Basketball played at its highest level is a work of art.
An unfathomably deep jump shot, a no-look pass through traffic, a dunk that seems to defy gravity — NBA All-Star Weekend is packed full of them.
But outside the arena, creative spectacles just as thrilling will be taking shape.
Art and culture have been built into the All-Star experience, with visitors finding immersive experiences and interactive exhibits throughout the city. The NBA All-Star Host Committee partnered with local arts groups Indy Arts Council, GANGGANG and Indiana Humanities to focus arts through the lens of All-Star Weekend.
“Sports and arts have always been great teammates in Indianapolis, and we’re going to see that on full display during NBA All-Star Weekend,” said Julie Goodman, Indy Arts Council president and CEO. “Indy Arts Council is honored to partner with GANGGANG, Indiana Humanities, and the Arts & Culture Committee to center Indy’s incredible creative talent. Our team’s focus has been on large-scale public art activations that will inspire and engage all who visit Indy’s Home Court. We’re also excited for the ongoing impact some of these artworks will have through our Sidewalk Galleries program with the City of Indianapolis.”
With so many options, it can overwhelming how to best experience the culture. Here is a rundown on where and how to enjoy everything arty about All-Star Weekend:
BUTTER at Indy’s Home Court
Since it was founded in 2021, BUTTER has reached astounding heights showcasing artwork made by Black visual artists from Indiana and across the country. The first expansion of the multi-day fine art fair, typically held in late August and early September, is BUTTER at Indy’s Home Court. This pop-up version of BUTTER will bring the fresh energy and intentional curation to 19,000 square feet of space at the Indianapolis Artsgarden. Admission is free.
Three of Johnson County’s most historic hoops legends will be showcased during Hoosier Historia, a showcase of 24 diverse artists bringing to life some of the most memorable and iconic people, moments and places in Indiana basketball history. Throughout downtown, 6-foot-tall basketball statues have been decorated to symbolize and commemorate those important pieces of sports history. Among statues will be one dedicated to the Franklin Wonder Five, the first team to win three consecutive state championships from 1920 to 1922, designed by Travis Neal. Another, created by Gary Gee, will honor George Crowe, who was named the first Indiana Mr. Basketball when he played for Franklin High School in 1939.
Led by Mali Simone Bacon and Alan Bacon at GANGGANG, the host committee has created a Cultural Corridor in Indy’s Home Court, along Washington Street, to showcase local brands. Plaid & Pearls Coffee, a local woman-owned business, will take over the location formerly occupied by Pearings at Washington and Meridian. The former Rock Bottom site next door will be converted into The Suite featuring the Henderson Bar and food from the International Marketplace. Music curated by Chreece Presents: Nap City The Basement, comedy by Made Man Improv and retail curated by Cargo Streetwear Boutique are also planned.
Slam Film Festival
Heartland Film has partnered with RTG Features for the inaugural SLAM Film Festival from Feb. 16 to 18. Fifteen basketball-themed films are scheduled to play for three days at Living Room Theaters, 745 E. 9th St. Suite 810, Indianapolis. Many of the films have Q&As with the filmmakers and subjects including a special discussion with Paul George after the screening of “Amongst the Trees” at 1 p.m. Feb. 16.
Featured films include: “Above the Rim,” “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks,” “Blue Chips,” and “Perfect in ‘76,” a documentary on the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. See a full schedule at tickets.slamonline.com/schedule.
Light-based Public Art Installations
All-Star Weekend visitors can immerse themselves in a variety of visual art experiences planned around downtown Indianapolis. Two projection-mapped artworks, created by Blockhouse Studios in Bloomington, and a video arts collaboration by renowned Australian artist Wendy Yu will be featured on the T-Mobile Building, 2 W. Washington Street, and the District Tap Building, 141 S. Meridian Street, respectively. “Shining a Light” will feature an exciting “buzzer beater” countdown experience produced by Innovative on the northwest and southwest quadrant of Monument Circle.
A fully immersive public art installation by Australia-based design studio Atelier Sisu, entitled “Evanescent,” will bring large, glowing basketball-like orbs to Hudnut Commons at the corner of Maryland and Capitol Streets. “Quantum Cavern” is a transcendent experience created by Indy artist Fredrick Miller III. “Arch down the Aisle” is an intercultural experience installed by Indy artist Gautam Rao while “You Are the All Star” is an exciting ‘90s-inspired selfie station designed by Indy artist Christina Hollering.
Indianapolis Artsgarden Murals
Two temporary murals by Indianapolis artists Jingo de la Rosa and Jonathan Southern will adorn the east and west facades of the Indianapolis Artsgarden. The two pieces pay tribute to Indiana’s unique love affair with the game of basketball.
In partnership with the City of Indianapolis and downtown property owners, large-scale murals by Indy artists will decorate storefronts along the streets of Indy’s Home Court, immersing visitors to the downtown in diverse artwork seemingly at every turn.
Sidewalk Street Art Galleries
Also in partnership with the City of Indianapolis and curated by local artists Josh Brinson (also known as Bezol One) and Mike Graves, 15 of Indianapolis’ most fascinating street and graffiti artists will create new masterpieces on the Pennsylvania and Delaware rail underpasses, just north of South Street. The pieces on the Pennsylvania underpass will be basketball-themed, while the Delaware underpass will be a collection of freestyle pieces.
Participating artists include Rob Bentley, Bezol One, Rafael Caro, Lucian Agape, Tylar Dickmeyer, Tusk 100, Mike Graves, Nathaniel Johnson, Slice, Ess McKee, Ron Lewhorn, Holly Sims, Invisible Hometown, Koda Witsken and Fitz.