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'The Richmond Group Artists' 

click to enlarge The Richmond Group Artists - By Shaun Thomas Dingwerth, introduction by Julia May - Indiana University Press
  • The Richmond Group Artists
    By Shaun Thomas Dingwerth, introduction by Julia May
    Indiana University Press

An exquisite array of landscapes immediately engaged my attention, and then as I turned pages and began to read the narrative, I couldn't stop until I reached the back cover. Nothing else mattered for that entire afternoon, save going outside to observe with greater depth of perception my backyard with its abundance of trees filtering the effects of a dipping sun.

Dingwerth, executive director of the Richmond Art Museum, gifts with a study of artists whose influence has been under the radar even during their 19th century heyday and since. Prominence wasn't something they sought in their almost dogged adherence to their Quaker roots and tenets of simplicity, truth, light. Within Indiana, the Hoosier Group and the Brown County Artists Colony were and are at the head of public cognizance. Dingwerth set out to widen our horizons and bring due attention to fifteen 'major' artists and a dozen others whose work grows from a faith tradition stretching outward from comfort zones.

The introduction by Julia May, Earlham College associate professor of art history and curator of Earlham Art Collection, provides the springboard from which to absorb the impact of the visual arts movement in 19th century Richmond. Placing people within locale and conviction, a sense of community emerges to show how and why something extraordinary could and did happen, and what this has meant within the panoply of aesthetics and emerging nationhood.

These mainly self-taught talented individuals with a passion for landscapes worked at day jobs where commercial art tapped their skills — sign painting, illustrating catalogs, drawing patented products. But before worked called, they trooped out together (or alone) at the crack of dawn to follow the trajectory of light and shadows, depth and proximity and record the scenes within the Whitewater basin, pre-Civil War to the close of the 20th century.

Related events:

July 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Book signing and gallery talk at Eckert and Ross Fine Art, 5627 N. Illinois St.

Aug. 3-Oct. 4: The Richmond Group Artists: Out of the Silence exhibition at Richmond Art Museum

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