Among the newest galleries in Carmel is the Hoosier Salon, one of two Indiana galleries run by the eponymous arts organization founded in 1925. The organization relocated its Indy gallery from Broad Ripple eight months ago, adding a nonprofit gallery to the largely for-profit mix in Carmel’s Arts & Design District.
You’ll notice the art hanging salon-style on the walls when you step into the high-ceilinged, spacious gallery. It's a veritable hodgepodge of art and much of it is the type you might expect from the Hoosier Salon, or from a typical Carmel gallery for that matter. (Fountain Square, this isn’t.) Lots of pastel-toned portraiture, landscapes, covered bridges. Here and there a painting will leap off the walls in its solemnity or in its daring: consider “Aloha State of Mind” by Nancy Kruse with its bright Hawaiian shirt colors. Or James Tracy’s “Deputy Farm, IN” depicting an achingly lonely snow-covered landscape under a somber blue sky.
And then you’ll run into the guy who has been managing the gallery for the past month on an interim basis. His name is Richard Anderson—the warm body who answers the phones, as he describes himself, and who's helping the organization get ready for its 91st Annual Exhibition in July.
He’s a tall man with a long beard and a heightened fashion sense. Think Andy Warhol meets abolitionist John Brown.
Anderson likes the output of fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. A lot. He’s collected nearly 1500 garments by Gaultier since he first walked into a New York-based Gaultier retailer back in the 80s and bought a sweater off the clearance rack. His collection, he says, is one of the largest in North America. He wears a different Gaultier combo every day and posts selfies of himself in said garb on his Facebook page.
Anderson was born in Wanamaker, IN, in 1966. He graduated Franklin Central High School and attended MIT. He worked for Ford Motor Company for 24 years in quality and assurance. Starting in 1993, he worked out of the Ford Assembly Plant on the east side of Indy, until he was forced into early retirement. Afterwards he went to the Herron School of Art and Design, but didn’t graduate. He taught art to kindergarteners, and then worked at the Indianapolis Museum of Art gift shop.
“My grandfather would always say smart people don’t do dumb things," says Anderson. "And the smart thing to do when you don’t know what you’re getting into is to start at the bottom. Know it all and you can make your determinations from there. And it gave me a wonderful insight into the arts in the state of Indiana.”
And it was at the IMA that his singular style began to get him noticed.
“The patrons that went to the museum and they were from all over the world. They literally would be like, can I take a photograph of you? And then they would ask the question, ‘What is this?’ And that made me the happiest, because they saw the look first and then when they found out second that it was Vivienne Westwood or Jean Paul Gaultier or Hermes.”
But serious professional photographers soon became interested in Anderson as a subject as well. Mark Alan Lee was the first. Then came Drew Endicott and Larry Endicott and, most recently, industrial photographer John Fleck.
“And it’s snowballing into something that is way bigger than I am,” he says. “I’m just a mannequin. But look just look at their work. Because it blows me away. I get the joy of being just a small part of it. It’s not about me... It’s about what they can do with what’s in front of them."
Anderson, a portrait artist himself, has definite ideas about the kind of art he likes, and that he would want to see more of in the Hoosier Salon.
“Whether it is a portrait, a still life, a different take on a barn scene, I am about art that is not lazy when you look at it," Anderson explains. "I want art where you can tell that there was a passion that was put into the creation of the piece. I look at the pieces we have and can see all of it—everything that they bring to the table. I am drawn to those works where the signature on one speaks ‘I made this!’ as opposed to a ‘look what I can do!’”
And chances are, that’s the kind of art that you’ll see if you check out the Hoosier Salon 91st Annual Exhibition at the Indiana History Center opening July 30, 2015.
But in the meantime you just might want to check out the gallery and say hello to its "warm body." Carmel mayor Jim Brainard already has. Anderson was even able to get him to try on a top hat.
Anderson admires Mayor Brainard, who brought the Carmel Arts & Design District to fruition, but thinks he could benefit from a little fashion advice.
“I would still like to see him in a Gaultier skirt suit for men,” he says. “And that might be a possibility but I think wine might be involved. But you know what? He’s so open to the arts and the arts community that I think that he would do it. And especially if we could get him to do it for a charity that would be even better.”