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Swish Arts and Cultural festival set to kick off Saturday

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — You may have already seen a few colorful creations popping up downtown. Starting Saturday, a diverse pool of creatives will turn it into an artist lovers’ dream.

The outdoor art experience is called Swish. Much of what you can expect to see still needs to be installed, but people around downtown will be able to enjoy live music art and so much more.

Last year the pandemic really shook things up a bit but this year the Swish event is not only going to bring the fun, it’s going to bring funds to local artists.

You can’t miss the madness downtown. There are signs up all over the place. Soon they’ll be up against a few more colorful backdrops painted by local artists like Kwazar Martin.

“This kind of just happened. It was like a blessing in disguise. It just kind of happened for me,” Martin said.

Around this time last year, like so many others, Martin lost his job. Now his passion is his work and he’s getting paid for it through a $335,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment. Grants will also go to another 600 creatives ranging from musicians, spoken word, dance, sculptors and more.

“The pandemic opened a lot more doors and kind of giving me more time to sit and do the work that I love to do,” said Martin.

This is an extension of the work the Arts Council of Indianapolis has been doing to provide paid work for Indy artists, many who lost their sole form of income from massive shutdowns.

“Through the year we’ve thought about wouldn’t it be great when we can get started talking about recovery. And this is a huge part of that recovery. We’re finally able to pay artists to do what they do best,” said Shannon Linker with the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

Swish is expected to be an interactive experience with live music. And for the works of art, visitors are invited to step onto the court.

“We built that with the idea that you could be immersed inside of it. You can get into the art. And it’s not often you get to step on the art,” Linker said.

Martin said the pandemic somehow became a springboard to do what he loves full time.

“You believe in something you just push forward on it and that’s what I did.”