Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Did You See THAT!?!

    by User Not Found | Jul 17, 2012

    There were many downtown joggers staring, pointing and smiling on Saturday the 14th as they were being passed by motorcycles. That’s right, for the first time in history, motorcycles were (legally) able to ride onto the canal level of the Eiteljorg via the normally low-octane Indianapolis Downtown Canal.

    This rare occurrence was allowed due to our Ride-In Bike Show, sponsored by IndyWest Harley-Davidson. For novices like myself, I learned that a Ride-In Bike Show is an opportunity for bike, aka motorcycle, owners to bring in their most beautiful, unique, customized and tricked out bikes, to show off to the world in hopes of landing a trophy &/or the occasional prize money. This show was no exception!

     Bikes dating back into the ‘20s running all the way up to current models. Some were simply pristine examples of their makes and model, while others look like they were from another galaxy – all 60 were dazzling!

    We had a great group of judges, including custom bike builder Danny Sanchez from Cut Throat Customs.  In addition to being an industry leader in custom bike knowledge, one of Danny’s bikes is featured in our Steel Ponies show.  Our MC for the event was Laura Steele from Q95 and, as usual, did a stellar job interacting with the crowd and keeping us all educated about the event activities.


    As a visual artists myself, I was really blown away by the creativity and talent of the folks that had made custom modifications to existing motorcycles, or had even built them completely from the ground up. I couldn’t stop revisiting my favorites and talking to their owners/creators.


    My role at the museum has me working with social media, audio and video constantly. So, I’d like to sign out with all the text now and leave you with some images from the event and a simple anecdote. Prior to the opening of Steel Ponies, I was the furthest thing from a ‘motorcycle guy’ imaginable. I’m not much closer now, but I have been fortunate to be involved in events like this, meet REAL motorcycle folks and have enjoyed a crash course education on much of that culture. If you haven’t ever been, I’d just like to encourage everyone to experience a show like this. Interact with the owners, riders and builders. I think you will thank yourself for trying something new and associating with a fantastic group of people!

    *click to enlarge any of these images!


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  • New wedding trends buck traditions

    by Guest User | Jul 16, 2012
    As we annually bid adieu to some popular wedding trends, could this be the year we also say goodbye to the famous, traditional style of weddings? With the increasing popularity of Pinterest-style websites and thousands of wedding blogs, having a customized and unique wedding ceremony and reception seems to be gripping the nation. Brides and grooms are choosing extremely personalized and DIY-styled weddings, straying far from the traditional ceremony and reception we have seen for the past few decades. The unique style wedding theme is building stamina, and the Eiteljorg Museum got to host one of these trendy personalized weddings on May 19, as Kara and Gary tied the knot.

    With all the different indoor and outdoor options we offer at the Eiteljorg, it appeals as an ultimate venue for couples looking to incorporate unique ideas into their big day. Kara and Gary definitely took advantage of this opportunity and made their wedding one of the most unique and personalized we have seen. The ceremony kicked off this inimitable adventure with the bride walking down the aisle to the popular Beatles 
    song “Blackbird”, sung acoustically by a close friend. This far from traditional processional style truly captured the personality of the bride and groom and is a really trendy new idea. Post ceremony the guests moved to the terrace along the canal for a quick cocktail hour as the wedding party gathered for pictures. With the guests feeling refreshed, thanks to the helpful Kahn’s bartenders, everyone moved inside for the reception. 
    Keeping up with the trendy theme, Kara and Gary chose silver-gray linens on the reception tables, which is unquestionably part of the hot color palette of 2012. Pairing the gray with teal and yellow, the reception was simply stunning in our Clowes ballroom.  

    Yet the most unique, and my personal favorite, aspect of the Kara and Gary wedding was the table names for the reception. Instead of using numbers to guide guests to their dinner party, the table names were words that had special meaning to Kara and Gary. This included tables named “Nightcrawler,” “Dungeons and Dragons,” “Superbad,” “Twisted Ankle” and many more.  Below the name was a brief explanation of how the title of the table is significant to Kara and Gary.  It was a cool idea that really topped off the uniqueness of the wedding. After everyone was delightfully full from the always delectable fare provided by Kahn’s Catering, (which included food stations of a unique variety of cuisines – Mexican, pasta and comfort mini’s), the guests continued the celebration outside on the beautiful terrace on the canal to enjoy the perfect weather and a lovely evening under the stars.  As the wine was flowing and music was playing, guests danced the night away and celebrated the beautiful marriage with the new bride and groom.

