Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • 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.

    Go comment!

  • Highlights from the 20th anniversary Indian Market & Festival

    by Jaq Nigg | Jul 06, 2012

    Whew! Nearly two weeks after Indian Market and Festival and we’ve just stowed the last cooler and put all the signs away. The last purchase orders have been written; we're reviewing visitor surveys; tabulating all of those important numbers; and writing final reports. The 2012 Indian Market and Festival is officially over. Before we move on to start planning the 2013 market (June 22-23), I thought it would be nice to say goodbye to our 20th anniversary celebration with some images and stories.

    Although it was hot, visitors lined up on Saturday before the market opened.

    For the first time ever, a basket took the highest honors. Cherish Parrish (Gun Lake Band) won Best of Show for her contemporary basket, The Next Generation II.

     Complete list of 2012 WINNERS

    From longtime volunteer (and staff husband) Don Burton: While at Dogbane, I was assisting a grandmother and granddaughter with the Boxley masks. They told me that the granddaughter had received straight A’s on her third grade report card and was told that she could have anything she wanted. She chose to spend the day at Indian Market.

     he performance tent was packed throughout the day. I've already gotten many emails and calls telling me that it is a moral imperative to bring Brulé back to market in the future. To all Brulé fans: I got the message and I'll do my best.

    It was so much fun to have the Git-Hoan Dancers here. I'm happy we were finally able to bring a larger group of Tsimshian dancers to celebrate with us. The dances, songs, masks and humor added greatly to the weekend. After more than 10 years planning Indian Market, I can say that there aren't many people I'd rather be with at 6:30 a.m. trying to wake up to be on the morning news with. I wish a camera would have captured my Alfred Hitchcock moment of having to fend off three over-caffeinated ravens.

    Of course, what can I say about the artists. It is seriously the best part of my job to get to know such amazingly talanted and wonderful people. Here are just a couple images of our prize winners.

    Helen Cox Kersting Award: Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo)

    Best of Division, pottery: Jody Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo)

    Best of Division, sculpture: Kathleen Wall (Jemez Pueblo)

    Thank you to all of the artists, visitors, performers, volunteers and museum staff who make Indian Market and Festival possible each year. We look forward to seeing you next year (again, those dates are: June 22-23, 2013).

    Images by Troy Hill.


  • Eiteljorg Roundup: What is your favorite bike in Steel Ponies?

    by Jaq Nigg | Jul 06, 2012

    Brent Barnes, safety and security director
    The original Captain America bike is an iconic legend for anyone growing up in the 60s and riding a bike. I wanted to be that free spirit riding through the west on a great epic journey.

    James Nottage, VP and chief curatorial officer/Gund curator of Western art
    My favorite motorcycle in Steel Ponies? You have to be kidding! Just one? I can’t! At first I thought it was the 1948 Indian Chief, but I can’t discount the 1936 Harley-Davidson knucklehead, or what about the Pierce? Don’t make me pick just one. Please. I just keep going back to the exhibit and they are all favorites. If you make me name them all, this will be too long.

    Johanna Blume, assistant curator of western art
    Hands down, the 1929 Indian Scout, aka The Wall of Death Bike. Cookie Crum rode the Wall of Death in the 1950s and 1960s on the same model. I was fortunate enough to get to know Cookie during the planning for Steel Ponies, and let me tell you, she is a firecracker and an inspiration. Here’s a woman who said to hell with expectations, I love riding, so that’s what I’m going to do. And she still does!

    Larry Zimmerman, public scholar of Native American representation
    Although it’s hardly flashy, I like Evel Knievel's bike just for what it represents – fearlessness, craziness, and resilience. But hey! I like all the bikes in Steel Ponies. Seeing the range of motorcycles in the exhibit takes me back to my South Dakota days and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Headed toward the Black Hills on Interstate 90 in early August, you'd see just about every bike imaginable from choppers and streetfighters to stripped-down motocross bikes like Kneivel’s. What a hoot!

    Martha Hill, vice president for public programs/visitor experience
    The Pierce, definitely the Pierce. There are so many dazzling bikes up there that I love this one for its simplicity—the lines, the red and black colors and those white wall tires! Nice combination.

    Kay Hinds, development donor services coordinator
    Never underestimate the allure of a brilliant, candy-apple red paint job and gleaming, polished chrome. The 1948 Indian Chief Roadmaster at the entrance of Steel Ponies beckons passersby with its black leather saddlebags festooned with fringe, silver studs and concho medallions trimmed in red. This road warrior leads the pack with an iconic Native American profile on its front fender. Paired with Jim Yellowhawk’s wonderful ledger art featuring a Native American astride a Roadmaster, this bike embodies the West of the imagination.

