Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • The Fuss Over Fry Bread at Indian Market

    by Claire Quimby, Eiteljorg festivals and markets intern | May 15, 2013

    “It’s one in the morning, and I’m awake, thinking about frybread…”
    – from Frybread Dreams, a poem by Richard Walker

    Frybread picture from -

    If you’ve ever been to any Native American event, you’re probably familiar with fry bread. If you’ve never tasted it, you are truly missing out. Fry bread is just what its name implies… dough that is fried in oil to create a puffy, delicious bread. Fry bread can be a sweet treat or the foundation of “Indian tacos,” topped with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa/chile.

    Images from and


    Every year at Indian Market and Festival, people happily wait in line at the Indian taco truck (rain or shine) for their fry bread fix. It’s so popular; the Eiteljorg staff looks forward to it each year as one of the highlights of the whole event.

    people wait in line at indian market for their frybread fix!

    Most of us agree that fry bread is super tasty. But the fuss over fry bread isn’t just about taste. It’s about history, tradition, survival and love.

    According to Frybread by Jen Miller (Smithsonian Magazine, July 2008), the origins of fry bread date back to 1864 and the Long Walk of the Diné (Navajo), when the U.S. government forcibly relocated thousands of Native Americans from their lands in Arizona to New Mexico. Removed from their traditional sources of food, the Diné had to rely on meager government rations. Many died of starvation. Fry bread was a food of survival, created from a few simple ingredients that the Diné had access to: flour, lard, baking powder, salt, water and powdered milk. For many Native Americans fry bread is a reminder of the conditions their ancestors endured, and how they created something from nothing to live another day.

    Many foods evoke strong feelings and memories, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better example than fry bread. Fry bread fans have created facebook pages, websites, poems, stories and cooking competitions. Most agree that love is a critical ingredient. How else would you turn rations and suffering into a food of survival and celebration?

    Fry bread is loved, but it has also been criticized. In an article in Indian Country Today, Suzan Shown Harjo railed against fry bread for the sorrowful history it represents, for its high calorie count, and for being a poor substitution for many other traditional Native American breads. Despite calories and history, however, Native America is still a strong supporter of fry bread, mockumentary film dedicated to it.

    Either in spite of its difficult history or because of it, the lines in front of the fry bread truck, during the Eiteljorg's Indian Market & Festival June 22 and 23, will continue to form this summer. No Native American gathering would be the same without it. 

    2013 indian market flyer

    Claire Quimby
    Eiteljorg festival and markets intern

    Go comment!

  • From an indie-rock player’s perspective: My top 5 guitar song playlist

    by Matt Askren, Eiteljorg visitor experience manager | May 13, 2013

    Throughout the run of Guitars!Roundups to Rockers, we’ll highlight the top five guitar picks from an Eiteljorg employee and find out whether there’s a Western connection! This week’s playlist comes from Matt Askren, visitor experience manager for the Eiteljorg Museum. 

    Matt Askren plays guitar

    Matt playing guitar in Rooms live at the Melody Inn (with bassist Andrew Greenburg and drummer Ben Traub.)

    Being a (hack of a) musician, I suspect I hear music a bit differently than the average listener. While a good vocal melody is important, it’s the music behind it which spurs my love for a song. In my favorite five picks, note that the drums are as integral to these selections as the guitars.     

    Message In A Bottle- The Police

    Journeyman guitarist Andy Summers 10 years of playing soul, rock, and jazz fusion made for an interesting blend when punk hit and The Police formed. Summers’ joined the simpler punk style with a rich jazz-informed sense of harmony which helped him create the verse riff for Message. If you have any background in music, he’s playing a series of 9th chords. I’ve ripped that off the 9th chord plenty over the years- with distortion it sounds like a warm knife! Also, of note is drummer Stewart Copeland’s beats- fantastic hi-hat work!

    Summers was my first guitar hero. Coincidentally, my main guitar is a Fender Telecaster with a humbucker in the neck position- same as Summers.