     By Lauren Oneill, intern, special events
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  • Rock and Roll road trip

    by Jaq Nigg | Jul 12, 2012

    By Martha Hill, vice president for public programs & visitor experience

    A few weeks ago, several museum staffers made a trip to prepare for our 2013 exhibit featuring guitars and the American West. We did not go to Santa Fe, not LA, not Dallas or Denver. We went to Cleveland. In Ohio. Guitars and the West and we go East. On the road early morning: destination the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. We planned to see the galleries and a school program, hoped to see the vault and looked forward to conversations with curators about potential loans. Little did we know what impact this brief trip would have on us. And, little did we imagine the personal connections we would each have with what we were about to see. As museum professionals we have discussions about what we think our visitors know about our subject matter; what knowledge they bring with them; and how that will affect their experience when they visit. Basically, what is going to grab their attention and spark their imagination? Switching roles, on this trip we were the visitors.

     When we arrived at the “Rock Hall,” our collective and individual reactions to the exhibitions were definitely related to our own experiences with music and musicians. Our reactions, I think in part were related to our ages—one in her 20s; one in her 30s; one in her 50s and the last, in his 60s—we were each captivated and mesmerized by objects for which we had personal connections.

    James, our VP and chief curatorial officer who previously worked at the Autry National Center in LA, was totally taken in by Eldon Shamblin’s 1954 Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. He hadn’t expected to see it. Mr. Shamblin was a member of Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys and is considered one of the best rhythm guitar players of all time. Years ago, this guitar was in a show at the Autry. James remembered Mr. Shamblin well and marveled at the fact that in his later years he had to make his living delivering milk.


    What about the youngsters in our group who grew up with music videos and MTV? We rounded a corner in the exhibit and started up a ramp featuring Michael Jackson where Johanna, our assistant curator of Western art, nearly melted onto the floor when she saw the werewolf mask from his Thriller video. This was absolutely the best reaction I’ve ever witnessed to an object. Her eyes were wide open; she couldn’t talk and was gasping with her hands over her mouth. Wow! She was instantly transported back to watching the Thriller video as a kid. Nearby, Kara, our director of visitor experience, was mesmerized by Michael Jackson’s glove from the 1992 Billie Jean video.

    As for me, I was excited to get within inches of Billy Joel’s spiral bound notebook in which he had written the lyrics to the songs for his 52nd Street album. Billy Joel’s music instantly brings back my high school and college days. Other highlights included Beatles items, specifically, John Lennon’s jacket pictured on the 1967 cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. My older brother had that album and I remember seeing it next to the stereo whenever he was home from college.

    So what was our takeaway from this visit – besides the CDs, t-shirts, postcards and guitar-shaped bottle openers we bought in the museum’s store? It was a reminder and validation of our views that experiences in museums are personal while at the same time social. We each had our own favorites which were strongly tied to our memories and experiences, but we also talked and talked and talked about the groups and performers we had seen and how amazing it was to see the instruments, clothing, hand-written lyrics and a multitude of other objects. Our experience was visual, but also auditory—what is the story of Rock and Roll without sound?

    Inspired and excited about prospects for our guitar exhibit, we came away with some great ideas and contacts (thank you Jason, Jun, Jim, Patrick, Greg and Rob). According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, they opened in Cleveland in 1995 with the mission to “...educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music.” It does that. It also made each of us aware of the impact music makes on each of us as individuals.

    We have lots of guitar-related designing to do, loans to procure and public programs to plan before next March; but, in the meantime, we hope you’ll share in the comments what music-related object would make you swoon or transport you to another place and time.



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  • Oscar Wilde in Indianapolis

    by Guest User | Jul 11, 2012
    [Editor’s note: On Saturday, Aug. 18, the Eiteljorg will host Out West, the first of several programs and exhibitions exploring the contributions of the GLBTQ community in the American West.]

