Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Eiteljorg Throwback Thursday | THE GREETING Installation in 1989

    by Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art | Feb 12, 2014

    In June 1989, George Carlson's two-ton bronze sculpture, The Greeting, was lowered into place at the museum's main entrance. There are over 90 examples of the artist's work in the museum's collection. Carlson, was one of Harrison Eiteljorg's favorite artists.
    George Carlson, The Greeting, 1989, cast bronze

    George Carlson, American, born 1940
    The Greeting, 1989
    cast bronze, edition 1/3

    About the artist
    Renowned artist George Carlson was born in Illinois in 1940 and studied art in Chicago. He is an Academician of the National Academy of Design and a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society. The subject of this work is a Blackfoot man welcoming visitors; he holds an eagle wing fan up in a gesture of friendship. The work is an allegorical expression of welcoming friendship. Carlson has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and publications, is represented in many public and private collections, and has received many awards at major shows across the country.
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  • A New Name for the Eiteljorg Museum Store

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Feb 10, 2014

    Katrina and Frank Basile at the Eiteljorg's 20th Anniversary Gala.

    Frank and Katrina Basile are known across the city of Indianapolis for their generosity, warmth and contagiously energetic spirits. They greet friends – old and new - with smiles, hugs and genuine questions about their well-being. This couple, who will celebrate 10 years of marriage this year, truly believe in devoting their time and dollars to worthwhile causes that benefit the city’s arts community. And this year the Basiles are continuing their tradition with a gift that will benefit the Eiteljorg for years to come. As a show of sincere gratitude for their gift, the museum is making a change for all to see. Our museum store that is visited by tens of thousands of guests each year – looking for unique Native and Western gifts – will soon be called the Frank and Katrina Basile Museum Store.

    For the Basiles, the idea of becoming the namesakes of the Eiteljorg’s store seemed perfect.

    “First and foremost, the merchandise that the store carries is outstanding,” said Frank during a recent Eiteljorg visit. “It’s high quality. It’s mission oriented, and the people there, in our experience, are very friendly and helpful.

    “We’ve (also) got a double-barreled interest in it. Being chair of the museum board’s merchandising council, I have a real vested interest to do whatever I can to assist Robert (Tate, the store’s manager) and the staff.”

    The themes of assisting and service have been Basile staples for decades. The two believe in designating “planned gifts” for charities and providing final gifts to heirs and family members.   But Frank didn’t always have the means to make financial contributions to good causes.  He grew up with very little, but today gives away so much. Why?

    Maybe it was because I grew up poor – in a financial sense - in New Orleans,” he said. “Material things are not that important to me. I don’t need a 10 to 15 thousand square-foot house. I don’t need a $60,000 automobile. I don’t need two or three summer or winter homes. 

    “…Much better, that in your lifetime, you look at organizations – or people for that matter – but mainly organizations - in whose mission you believe in - and designate some or all of it (money) to go in those places.”

    Katrina says she and Frank are excited about the name change and working more closely with the Basile Museum Store staff. Their contributions underscore a shared belief about serving others – a premise weighing heavily on Frank’s mind. He visited the museum for this interview the day after  Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

    “Dr. King said ‘serve others,’” he said. “Service is the only rent we pay for the space we occupy on this planet. Any success or happiness we achieve in this life is only a byproduct of the service we render to other human beings. And that service can be contributions, volunteering, anything to help a nonprofit in its worthwhile mission…a mission that we believe in.”

    Caption for middle photo: Accompanied by Eiteljorg president and CEO John Vanausdall, Frank and Katrina Basile stand in the store that will soon bear their names.

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  • Eiteljorg Insider | 5 Questions with Mary Downey, our Longest-Serving Employee

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg Festivals and Markets Manager | Feb 07, 2014

    Eiteljorg bookkeeper/office assistant Mary Downey on a fishing trip with her family in 1989, the year the Eiteljorg opened.

    Celebrating her 25 year anniversary along with the Eiteljorg is bookkeeper/office assistant, Mary Downey. She’s been here since the very beginning and has had many roles. She saw the original building built, knew Harrison Eiteljorg and has been part of every exhibit and event the museum has produced. She’s a great team member, and one of the people everyone on staff knows they can go to with a problem with the copier, finding obscure budget information, remembering something or someone from years ago, knowing how things used to be done and having great ideas for changes that could be made. Mary knows where all the bodies are buried!  [hahahahaha] We thought it would be great to hear from her for this week's Eiteljorg Insider!

    If you weren’t a bookkeeper, what would you be?
    That question still is not answerable. I’m not sure. Whatever God has planned is what I will be. I enjoy my job and all the folks I work with. We have a great team working here.

    What inspires you?
    Jesus inspires me. His love for all of us and how we should love one and other. My family, friends, nature…Life

    What should we ask you about your life that you want us to know about?
    I enjoy building puzzles. I love being in water either canoeing or swimming. My dog loves the water, too, so when we’re camping she becomes my swimming partner now that my two children are grown up.

    What was it like at the Eiteljorg 25 years ago?
    The building was not finished yet and we worked in another office building. One of my first jobs was helping answer phones for the executive secretary. There were not a lot of staff back then and we shared a large room with some cubicles. When we moved into the building, it was still under construction and noisy. We had earplugs so we could concentrate. Then we opened, and it has been changing ever since.

    What have been your favorite changes at the Eiteljorg in the last 25 years?
    Way better technology. I don’t want to date myself, but back then the letters on the computer screens were orange. Bigger building and the Annis Center with the stage coach. My very favorite time is Jingle Rails. I would love to have a set up like that in my house if I had a house that would hold it. There have been so many exhibits and events that it is hard to address them all, but I like Quest and Indian Market. I look forward to New Art starting up again. I can’t wait to see what is coming up in the next few years! Also, I now have my own (BIG!) office space – yahoo! (Pictured: Mary, with coworkers Dee and Lezlie).