    Cassavettes- Fugazi
    When I began playing guitar, bands blending punk and classic rock were all the rage. That movement had developed in the independent underground before it broke. Fugazi were the quintessential post-punk band.

    One of Fugazi’s two singer/guitarists, Ian MacKaye, was the poster-boy of the do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic . He was co-founder of D.C.’s independent Dischord Records, frontman for the straight-edge punk band Minor Threat and later was founder of Fugazi, a more experimental post-punk band. This song celebrates the individual creativity that goes with a DIY entrepreneurial spirit- specifically the work of independent film maker John Cassavettes.  The first riff includes a guitar imitating a siren which mirrors the singer/guitarist Guy Picciotto’s  alarm upon watching a Cassavettes film. When the verse arrives, the guitars crash in with the coolest noise junk-guitar riff of all-time. Clearly, this isn’t the status-quo method of playing guitar- and that’s the point! DIY means among other things, act. Don’t wait, create!  Also of note is the call-and-response guitar work in the bridge riff at 1:47- very cool! Like many musicians with a background in indie and post-punk, I’ve ripped off plenty from Fugazi! 

    Still Ill – The Smiths
    The punk-informed Smiths brought a more sophisticated pop-oriented sound to the scene than most punk influenced bands of the time. Singer Morrissey was a master of brash, often hilarious, hyperbole and melodrama. Is this song a commentary on the biology of sexual orientation, or a critique of the Thatcher administration?  I don’t know.  But what’s important here is how awesome the guitar is! Guitarist Johnny Marr is a master of coming up with colorful guitar parts and this syncopated verse riff doesn’t disappoint. However, his choice of burying it in the mix may be a challenge though as you’ll need to squint your ears to hear it.

    All Along The Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
    Hendrix made Watchtower his own a mere six months after composer Bob Dylan released the original version. With its alarmingly immediate beginning punctuated by the click of wood blocks, perfectly percussive 12 string rhythm guitar, Dylan’s dark ambiguous lyrics and Hendrix’s brilliant fills and transcendental solos; it doesn’t get much better than this. Hendrix is the only player listed here that isn’t a personal influence. What would the point be? Nobody will ever be this good again.

    Fragment of a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster
    electric guitar formerly owned by Jimi Hendrix.
    (Photo courtesy of EMP Museum, Seattle, WA)

    You can check out Jimi Hendrix’s Gibson Les Paul custom guitar and the remains of his Sunburst Fender Stratocaster in our Guitars! Roundups to Rockers exhibit through August 4.    

    Pele- Long Fin Killie
    Scotland’s little-known Long Fin Killie once again proved that innovation bubbles up from the underground as guitarist Phil Cameron exclusively used ringing-bell guitar harmonics for the atmospheric verses of Pele. Sadly, this 90’s band’s distinctive blend of percussive indie rock guitar, non-traditional use of world music instruments, drum-and-bass informed rhythms and singer Luke Sutherland’s uniquely poetic gay African-Scot perspective never got above the water table of the underground. Sutherland went on to form the band Bows and has since written 3 somewhat acclaimed novels. Numerous interweb searches have not revealed the what-abouts of guitarist Cameron.

    And their Western connections?
    Andy Summers played a California made Fender guitar. Hendrix is from Seattle. Fugazi influenced plenty of Western bands including Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam. Long Fin Killie were influenced by the soft-loud approach of Seattle’s Nirvana. Johnny Marr influenced, and later played in, Washington State’s Modest Mouse.

    Matt Askren

    (Matthew Askren is the Eiteljorg’s Visitor Experience Manager. He also plays guitar and sings in the band Rooms.)


    (Above) Fender Stratocaster, early 1990s, formerly owned by Kurt Cobain; Courtesy EMP Museum, Seattle, WA. See it at the Eiteljorg through Aug. 4.