    Diane Badgley, education media coordinator
    Even though I can get jazzed up about the custom chopper bikes, my favorite in Steel Ponies is the Effie 1915 Harley Davidson motorcycle. There is something about a woman and her mother riding solo cross-country at such an early date that turns history on its head for me. We go along with these stereotypes of who, what, where and when.  Then you learn about something like this and it really opens things up. What else don’t I know?

    Sheila Jackson, membership manager
    The artistry of the Great Spirit motorcycle by Troy Vargas is phenomenal. His creativity in capturing all of the Native elements and customizing them to fit the shape and framework of the bike is amazing. The fact that it only took him two weeks also is pretty unbelievable.

    Kitty Jansen, librarian
    Right now my favorite motorcycle is the one that people can sit on (and in!) to have their pictures taken. On the day that I showed off my then eleven weeks old grandson Thyce to my colleagues at the museum, I got to take such neat pictures on this motorcycle. Thyce and his parents came to visit us from Amsterdam, where they are living at the moment.

    Lisa Watt, festivals and markets coordinator
    My favorite is the 1998 Harley Davidson Road King owned by former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado because there is nothing special about it. There are no modifications or decorations on the bike; it is a classic just the way it is. This bike is loved by Senator Campbell and for him to allow it to represent him shows how much of a classic the Road King is in the bike world.

    Linda Montag-Olsen, public programs manager
    My favorite bike is the photo-shoot bike with the sidecar. My grandparents, John & Esther Montag, eloped on June 29, 1921 on a motorcycle and sidecar. John was a repairman in a motorcycle shop in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the time and the couple drove to Menominee, Michigan to get married. Esther’s family was Protestant and John’s Catholic.

    Sue Thompson, admissions assistant
    After much thought, because all of them are awesome, I think my favorite is the Easy Rider cycle. I guess it’s because it reminds me of my youth. Of course I was too young to actually see such a “daring” movie, but there was plenty of other hype that I picked up on. Good memories!

    Jaq Nigg, festivals and markets manager
    Here’s my secret: motorcycles kind of aren’t my thing, but when I saw the Harley from The Wild One, I swooned. I mean, “What are you rebeling against, Johnny?” “Whaddaya got?” was pretty much the birth of youth rebellion in popular culture. Two years before Rebel Without a Cause made James Dean the forever icon of disaffected youth, Marlon Brando’s anti-hero was stunning, brooding and magnetic. A counterculture was born and it had an enduring look: leathers, boots and rolled up blue jeans.

    Photo credits:
    Cookie Crum Rides the Wall of Death. Photo courtesy of Cookie Crum
    Detail: 1912 Pierce 4-Cylinder, Pierce Cycle Company, Courtesy of Alan Travis
    Photo courtesy of Kitty Jansen
    Marlon Brando from The Wild One


    1 Comment

  • Internship ends, connections continue

    by Jaq Nigg | Jul 05, 2012

    by Taylor Jeromos, festivals intern

    I've had the pleasure of being an intern for the Eiteljorg's festivals department this summer. I've worked on planning next September's WestFest and was also exited to help prep for the 2012 Indian Market and Festival. I had attended the event several times, but this was my first “behind the scenes” look. Amidst my days of laminating, calling artists and getting signs ready, I sensed that there was a part of the festival that I hadn’t really anticipated—the personal friendships with artists that many of the Eiteljorg staff had cultivated over the years.

    I overheard many phone calls from staff to artists who were excited to see one another. During artist registration on Friday, I saw loads of hugs between staff and artists—I couldn’t count them all if I tried. To be honest, I felt a little left out.

    But working Indian Market, and seeing the event from beginning to end, I have been able to develop a small (though not any less important) list of personal connections to artists. I also realized how easy it was to get to know the fantastic artists that come to our market.

    While booth-sitting for David A. and David R. Boxley (Tsimshian performers, as well as talented painters and wood carvers), I struck up a conversation with two artists who I will most certainly visit at next year’s Indian Market.

    With painter Nocona Burgess, I discussed the benefits of being a successful artist. Jake (the collections intern) and I chatted with sculptor Tone Washburn about Indianapolis nightlife and his job on an oil rig. Notably, Tone showed me that one of his statues—a graceful, coral carving—seemed to have an internal glow when held up to sunlight.

    Additionally, I met and talked with Paul LaRoche, founder of Brulé. Though I admittedly felt a little star-struck at meeting the award-winning musician, chatting with him about the different facets within the Native American music field gave me a better understanding of a genre that I didn’t know much about. Additionally, it helped me to appreciate their distinctive blend of contemporary and native music – which totally rocks.

    Though I won’t be the intern for next year’s market, I do know that I will continue to strengthen my familiarity with the artists who visit. There’s a lot to be said for learning about the life and personality behind the art. Friendship gives each piece more meaning. It’s not just a painting or a sculpture anymore—it’s a story, a smile, and a memory that will continue to thrive throughout my connection to the Eiteljorg.

    2012 Festivals interns, Taylor and Katie, with Brulé.

    Go comment!
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