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  • The Black Cowboy, Storytelling Saturdays and an Ansel Adams Preview

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Feb 04, 2014

    Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo

    New exhibit now open
    Blake Little  features 41 black-and-white images of cowboys and cowgirls from the gay rodeo circuit, taken by award-winning, Los Angeles-based photographer, Blake Little. The Seattle native became captivated by the gay rodeo scene in 1988 and began documenting the lives of its contenders, victors and their devoted fans.  Blake Little and associated public programs, at the Eiteljorg are a part of the museum’s Out West series. The series, created and produced by independent curator Gregory Hinton, illuminates the many contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities of the American West, and celebrates the diversity of the region. Please visit for details. Photo credit: Blake Little, Chute Dogging, Phoenix, Arizona, 1989, Image courtesy of Blake Little.

    The Girl of the Golden West
    Film Screening
    Saturday, Feb. 15
    1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    In preparation for the Indianapolis Opera’s performance of David Belasco’s The Girl of the Golden West on March 21 and 23, the Eiteljorg will host a screening of the 1938 film starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.

     I, Nat Love: The Story of Deadwood Dick
    Saturday, Feb. 22
    1:30 p.m.
    Storyteller Rochel Coleman will bring Nat Love’s story to life. Born a slave in Tennessee, Nat headed West in search of freedom and opportunity at age 15. He became one of the most famous Black cowboys of his time.

    Ansel Adams
    preview partywright_0985-2_adams2
    Exhibit preview
    Friday, February 28
    7:30 p.m.
    $45 members, $55 nonmembers

    Ansel Adams exhibit opens, Saturday, March 1.
    Ansel Adams is a collection of more than 80 of this legendary photographer’s personally-chosen photographs. The photographs focus largely on the vast spaces of the American West, ranging from Yosemite to the Pacific Coast, the Southwest, Alaska, Hawaii and the Northwest. Referred to as The Museum Set, this lifetime portfolio includes many of Adams’ most famous and best-loved photographs, including architectural studies, portraits and magnificent landscapes. Photo credit: Ansel Adams in Owens Valley, photograph by Cedric Wright, courtesy of the Colby Memorial Library, Sierra Club.

    Storytelling Saturdays throughout the month
    Stories of the West

    1, 2, 3 & 4 p.m.
    Hear the amazing true stories of two prominent African Americans in the West, Stagecoach Mary Fields and mountain man, Jim Beckwourth, as told by actress and storyteller, Joanna Winston.


    1p.m. – 3p.m.
    Meet Teresa Webb (Anishinaabe) and hear about Native American cultures through stories and songs, accompanied by flute, drum and rattle.

    Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, presented by Oxford Financial Group, LTD, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western art seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the indigenous peoples of North America. The museum is located in Downtown Indianapolis’ White River State Park, at 500 West Washington, Indianapolis, IN  46204. For general information about the museum and to learn more about exhibits and events, call 317.636.WEST (9378) or visit

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  • 25 years later | How the Eiteljorg came to be

    by Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art | Jan 25, 2014

    Harrison Eiteljorg inside his Indianapolis office surrounded by Western art, 1980. Photographer unknown.

    This year, the Eiteljorg celebrates 25 years as a cultural institution in Indianapolis. The following excerpt was taken from Frontiers and Beyond, Visions and Collections from the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, (Indianapolis: Eiteljorg Museum, 2005). 

      The history of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art starts far earlier than the day it opened its mahogany doors in 1989. It begins with a young man who went West to invest in coal and found a soul-affirming beauty in the raw, wild landscape and the people who carved out lives there.

    It’s impossible to separate Eiteljorg the man from the art collection he so lovingly built up during his life.

    The Eiteljorg story – whether one is speaking of the man or the museum – is one of grit and contradictions, of humor and determination, of the courageous cowboy intensely gripping the bucking bronco’s reins and then bouncing off the horse, beaming with good nature.

    Hold on and enjoy the ride.

    An American Dream
    Harrison Eiteljorg personified the American Dream. He was a self-made Hoosier who “had neither the advantages of privilege nor an extensive formal education” (Jeanette Vanausdall), but who recognized an opportunity when he saw one and tenaciously, charmingly, fought to make it his own.

    “I had $15 in my pocket when the Depression hit,” Eiteljorg liked to tell people when he reminisced. Twenty years and several opportunities after this devastating national event, Eiteljorg became president and manager of a coal strip-mining concern in Indiana and began leasing coal deposits from Colorado. On his reconnaissance trips, he also began falling in love with the landscape, architecture, people and art of the American West, “a passion that would become an obsession” (Jeanette Vanausdall) and one that would influence the course not only of his own life, but of the life of his hometown, Indianapolis, as well.

    By the time Eiteljorg married his second wife, Sonja Tarsey Sims, in 1958, he had been collecting art – not just Western art – for several years, though in a rather unfocused manner. At this time, while there were many collectors, there were fewer museums focused on Western art and less acceptance of the work within the broader range of American art.

    Throughout 2014, we will share stories about how the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art came to be, the people who make the institution what it is, the artists whose work add to our world renown collection, and what's ahead for the Eiteljorg's future.

    These two paintings on Harrison Eiteljorg's office wall were later donated to the Eiteljorg Museum: 

    Frederic Sackrider Remington, American, 1861 – 1909, Baffled Chiefs Leaving the Fort, ca. 1897, oil on fabric support

    William Robinson Leigh, American, 1866 – 1955, The Scout, oil on canvas, 1913, 16 x 24 in.

    You can find both of these paintings inside the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

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