Friday, July 5, 2013

Say Good-bye to Bloomington Part IV: Never underestimate a Hoosier's love of visual beauty

I broke my 4-hour Friday drive from Chicago to Nashville/Bloomington with a stop in Indianapolis for a quiet, nearly private mid-afternoon visit to one of my favorite museums, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. The Eiteljorg, on its expansive urban campus, dates only to 1987 when Indianapolis coal entrepreneur Harrison Eiteljorg donated his meticulously assembled collection to found the museum. It continues to flourish even since his death in 1997.
This was only my second visit, after being introduced to it on my last trip to Bloomington, back in 2005. The nice thing about a small museum with a large collection is that the objects are rotated in and out of the galleries so each visit, especially if widely spaced, is a new feast for the eyes. The pleasures start even as one comes in the door,
and continue within. Here are snapshots of some of the extraordinary work of historic as well as contemporary Anglo and American Indian artists and craftsmen that I enjoyed that day:
The Old Buckskin, Oscar E. Berninghaus, 1922
The Turkey Hunter (Hunting Wild Turkeys), Eanger Couse, c. 1925
Ute beaded headdress, late 19th century. You can't tell me the warriors didn't have a sense of humor.
Ceramic figure (Zia Pueblo), Angelina Medina 1997, a sweet tableau of traditional and modern Indian life.

Beneath the Blue Moon Bench, P.A. Nisbet 2012. Blue Moon Bench is at the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers in the Grand Canyon. It's said to be a great place to fish.
It's amply obvious that the couple of hours I was there that chilly, overcast spring afternoon were not enough, but the photos I brought home allow me to examine and re-examine the works at my computer, seeing something new every time I open a file. I encourage you to click on the images so you too can see what I see in them.
Difficult as it is for me to curtail posting treasures of the Eiteljorg, I want to share another, also important, trove of regional art history, this one housed along the road between Bloomington and Nashville Indiana. It is known today as the Indiana State Museum T.C. Steele Historic Site, high on the hilltop site of original Theodore Clement Steele home and studio. As mentioned in the third Say Good-bye post, the magnificent natural beauty of Brown County, Indiana was the inspiration for a number of renowned late 19th and early 20th century artists known as The Hoosier Group of American Impressionists. Mr. Steele was among the earliest to locate in the area, and soon became world famous for his evocative pleine air vision of the world around him. The grounds and buildings, including his home, the House of the Singing Winds, are meticulously maintained and most pleasurable to visit with the guidance of a skilled docent.
Selma in the Garden, T.C. Steele 1921, depicts Steele's wife Selma at the House of the Singing Winds
The House of the Singing Winds in 2013
Steele's "large" studio on the lovely grounds of the Historic Site
Inside the studio is a rotating gallery of Steele's paintings; the State of Indiana was heir to approximately 300 of his works. 
Hoosiers love modern art as well, and in Columbus, Indiana enjoy this phenomenal installation of glass artist Dale Chihuly's "Yellow Neon Chandelier & Persians" in the Convention and Visitors Bureau; the photos don't do the chandelier justice as it's of course better when lighted at night:
From the side it looks like a luscious cob of corn, with tendrils that could be bits of husk, or the strings, either way perfectly suited for southern Indiana!
Straight up!
I think the surrounding flowery dish-shaped pieces may be the "Persians" which show so nicely with the bright sunlight behind them.

This was all the art I could fit into my weekend in Bloomington, and all of it, including access to the older-than-Veronica T.C. Steele estate, is new since I moved away in 1968. It's hard to declare this the likely last visit to the land of my childhood, as there's so much more untapped. For example, in here, the Art Museum and Fine Arts School on the campus of Indiana University, which I have only viewed from the outside:
Indiana University Art Museum (left) next to the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts building (right)
And finally, two last sightings from the T.C. Steele estate: just as enduring, Nature's art!

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western art - See more at:
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western art - See more at:
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western art - See more at:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing the amazing art work with us. I especially enjoyed the beautiful colours in 'Selma in the garden'.

    When I was last in Vancouver my hosts took me to a museum of Native American/First Nation art and artifacts. It was also fascinating. Some paralels with our own Maori art, but also very different too.