100 Artists of the Midwest is a handsome, inviting book comprised of personal essays and a handful of representative work by the members of a new generation of artists making their home and working in the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Rooney, who previously profiled New England and Mid-Atlantic artists, says she is interested in taking “a fresh look at the magical and insightful ways in which [Midwest] artists have interpreted life in this region with its flourishing cities, rolling cornfields, and beautiful countryside... .Is there a T.C. Steele, John Henry Twachtman, or Grant Wood among them?”
In the foreword, Kentucky/Ohio-based impressionist painter Tom Bluemlein writes, ”The Midwest evokes a sense of comfort in me, and I have come to the conclusion that it offers a kaleidscope of the country’s terrain... Living in the Midwest allows a surreal level of creativity because of the quickly changing light, varied subject matter, and the warmth of the people living there. The light allows me to be creative. It is like a poem that is calming and nurturing.”
A common thread running through 100 Artists of the Midwest is the act of finding and revealing oneself through making works of art. Subject matter, media and style runs the gamut in the collection, with every page allows for a “wow” or an “aha” moment.
Other Indiana artists profiled include Brock Cagann, James Wille Faust, Karen Glanders, Abbigail Knowlton Israelsen, Mike Kelly, Ron Monsma, Kenneth G. Ryden and Stephanie Standish. One wants to meet these people and learn more about them personally.
And so NUVO caught up with Indianapolis-based painter Gayla Hodson, one of nine Indiana artists profiled in the book. Hobson opens a new exhibit, “Poppy Fields: The Serendipity of Gayla Hodson,” at the Renaissance Fine Art and Design Gallery, (1 S. Rangeline Road, Carmel) on Aug. 11, with a reception and book signing from 5-10 p.m.
NUVO: Ashley Rooney states in the Introduction, “I looked at many different artists... These are twenty-first century artists working with contemporary mediums... I wanted those who would bring strength, excitement, passion, and variety to this book.” What is your reaction to being included as a representative of "the new generation of painters in Indiana/the Midwest?"
Gayla Hodson: My first reaction when I was approached to submit work was surprise and excitement. To be selected to represent the Midwest, especially my state of Indiana, was a great honor.
NUVO: Why and how were you chosen?
Hodson: It started with Indianapolis artist John Domont had given my name to the author, E. Ashley Rooney. She contacted me to submit work for review, and the rest is history: I did and was selected.
NUVO: With initial training at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and continuing at Herron in the art education’s master program, do you now perceive yourself as being distinctive as an artist living in Indiana from the artists in the book living in other Midwestern states?
Hodson: All artists in the book I feel are distinctive and unique. The biggest difference I see from the artists in the book and my work is my use of vibrant color.
NUVO: You already are widely exhibited and profiled nationwide. What do you expect to get out of being included in this book?
Hodson: As an artist I love getting my work out there to an audience that wouldn’t see my work otherwise. This book is sold worldwide so for me this is huge publicity.
NUVO: What is special about your new exhibit?
Hodson: This show is a popular theme for me and one I enjoy doing. It represents all new works. The Poppies are original oil paintings that are colorful and heavily textured. Also included in the show are some of the new works that I started doing after receiving the Creative Renewal Fellowship in 2009, which are more intuitive and abstract, not about an image or representation yet they are influenced by vibrant colors and distinctive lines.