The visual arts in Bloomington and the surrounding area are widely, and rightfully, considered jewels in our community, from galleries to museums to art shows. Many of the organizations and events are iconic institutions — Gallery Walk, The 4th Street Festival of the Arts & Crafts, and Bloomington Handmade Market, to name just a few. Even the Indiana University newcomer First Thursdays, which premiered last September, has become monumental. But often overlooked is the DIY art community in Bloomington.
Some say DIY culture grew from the punk-rock scene of the 1970s, where musicians played the kind of no-frills music they wanted, whenever they wanted, and wherever they could get away with it. But sharing that ethic of independence, DIY art might also have roots in the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1900s — artisans eschewing mass production of art and sharing their handmade crafts directly with people who appreciate it.
In Bloomington, the DIY community, including music and film, overlaps with more established artist groups in town. But at heart it maintains its alternative (or punk) approach to creating and enjoying art.
Filmmaker Chris Green and producer Bill Rooney take a glimpse at this community with a video, called “Art in the Underground: DIY Community Makes Art More Personal,” about the Affordable Art Fair. As Green puts it, “The Affordable Art Fair isn’t affiliated with any group but is just an independently organized yearly-ish event. It is usually initiated when someone says, ‘Hey, I have/want some art. Anyone else?’ Which is part of the ethos reflected in the larger DIY community.”
Kara Comegys is a DIY artist who has initiated some of these events (and generally creates a Facebook event when the next one is scheduled). In the film, she says, “It’s not as much about making money and selling a ton of stuff. It’s more about just making the stuff.”
Green is co-founder of video production company Rogue Ruckus and an active member of the DIY film community. He and Rooney made the film to introduce the DIY arts community to people who might be unaware of it. In particular, he says, he wanted to show that “the power of art is in the personal story that the artist imbues in each piece.”
Green also wanted to capture the emotional exchange between artists and their patrons: “This exchange is just as important for the artist as for the patron.”
These types of connections can be in other DIY art forms, he says, such as music, theater, and film. For more information, check out the following links for a partial list of DIY venues, events, and artists.