"Painting Indiana", Then and Now
In the early 1900s a group of five Indiana painters captured the worlds attention. These painters were dedicated to reflecting natures truth in Indianas beauty, and their dream sparked an important movement in Hoosier art. This group was known as the Hoosier Group, and included Indiana natives T.C. Steele, John Ottis Adams, William Forsythe, Otto Starke and Richard Gruelle.
Today, Painting Indiana: Portraits of Indianas 92 Counties has been presented by the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association, Inc. This group of paintings is on display at the Indiana State Museum, and is accompanied by a book.
When the Hoosier Group began, this plein air, or out in the open, style of painting was new to the art world, as most artists of the day painted in studios without the play of natural light. Today, the Indiana Plein Air PaintersAssociation, Inc., has followed this tradition, and brings us a beautiful depiction of Indiana landscapes. The artists in this group are Dan Woodson, Don Russell, Lyle Denney and Robert Eberle.
A group of art students at the Indiana School of Art had been inspired to study abroad. They raised the money they needed, and together with their families set sail for Germany in 1880. T.C. Steele and Samuel Richards had both grown up in Owen County, and Ottis Adams was raised in Amity, in Johnson County. They had met William Forsyth at art school. They studied together in Munich for a time, but each developed his own interests and strengths, and pursued them in his own way.
Over time they all enjoyed success, and traveled to international exhibits. But there was something about their art that seemed to connect them. When they returned to Indiana after being separated, they had a deeper appreciation of what they called natures truth in the beauty of Indiana.
Together they dreamed of developing a recognizable Hoosier art form. They reasoned that if an art movement could develop in Norway or Holland, why not in America? Why not in Indiana?
T.C. Steele had grown to love nature and, enjoyed painting en plein air, or outdoors. Some of his greatest works were done en plein air, including The Oaks of Vernon, which he painted over ten evenings. It was said, He has a greater love for a beech tree than for a castle.
In 1896 their dreams started to become reality. They were dubbed The Hoosier Group after a Chicago exhibit. At the St. Louis Worlds Fair in 1904 they received their greatest distinction as a group, where their Indiana art was given its own building. Indiana was the only state represented at the Worlds Fair with its own building. They brought beautiful scenes of Metamora, Brookville, Vernon, Prairie Dell and Muncie to the worlds attention.
In 1989 The Hoosier Group had a resurgence of popularity, when The Passage was released. This exhibit traveled to Cologne Germany and back to Indianapolis. The book that accompanied the exhibit also helped reintroduce them to the public.
The artists are all members of Indiana Plein Air Painters Association, which promotes outdoor landscape painting. These artists spent 1998 and 1999 traveling throughout the state, each having different counties to depict. These paintings give us a glimpse of Indiana landscapes today, at the turn of the twenty-first century.
The paintings are on exhibit at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis until April 22nd, 2000. After that they will be divided into smaller groupings for traveling exhibits throughout the state - making it possible for thousands more people to enjoy.
Seeing the entire collection first-hand is an opportunity that should not be missed. Every painting is remarkable. For those who might not see the exhibit as a whole, an exquisite book with essays about each county is also available. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to Riley Childrens Hospital.
Meet the Artists
Despite color-blindness and little formal training, tenacious self-study over many years has produced a truly original style in Woodsons work.
Woodsons honors include 3 first place awards at the T.C. Steele Great Outdoor Paintoff, and Best Impressionist Oil at the 1998 Hoosier Salon Annual Show. His work is represented by Sigmans Gallery located in Broad Ripple and Honeysuckle Gallery located in Nashville.
Don Russell, M.D., is a resident of Zionsville. He is a retired orthopedic surgeon and gifted painter with over 30 years of experience. Don studied with numerous notable American artists and his pursuit for painting subjects has taken him across the United States.
Conveying atmosphere and emotion through his style of brushwork and sensitive use of color, Dr. Russells work is truly distinctive. He has received numerous awards, including Best Landscape in the 1996 Hoosier Salon competition. Russells work is represented by the Hoosier Salon Gallery.
Lyle Denney is a Muncie native and U.S. Postal Service employee. He has been a passionate painter of the Hoosier landscape since his youth. His broad, impressionistic brushwork and harmonious color mixed from a very limited palette are the hallmarks of his painterly scenes of small town settings.
Denneys success in regional and state-wide shows include several first place awards, three Best of Show awards and the Peoples Award for Best of Show at the 1996 Hoosier Salon competition. His work is represented by the Hoosier Salon Gallery located in Indianapolis.
His works are held in corporate, private and public collections and may be seen at Honeysuckle Gallery in Nashville, the Alliance Gallery of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Sigmans Gallery, the Hoosier Salon Gallery and the Center for Creative Arts, all in Indianapolis.
Indiana Plein Air Painters Association, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization of artists and patron members, established in 1998. Special thanks to them for providing the above artists biographies.
For more information on Painting Indiana, contact the museum at 317-232-1637, or www.state.in.us/ism.
For information on the book, Painting Indiana, contact Indiana University Press at 800-842-6796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following books can be ordered directly from through SouthernIN.com.
All Feature Articles, artwork and photographs ©1999 by Dervish Design. Some information on the 'County Info' pages is taken directly from brochures published by Visitors Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce.