Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Sublime landscapes showcased in Light, Space, and Power: The Art of P.A. Nisbet

    by Johanna M. Blume, associate curator of Western art, history and culture | Aug 25, 2017

    For more than 40 years, Peter A. Nisbet has been a student of fine art, and in the last two decades has received national recognition as a master of the American landscape. In honor of his selection as the 2016 Quest for the West® Artist of Distinction, the Eiteljorg is excited to present an exhibition of his works: Light, Space, and Power: The Art of P.A. Nisbet, which is open to the public from Sept. 10 to Nov. 19. Nisbet’s paintings communicate the extraordinary and often extreme beauty of the American West. He travels extensively, working on location in places such as the Grand Canyon, the deserts of the United States and Mexico, the Gulf of California and Antarctica. Each trip is an adventure, full of experiences he captures in paint.

    Nisbet’s mother introduced him to art as a child, and he has spent his life honing his skills. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he is a former U.S. Navy officer with service in Vietnam. After leaving the Navy, he spent several years as a successful commercial illustrator and graphic designer in the East. In 1980 Nisbet realized he was ready for a change, so he moved from West Virginia to Arizona.

    “One afternoon, it was one of those blue days where the sky is clear and the jets are leaving long contrails; and this jet was heading west,” he recalled. “The sun was low and it was picking up the contrail overhead. I had this vision, this flash . . . . It was the West. It just flooded in, like God. I just (thought), ‘I’ve got to go.’ It was like a wakeup call:  ‘Wake up, sell your house, leave, go. It’s waiting; your future’s waiting.’”

    Nisbet’s paintings blend technical mastery with emotional depth. Each finished work contains a piece of the truth of Peter’s experiences as an artist and explorer. He releases them to the world where he hopes viewers see, understand and connect that truth to their own lives. There also is a spiritual dimension to his paintings. While rooted in the realist tradition of 19th century artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran, and European masters such J.M.W. Turner and Rembrandt van Rjin, Nisbet doesn’t set out to recreate Western landscapes exactly as they exist. He seeks to convey their inherent drama and beauty, to elevate the raw power of the natural world and capture something of the sublime.

    “For me the Western landscape best speaks in a language of the possible; the language of the horizon,” Nisbet wrote. “Art that embraces the drama of a journey bears witness to a larger narrative that is distinctly American. I travelled to the deserts because that is where I heard the voice most clearly. It is a voice I also recognize in paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Those works celebrate the universals: beauty, space and light. These things are apparent in Western locales such as the Sonoran Desert and the Grand Canyon. Every painting I ever did was the natural outcome of a quest both within myself and without. Every one of them springs from a pearl of direct experience. After almost 50 years of journeys, that string of pearls now resembles a necklace, and by definition, a life fully lived.”

    Peter Nisbet’s extraordinary career and thoughtful perspective truly make him an artist of distinction.

    Nisbet 2017

    Special exhibit of the Quest for the West® Artist of Distinction
    SEP 10–NOV 19
    Gerald and Dorit Paul Gallery




    P.A. Nisbet
    Beneath the Blue Moon Bench, 2012
    Oil on linen, 30 x 42 inches
    2012 Quest for the West Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award

    This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Storyteller Magazine.

  • Quest Miniature Art Sale appealing to new and longtime collectors

    by Bryan Corbin, Editor, Storyteller Magazine | Aug 24, 2017

    This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Storyteller Magazine.

    John_Moyers_Dakota_Badlands_Study (miniature artwork)Some beginning art collectors fell in love with art they saw at Quest for the West® but the price was beyond their pocketbook. Some experienced art collectors had the financial means but not the room in their art-filled homes to acquire yet another large framed painting or major sculpture.

    The Eiteljorg heard the pleas of both camps and devised a lively and affordable solution at this year’s Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale: offer miniatures.

    The museum asked Quest artists to create small works that would be more affordable and take up less space. In doing so, the separate miniatures show will generate more competition among the collectors and more overall excitement during Quest weekend.

    In addition to the works each Quest artist is entering into the main show, most also are entering new miniatures they’ve created, one per artist. Paintings will typically be no larger than 12-by-12 inches. Sculptures should be 8 inches or smaller. The miniatures will be available in Eagle Commons in a fixed-price, luck-of-the-draw sale Friday evening Sept. 8.

    Unlike the main Quest works which must remain on exhibit until Oct. 8 before purchasers receive them, at the Quest Miniature Art Sale, buyers can take home their newly-prized art that evening. Guests who can’t attend both nights of events can still attend the Sept. 8 miniatures sale only, for the reduced price of $75 per individual or $125 per couple. Contact or 317.275.1341 to make reservations.


    John Moyers
    Dakota Badlands Study, 2017
    12 x 12 inches


  • America's top Western artists return to Indy for Quest for the West®

    by Bryan Corbin, Editor, Storyteller Magazine | Aug 23, 2017

    This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Storyteller magazine. 

    The Eiteljorg again will be the center of the Western art universe Sept. 8-9 when prominent artists converge at the museum to offer striking new works depicting the Fellows_Where_the_Sun_Goesgrandeur of the American West. The 12th annual Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for art collectors; and since the Quest art will be on exhibit through Oct. 8, visitors can experience the powerful beauty of the Western paintings and sculpture.

    Considered one of the leading Western art shows in the nation for the quality of the art and exceptional hospitality, Quest for the West® has elevated the Eiteljorg’s profile while connecting top Western artists and a base of longtime and new art collectors. The newly created Quest works feature dramatic landscapes and iconic scenes of cowboys, Native Americans, horses and bison depicted in a memorable era in the nation’s history, as well as in the West of today.

    “We’re thrilled by the popularity of the Quest show among visitors who come to the Eiteljorg specifically to see the contemporary realist Western art,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “Our museum’s Western Art Society was visionary in advocating for creating Quest in 2006 to bring beautiful new works to the Eiteljorg each year.”

    Robert_Griffing_On_the_Banks_of_the_AllegheniesAt Quest, 49 artists will show nearly 200 recent works not exhibited previously. Returning artists include longtime participants Michael Dudash, Robert Griffing, Curt Mattson, P.A. Nisbet and Roseta Santiago among others. Six artists are making their first Quest appearances: Russell Case, Rox Corbett, Deborah Copenhaver Fellows, David Grossmann, Mark Maggiori and Tim Solliday. Nisbet is the Quest Artist of Distinction, and a special exhibit of his work opens Sept. 8 in the Paul Gallery.

    D_Smith_Deep_Forest_DescentOn Saturday, Sept. 9, potential buyers can mingle with artists and enjoy paintings and sculptures in the special exhibit gallery while entering their names into a luck-of-the-draw lottery for the chance to purchase pieces. By longstanding Eiteljorg tradition, a trumpeter playing a fanfare marks the start and end of each interval to enter the drawing. The collector drawn first has the option to purchase a piece. If he or she declines, the work is offered to the next name drawn until a buyer accepts.

    An exciting weekend of Quest-related events awaits. Registered Quest guests can enjoy an afternoon open house Friday Sept. 8 at Cathy and Bob Turner’s Zionsville home to see Western art in context, followed by the Quest Miniature Art Sale that evening at the museum; and then a gala opening Saturday Sept. 9, with dinner by Kahn’s Catering. For reservations, contact or (317) 275-1341. Curt Mattson created this year’s Eiteljorg Keepsake that Quest attendees can enter to win.

    Grossmann_Summer_Dusk_PatternsAt last year’s Quest for the West®, nearly $1 million in art was sold. The museum keeps a percentage of art sales to support its operations and to acquire the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award artwork.

    Quest art can be viewed in advance of the sale at Works not sold opening weekend are available for purchase until Oct. 8, when the exhibition closes.


