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All Alleys Lead to Art

All Alleys Lead to Art initiative transforms downtown alleyways

Downtown Kokomo will soon to be home to even more public art spaces thanks to the Greater Kokomo Downtown Association’s All Alleys Lead to Art initiative.

“The initiative’s mission is to not only create inviting public art spaces but to also create learning opportunities through the installation of the art accessories that will allow for a variety of art forms to be enjoyed in alleyways around downtown,” said Susan Alexander, manager of downtown creative placemaking for the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance.

The first alley to be transformed as part of the project, named Courthouse Alley, opened to the public on Sept. 7 and is located on the southside of the Courthouse Square on Sycamore Street. 

Downtown Kokomo is no stranger to alley transformations, or “activations” as they say in the industry.

In the late 1990s, the Kokomo Common Council began passing ordinances to close some downtown alleys to vehicular traffic as part of the early stages of downtown revitalization efforts.

“Now open only to pedestrians, the newly found public spaces made it possible for us to create inviting gathering areas in the heart of the city,” Alexander said. “While efforts were already underway, these new opportunities really set the stage for placemaking efforts to begin in earnest.”

The first project was Alleyscape, now called Garden Alley, located on the east side of the Courthouse Square on Main Street. The alley opened in September 2001 after community organizations came together to add green space, public art, lighting and benches.

Garden Alley was followed in 2014 by Artist Alley, a 24/7 outdoor art gallery. Located next to Artworks Gallery at 210 N. Main St., the space opened with nine art mounts to accommodate an annually changing exhibit of large-scale artwork and sculptures.

It’s the draw of those alleys to visitors and residents alike that created the spark for All Alleys Lead to Art, Alexander said.

“We looked at Artist Alley and Garden Alley and thought, ‘Let’s build on that success. We’ve got three other alleys into which we could breathe new life,’” she said.

Because of its financial support of Artist Alley, the downtown association approached the Community Foundation of Howard County with the project in 2017. The community foundation approved grant funding for the project, which will see the creation of three additional alley activations and upgrades to Artist Alley and Garden Alley.

The three new alleys include Geek Alley next to Wings Etc., Courthouse Alley on Sycamore Street, and Depot Alley next to Oscars Pizza. Each new alley will have a unique atmosphere and highlight a different medium of art, including video, light, sound, and live performance.

Courthouse Associates LLC, a local law firm, also contributed financial support to the project.

“The beauty of this project is that it’s not buying art. Rather, it’s making art possible,” Alexander said. “Our hope is that these alleys will help propel forward the work of professional and student artists, both locally, regionally and statewide.

“And what’s more, the creation and display of that art will help ‘merchandise’ the community by allowing its ‘front window’ exhibits to change. It will increase the sense of community pride and ownership by many local artists of all ages and abilities who will share their many forms of arts for years to come.”

 

“The beauty of this project is that it’s not buying art. Rather, it’s making art possible. Our hope is that these alleys will help propel forward the work of professional and student artists, both locally, regionally and statewide."
—  Susan Alexander
Manager, Downtown Creative Placemaking, Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance
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Garden Alley

(2001) The first alley to be transformed in downtown Kokomo, first named Alleyscape. Located on the east side of the Courthouse Square on Main Street. Community organizations came together to add green space, public art, lighting and benches.
 
Artist Alley
 
(2014) A 24/7 outdoor art gallery located next to Artworks Gallery at 210 N. Main St. The space opened with nine art mounts to accommodate an annually changing exhibit of large-scale artwork and sculptures. Alley updated as part of All Alleys Lead to Art in 2018 and now features 15 art mounts.
 
 
(2018) The frst full alley transformation project of All Alleys Lead to Art, it's located on the southside of the Courthouse Square on Sycamore Street. The alley's Pallets with Purpose exhibit was a collaboration between FCA US LLC, The Crossing School of Business & Entrepreneurship, SHAK Makerspace and the Greater Kokomo Downtown Association.
 
Geek Alley
(Coming soon) Will be located next to Wings Etc. on Sycamore Street.
 
Depot Alley
(Coming soon) Will be located next to Oscars Pizza on Buckeye Street.
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