After months of work, a unique project to place paintings by Indiana’s top artists, both past and present, into one of state’s most spectacular venues is finally underway. On May 31st, 15 paintings made the trip from Brown County and were hung in the West Baden Springs Hotel, on loan from two prominent Indiana art organizations.
The art groups involved include Indiana Heritage Arts, Inc. of Nashville, which is a non-profit organization that supports the work of Indiana’s heritage style artists. Each year IHA holds a major art competition and sale at their home base in the historic Brown County Art Gallery. Most of Indiana’s top professionals and amateurs are members of IHA, and enter the competition each year.
IHA is lending work from its Permanent Collection of living Hoosier Masters, including paintings by Timothy Greatbatch of Nashville, Carol Strock Wasson of Union City, and Joel Knapp of Bugg Hollow, Tennessee. IHA artist and Brown County Art Association member, Thom Robinson of Bedford, has also loaned a painting he recently did of the hotel.
The second organization is the Brown County Art Gallery Foundation which is exhibiting a number of pieces from its Permanent Collection of early Indiana artists. They can be found in the hotel lobby and library. Visitors to the West Baden Springs Hotel will find the work of Adolph Shulz, Marie Goth, V.J. Cariani and William Forsyth among the paintings.
There is historical information about the Brown County Art Colony too, so visitors can learn about other important historical events that were taking place elsewhere in southern Indiana around the same time as the development of the French Lick Springs Resorts.
While it is likely that people traveled back and forth between Nashville and French Lick during the early heydays of the hotels, there is a direct connection which is a Presidential one. In the early 1930’s, Franklin Roosevelt laid out his ideas for the New Deal in a speech to governors who were gathered at the French Lick Springs Hotel. The country was in deep in the Depression and Roosevelt launched his Presidential campaign from French Lick. After his election, he sent his wife Eleanor back to Indiana to check on his New Deal projects, and she stopped by the Brown County Art Gallery and purchased several paintings.
Organizers are hopeful that all art lovers will enjoy the partnership of the Masters of Indiana Art and the Masters of Indiana Architecture. More plans are in the works that include the opening of a gallery in the rotunda of the hotel and some special events to take place later this summer. The paintings, meantime, will be rotated on a regular basis.
Learn more about historic West Baden Springs
and historic French Lick Indiana.
2011 Paint Out at West Baden Springs Hotel