Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Tweens and teens to rock out at the Eiteljorg this Saturday afternoon

    by Girls Rock! Indianapolis guest blogger | Aug 02, 2013

    Girls Rock! Indianapolis recently completed its fourth camp season. The week-long camp culminated in a showcase of over 70 girls between the ages of 8 and 16 singing and rocking out on guitar, drum and bass in front of a packed crowd of almost 400 fans. Many of the girls had never picked up an instrument before attending Girls Rock! camp, but their pride in showing off their new found abilities made that theater electric.

    While it may be tough for some people to list more than a handful of influential female musicians, women have left an indelible mark on the heart of rock 'n' roll. Early female rockers Wanda Jackson, Maybelle Carter, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe heavily influenced more iconic male musicians including Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.

    Providing campers with an understanding of women's place in music history is one of the focuses of Girls Rock! camp  That's one of the many reasons that we are so excited to partner with the Eitlejorg for Girls Rock! Day at the museum  on Saturday, Aug. 3. 

    We've seen first-hand how getting girls excited about music and self-expression builds their confidence and influences their interactions with others. In a world that's filled with media messages that tell girls how they should look, what they should wear, and how they should think, the empowerment that music gives them is more important now than ever.  

    The Eitlejorg's "Guitars! Roundups to Rockers" includes a number of exhibit pieces that are of interest to female rockers including guitars owned by Patsy Montana, who was the first country music female to have a milion-selling hit single, and riot grrrl band Sleater Kinney

    Girls Rock! Day at the Eiteljorg runs from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 3. There will be a musical "petting zoo," complete with guitar, bass and a drum kit for hands on experimentation guided by Girls Rock! volunteers. Stop by, try out the instruments, and form your own flash band. During the afternoon, Girls Rock! volunteers and campers will perform and be available to talk about camp, its history, and upcoming events. Visitors can also make their own rock 'n' roll inspired buttons as a take-away to remember the day.

    Girls Rock! Indianapolis is a non-profit organization, founded in 2009, dedicated to building positive self-esteem in girls and encouraging creative expression through music. Our music education programs provide girls with an oPpportunity to participate in an environment that fosters leadership, encourages social change, and cultivates a supportive community of female peers and mentors. The Girls Rock! program began in Portland, Oregon and similar programs now run in Austin, Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Paris, Iceland, Brazil, and other cities many other cities in countries around the globe.  

    For more information, visit

    Photos courtesy: Paul D'Andrea, Sarah Boutwell and s.Jane Mils.
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  • Guitar gods Charlie Christian and Jimi Hendrix featured in Eiteljorg exhibit

    by DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg public relations manager | Jul 30, 2013

    Jam session at Ruby’s Grill, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, early 1940s, Musicians L to R: Sam Hughes, Charlie Christian, Leslie Sheffield, Dick Wilson
    Courtesy, State Museum Collection, Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division

    In guitar circles, he is known for single-handedly changing the way we hear music. The rich, velvety, hornlike sounds plucked from his instrument stunned audiences and led him to short-lived stardom. Charlie Christian is revered as one of the first guitar gods. Yet, many people don’t even know his name.

    You can see and hear Christian’s instrument and more than 100 priceless guitars at the Eiteljorg til Sunday. Guitars! Roundups to Rockers explores the Western connections of these powerful instruments and artists who have provided the soundtrack for America.

    Christian, who was raised in Oklahoma, started playing in 1937. When he played his amplified Gibson, he demonstrated that the guitar did not have to be relegated to the back of the band.  James Nottage, museum vice president and chief curatorial officer, says it is an honor to feature Christian’s instrument, because of the profound mark he made in the world of music.

    “With his charismatic performance twang, Christian landed the guitar, front and center, as a lead jazz instrument for the first time in history,” Nottage said. “His is one of the most important guitars in our exhibition.”   Christian joined Benny Goodman’s band and became a key figure in the early development of bebop and cool jazz.  Unfortunately, he would not live to see the fruits of his gift. At age 25, Christian died from complications related to tuberculosis. However, his contribution to the music world lives on. Those inspired by his style include: Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Chuck Berry and Jerry Garcia.  (Christian's Gibson ES-250 electric guitar is on loan to the museum, courtesy of Lynn Wheelwright.)
    Christian is not the only African-American guitarist featured in this one-of-a-kind show. Mounted inside a glass case are two instruments once played by Jimi Hendrix. Visitors will stand steps away from Hendrix’s Les Paul custom guitar and the remains of his Sunburst Fender Stratocaster.

    jimi hendrix
    Jimi Hendrix performing at the Royal Albert Hall, February 24, 1969
    Photographer: David Redfern
    Courtesy of Redferns

    Hendrix, who is arguably one of the most influential rock guitarists in the world, did not start that way. Before he rose to greatness, he was asked by some Seattle band leaders to leave the stage. Many audiences were turned off by his playing style. Despite early setbacks, he persevered to become a legendary guitarist, singer and songwriter. He died in 1970, from an accidental drug overdose, at the age of 27.