    Deborah Copenhaver Fellows
    Where the Sun Goes, 2016
    26 x 18 ½ x 11 inches

    Robert Griffing
    On the Banks of the Alleghenies, 2017
    Oil on linen
    24 x 40 inches

    Daniel Smith
    Deep Forest Descent, 2017
    20 x 20 inches

    David Grossmann
    Summer Dusk Patterns, 2017
    Oil on linen panel
    30 x 40 inches

  • Eiteljorg Insider | Emily Sabens, Marketing & Communicatons Intern

    by Emily Sabens | Aug 09, 2017

    emilysabensIt is hard to believe that my time at the Eiteljorg is already over! When I was applying for summer internships, I knew that interning with the Eiteljorg’s communications and marketing department was my No. 1 choice for an internship; however, I never could have imagined how much I would truly love this institution, as well as the amazing staff I got to work with.

    During my three months at the Eiteljorg, I have learned so much and have gotten the chance to participate in so many amazing opportunities. Throughout my internship, I prepared social media posts, attended meetings, learned the ins and outs of a museum and even wrote articles for our Storyteller Magazine. I have learned so many valuable skills that I am sure will help me as I progress in my career.


    I also participated in many of the wonderful events the Eiteljorg Museum hosts every summer. Each Wednesday evening in June and July, I had the opportunity to document our super-fun Summer Under The Sails concerts along the downtown Canal. I also had the chance to take part in our annual Indian Market and Festival. Seeing the museum come alive that last weekend in June was magical, and it was definitely one of my favorite parts of my internship.

    Even though I am majoring in journalism, this summer showed me the possibilities of what I can do with my degree. I could not be more thankful to have spent these past few months at the Eiteljorg; the skills I gained, as well as the memories I created, will follow me into my next internship and through my final year at Ball State, as well as into my future career.

  • DOGS: FAITHFUL & TRUE -- Open through August 6

    by By Bert Beiswanger | Jun 30, 2017

    By now you’ve seen the adorable TV commercials and billboards around town, including one featuring a dog appropriately named Doc Holiday. What better way to represent an exhibit about dogs and their roles in the West than Doc — an Australian Shepherd, American-bred in the West.

    The Eiteljorg’s 2017 featured exhibit, Dogs: Faithful and True, has captured the attention of media far and wide and the hearts of museum visitors of all ages. And to say the museum has had fun with the exhibit and all the special programming supporting it is an understatement.

    “It’s a very sentimental show, because when people see images of dogs they become very empathetic,” said Jennifer Complo McNutt, Eiteljorg curator of contemporary art and lead curator on Dogs.

    John Audubon_Hare-Indian DogThrough art, photographs, objects, interactive experiences such as a drawing station where visitors can create dog art, as well as a robust schedule of family programming, visitors explore the enduring presence and contributions of dogs as companions, workers and heroes in the West and Native cultures. This is a heart-warming and insightful look at our canine friends.

    “In this show, you see sculptures of dogs, some very abstract and crazy-looking dogs, fun photographs of dogs, historic paintings of dogs and dog blankets used in Native American ceremonies — and the dogs were dressed in their regalia.” McNutt continued. “It’s an interesting and fun way to learn about the many roles of dogs in Western and Native cultures.”

    Dogs: Faithful and True continues through August 6. Don’t miss the opportunity to bring family and friends to see this popular exhibit, as well as experience our special programming days.

    Exciting Dogs programming continues through the summer:

    Saturday July 8
    Hear from artist Veryl Goodnight, meet adorable dogs from Paws and Think, see a drawing demonstration and much more. Details are here.

    Friday August 4
    Outdoor film screening, Best in Show (PG-13) at dusk. Details are here.

    Sunday August 6
    Final day to see the Dogs: Faithful and True exhibit, noon to 5 p.m. Details are here.

    Visit and follow the Eiteljorg Museum on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates on Dogs.

    Image Caption:
    John James Audubon (American, 1785 - 1851)
    John Woodhouse Audubon (American, 1812 - 1862)
    Hare-Indian Dog
    lithograph with original hand-coloring
    Eiteljorg Museum Collection

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