CDFI Friendly Bloomington and CIFI fund new public art installation

Aurora Almanac at the Trades District will result from the first CDFI Friendly loan to an entrepreneur and artist

Bloomington, IN – Together with the Community Investment Fund of Indiana (CIFI), Indiana’s only statewide CDFI, CDFI Friendly Bloomington (CFB) will finance the initial costs of the Trades District Garage public art commission. The financing will assist Esteban Garcia Bravo, the visual artist whose proposal was selected by the Bloomington Arts Commission, in covering the design and fabrication of the project until his commission is completed. Mr. Garcia Bravo is a Computer Graphics professor at Purdue University, as well as a working artist throughout Indiana. CIFI and CFB will each cover half, or $12,500 of the $25,000 required to cover Mr. Garcia Bravo’s front-end design and fabrication costs.

“CIFI’s focus on supporting entrepreneurs and providing flexible capital for underserved communities made them an ideal partner for this project,” noted Brian Payne, CFB’s executive director. “Their ability to embrace a unique project, underwrite quickly, and support the borrower through his application were instrumental in achieving a quick and successful closing.”

“We are absolutely delighted to have an opportunity to work with CDFI Friendly Bloomington to provide financing for this important project,” said Phil Black, CIFI’s executive director. “Working together with Esteban Garcia Bravo, the City of Bloomington and CDFI Friendly Bloomington represents a new innovative approach to increasing investment in small business and community development.”

The installation, Aurora Almanac, will be located in the visible façades of the stairwell in the nearly completed Trades District parking garage in downtown Bloomington. The installation’s seven LED-illuminated frames will be placed in stairwells adjacent and visible to the B-line trail. The Request for Proposals, released by the City of Bloomington earlier this year, encouraged prospective artists to construct a signature work of art which reflects and enhances the unique uses of the Trades District space. According to Mr. Garcia Bravo’s proposal, Aurora Almanac will be composed of “tocapu” – individually patterned tiles that comprise a mural of tilework. His design seeks to create “an experience that sparks self-reflection and excitement for something as seemingly mundane as the daily ritual of parking and walking up and down stairs. For the ancient Inka, the act of walking up and down stairs represents transition into different levels of consciousness.” Each tile will be the result of a collaboration between the Bloomington and Lafayette communities.

“I am grateful to finally have the chance to create my first permanent public art project for, and in
collaboration with, our community in Indiana,” said Mr. Garcia Bravo. “This loan is the first step to get the project started and to really believe that dreams can materialize.”

Design rendering of the Aurora Almanac design, showing the parking garage lit with the installation in the stairwell at right. To the left is the four story parking garage with lights illuminating the parking spaces.
Aurora Almanac as visible from the B-Line trail, rendering by Esteban Garcia Bravo

Besides facilitating  a signature piece of public artwork in a key economic district for the city, this project marks the first CFB loan to a minority-owned enterprise and the first of many possible collaborations with local and regional public artists. The City of Bloomington has partnered with CFB to publicize the availability of CDFI capital in the solicitation process, to ensure that artists of all financial backgrounds can submit applications to public commissions.  “This unique and critical financing program helps Bloomington support more public art projects and helps assist new artists in the public art landscape,” City of Bloomington Assistant Director for the Arts Sean Starowitz added. “I hope this is the first of many public projects supported by this partnership.”

Tocapu also marks the second investment of the CFB Capital fund, a revolving loan pool oriented towards providing supplementary funding to community development projects within the region. Fabrication of the art will begin in January 2021, and installation is scheduled for completion in approximately one year.

About CIFI 

Founded in 2010, the Community Investment Fund of Indiana (CIFI) is a nonprofit CDFI that offers loans and economic development services to underserved communities throughout Indiana. CIFI seeks to generate positive change by expanding financial opportunities for entrepreneurs, underserved communities, and small businesses that do not have access to traditional sources of financing. CIFI’s work has provided both immense support and significant investment into distressed and underrepresented communities throughout the state of Indiana. 

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