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  • Riders In The Sky and seven more live concerts at the Eiteljorg Saturday

    by User Not Found | May 10, 2013
    Saturday, May 11 – During Indy’s Cultural Trail Celebration, several bands and singer-songwriters will jam at the Eiteljorg!

    Two Live Lawn Concerts, 1p.m. - 3p.m., FREE
    Devil to Pay

    Fresh off of the release of their latest album, Fate is Your Muse, this Indianapolis-based metal band will hit the stage outside the Eiteljorg. NUVO music reporter, Jeff Napier, writes that Devil to Pay’s newest release is “without a doubt, a towering, monumental piece of metal that has the power to transcend labels and genres.”

    Ha Ha You
    Hailing from the Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis, Ha Ha You is an underground rock trio. Featuring ex-members of June of 44, Household Guns and Thin Fevers, the band channels the best parts of late-90s indie rock, jagged post-punk and pop music. Their songs include stories of family, friends, hearts and humor.

    Five Songwriters in the Round, 2p.m. - 4p.m., FREE with admission
    Hear singer-songwriters trade songs and talk about their processes

    Laura K. Balke – Singer/Songwriter (PICTURED ABOVE)
    From sporadic stints on the coffee house circuit in 2011 to solidly-booked tour dates, Laura Balke has come a long way. Two years ago she made the commitment to fully focus on her music. Concert goers will get to hear her play and sing original songs – packed with nods to country, alt-pop and folk. Balke, who’s played guitar since she was 13, will be finishing up a tight touring schedule that sent her to 25 states.

    Kenny Childers (of Gentlemen Caller)
    Being a past member of several bands has helped fuel the musical genius of Bloomington’s Kenny Childers. His current band, Gentlemen Caller, has rocked the indie scene for more than a decade. Kenny will bring his acoustic guitar and vocal swagger to the stage – sharing with audiences the talents that make him so beloved that a tribute album was produced to honor his 40th birthday.

    Christian Taylor (of America Owns the Moon)
    The lead singer of America Owns the Moon shows a milder side with his indie folk-inspired acoustic work. His strong body of work ranges from the light-hearted (“New Age Girlfriend”) to the tender (“Honey Child”) to the transcendental magical realism of “Rain Falls Up” and everywhere sideways of that. Taylor is also ½ of the duo C-Tay and Homeschool with cellist Leilah Smith.

    Simon Moore (of Kentucky Nightmare)
    Simon P. Moore is best known for his work as singer and songwriter for Kentucky Nightmare. In his solo project, he showcases a more light-hearted, whimsical narrative voice and intimate guitar style. Some of these songs are new, some as old as 13 years, but they share classic themes such as love, loss, work, and frat boys.

    Liz Janes – Singer/Songwriter

    She writes. She plays guitar. And, she’s got the strong vocals to match! Liz Janes will give guests a sampling of emotion from several of her original ballads. Her sound flexes from R&B to folk and from soul to pop.

    And.. An Evening with Riders In The Sky.. nearly sold out!


    Live Concert:
    An Evening with Riders In The Sky (PICTURED ABOVE)
    $ 25 general public
    $ 20 Eiteljorg Museum members
    Tickets may be purchased by calling the museum at 317-636-9378

    The Eiteljorg will open its ballroom to America’s favorite cowboys, Riders In The Sky, for an evening of wacky humor and Western wit! For more than 30 years, Riders in the Sky have been keepers of the flame passed on by Gene Autry and Roy Rogers! They are stellar vocalists and guitar virtuosos who have recorded over 30 albums and have provided three decades of western entertainment. Based in Nashville, Riders has been embraced by the country music community. They are performing members of the Grand Ole Opry.

    Enjoy the Eiteljorg!
    DeShong Perry-Smitherman with guitar
    DeShong Perry-Smitherman
    Public relations manager

    Go comment!

