New historical marker pays homage to founders of art
If artists had never been to Brown County, what would Nashville be like today?
A new historical landmark on the Village Green invites residents and passers-by to reflect on the impact of artists past and present and to learn their stories.
Unveiled on May 13, it is the fifth historic marker for the state of Indiana in Brown County – the fourth erected in the past six years. These four, including this new one, were placed through the work of the Peaceful Valley Heritage Preservation Group and its partners.
Brown County has long been marketed as an art colony, but the actual knowledge of this heritage by its residents – or visitors – has been debated.
Last week’s Arts Week was a way to celebrate, teach and recognize this past, present and future. In addition to the marker unveiling, the week included an art competition and essay competition among local students; tell stories about the âmostly trueâ history of Brown County; music by Brown County performers; and demonstrations by members of today’s artistic community.
About 200 artists currently live in Brown County, Indiana Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch reported. More than 700 have worked here since 1908, historian James Glass reported. Brown County has a richer art history than many communities in Indiana that claim artistic heritage, ours going back over 120 years, said Mark Dollase of Indiana Landmarks.
âNever before have I been so thrilled with a region,â wrote Adolph Shulz, one of the first artists to explore Brown County in 1900, on horseback and buggy. âIt looked like a fairyland with its narrow winding roads leading the traveler through stream beds, through pools of water and over hills. Everywhere I looked there were rail fences almost hidden by Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod, and other interesting weeds and bushes. The quaint cabins here and there seemed to be part of the landscape, as did the people who lived there. â¦. A feeling of peace and beauty never felt before came over me and I finally felt that I had found the perfect ground for drawing.
After the railroad reached a corner of the county, making it more accessible to travelers, Shulz moved his family to Nashville in 1908. By then, TC Steele was already there, building his house of singing winds in Belmont. . About 25 artists spent the year drawing, “probably at the time such a strong group of the genre as the one that had gathered in a similar location in the Midwestern states,” Shulz wrote a few years later. .
Many guest artists have stayed at the Pittman House Inn, which is no longer on South Van Buren Street, and the Ferguson House, which is still on Franklin Street. The historic new downtown is one block from both of these locations, and it sits next to the site of one of Brown County’s first art galleries, which is no longer at 58 W. Main .
Preserving tangible pieces of Brown County’s art history, like artist studios, is also something Peaceful Valley Heritage has quietly been involved in, Dollase said.
âThese markers are storytellers, educational pieces and, as I noted earlier, they are tourist spots,â said Casey Pfeiffer, director of the National Historical Markers Program. âThey teach us about the people, places, events and organizations that really helped shape our state and our nation, and they also help show that history is not just a thing of the past; it is all around us that informs us of our present.
Early artists boosted Brown County’s popularity with the many types of visitors it reaches today. Artists like Steele who moved and worked here inspired others to come and see what he found so special about rural Indiana, Shulz wrote. âMost of these pioneers were well-trained artists and it was an honest, heroic and unusual experience at the time for these men to come from art schools to paint the country and the people they knew, rather than to indulge in the few big cities which then provided almost all the artistic appreciation that existed.
This “experience” led others to discover Brown County. Brown County State Park was established in 1924 and gained popularity with visitors during the Great Depression years of the early 1930s. In 1934, over 9,000 people visited Brown County Art Gallery in Nashville and attendance doubled the following year, Shulz wrote.
The arts have helped Brown County take a different path than many other counties in Indiana, a country it continues today, said Aidan Schilling, 15, the winner of the essay competition for the Arts week. âOverall, Brown County has grown in importance as a rural sanctuary for art and nature, with landmarks such as Brown County State Park and the Brown County Art Gallery. , while preserving its unique culture and economic structure rather than pursuing the traditional means of development of its neighbors. ,” he wrote.
Events like Arts Week – which can become an annual event – help instill a sense of history and belonging to the young people lucky enough to live here, said Laura Hammack, superintendent of schools for Brown County.
âI think all too often our children, our youth do not have enough appreciation for what Brown County Art Colony is, and it is our responsibility to make sure that we change that,â a- she declared.
Giving students the opportunity to reflect and be grateful to those who nurtured the arts in Brown County “has been the most amazing way to end the most miserable year,” said Hammack, ” â¦ For our students to use their creative outlet to be able to show their hearts in a very dark way in a very dark year and then end a school year with hope and optimism, with color and with creativity.
The student works that have been chosen to be part of the visual arts exhibit are on display the rest of the week, until Saturday, May 22 at the Brown County Art Gallery.
The new historic landmark will sit on the northeast corner of Village Green in perpetuity, reminding generations of visitors and residents of what they came from and where they came from.
Student laureates of the Art Week
Local students were invited to participate in visual art and essay competitions during Art Week. The following awards have been awarded by Peaceful Valley Heritage. The judges were Patricia Rhoden Bartels, Ellen Carter, Jeff Hagan, Brenda Kelley and Rachel Perry.
The visual arts exhibit is on hold at the Brown County Art Gallery, 1 Artist Drive, until Saturday, May 22.
First place: Freya Baldwin, âPortraitâ, prize of $ 750
Second place: Illayana Cox, “My Brown County Nights”, $ 300
Third place: Savannah Oden, untitled photograph, $ 200
Honorable Mentions ($ 50 each): Brittney Fowler, âFish Bowlâ; Victoria Klaker, untitled acrylic; Ariana Staten, â2 Bowls of Clayâ; Katarina Laguna, âIron fence photographyâ; Audrey Haiflich, “Mountains”
First place: Cambria Cox, âSilent Watcherâ, prize of $ 300
Second Place: Chase Woodall, “Dog” (pencil drawing), $ 200
Third place: Rashel Jaenke, “Just Keep Swimming”, $ 100
Honorable Mentions ($ 50 each): Alexander Schwenk, âShades of Greenâ; Julia Burt, “Jax”; Merrill Gibbs, âBroken Glassâ; Colbie Van Zuiden, âGeometricâ; Jorie Foster, âPeacock Flowerâ; Riley McCoy, “Sunflower”; Jasmine Dufek, untitled; Hope Zink, âExtra Flowersâ; Remy Gentry, “Parrot Boi”
First place: Bristol Bryenton, âCat Scratchâ, prize of $ 125
Second place: Rilan Purlee, âChickenâ, $ 100
Third place: Alex Faulkner, âMusic in the Airâ, $ 75
Honorable Mentions ($ 25 each): Boston Duvall, âSaber Tooth Tigerâ; Damon Robison, âFruit Bowlâ; Wyatt Sanders, âLandscapeâ; Ruby Love, âSea Mermaidâ; Addie Schwenk, “Queen Bee”; Lily Elliott, “Happiness”; Jacqueline Ernstes, âSuspended leafâ; Ashton Edwards, âAnimal Pinch Potâ; Madison Johnson, “Wall Pocket”; Brileigh Sawyer, “Wall Pocket (flower)”
First place: Aidan Schilling, $ 1,000 prize
Second place: Josephine Fields, $ 500
Third place: Kateleigh Browning, $ 250