Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Eiteljorg Insider – 5 Questions with Amy McKune, Director of Museum Collections

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | Sep 19, 2013

    As director of museum collections, Amy is responsible for the care and management of the museum’s collection. In concert with the museum’s registrar, she tracks all the objects in our collection and everything that comes in on loan. She works to provide a great environment (temperature, humidity, appropriate lighting, pest-free, and protection from dust) for the collections, both in storage and on display. And she maintains the collections management database that stores all the data we know about our collections so that the information is available to share with our public.

    amy mckune with george harrison's guitarFavorite piece of art at the Eiteljorg:
    Just like one’s children, Amy tries not to play favorites.  (Plus the curators might remember and accuse her of favoritism). 

    1. What inspires you?
    Beauty. I discovered as a teenager that I am dramatically affected by the environment in which I live. I feel better when I am surrounded by beauty…in art and in nature.

     2. If you could have any piece of art in the world in your home, what would it be?One of Monet’s Water Lily paintings. 

    3. If you didn’t work in museum collections, what would you do?
    My strengths lie in being able to process and handle lots of technical information and being able to make it understandable to others. I might be a technical writer. I’m an introvert, so that kind of solitary job is appealing.

     4. Do you collect anything?
    Yes…Viewmaster viewers and reels…mostly of places that I have visited.  I’ve even made some of my own reels as part of my Creative Renewal Grant received from the Indianapolis Arts Council. Several years ago, a job required that I spend lots of time going to antique shows and shops. I didn’t collect anything at the time and I wasn’t always successful at finding what my museum needed. So I needed another way to chase away boredom during those long days of walking on concrete floors through miles of antique booths. I grew up with Viewmasters (sadly none of those were saved) and they were an inexpensive way to satisfy my collecting bug. 

    5. If you could invite anyone to dinner who would it be?
    Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit with Eugene McCarthy, former senator from Minnesota and candidate for the presidency in 1968 (and a few times after that).  Sadly, he is gone now, but I really enjoyed getting to know this brilliant, compassionate man. I’d love to meet Gloria Steinem. She became a real hero to me as a young woman in college and I’ve always admired her activism. Might want to include Martin Sheen as well. Again, he’s an amazing activist. That’d be quite the dinner party.

    Bonus Question: What would you serve?
    A great Barefoot Contessa recipe of panko-crusted salmon. In fact, maybe Ina Garten should join us. Or maybe a bourbon-glazed salmon that is really fabulous. I’m sure I would spend days pondering the menu.

    Go comment!

  • Support LGBT Programming at the Eiteljorg| Help us fund TWO SPIRITS film

    by Sally Dickson, Eiteljorg development manager | Sep 18, 2013

    "A gorgeous, moving, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting story, the kind of film that opens the mind and heart so wide they can never close as tightly again.” - Martha Beck, bestselling author

    The Eiteljorg is always “Telling Amazing Stories” and next Saturday's showing of Two Spirits is no different.  This powerful documentary about the brief life and tragic hate crime murder of Navajo teen, Fred Martinez, will be presented at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 28 - with your help.

    About the film
    Fred was part of an honored Navajo tradition - the 'nadleehi', or 'two-spirit', who possesses a balance of masculine and feminine traits. Two Spirits  mourns Fred and the threatened disappearance of the two-spirit tradition, but it also brims with hope and the belief that we all are enriched by multi-gendered people, and that all of us — regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or cultural heritage — benefit from being free to be our truest selves.

    Fred’s story is interwoven with the issues of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and how its members are viewed in a traditional Navajo culture vs. a historical and modern Western culture. The horrible crime committed against Fred is just one example that highlights the conflicting cultural views and the potential hatred that Western culture can breed. As the film says, “between tradition and controversy, between sex and spirit, between freedom and fear, lies the truth.”  

    The museum is asking for the community's support through the Power2Give project -which empowers you to give directly to local arts projects you are passionate about. It will cost $4,900 to bring the Two Spirits presentation to the Eiteljorg. Chase Bank is matching the dollars - but if we don't raise the full amount, the matching money goes away.

    As of Sept. 19, we need $1,785 to full fund this LGBT program.

    You can support this exploration for the truth by clicking here and making a gift through Power2Give. Your donation, no matter how small, help us turn our dream of presenting this documentary and panel discussion into reality.  Sharing and giving are the basis of Power2Give – please share this with your friends; please give us a chance to tell this amazing story, ultimately a story of hope.

    Here is the schedule for the Sept. 28 documentary screening and panel discussion.
    12:30 p.m.           Introduction by Out West curator Gregory Hinton
    12:45 p.m.           Two Spirits film screening (54 min.)

