Clay Terrace is Carmel’s premier open-air shopping destination. The town center is home to more than 80 national and local retail, dining, specialty grocery, and entertainment options, as well as numerous events and activities throughout the year. Guests can visit national retailers and unique local boutiques alike, including Whole Foods, Dry Goods, Lovesac, Lululemon and Sephora, as well as Luxe Home Interiors, Meridian Music Company and more.
“Visitors routinely share that they appreciate the variety of tenants at Clay Terrace, which makes it a convenient, one-stop destination that meets all of their needs,” says Jennifer Jones, general manager at Clay Terrace.
Guests can choose from a variety of dining options to satisfy every palate, from fun, fast-casual eateries to local, premier restaurants including Cafe Patachou, Java House, Jimmy John’s, Pies & Pints, Kona Grill and Prime 47. This fall, Harmony Poke and Bubble Tea will open at Clay Terrace.
“We want our guests to feel like they’re spending time in their own backyard, and we’ve designed the town center with this in mind,” Jones says. “From the way tenant buildings line the sidewalk, to convenient up-front parking and spaces for bicycles, to the landscaping elements, soft seating areas and parklets, we want to evoke a friendly, neighborhood atmosphere.”
As Clay Terrace prepares for pending developments, the leaders wanted to find creative ways to leverage transitory spaces at the town center. That’s precisely why they partnered with GANGGANG, a cultural development startup backed in part by the Central Indiana Community Foundation, whose mission is to promote and invest in cultural entrepreneurs. When Jones reached out to Malina Simone Jeffers, co-founder of GANGGANG, and told her that Clay Terrace leaders were working on a renovation project, Simone Jeffers proposed doing an art walk.
“I suggested covering the boarded widows with art and culture instead of just ‘coming soon’ signs,” Simone Jeffers says. “I think that culture and creatives are what makes our cities the place we want to live, work and play.”
GANGGANG commissioned 11 artists from XVIII Art Collective, which is a group of like-minded and civically engaged black visual artists in and around the Indianapolis metropolitan area, to install murals along the Art Walk. These artists come from professional and artistic backgrounds including graphic designers, digital artists, muralists, professors, art instructors and more. The art is a display of individual interpretations of family, entertainment and shopping with intentional pops of bright, vibrant images.
The 11 featured artists include Deonna Craig, Fitz, Gary Gee, Courtney Blayne McCrary Jr., Ess McKee, Amiah Mims, Ashley Nora, Nathaniel Kyng Rhodes, Rebecca Robinson, Harriet Watson and Kevin West.
“My favorite part of installing this mural has been the opportunity to paint outdoors while meeting new people,” says Deonna Craig, president of XVIII Art Collective. “I love to paint and love to talk. Having an opportunity to share the story behind my artwork is just as fulfilling as actually creating it.”
Rebecca Robinson, a mixed-media artist, focuses on figurative and abstract subjects, and especially loves working with nontraditional materials like concrete and tar. For the Art Walk, her mural, titled “Shopping Zen,” depicts a woman in a yoga pose holding two shopping bags.
“My inspiration was to encourage people to enjoy being back outside, reconnecting with nature and enjoying the shopping experience,” says Robinson, who loves seeing how public art facilitates conversations. “Some people have never set foot in a gallery or museum. When you take artwork on the street and make it for the public, you reach an entire society. That’s essential in preserving the culture and our communities.”
Amiah Mims, a conceptual artist, loves interacting with passersby as she works.
“I enjoy the little moments exchanged between myself and a person I’ve never met before when I’m working,” Mims says. “It’s moments that may not have ever happened if the art wasn’t there to break the ice.”
This can be especially important in today’s world.
“Artists are essential workers, and they’ve been called on a lot in the last 18 to 24 months,” Simone Jeffers says. “Maybe that’s because society knows to go to the creatives to lift our spirits. Maybe it’s an innate thing. Experiencing art reminds us of our humanity and our connection to one another.”
“If everything in 2020 is about what separates people, whether that’s the pandemic or social justice and racial movement, culture is what brings people together,” adds Alan Bacon, co-founder of GANGGANG. “It’s through food, through storytelling, through experiencing art. That’s the focus of GANGGANG and why we appreciate this partnership with Clay Terrace.”
Mims has seen firsthand how art can affect people simply by being present.
“It has the power to bring perspective and understanding to topics such as race and inclusion, but that can only happen if and when the art reflecting these topics is being seen,” Mims says. “The narrative will always be the same if the same people are the only ones allowed to tell the story. In order for the narrating voice to change, the speakers have to change, meaning artists – and people in general, from various backgrounds and walks of life – need to have a place at the podium.”
Clay Terrace is providing that podium, and it’s an ideal spot for the Art Walk because it’s a natural meeting place for shopping, eating and connecting.
“That means it’s already a place that’s ready for more culture to exist,” Simone Jeffers says.
Common-area amenities are a key element of Clay Terrace. Comfortable seating areas and parklets throughout the town center provide a place for guests to rest and relax while visiting. The seating area between Prodigy Burger & Bar and Pies & Pints, with the fireplace active on cooler days, is a fun location for families and friends to gather after a great meal.
“We’re always looking for fun, exciting ways to engage the residents of Carmel,” Jones says.
Clay Terrace hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as Winter Blast, the Hide & Peep Easter Egg Hunt, and the Summer Concert Series. Pups & Pints with Bier Brewery is held in the Clay Terrace Dog Park (through October 15). Boo ‘n Brew on October 23 will include hayrides, face painters, a beer garden, live music, a pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating, a dog costume contest and more.
Clay Terrace is open Mon. through Sat. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sun. noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call 317-818-0725 or visit clayterrace.com. The address for the Art Walk is 14299 Clay Terrace Blvd. in Carmel. To learn more about XVIII Art Collective, visit 18artcollective.com.