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Carmel, Indiana Arts and Design District

Updated on August 29, 2012

Turning Old Town into an Art Mecca

It started with an idea that was sixteen years in the making and culminated in a transformation that changed Carmel, Indiana from an unknown city into a destination spot.

What used to be a dilapidated downtown has become the home to interior designers, art galleries, showrooms, restaurants, antique stores, a variety of specialty retail shops and the Palladium with its magnificent Center for the Performing Arts.

In 2003 none of these attractions existed so even for those living in Carmel this is a new and exciting experience. Travel with me to the new Carmel Arts and Design District and experience a dream come true for this city.

Here is a hot off the presses update on Carmel, Indiana. My lovely hometown was rated the number one place to live in America in the September, 2012 issue of "Money" magazine. Hooray for Carmel, Indiana!!!


The Newest Addition

The Palladium and the Center for the Performing Arts had its grand opening on January 29, 2011. The Palladium is a 1600-seat concert hall, where performances of all kinds of music take place, from classical to jazz to pop and everything in between. It has high ceilings, curved box seats and a dome at its top center.

The design of the building is based on the Rotunda by the sixteenth Italian Renaissance architect Palladio. Over the concert platform hangs the first large-scale, all-glass acoustic canopy to be used in a concert hall.

The Palladium boasts the most sophisticated acoustics in the country. The only way you will ever know if this is a correct assumption is to listen to a performance in the concert hall.


It is Everywhere in the District

To enhance the new experience of art and design the City of Carmel purchased at least twelve sculptures from J.Seward Johnson, Jr. to be placed in areas around the new Arts and Design District.

Every time a new one of these sculptures appears in the district, I stop to look at its intricate detail. Even the smallest button has been sculpted with great precision.

These sculptures are public art at its most realistic. There is a reason they were chosen, and no one states that reason better than the sculptor.

"Realism has the capacity to reach everyone; there is no age barrier, no culture barrier. As the breadth of communication expands, so does the potency of a particular work." J. Seward Johnson Jr.

Indiana Design District
Indiana Design District

Indiana Design Center

The Heart of the Design District

There are sixteen showrooms in the Indiana Design Center filled with art, decor, fixtures, furnishings, carpets, and so much more. Computers and books are available to help you with any design project you may have.

You will find a kitchen and bath designer, a home fixture showroom and lots of artists who can add the finishing touches to whatever room or rooms you want to design. It is one of the most elaborate interior design centers I have seen, beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.

When you walk into the center there is this vast corridor with a reception area and showrooms with open glass fronts. A restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch is on the first floor, where you can stop for a cup of coffee before enjoying your tour of the building. You don't have to be in the market for interior decorating. The experience of looking at all that is offered is worth the trip.

Outside of the Design Center is a Seward sculpture of a man and a woman under an umbrella. Naturally she has a shopping bag, since she could not leave the center without purchasing something.

Renaissance Fine Arts Gallery, Carmel, Indiana
Renaissance Fine Arts Gallery, Carmel, Indiana


Art is the Soul of the District

There are ten art galleries in the Carmel Arts District featuring local, regional, national, and international artists working in the styles of impressionism, abstract impressionism, Italian-Baroque, realism and contemporary art.

Many of the diversified galleries contain limited edition prints, paintings, drawings, art glass, sculpture, photography, and portraiture.

Some of the galleries are devoted to a particular artist, others are showplaces for all types of art.

During the warm months there is a gallery walk every other week. The galleries remain open until ten at night. But you will find more than the galleries open. The restaurants, boutiques even the tattoo parlor stays open. You do realize that tattoos are also works of art, and so you will find one in this district. If it can be classified as art, it is sure to be found in the Carmel Arts and Design District.

Take a Tour of Carmel Arts and Design District - Seeing is Believing

Nothing like a video to give you a better taste of the Carmel Arts and Design District, but you would still have to visit to appreciate its uniqueness and enjoy what it has to offer.

Video is reproduced with the permission of Chris Walczak, Indy Visitors Channel.

Carmel Roundabouts
Carmel Roundabouts


You May Not Know It But

Carmel, Indiana is the fastest growing city in Indiana. When I moved here in 1980, there were a little over 18,000 people living in Carmel. Today there are just under 80,000. This is a testament to the city's desirability as a place to live and raise a family. It is a beautiful welcoming city with a fantastic mayor whose vision of a great city has shaped the Carmel I live in today.

Carmel has become the unofficial roundabout capital of the world. It has 80 roundabouts that have succeeded in eliminating 78 traffic lights. You could ride through Carmel at 50 miles an hour on Keystone Parkway, its main thoroughfare, and reach your destination before you know it without having stopped at one traffic light. There are no traffic lights from 96th Street to 146th Street. Carmel is the model for the future construction of roundabouts in Indiana and around the country.

Carmel was voted the fourteenth best city to live by CNN Money in 2010.

Clay Terrace, Carmel's outdoor shopping mall has 70 retailers, restaurants, outdoor concerts, and a children's playground.

Carmel, Indiana is just north of Indianapolis. The cutoff between Carmel and Indianapolis is 96th Street. Carmel is close to the Indianapolis 500, and the Pacers basketball and the Colts football teams. There is a world class art museum just 30 minutes away.

I am so proud to have had this opportunity to show you my city, and hope that you visit it someday in your travels across this great country.

What Do You Think of Carmel, Indiana - Hope You Enjoyed the Tour

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    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Looks like a great place to live. Blessed!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      Have driven through those roundabouts and there sure a lot of them! Nice city, nice lens.

    • SoniaCarew profile image

      SoniaCarew 5 years ago

      Beautiful! And that sculpture,... amazing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love carmel it is a beautiful place

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      It sounds like a fascinating place to visit. Amazing how they could remake the city so quickly.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      Sounds great, especially the scuptures. Very well done lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Enjoyed traveling to your travel article's destinations. Always enjoy seeing travel and outdoor places as I love seeing them even if I don't visit them. *blessed by a squid angel*