  • Strings, Humming & Strumming - A mom's experience at the Eiteljorg GUITARS! show

    by Guest blogger Carrie Kirk of | May 09, 2013

    Mommy blogger, Carrie Kirk, blogs about her personal experience with the Eiteljorg Guitars! Roundups to Rockers exhibit.

    I have always had a passion for guitars. Maybe it's because I can't play any string instrument of any kind. Maybe it's just that I enjoy listening to most music. And now that I am a parent, I think it's because I would really, really (really) like for my kids to have a love for music and maybe even play an instrument themselves.


      The Eiteljorg Museum recently opened its Guitars! exhibit and experience--a perfect opportunity to introduce my kids to the instrument. The most exciting aspect of this show is that it exposes its audience to an amazing array of music. After you purchase your ticket to the museum, you simply leave proof of identification and pick up your Ipod that plays close to seventy selections of music, ranging from obscure musicians to those who are icons in the music industry.

      Since its opening on March 4, I have visited the exhibit twice. Once I drove to the museum sans kids, with latte in my car's cup-holder, listening to The Punch Brothers. That in itself was a great start to my visit. When I entered the gallery, I walked - no, sauntered - through the exhibit, lapping up the music that coincided with the guitars on display and the artists' descriptions and photos. It was late on a Friday afternoon so the museum had fewer visitors to contend with, enabling me to take any route I wanted. If I wanted to move directly from Alvino Rey to George Harrison, I could...and I did. Many of the guitars on display were works of art and hailed from some of the greats - Buddy Holly, Chris Funk of The Decemberists, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, and even Jimi Hendrix(Cherokee heritage, BTW). I left the museum charged and anxious to retrieve much of the music I heard on my Spotify account.


      My second visit was an altogether different experience. This car trip included three boys - my youngest and his - well, let's just say - "enthusiastic and eager" friend and one of our mature and kind teenage neighbors who confessed that he really wasn't much of a music fan. (Folks, he brought a book to read to-and-from.) No latte in the cup-holder this time, and I had to turn off the music because I couldn't hear over the din of the "enthusiastic and eager" young boys in the backseat. This time my visit was centered around the kids' experience and encountering the exhibit with them.

      Our teenage friend took off with the iPod and quietly traveled through the exhibit. When I peaked in to check on him, I was impressed by so many groups of people (family and friends) experiencing the exhibit together while having an individual experience with the music. Meanwhile the young boys had a heyday with the interactive Guitar Hero in the main hallway. After going through the tutorial, they jammed on the guitars for a good fifteen minutes. Who knows who the winner was since they both believed they each were and argued about it for the next fifteen minutes. Next to Guitar Hero were two large pieces of paper, asking visitors to pen who their actual guitar hero was. Our little friend wrote "Justen Beiber" (sic) and after George determined that Michael Jackson had not played guitar, he scribbled "" (We have to listen to the Beatles more.)

      In the gallery, they took turns playing on two guitars, one acoustic and the other electric (It was hooked up to headphones. Good thinking, Eiteljorg.) There were also rock star duds they could try on for the full-effect. They got excited about some of the guitars on display too, especially the unusual ones with various shapes. With our teenage friend anxious to get back to his book, we dragged the boys out, promising to return before the exhibit closes. (Plenty of time since the exhibit runs through August 4.) I am a firm believer in leaving anything while the kids are still happy and wanting more. When they become completely over it, it truly is all over for everyone.


      Will my kids be the next George Benson? Probably not. But hopefully with experiences like the one we had at the Eiteljorg, they will come to appreciate the likes of George Benson and when asked ten years from now who their guitar hero is, they may answer Stephen Stills, Carrie Brownstein or Keith Richards - and spell it correctly too.

      Carrie Kirk

      Carrie Kirk's post was originally posted on - a weekly online publication focused on the arts in central Indiana...and beyond. Each week's issue features original content from a network of professional and student story tellers, including WFYI, Butler University, Franklin College, IUPUI and University of Indianapolis. Thank you Carrie for visiting our amazing exhibit!