    Guitars! Roundups to Rockers allows you to see these artists, learn their stories and hear their gifts. 

    Other guitar and music legends included in the Eiteljorg exhibit, include Roy Rogers, Kurt Cobain, Woody Guthrie, George Harrison, Buddy Holly, Les Paul and many more. Guitars!, presented by Eli Lilly & Company, also includes interactive content, guitar-playing lessons and a grand finale performance by Girl's Rock Indy. The exhibit runs through Sunday, Aug. 4.

    DeShong Perry-Smitherman
    Eiteljorg PR manager

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  • Your last chance to see and experience Eiteljorg Guitars

    by Trey Meehan, Eiteljorg development intern (Butler University) | Jul 29, 2013

    This 1930s John Dopyera guitar shows an early effort to electrify the guitar.
    Resophonic Electric Dobro, 1934
    Loan: Courtesy of Lynn Wheelwright

          After being at the Eiteljorg for the last few months, I realized that I had not completely gone through the museum’s current exhibit: Guitars! Roundups to Rockers. I had described the exhibit to my friends, family and museum guests, but I hadn't yet personally experienced all it had to offer. I don’t want to sit here and describe every piece in the exhibit, but I will give you all my 20-year-old perspective in hope that it will entice your curiosity.

    Before I started my tour, I picked up an iPod with headphones from the front desk. Although the tour can be done without an iPod assistant, I would highly recommend everyone choosing the iPod option. This feature allows a patron to access 65 videos on the iPod (3 hours of content) to listen to the corresponding numbered and displayed guitars.

    At the start of the exhibit, my eyes gravitated to a case containing acoustic guitars composed of light and dark woods. As I listened on the Ipod to the songs being played on the guitars, I was transported into the time of the music; in this case, the early 19th century.

    On the wall to the left hung a large sign informing me that says a precise definition for "guitar" may be impossible. It is simply a family of instruments with vibrating strings. I kept this idea in the back of my head as I wondered through the exhibit. It was as though I was walking through time. The 19th century progressed into the early 20th century. Not only were the times changing, but the people and type of music they were playing were changing, too.

    As I progressed through the exhibit, electronic guitars began popping up alongside their acoustic brothers and sisters. I witnessed outfit transformations as musicians and time periods I was familiar with began to appear. I continued to listen to the distinctive eras’ music coming from each of their musicians’ guitars. As I strolled through the cases of guitars I could envision the different musical periods. The Spanish influence that allowed guitars to be integral parts of sacred Catholic mass hymns gives way to later forms of music such as jazz, blues, punk rock, hard rock and many other genres. The exhibit seamlessly shows the passage of years, and musicians from Les Paul to Kurt Cobain.

    For a guy who knew pretty much nothing about guitars at the start of my tour of Guitars!, I can confidently say that this is not the case anymore. The exhibit gave me the opportunity to experience such a wide range of guitars from all around the world. I’m certainly grateful for the chance to not only experience Guitars! but being able to give everyone my personal take on it!

    The exhibit closes August 4, so hurry up and don’t miss your chance to witness for yourself all of these amazing instruments before they return to their homes.  

    Here are a few more of my favorites:

    Italian by manufacture, this six-string guitar crafted by the Fabricatore family in the 1790s became popular in Europe and the style then eventually crossed the pond to America.
    Fabricator Napoli Guitar, 1793
    Loan: Courtesy of Lynn Wheelwright

    G&L electric guitar, c. 2002; Courtesy Chris Funk.

    Draped in a well-worn leather cover similar to one used by Elvis Presley, this Gibson J-45 commemorates Buddy Holly's 1956 hits “Love Me” and “Blue Days, Black Nights.” 
    Gibson J-45 guitar, ca. 1944 with tooled leather cover, mid 1950s 
    Loan:  Courtesy of Mike Malone

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  • Marketing Guitars| Why you see us EVERYWHERE

    by Bert Beiswanger, Eiteljorg marketing manager | Jul 22, 2013

    Guitars billboard
    Guitars! ads are on billboards all around Indianapolis.

    An extremely enjoyable facet of marketing a museum is that things are always changing. Sure, there’s a core plan that’s executed every year - a core audience we’re always communicating to. But ever-changing special exhibits present unique opportunities to promote the museum to new audiences. Guitars! Roundups to Rockers has certainly done that. Just as our holiday model train exhibit Jingle Rails has opened a door to a new way of marketing the museum, so has Guitars!

    Guitars! ad on Indygo buses.

    Guitars at Indiana black expo
    Guitars fans were very popular at the Indiana Black Expo. (Left) WISH-TV Sports Director Anthony Calhoun grabbed a few for himself and his mom. (Middle) Studio G Fitness Zumba dancers needed a few fans to cool off after their Expo performance. (Right) WTLC's Amos Brown lefte our booth with a "Guitars Are Hot" fan.

