The Brown County Art Gallery Association
For eight decades, the Brown County Art Gallery Association has been creating wonderful works of art and adding new members, making it one of the oldest ongoing art associations in the country.
Today, the Art Association allows 35 members to hang five paintings each and invites other top Indiana artists to hang as guests. Member artists are routinely selected as the “Featured Artist” giving individuals a chance to make an artistic statement.
Throughout the year, three new shows are created and hung, as well as many other special exhibits and projects conducted by the Association. Art lovers will find a wide variety of subjects, styles, and prices to choose from, along with prints, notecards, and a beautiful Art Association Calendar which is created each year. Aspiring members must pass the same rigorous standards drawn up by the early artists and maintain those standards if they are lucky enough to be accepted.
All are traditions that began in 1926 at the home of early artist Will Vawter. He along with artists, L.O. Griffith, A.R. Shulz, V.J. Cariani, Marie Goth, Ada Walter Shulz, Carl Graf, Dale Bessire, and art patron, William Wilkes, formed the Association and established the Gallery. These early artists had trained in the best art schools in Europe and America and had come to rural Brown County to practice the Post-Impressionist style that dominated the art world at the time. The artists had already made Brown County an important regional art colony and now they wanted a place to market their work in Nashville.
Carl Graf served as the first President, and Wilkes, who was an Indianapolis businessman, bought an old dilapidated grocery store and renovated it for the gallery.
The Association held its first exhibit in early October, featuring over 50 paintings and etchings. It was an immediate success with over a thousand visitors coming in the first few days. Traffic was so heavy on the dirt roads leading to Nashville, that motorists had to keep their headlights on to prevent collisions in all the dust.
The old grocery store is gone and visitors instead, will find spacious exhibition space in the Association Gallery which occupies the Main Hall of the historic Brown County Art Gallery as well as a welcoming and helpful staff. The Gallery is open seven days a week on a year round basis.
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