    After the screening, Out West creator/producer Gregory Hinton will introduce a powerhouse discussion:
    1:45 – 3:30 p.m.  Panel discussion
    3:30 p.m.             DVD and book signing in Eiteljorg Museum Store 

    - Moderator: Jodi A. Byrd, Ph.D. (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma), associate professor of American Indian Studies and English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    - Lydia Nibley, director, Two Spirits
    - Brian Joseph Gilley, Ph.D. (Cherokee of Oklahoma), associate professor of anthropology and director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, Indiana University Bloomington; author of Becoming Two-Spirit
    - Wesley K. Thomas, Ph.D. (Diné), chair/professor, School of Diné Studies, Education & Leadership, Navajo Technical College (Crownpoint, NM)

    Here is a preview of Two Spirits:

    Click for Video
    From the website,

    Go comment!

  • Meet Native American Artist-in-Residence Iva Honyestewa this Saturday

    by Linda Montag-Olson, Eiteljorg arts programming manager | Sep 16, 2013

    Each fall the Eiteljorg connects Indiana students with Native artists from across the United States. This may be the only encounter some students have with someone from another culture and the excitement is palpable as they realize American Indians are alive and well today. The public is invited to the studios on Saturday afternoons where the artists will be available to speak with visitors as they work on their own projects.
    Iva Honyestewa (Hopi)
    Meet her at the Eiteljorg, Saturday, Sept. 21
    1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

    This Saturday will be your last chance to meet Iva Honyestewa (Hopi).

    Iva is an award winning artist, who has been creating jewelry and baskets for nearly 20 years. Born in Gallup, NM and raised on the Hopi reservation, Iva owns an arts and crafts gallery in Second Mesa, AZ. Iva will share her basketry and the story of the Hopi baby naming ceremony, as well as talk about the Hopi path of life with visiting classes.  Students will consider and draw their own path of life, setting goals for the future as they work. 

    Go comment!

  • TWO TAKES ON TWO SPIRITS | Recording the History of Multiple Genders in Native North America

    by Guest Blogger Gregory Hinton, Out West Curator | Sep 11, 2013

    Many explorers, missionaries, traders, soldiers and artists reported sightings of third or fourth gender (Berdache, Two Spirit) tribal members on their travels through the American West and of the perceived acceptance they observed in their clans.  That said, some were disdainful of the practice of assuming opposite gender characteristics, including artist, showman and entrepreneur George Catlin (1796 – 1872) best known for his international traveling Indian Gallery which included over 500 paintings, drawings and artifacts.

    Traveling west five times in the 1830’s, Catlin was the first artist to record the Plains Indians in their original terrain, seeing them as the embodiment of “natural man” living in harmony with the environment.  

    Feeling certain that westward expansion heralded their certain doom, Catlin viewed his Indian Gallery as a way "to rescue from oblivion their primitive looks and customs."  Catlin’s expressed bias against the Berdache practice may well have been informed by the prevailing Euro-American opinion of what constituted “natural” in his day. 

    Catlin wrote in his papers:

    “This is one of the most unaccountable and disgusting customs, that I have ever met in the Indian country, and so far as I have been able to learn, belongs only to the Sioux and Sacs and Foxes— perhaps it is practiced by other tribes, but I did not meet with it; and for further account of it I am constrained to refer the reader to the country where it is practiced, and where I should wish that it might be extinguished before it be more fully recorded.

    Ironically, George Catlin best immortalized them in his painting Dance to the Berdache –Saukie ,now in the National Gallery of Art. 

    George Catlin Dance of the Berdache
    George Catlin (1796-1872), Dance of the Berdache. Drawn while on the Great Plains, among the Sac and Fox Indians, the sketch depicts a ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person.

    Conversely, in 1877, five years after the death of Catlin, Hugh Lennox Scott, (1853-1934) a young Seventh Calvary lieutenant first became aware of third gender males after arriving in the big camp of Mountain and River Crow country at the mouth of the Big Horn. 

    The demands on Scott in his early avocation distracted him from his youthful cognition of third and fourth gender natives, but he later vowed to take “every opportunity to study the matter among Indians of various tribes.” 

    Custer’s disastrous defeat notwithstanding, once self-sufficient tribes were now wards of the ultimately victorious U.S. government.  Officers like Scott were tasked with their care, including the distribution of rations and the enforcement of order and regulation of their social and religious life.

    Scott needed to know how to communicate and took it upon himself to master the Plains Indian gesture (sign) language.  Scott’s intellectual curiosity and affinity for other cultures would stand him – and the Presidents he would eventually serve throughout his career - in good stead and he eventually became a Major General.
    hugh lennox scott
    Major General Hugh Lennox Scott with Buffalo Bill Cody

    He wrote in his memoirs that his “contacts with many races and colors... have contributed much to the delightful memories of a soldier’s career.” 

    Osh TischScott’s research on third gender Natives led him to investigate prominent texts of European anthropologists and sexologists.  In 1919, on occasion of an official inspection on behalf of the Board of Indian Commissioners, Hugh Scott secured an interview with a third-gender Crow woman named Osh-Tisch, or “Woman Jim” as he called him (pictured left)

    He gained her trust by sharing memories about old Crow chiefs he had met in 1877 – Iron Bull, Blackfoot, Old Crow, Two Belly, etc.”  He knew that Osh-Tisch had built a much-admired lodge for Iron Bull, which until recently was displayed at Crow Fair in Montana.