    Oscar Wilde appeared at English’s Opera House in Indianapolis on February 22, 1882, as part of his 150-city American tour, lecturing to large, curious audiences on the subject of decorative arts and aestheticism. Wildean ruminations were front-page news wherever he appeared.  

    Five separate columns, editorials and criticisms excoriated him in Indianapolis papers.  American journalists generally do not like to be lectured to, especially about the beauty of sunflowers, by an effete, Oxford-educated, Irish poet with only a book of self-published Poems under his arm and an underperforming play, Vera, to his credit. 

    “We have grown sunflowers for many a year,” stated the Indianapolis Journal on The Apostle of Beauty. “Suddenly, we are told there is a beauty in them our eyes have never been able to see. And hundreds of youths are smitten with the love of the helianthus. Alackaday! We must have our farces and our clowns. What fool next?”  

    Wilde’s mode of dress—velvet cloaks, silk knee breeches, buckled shoes, long flowing hair— was derided as sheer calculation in four of the five reports.  “He knows uncommonly well what he is doing,” reported the Indianapolis News.  From “pit to dome,” many came to make fun of him, but most grudgingly admitted that he had something to say. “It would be safe to wage a cigar that if Oscar can be induced by his manager to be a little more utilitarian, he will not want for appreciate or applause,” wrote the Indianapolis Daily Sentinel.  

    The criticism apparently stung, because at his very next performance Wilde took his critics’ advice and dressed down.  Later, in justification for ordering two new costumes, Wilde wrote that his audiences were “dreadfully disappointed at Cincinnati at my not wearing knee breeches.”  

    And how would the future author of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" fare in America’s Great Frontier?  In Salt Lake, where he was hosted by John Taylor, the president of the Mormon Church, he was greeted by “The Sunflower Boys,” a row of admiring youth sporting sunflowers in the lapels of their velvet cloaks.  

    In other venues, ruffians interrupted Wilde’s show to the point that he sent advance notice to Denver that he would no longer act the gentleman and that he was “practicing with my new revolver by shooting at sparrows on telegraph wires from my car. My aim is as lethal as lighting. -- O. Wilde”

    American audiences knew who Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was before a special category had been coined for him and his kind.  The word “homosexual” did not appear in the public vernacular until after his premature death in 1900 at age 46, the result of his imprisonment of two years at hard labor for “extensive corruption of the most hideous kind.”

    It is therefore important for me to tip my metaphorical cowboy hat to America’s first gay cowboy for paving the wayfor me as I take Out West to small Western communities like Cody, Wyoming, and Bozeman, Montana, where the subject of my research – LGBT history and culture in the American West – has been greeted with such respect.  

    Oscar Wilde, who squared off with miners in Leadville and won their hearts, unquestionably loved the American West. He is remembered for many gifts. 

    What I most appreciate was Wilde’s indefatigable refusal to conform to the male norm. Before his imprisonment, when urged to save himself, Oscar Wilde refused to run, and subsequently took it squarely on jaw for all of us. 

    Gregory Hinton, creator, Out West


  • Another Indiana gem…who says there’s just corn in Indiana?

    by Sheila Jackson | Jul 09, 2012

    The Eiteljorg Eagle Society recently took a day trip to Columbus, Indiana to tour the Miller House and Gardens, recently acquired by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The tours are led by guides from the Columbus Visitors Center.

    As a traditionalist, I prefer antiques over modern any day, however this showplace of modern design and architecture was absolutely beautiful. The home, built in the late 1950s, was designed for J. Irwin Miller of Cummins Engine fame by architect  Eero Saarinen, with interior design by Alexander Girard and landscaping by Dan Kiley.

    Noted as one of the finest examples of modernist design in the country, the Miller House has been meticulously restored using original family artifacts. From the sunken living room to the dorm- like children’s rooms, the home is functional and majestic as it flows together with the surrounding landscape. Be sure to check out the dining room rug, designed by Girard and custom-cut to fit around the dining room table's permanent pedestal base. The rug even has a zipper to remove it for cleaning!

    I think all who experienced this jewel would agree that the Miller House is definitely a National Historic Landmark to put on your must-see list.

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