Writer / Kara Kavensky
Photographer / Brian Brosmer

Growing up in Traverse City in northern Michigan, Brian McCutcheon’s first sculptural experience was fixing up his first car.

“In retrospect, I realize my uncle lives like an artist. He was always in his shop where he has built hundreds of cars,” says Brian, who describes cars as a form of sculpture.

Brian learned at a young age that one could earn a living in the arts. His parents recognized his propensity towards the arts and kept him enrolled in art and music classes throughout his youth.

“I played the trombone and other brass instruments, including playing the bagpipes professionally for a while, too,” said Brian, noting that being a bit of an eccentric is a prerequisite for the bagpipes.

Professionally, Brian has two businesses, one as a contemporary artist and the other is a custom fabrication business that specializes in the management, fabrication and installation of large-scale public art and digitally designed architectural installations. He also fabricates art objects, limited production design products, prototypes, art/museum exhibition elements and works on art conservation projects.

The most visible of Brian’s large-scale public art includes his collaboration with Lucas Brown on a wireframe engine project recently installed in the new Cummins headquarters.

The bus stops on the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Cultural Trail include salvaged seats from the old Bush Stadium. Brian had formerly worked with iFab, who stored, dissembled and either sold or recycled the seats for use at bus stops. The bus stop seating was in conjunction with IndyGo and People for Urban Progress (PUP).

“The PUP chairs are gold, other installations are orange,” shares Brian, whose new company is Ignition Arts, LLC, and will continue to collaborate with PUP on future projects.

What has quickly become an iconic symbol of Indianapolis, are the “NDY” sculptures, which was inspired by the “BIG” project in Dallas, Texas. Mindy Taylor Ross, of Art Strategies, recommended Brian to Visit Indy for the project’s design. Ross was hired as the public art consultant for the Arts Council and cultural trail consultant. Three NDY statues were commissioned with the intention of lasting for one season, only, but due to their popularity, Brian refurbished them in November for another year. The design’s success is evident by the hundreds of thousands of social media postings.

“When we are re-installing, people were lined up for photos,” shares Brian.

The current locations for the three NDY statues are: Washington and Meridian streets, inside Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, and at the airport.

“Taking a two-dimensional, upwardly tilting logo, dropping the ‘I’ and turning it into a three-dimensional structure of appropriate scale that’s able to withstand Indy’s weather swings was a very challenging task,” said Leonard Hoops, president and CEO of Visit Indy. “Brian was perfect because we needed someone who understood both the artistic and fabrication requirements to determine the best materials to use and to deliver the sculptures at a cost we could manage. He’s been an invaluable partner in the #LoveIndy and NDY campaign’s success.”

Other Brian McCutcheon projects include: The Out of This World exhibition at the IMA, “Monument” for the Public Collection, Water Mining, and a “Native” monument for Victoria Gardens/Rancho Cucamonga.

Water Mining has been a collaborative project with Jordan Munson and Michael Drews. They have exhibited versions of it over the past three years, including twice at the IMA and once at IN Light In Festival. According to the IMA website, Water Mining is an interactive installation built to collect and amplify the underwater sounds of the canal. Through the installation, visitors will experience underwater soundscapes as they are broadcast into a water-themed environment of light and projection. The presentation of Water Mining will also include a series of live musical performances by MANA2 (Michael Drews and Jordan Munson). The performance will weave the underwater sounds collected by the sculpture into harmonic and melodic textures, revealing a voice within the water that is hidden but beautiful and provocative. 

Brian’s studio for Ignition Arts is located on the new grounds of Central State Hospital, inside the laundry building.

“The building is beautiful,” shares Brian. “The same architect who designed the laundry building had designed the state house.”

Brian has also been commissioned to fabricate the first large-scale, outdoor bronze sculpture in the western hemisphere for Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich. A collector in California has purchased it. Brian was recently in Cambodia to discuss the project and obtain design development and physical sample approval. The sculpture is set for opening September 1.

For more information, visit ignitionarts.com and follow on Instagram. For the NDY sign locations, check out VisitIndy.com or follow on Facebook.