Professional Projection Art Is Coming to Carter Green

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October 2022

It’s not just a “light show,” as it’s been reported … It’s an event! The Carmel Redevelopment Commission is excited to share more details about its latest initiative that is aimed to not only boost tourism but to add another public art installation that will wow all ages and lend another layer of grandeur to the Center for the Performing Arts Campus and beautiful Carter Green.

We spoke with CRC Director Henry Mestetsky, Blockhouse Studios owner/Cinemaphotographer Kevin Winkler and Hamilton County Tourism, Inc. President/CEO Brenda Myers about the project and its purpose.

Not Your Basic Projection Light Show

The CRC is working with Blockhouse Studios because of its local and national reputation of providing unique entertainment experiences using digital arts. Blockhouse Studios is a boutique multimedia production firm that offers state-of-the-art audio and video production, live event production and projection mapping services, just to list a few of their specialties.

Progress Is Visible at Proscenium

There is a lot of artistic development and job creation going into the $2.2 million price tag that is being funded through the CRC’s Urban Parks fund that utilizes TIF dollars generated through CRC projects and not through residential property taxes. Winkler and Mestetsky spoke about the initial investment to build up the installation and the economic impact it’s having on local businesses in both the creative and high-tech industries.

“We are installing twelve 20,000-lumen Epson® projectors on top of the James [and Tarkington] buildings [south of the Palladium] that will project onto the face of the Palladium,” Mestetsky explained. “Carter Green is at the core of our downtown. It is important to have the ability to offer our citizens and our visitors something to do year-round, and to be able to activate these public spaces is equally important for the development of both culture and commerce.”

The story board is currently under development for the launch of the inaugural show, and Mestetsky told us that they are expecting to debut the first ever light show in the Spring of 2023. These projection multi-media shows will be free to the public and will begin at dusk and run on the hour. Exact times and durations are also still in the development phase. In between the projection shows, the lights will illuminate the south façade of the Palladium and will work into the start of the main feature as it begins.

Mestetsky added, “Essentially between five and eight percent of the entire cost of this project is going towards the design of the show. Everything else we are paying for is the long-term installment to be able to project many more things in the future.”

One of the more unique points about the selected “canvas” is that the Palladium’s limestone façade makes for an ideal canvas.

Palladium Projection Art

Winkler further explained, “We have a couple of things in our favor regarding the Palladium: the light pollution is much less at the Palladium, and the architecture and surface make for a much better canvas. Another thing that separates us from other projection mapping companies is our brightness and pixel density, and that really matters when you’re trying to tell a story on a building’s surface. Our shows are designed at substantially higher resolution, and we create shows that utilize and emphasize a building’s architecture. We aren’t creating a billboard [on a building] — we create theater on a building. And we have some amazing ideas that we are excited to share with everyone when it’s time.”

Creating Jobs for Local Creatives and Companies

Blockhouse Studios, based in Bloomington, is comprised of a talented team of creatives from Indiana who are excited to showcase their work here in Carmel and bring jobs to dozens of artists, tech people and local businesses who are collaborating on this projection art installation.

Winkler shared that his team has created and produced short films, music videos and corporate videos and have featured their digital art installations at Newfields — including Harvest Nights — Assembly Hall Bloomington, Red Rock Casino, Las Vegas and is currently working on a permanent installation inside of Epson’s global headquarters.

“We involve a lot of different disciplines in our content creation because our foundation is built on cinemaphotography and storytelling,” Winkler shared. “It is really cool that Carmel is willing to invest in a project like this, because they’re not just spending money with one artist — they’re spending that money that will employ a massive team of 3D artists, costume designers, dancers, musicians, 2D animators and all the people involved in the development and technology of the project.”

Winkler added, “We mapped the Palladium using drone images [9,000 images] to get a 3D model of that building. We are creating jobs for these tech people and digital artists, and that’s something that Indiana really needs. It’s really exciting for me to be able to convince a young 3D artist to move from a trendy US city to the Midwest because the work we are doing is so exciting and because of all the things that Carmel, specifically, has to offer.”

Boosting Tourism in Downtown Carmel

Brenda Myers shared why she is excited about the impact the project will have on local tourism in Carmel year-round.

“The unique thing about this [projection] show is its location, for one,” Myers said. “We have geolocation data that shows us Carter Green — which is this amazing [public] space — is activated primarily during the Carmel Christkindlmarkt. But I believe it has an opportunity to be such a draw for spontaneous evening entertainment in addition to the quality performance entertainment that you can get.”

Myers continued, “There’s two levels of engagement here: visitor and resident. Of course, we want people to buy tickets and go these beautiful venues and engage, but we just don’t have a lot of — again — spontaneous entertainment, so I see this [show] as a year-round, sprinkles-on-the-cake kind of activity. You might go out to dinner and not be quite ready to end the evening and are looking for another evening attraction. I think this [projection art] show is going to be really transformative. And while there are other communities in the country and places like Montreal [Canada] that have notable and seasonal light displays, there’s just not that many, and the fact that this is going to be a year-round experience makes it even richer for me. It’s going to be another opportunity to work with the city [Carmel] on layers that can inspire travel on things related to the show.”

Myers mentioned that there have been discussions with the CRC about investing in featuring artists of significance.

“Since we’re such an art-focused community, I think there’s a long-term opportunity that’s not going to be a one-and-done kind of project, and it’s going to provide the community with a connection to all the entertainment you’ve got in the Midtown and City Center districts,” Myers observed. “With all of that inner engagement with food, drinks and shopping, this is sort of a connector between those two districts. I’m also excited because we have so many sports teams that come to town. This [project] will provide an opportunity for them to come out of their hotels and enjoy a show after a long day of playing and just have an interesting experience. Maybe they can also get some ice cream or do something like that as well. It’s an economic driver that’s going to be the jewelry on an already wonderful community. This project also has the opportunity to change and evolve over time so that we can tell multiple layers of stories. That’s what makes it so beautiful and unique, and that’s why Hamilton County Tourism is supporting it.”

Mestetsky, who was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and spent his earlier years enjoying a plethora of public plazas and art before his family relocated to the U.S. in 1994, spoke about the importance of providing people with public art and public gathering places to bolster culture and commerce withing a community.

“In my opinion, this is going to be on the level of something that people would see and are usually paying to see it, whether it’s a light up show at Epcot at Walt Disney World or any other venue where people are paying money to see a unique multimedia show,” Mestetsky said. “Carmel has always excelled at bringing art to the masses, and instead of a ‘sculpture’ park that you have to pay admission to enter and see, you get to see artists in the roundabouts and public spaces that are for everybody to enjoy. And this is going to be an incredible extension of that, and it’s out there for free.”

Mestetsky concluded, “And like Brenda would say, if it gets more people to come here and spend more time in Carmel and spend a little more money, that’s a good thing for the short-term vision for the city, frankly. To be able to give to the young adults who move away at some point to a ‘trendy’ city and move back to Carmel because there’s not only employment opportunities but because they remember what it was like growing up in Carmel and seeing light shows, ice skating at Carter Green, adjacent to the Palladium, and the kind of culture that is here — that is a longtime benefit to the city.”

Stay tuned for more announcements from the CRC and Hamilton County Tourism, Inc. as the inaugural projection art show nears its official public debut in Spring of 2023.

For more information on Blockhouse Studios and their digital art and production services, visit blockhouse.media.