     With utmost gentlemanly tact, Scott asked her why she wore women’s clothes.

    “That is my road”, Osh-Tisch replied. 

     --Gregory Hinton

    Bloggers Note: For a much more in-depth study of the story of Osh-Tisch and Hugh Lennox Scott, I strongly recommend Will Roscoe’s CHANGING ONE, Third and Fourth Genders in Native North American, which I gratefully acknowledge in the writing of this blog.

    To meet Greg Hinton and learn more about the Two-Spirit experience, visit the Eiteljorg Museum, at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sep. 28 for a screening of the powerful documentary, Two Spirits. The film focuses on the brief life and hate crime murder of Two-Spirit teen Fred Martinez. The film and panel discussion will also cover the history of Two-Spirit cultures. To help the Eiteljorg fund this project, please make a donation to Power2Give.

    Here is a preview of Two Spirits:

    Click for Video
    From the website,
    Two Spirits screening schedule for Sep. 28.
    12:30 p.m. Welcome by Gregory Hinton, Out West founder
    12:45 p.m. "Two Spirits" film screening
    1:45 – 3:30 p.m. Panel discussion
    3:30 p.m. DVD/book signing Eiteljorg Museum Store

     - Moderator: Jodi A. Byrd, Ph.D. (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma), associate professor of American Indian Studies and English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
     - Lydia Nibley, director, Two Spirits
    - Brian Joseph Gilley, Ph.D. (Cherokee of Oklahoma), associate professor of anthropology and director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, Indiana University Bloomington; author of Becoming Two-Spirit
    - Wesley K. Thomas, Ph.D. (Diné), chair/professor, School of Diné Studies, Education & Leadership, Navajo Technical College (Crownpoint, NM)

    Go comment!

  • Eiteljorg Insider: 5 Questions with Western Art Society member David Anderson

    by Guest blogger David Anderson, Western Art Society | Sep 03, 2013

    I am a stay-at-home dad or, as I sometimes prefer to be known, professional minivan driver. My wife, Caryn, and I have three kids who have gone from diapers to teenagers in the blink of an eye. I dabble in creative writing, like to golf and ski, and spend a fair amount of time chasing volleyball and hockey schedules.

    What is your favorite piece in the Eiteljorg’s permanent collection?
    Eanger Irving Couse, The Wedding, 1924
    The Wedding, 1924
    Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936)
    Gift: Courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg

    That’s a tough one. I love Eanger Irving Couse’s The Wedding because I identify that with the Eiteljorg and we had a poster of it as one of our first wall hangings right after we got married. But I’m going to have to say Dan Smith’s Stillwater Crossing. It’s a piece that just sticks with me. Like all of Dan’s work, it is amazingly detailed. The wild eyes and the head above water give it a unique perspective that makes it a very moving example of wildlife art. (Pictured: Stillwater Crossing, 2009, Daniel Smith (1954), Acrylic, 2009 Quest for the West Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award.)

    If you could invite any artist to dinner, who would it be and why?
    Well, as part of Quest for the West, I’ve been lucky to be able to participate in basically inviting 50 artists to dinner for a weekend every September. The best part of the show has been to get to know the artists. But if I had to limit it to one, I would invite George Hallmark because it would be fitting since he was the first artist I met. I was in a gallery during my first trip to Scottsdale. I was admiring Hallmark’s work and said to the fellow next to me, "I don’t know much about art but I like this guy’s work." It turned out that the fellow next to me was George. We had a great conversation that was the beginning of me becoming hooked on Western art. 

    What book are you reading right now?
    I am reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I am a fan of young adult literature and The Princess Bride is one of my all time favorite movies. I realized that I had never read the book. It is a very interesting premise: it is an abridged version of a classic novel that never existed. Goldman is a talented writer, having written the screenplays for movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Maverick, and Misery.

    Caryn and David Anderson

    Why do you collect Western Art?
    I started as an enabler for my wife, who is genetically predisposed to it. Caryn’s parents, Ed and Phyllis Cockerill are original members of the Western Art Society. We discovered our own passion for it, and I think it has to do with the combination of history and beauty that is represented by the genre. To a large extent, the story of the West is the story of America. It holds most of our natural monuments and represents our greatest triumphs as well as our greatest tragedies. And, living in the Midwest, it is awfully nice to sit in our house, admire the art, and take a virtual vacation to the places and stories represented.

    What inspires you?
    Extrinsically speaking, trips to the National Parks, standing on the top of a snow covered mountain, and writers who are doing great work. Intrinsically, I am inspired by the notion that "it is over before you know it" and it is imperative to do something.

    Go comment!
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