317 is a competitive program that aims to match young brands, established businesses wanting to test a new market, startups and artists, with vacant and under-utilized first floor commercial space in downtown neighborhoods to create pop-up stores. Inspired by similar initiatives across the country St’artUp 317 is being coordinated by Downtown Indy, Inc in partnership with PATTERN in order to incubate viable retail businesses and long-term tenants, while supporting the creative class and improving the cultural profile of our city. The long-term goal of the program is to eliminate empty storefronts, increase local and visitor consumer spending and ensure that the Downtown neighborhoods continue thriving.

This series of stories highlights artists, entrepreneurs and businesses that were selected to participate in the pilot of St’ArtUp 317.


Written by Jennifer Hanson, Senior communications director, Downtown Indy, Inc

Primary Colours is a nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to serving visual art and culture and connecting artists with their communities. The group is based in Indianapolis and does everything they can to support art and the people who make it in our own backyard.

In 1998, founders Jeff Martin and Fred Shields hatched the idea of connecting local artists with the community at large in new, innovative ways. The best example of this is the annual event Art vs Art. This head-to-head painting competition allows the winner of each round to be determined by crowd noise. One painting advances to the next round and the loser faces the wheel of death to decide the painting’s fate. The winner receives $4,000 and the losing paintings can be saved by bidding on them with an auctioneer on stage. The artists receive 75 percent of the winning bid. The next rendition of Art vs Art will be in spring 2019.

Primary Colours is a St’art Up 317 participant displaying in the former Carson’s window on South Meridian Street. It features a small representation of what the organization does.

“We felt it was a great opportunity to share what we do right in the heart of our community,” said Brian Short, Primary Colours president. 

The art work on display in the Downtown window was created by president Brian Short and board member Martin Kuntz. 

“We have enjoyed our participation, but now that it is up, we are already thinking about what we could do next time with such a great space that engages the people passing by,” said Short.

By showcasing art Downtown, Primary Colours hopes to gain exposure outside of its normal space with people who aren’t usually exposed to the organization and what it does.

“It’s a great opportunity to bring a lot of artists together in one area to interact with the public, which will be a lot of fun,” Short said.

Primary Colours has curated shows in many different locations over the years. The organization isn’t looking to necessarily settle down, but is always looking for new places to host art shows and events. 

Short says, “We think it is important to expose as many people to art in as many different places as possible.”

Its next event is Installation Nation at the ArtsPark on the Indianapolis Art Center grounds.  Installation Nation is a juried show in which 12 artists will transform the ArtsPark into an outdoor gallery. Each artist is awarded $1,000 to make his/her work come to life. The opening is Oct. 12, 2018 and the work will be up for three weeks. 

“It is always difficult to narrow it down to just 12, but the work we get is always super fun and it’s great to watch people walking the grounds and interacting with all of it,” Short said. 

Primary Colours’ next move is to line up shows for the rest of 2018 and start working on Art vs Art for 2019. Find more at http://primarycolours.org

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