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Fans Flock to #IndyWings Art Around IMS, Indianapolis
It’s Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- the final day of practice before Sunday’s 103rd Indianapolis 500 -- and people are standing in line to have their photographs taken in front of Mallory Hodgkin’s artwork.

One by one, people position themselves between the prominent, colorful wings at the center of the giant print. Online, Hodgkin follows the photos and comments about the work and others around Indianapolis by way of #indywings.

“The hashtag is on it, and I see two or three new posts every day of people looking really excited in front of some random wing somewhere that I haven’t even seen on person yet. I’ve only seen the one on Mass Ave and the one in Circle Centre Mall. I still have a trip planned soon with my mom to go around town and see them all.”

It should be a busy trip. The Indy Wings exhibit features 11 artworks around the Indianapolis area featuring the wings, a play on IMS’ famous wheel-and-wings logo. The exhibit is part of the Welcome Race Fans collaboration between Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Arts Council of Indianapolis. The idea -- to connect Indiana artists and their artwork to the Indianapolis 500 -- began with the 100th running of the race in 2016.

“We make a point of connecting with all of the sports that happen in the city, just because sports are a big part of our culture here,” said Shannon Linker, vice president of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. “We don’t want to ignore that; we want to celebrate that. We do our best to create a dialogue of art plus sports instead of art versus sports. That’s who we are.”

Aside from IMS, Mass Ave, Broad Ripple and Circle Centre Mall, the Indy Wings artwork can be found in Noblesville, Fishers, Westfield, Franklin, Greenwood, Castleton and the Fashion Mall at Keystone.

Artwork from the Welcome Race Fans promotion can be found around town, including restaurants and retail establishments. The idea began as a play on the checkered banners that appear around town as the race approaches. For the 100th, 33 artists were commissioned to create original works that included the words “welcome race fans.”

“We thought, ‘What if we allow artists to make really cool versions of Welcome Race Fans signs and having those spread throughout the city?” Linker said. “Instead of the cool history of the original versions of them, what if they were colorful and interesting or provocative. That was the original idea.”

Since then, it’s grown into something much larger -- a meeting of sports and art, of culture and community.

“It’s really exciting to see it up and big and people getting excited about it,” Hodgkin said. “I think especially in neighborhoods like Speedway or Broad Ripple, people realize that they’re associated with the race and part of a larger community.”
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