      Go comment!

    • Images of the Indian: New installations in the Gund Gallery of Western Art

      by James Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer | May 07, 2013

      Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer, James Nottage, blogs about the new installations in the Gund Gallery of Western Art.
      Joseph Brant When the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, asked about borrowing the Eiteljorg’s painting of The Burial of Uncas by N. C. Wyeth, we were happy to oblige.  The Fenimore is an important museum and they were producing a major exhibit on art of the extended Wyeth family.  Happily, several members of our staff went to graduate school in Cooperstown and had deep familiarity with collections of the Fenimore Art Museum.  One of their great paintings is by the artist best known for his portraits of George Washington.  We asked, while our Wyeth was in New York, if the Fenimore would consider loaning us their Gilbert Stuart portrait of an Iroquois Indian. Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755-1828) was one of the most famed portrait painters of his time.  In 1786 he visited England and was commissioned to paint a portrait of Joseph Brant (1742-1807). Brant was in England at the time.  He had led the Iroquois against Americans in the Revolutionary War, supporting the British. This portrait is considered to be one of the finest depictions of a Native American done in the 18th century.  It clearly reflects the British sense of the Indian as the “noble red man.” The statesman-like pose shows Brant wearing a feathered headdress and he is wrapped in a blanket with a silver decorated shirt.  Time is limited to view this important painting. The Eiteljorg will feature this work, from the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Stephen C. Clark, from May 2 through September of this year. 

      In placing the Joseph Brant portrait on exhibit, we have taken the opportunity to more deeply explore the manner in which Native Americans have been portrayed by artists through the 1800s.  Visitors will see familiar portraits from our permanent collection by Charles Bird King, E. A. Burbank, and others.  We have also placed three other works in this section of the Gund Gallery that have not been shown.  The first is a new acquisition purchased with funds provided by the George Gund Foundation.  It is titled The Surprise, and was painted by American artist Louis Maurer in 1858.  Maurer had not traveled west or experienced Indian life in person.  In the 1850s, along with English painter A. F. Tait, he visited a library in New York to study books with Indian paintings by Carl Bodmer and George Catlin, who had traveled to the West in the 1830s.  Tait and Maurer created many paintings that were made into popular prints published by the firm of Currier and Ives.  These often violent images depicted Plains warriors as savages in mortal combat with frontiersmen.  Even though they were fictional, the prints created a fearful stereotype in the minds of pioneers headed west.  The Surprise was published by Currier and Ives in 1858. 

      Theodore Baur (American, born in Germany, 1835-1894)

      Two bronzes donated by Harrison Eiteljorg and newly conserved by a special intern, are being shown for the first time in many years.  Theodore Baur (American, born in Germany, 1835-1894), created Chief Crazy Horse, in 1885.  This heroic bust represents an important Lakota warrior known for fighting against U.S. forces at important battles including the Little Big Horn in 1876. Crazy Horse was killed by a soldier while trying to escape from imprisonment in 1877. Theodore Bauer originally conceived of this bronze as a portrait of Sitting Bull. When completed, it became an iconic representation of a sympathetically portrayed, but defeated Crazy Horse. 

      Adolph A. Weinman (American, born Germany, 1870-1952)

      Finally, we are pleased to present the Adolph A. Weinman (American, born Germany, 1870-1952), bronze of Chief Blackbird, cast in 1907.  Weinman’s depictions of the Indian are sympathetic and romanticized.  This bust portrait gives us the stereotype of the warrior-chief wearing an eagle feather headdress.  In the summer of 1902, the artist went to Coney Island and later to Madison Square Garden in New York to create images of Sioux members of Colonel Cummins’ Wild West Indian Congress.  Among them, Chief Blackbird and his wife were favorite subjects. The decorative bust of Blackbird is expressive of the artist’s observation that the subject was “a stoic, if ever there was one.”

      James Nottage
      Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer 

      Go comment!
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