By Juli Metzger—
Series of exhibits focusing on waterways, conservation
MUNCIE, IN—In October, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites will host the first in a series of art exhibits by five Hoosier painters who, along with three curatorial essayists, have also produced a hardcover book of nearly 230 pages: “Indiana Waterways: The Art of Conservation.
The book includes 100 paintings of Indiana’s waterways and three essays on waterway conservation. Ten conservation presentations are also planned across the state. The art exhibition opens on October 16.
A limited edition book, sold for $50, accompanies the exhibitions and public debates. It is signed and numbered by all the artists and writers and is part of the collection of the Library of Congress. Much of the funding comes from individual donations and grants. In addition, Wickliff Auctions will hold an auction at 7 p.m. on September 8 in their Carmel showroom of 25 donated paintings to help offset book printing costs. Auctions are open now.
Sponsored by Art Nature Consortium, the project promotes conservation efforts to restore 65,000 miles of Indiana waterways. During COVID 19, the five Hoosier artists, brothers Dan and Tom Woodson of Muncie, Curt Stanfield of Rosedale, John Kelty of Fort Wayne and Avon Waters of Converse, began working on the project during the pandemic-induced lockdown. In August 2020, around an outdoor barbecue, the artists committed to painting Indiana’s waterways for 20 months and then creating a traveling exhibition.
“Pretty early on, we discovered how interested other people were in what we were doing,” said Avon Waters, the project’s lead artist and chief executive of the nonprofit Art Nature Consortium.
The eclectic mix of artists and writers made it a unique project, Waters said. “We use a variety of mediums, styles and literary arts to communicate the need to clean up our waterways. Many rivers and streams in Indiana are unsuitable for human contact and are rated among the worst in the country.
Since that 2020 barbecue, the project has added three curatorial essayists and a hardcover book to accompany the traveling exhibit, which begins Oct. 16 at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites and then moves to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. in January 2023, then at the Minnetrista Museums and Gardens Oakhurst House in Muncie in the summer of 2023, and ends in December 2023 at the Hoosier Salon in New Harmony. Meanwhile, writers and artists will give free public talks around the state of art and conservation.
“Some artists like to speak at public gatherings. It’s a way to broaden the impact of the project,” Waters said. “We will be doing presentations at libraries in rural and urban areas and showing how anyone interested in the beauty of our rivers and streams can get involved.”