Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Botanical Architects

    by Cathy Kightlinger, Sky Blue Window, @ckightlinger | Dec 12, 2013

    The following excerpt is from a feature article, written by Cathy Kightlinger of Sky Blue Window.  Sky Blue Window is a weekly online publication focused on the arts in central Indiana...and beyond.

    A miniature American West, filled with doll-size buildings crafted from tree bark, tobacco-leaf tepees and even a teensy stagecoach fashioned from a gourd, awaits visitors at the Eiteljorg Museum's holiday model railroad display, Jingle Rails.

    Along 1,200 feet of track installed on platforms in what is normally the museum's banquet hall, seven trains travel from a tiny twinkling replica of downtown Indianapolis at Christmastime westward to wee versions of California's Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge. On the way, they pass a miniature Eiteljorg, made of cork bark cut into blocks with a 3/8-inch bandsaw blade, over willow-twig bridges and through tunnels made of hollowed logs.

    • photo by Mike Potter

    Created to offer visitors a fantasy western vacation, the museum display will have been viewed by almost 200,000 people throughout its four-year existence when this year's incarnation closes Jan. 19.

    "We have children and parents and grandparents coming in huge numbers," says John Vanausdall, Eiteljorg president and CEO.

    By the time spectators arrive to see Jingle Rails, though, the small crew of artists who pieced the show together will be back in their Alexandria, Kentucky, workshop. Doubtlessly they'll be taking a well-deserved breather.

    Most of the time, the employees of Applied Imagination are as busy as Santa's proverbial elves.

    Woodworking tools in hand and drawers stuffed full of botanical materials--nuts, berries, rocks, bark and the like--about 10 artists assembled the Eiteljorg's locomotive layout in the Applied Imagination's workshop, near Cincinnati. The largest part of the display was built there four years ago, but additions include a tiny Indiana State Fair last year and this year an Aspen, Colorado, ski scene.

    Click here to read more.

    Reporter Cathy Kightlinger and Botanical Architect Cindy Johnson. 
    Reporter Cathy Kightlinger with Applied Imagination botanical architect, Cindy Johnson.

    Go comment!

  • First Snow of the Season

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Dec 06, 2013

    Kenneth R. Bunn, American, born 1938
    Whitetail Deer, 1989
    cast bronze
    The Richard D. and Billie Lou Wood Deer Fountain
    George Carlson, American, born 1940
    The Greeting, 1989
    cast bronze
    Gift: Courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg 

    Allan Houser, Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache, 1914 – 1994
    Morning Prayer, 1987, cast 1997
    cast bronze
    Museum purchase with funds provided by Joan and Mel Perelman
    (far left) Truman Lowe, Ho-Chunk, born 1944
    Water Whispers, 2005
    stainless steel, formed glass, stone, concrete
    Museum Purchase made possible with the support of the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission, and the Efroymson Fund, an affiliate of the Central Indiana Community Foundation

    (far right) Doug Hyde, Nez Perce, Assiniboine and Chippewa, born 1946
     Southwest Summer Showers, 1989
    cast bronze
    Gift of the Friends of the Museum

    Other beautiful pictures outside the Eiteljorg Museum.

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  • Eiteljorg Winter Market | Handmade art for sale Saturday, Dec. 7

    by Jaq Nigg, Festivals and Markets Manager | Nov 29, 2013

    From 10 a.m. - 5p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, shop the season’s best regional art market featuring handmade jewelry, purses, crafts and edible art and more from over 30 artists.

    What makes the Eiteljorg Winter Market so special? We asked the artists:

    Cathy Claycomb
    Saddlebag Purses 
    Cathy Claycomb
    The time of year is just right for holiday shoppers and Winter Market is perfect for my product.  Where would be a better place to offer purses made from cowboy boots than the Eiteljorg?  The shoppers are excited about the museum and the artists.  It’s a fabulous day and one of my favorite shows!

    Tom O. Reed 
    Artistic Wooden Cooking Utensils

    Winter Market is lovely because the Eiteljorg is so beautiful and pleasurable to be in. Visitors are smart and seem to truly appreciate the arts. The mood of the event is full of the holiday spirit... and that makes for a pleasant and rewarding day for everyone.

    Holli La Vigne
    Boris Loved Natasha – Fun and colorful bags

    Winter Market brings together a diverse group of high-quality artists in a beautiful setting. The museum patrons, those first time museum visitors, the staff, and the fellow vendors make for an exciting, holiday-anticipating, fun-filled day that shouldn't be missed!

    Peg Neal 
    I’ve had the privilege of participating in Winter Market since its origin in 2002. The things that bring me back each year:
    1. The quality and mix of the art for sale.
    2. The audience the market attracts is fun and has the holiday spririt. 
    3. The staff obviously has the artists in mind throughout planning.
    4. The ease of booth set up and tear down.
    5. The wonderfully helpful volunteers.
    6. I just love being in that beautiful building.