    If you’ve driven around the city, you’ve seen Guitars! everywhere. Our ads are all over interstate billboards and Indygo buses. And – if you attended this year’s Indiana Black Expo, you might have even grabbed one of our popular Guitars! fans from our booth.  Believe it or not, we've distributed  20,000 promotional fans and more than 35,000 brochures here, there and everywhere in between – from the Indianapolis Convention Center and downtown hotels to guitar shops across the Midwest and in Nashville, Tenn.

    guitars peter framptonMarketing this exhibit also involved partnering with entertainment company’s like Live Nation. We worked with our contacts there to develop a sweet deal for Peter Frampton fans. If you bought a VIP ticket to Frampton’s Guitar Circus, you could visit Guitars! free of charge. The fact that we developed some fun working relationships in the process with folks within the music industry – people with direct ties to these musicians – is pretty cool.

    People often ask what’s been the most fun part about working on this exhibit. That’s hard to say. What I can say is I never get tired of seeing people walk through the door with a Led Zeppelin or Nirvana tee shirt on. I never get tired of hearing people say, “I heard the Guitars spot on the radio,” “My husband saw the billboard on 465,” or “We saw the ad in the Indy Star.”

    And I never get tired of hearing people apologize for it being the first time they’ve visited the Eiteljorg. It all means that we’ve captured a new audience. People are noticing us and are invested emotionally in what we’re doing. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.

    guitars indy star
    Guitars! Indy Star ad.
    guitars bob and tom johanna james
    The Eiteljorg's James Nottage and Johanna Blume on the "Bob and Tom Show" as comedian Frank Caliendo looks on.

    It all starts with the product and what a product this Guitars! show is. But it’s also been a heck of a lot of fun and rewarding working with great people to help tell the story.

    Q95's Laura Steele at the Guitars! opening night party.
    Photo courtesy: TJF Photography.

    Folks at 92.3 WTTS, Hank FM, Q95 (particularly, good friend and Q95 voice of Guitars! Laura Steele), Nuvo, Indianapolis Star, Live Nation and countless others have been great partners on this tour. We certainly had solid subject matter to work with but everyone we worked with along the way made it much more rockin’.

    Bert and boys
    Taking a break from an early morning WTHR segment, the Beiswanger boys stand in front of a striking image of guitarist Gary Clark, Jr.

    This exhibit – which closes Aug. 4, has something for everyone! Whether you’re a diehard guitar enthusiast or an everyday casual music fan - we’ve seen them all walk through the door. Fans of country, classic rock, contemporary rock, jazz, swing and music and American history in general have all come to get a glimpse of guitars once played by Vince Gill, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, Kurt Cobain, Charlie Christian, Jimmie Hendrix and more.

    If you haven’t checked out Guitars! you’ve got just a few more days to do it. See what everyone is talking about before these 100 guitars go back to their loaners! 

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  • Eiteljorg Insider| 5 Questions with Summer Peters

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | Jul 11, 2013

    We caught up with bead worker Summer Peters who won Best of Show at the Eiteljorg Indian Market with her beadwork portrait Gentleman Jim. A single mom and full time artist, she is a tribal member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Michigan, but lives in Phoenix, AZ. It was her first time coming to the Eiteljorg market and she blew everyone away with her creativity and talent.

    Summer Peters (Saginaw Chippewa), Gentleman Jim, Best of Show Winner at the 2013 Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival

    1. What inspires you?
    What inspires me is fashion, places I've been to, experiences I've had, nature, people watching, and a desire to learn more. It doesn't take much. I see beauty in almost everything. I love talking about art with other artists. I like watching things being built.

     2. If you could steal any piece of art in the world to have in your home, what would it be?
    I'd have to bypass the obvious choices of the Mona Lisa or some Picasso painting, it would definitely be, Spirit of the Forest by Odilon Redon. I learned about him in one of my art history courses.

     3. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
    I would most definitely be an ironworker in the NYC skyline or some sort of home builder/architect/interior designer. I have a strong academic background in the technical side of building things.

     4. What is your favorite tool? 
    My favorite tool is my needle nose plier. It makes everything perfect! I'm very very very much a perfectionist about my work, even though they say nothing in the world is perfect. If there's an extra bead on my string and I've already attached it to the canvas, I snap it off.

     5. What do you listen to while you work?
    I usually turn on the TV and find a show that I can listen to. I don't really listen to music while I work. Music has a strong attachment to memories in my life, good and bad, so I don't listen to it. I don't like sad feelings seeping into my work.  One time, though, I turned on classical music and I was beading like a mad woman! I need to do that again. 

     About Gentleman Jim:
    Gentleman Jim
    is beadwork portrait of Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox). The piece was created to bring attention to Native American people who have made great accomplishments in mainstream society.

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