Indiana State Museum, NiSource Gallery,
through Sept. 11.
Surprises abound in this refreshing,
vibrant exhibit of art we don’t often experience. Curator
Rachel Berenson Perry provides ample background in the accompanying
catalog essay and exhibit labels.
the land, cities and people as [the artists] saw them” during
the period between World War I and II brings Indiana to life during a
time when a “resurgent patriotism” motivated artists away
from subjective Modernism toward fundamental Midwestern ideals.
Federal programs during
The Depression celebrated artists as
essential to the American way of life and “the general public
could relate to…realistic documentation of people in their own
communities.” What makes these paintings so special is their
striking difference from the better-known art we have come to
associate with the “American impressionist style, practiced by
T.C. Steele (1847-1926) and the Hoosier Group as well as the later
Brown County artists.”
Stopping us in our tracks was the
inclusion of Harry A. Davis, best known to us for his amazing
architectural exteriors. Here we find a couple skating off the canvas
and a family in the midst of a robust “Harvest Dinner”
along with the 1945 “Passing of an Era” which can serve
as a marker for his life-long preservation of buildings in paint.
You’ll view landscapes,
cityscapes, still lifes, and portraits by a dozen other painters
including Robert Edward Weaver’s animated circus clowns, Floyd
D. Hopper’s eerie “Night Train” and Edwin L.
Fulwider’s somber “Receiving News of Pearl Harbor.”
The exhibit is worthy of return visits
to grasp all the nuances of a seemingly simpler life.