    Carrie Abbot
    New Fangled Confections – Sweet Treats

    I sell wholesale to many stores and restaurants, but interacting with people face-to-face at Winter Market feels right. I love to see the reaction when someone tries my crazy-delicious candy for the first time. I believe in the importance and power of local partnerships. The Eiteljorg has such an obvious respect and love for every kind of artisan – visual, musical, performance, edible. 
    Winter Market features activities for the whole family, including Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure, a locomotive wonderland featuring trains racing past astonishingly detailed local and Western landmarks made of natural materials.

    There's also our amazing Fellowship exhibit in our main gallery. There, you'll see the work of five Native contemporary artists whose work and respect in the field earned them a cash prize and the extraordinary opportunity to exhibit their work at the Eiteljorg.

    Kids of all ages can also explore The R.B. Annis Western Family Experience, an interactive area that immerses visitors in the lives of a diverse group of Westerners and offers the chance to decorate and raise a totem pole, build a sod house, climb aboard a true-to-life stagecoach and more.

    After a day of holiday shopping and exploring the West, take a break in the Café and warm up with some Southwestern fare. Finish your visit to the Eiteljorg with a stop in at the Museum Store, to find great gifts for your whole family.

    Go comment!

  • From Provincial to Palatial | Two new Jingle Rails scenes

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Nov 19, 2013

    applied imagination In August Eiteljorg PR Manager, DeShong Perry-Smitherman, took a short trip to Applied Imagination in Alexandria, KY, to get a sneak peek of two new additions to the Jingle Rails exhibit.

    Tucked away from the bustle of tight Cincinnati traffic, on a rough gravel road that’s easy to miss, is a place where nature and inspiration meet. Void of pinstripes, briefcases and WiFi codes – Applied Imagination is a space where visitors are gently lulled by the chirps of crickets and the rustle of dried leaves beneath their steps.  

    It is inside this small hillside workshop that the Eiteljorg’s Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure was born in 2009. Four years later, the hands that crafted the museum’s largest holiday attraction have been sculpting, plucking, priming and molding two new scenes for more than 40,000 visitors to enjoy.

    When the show opens at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 23, families will experience the palatial snow-capped mountains of an Aspen, Colorado ski resort. They will also get to see a replica of the Indy-based N.K. Hurst building - a small family-owned bean distributor that’s been a downtown staple since 1938.

    This is the top of the N.K. Hurst building replica, designed by AI designer Elizabeth Laskey. You can see the final product when Jingle Rails opens at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 23. at the Eiteljorg Museum.
    AI Designer Elizabeth Laskey spent several days building the nine inch Hurst model. The challenge, for Laskey, was bringing a provincial brick building to life without compromising its downhome-Hoosier feel. So she played around with natural materials until the architectural ingredients felt perfect in her hands.

    “I wanted to kind of cutesy it up - and not make it [look] just so industrial,” she said. “And so I focused mainly on the arched tops of the windows and the cute little loading dock on the side of the building.” Using shelf fungi, poinsettia pods, grape vine tendrils and red oak leaves, Laskey’s version of the Hurst factory is warm, filling and unpretentious – like 15 Bean Soup® on a cold winter’s night. It will be a wonderful 80th birthday gift to N.K. Hurst - whose father founded the family-owned company. The building also marks Hurst Bean Company's 75th anniversary. 

    Workers at AI don’t rely on technology to get them through the day. Their work spaces are filled with things like tree moss, birch twigs and acorn caps - the natural items they use to adorn model monuments, towers and mountains like Aspen – the second new point of interest this year. Cindy Johnson (pictured below), its botanical architect, says the mountains of Aspen will be eight feet high - the tallest point of the train show.“Trains will run through the mountains and through the tunnels we build,” said Johnson who has designed for AI some 15 years. “There will be a ski slope that comes through the middle of the mountains and an Aspen [city] scene with buildings and store fronts.”

    The Hurst and Aspen scenes will be welcome additions to the locomotive wonderland that takes visitors on a journey from Indianapolis landmarks like the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and Indiana State Fair Ferris wheel to the Great American West.

    “There will be trains running above your head, trains running at your elbows,” said Johnson. “We’ll have Old Faithful’s geysers going off  - and waterfalls coming from 10 feet in the air. There really is nothing like it.”

    Downtown Indianapolis.

    Interior and exterior of Lucas Oil Stadium.

    The Grand Canyon.

    Jingle Rails is presented by Indiana Railroad.

    DeShong Perry
    DeShong Perry-Smitherman


    Go comment!

  • Meet Mary & Lorenzo Tafoya | Award-Winning Jewelry Artists from the Santo Domingo Pueblo

    by Linda Montag-Olson, Eiteljorg public programs manager | Nov 13, 2013

    Meet Artists in Residence, Mary and Lorenzo Tafoya (Santa Domingo Pueblo)
    1P.M. - 4P.M.


    Lorenzo and Mary Tafoya combine their artistic talents to create unique, traditional and contemporary jewelry.  These skills were acquired at an early age from their parents – Lorenzo’s parents versed him in silversmithing, lapidary work, and jewelry design, while Mary’s background is in handmade turquoise and shell heishe work. These award winning artists are best known for their whimsical, multi-colored inlay jewelry work based on the traditional Santo Domingo Pueblo heishe and depression era art of the 1940s and 1950s. Mary and Lorenzo will greet visitors in the studios and talk about their art and culture.

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