Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Sheila Jackson, membership manager, retires from The Eiteljorg

    by Rachel Foley, marketing and communications intern | Aug 02, 2018

    Museum members are an irreplaceable linchpin to the Eiteljorg Museum’s sustainability. Through their annual contributions, donations and attendance, members help support museum events, exhibitions and programs.

    Building working relationships with members so they stay involved in the Eiteljorg museum is, quite literally, a full-time job. Sheila Jackson, the Eiteljorg’s membership manager, has focused on cementing the museum’s relationships with its members. Before her retirement this month, Sheila shares some of her experiences and parting thoughts with the Eiteljorg Blog.

    Sheila Jackson, membership manager, at the membership booth on Members' Night back in July

    In her seven years with the museum, Sheila has been an integral force in making the museum’s membership program robust. The work involves building relationships with all members at every membership level, since each one is invaluable to the Eiteljorg’s development. For Sheila, that has been one of the most rewarding aspects of her time at the museum

    Eiteljorg members are a proud community, excited to support the Eiteljorg’s mission: to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and indigenous peoples of North America.

    “We are the only Native American and Western museum in the Midwest – just highly unusual,” Sheila said. “When people come, they see how unbelievably gorgeous this place is and just how one-of-a-kind the museum truly is.”

    In her role as membership manager, Sheila continuously updates her membership database and sends out thank-you letters on a daily basis. “I (also) try to send materials of any current exhibition or event that’s going on,” she said. “If we have a new rack card for an event like Indian Market or a schedule of events, I’ll include that in the mailing.”

    In addition to her daily duties, Sheila also assists in planning events. This summer, she was the point person for the Perelman Gala, a celebration of the generous support Mel and Joan Perelman consistently offer to Native fine arts and the museum. Among other duties, Sheila wrote copy for promotional materials and coordinated with speakers and entertainment. The gala was a great success and was host to many long-time members.

    Although her first experience with museum membership work started just seven years ago, Sheila has flourished in the Indianapolis arts community for most of her career.  She graduated with an arts degree in graphic design and worked at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for 12 years.

    “After I left the Children’s Museum, I started my own business,” she said. “I painted murals commercially, in residences, did pet portraits, and painted furniture.”  Still, when approached with an opportunity to return to the museum world at the Eiteljorg, she was eager to give it a shot.

    Seven years later, Sheila has found a home here at the Eiteljorg. “I just love my coworkers; the people here are talented and creative – not to mention I get to work in a gorgeous building with beautiful artwork,” she said.

    “Sheila will be missed. Outside her daily membership duties, her artistic background added an unexpected special touch,” said Nataly Lowder, vice president for advancement. “For example, she created centerpieces for a recent membership exhibit opening. Members were asking if they could take them home. She constantly pitched in and went above and beyond, always trying to put the member first.”

    Another important aspect of her job has been to assist the Eagle Society – a highly involved group of Eiteljorg members who are especially passionate and supportive of the museum. These members are key contributors who support the museum with annual donation levels ranging from $1,500 to $25,000+. Sheila also works hard to build special programming and assist in planning events and home receptions for the Eagles each year.

    “The Eagle Society is incredibly important to the museum,” she said. “Many Eagles not only give through their membership, as most of them are also donors to specific exhibitions, projects, events and programs throughout the museum.”

    The Eagle Society and standard members alike get to be a part of a special museum. Basic membership at the Eiteljorg starts at just $70 for two adults and two guests – special benefits include unlimited admission throughout the year, free parking, a 15 percent discount at the Museum Store and a 10 percent discount in the café. Members also receive discounted or free admission to museum programs and festivals – including Indian Market and Festival – as well as access to member-only exhibition previews and special events. To learn more about membership, please visit

    Despite her retirement, Sheila has no plans to slow down. Instead, she looks forward to refocusing on other aspects of her life. “I have absolutely adored my time here at the museum, but I am excited to move on to illustrating a book that a friend has written and spending more time with my growing family. Another (grandchild) is on the way in November!” Sheila said.

  • Bloomington Herald Times looks at "Interwoven" and "The Reel West"

    by | | Jul 30, 2018
    The Bloomington Herald Times newspaper on July 29 published a lengthy article about exhibits at the Eiteljorg Museum, focusing on "Interwoven: Native American Basketry from the Mel and Joan Perelman Collection" and "The Reel West."  Read the article at this link:
    Bloomington Herald Times story 7.29.18

  • il Troubadore brings world music to the Eiteljorg

    by by Haley Stevenson, marketing and communications intern | Jul 30, 2018

    Dianna Davis
    il Troubadore will perform at the Eiteljorg on Aug. 1

    For the final Summer Under The Sails concert of the season Wednesday, Aug. 1, the Eiteljorg Museum is bringing back an audience favorite:  il Troubadore, whose diverse musical setlist spans the globe, and other worlds, too.

    Founded in 2004, the band has been entertaining audiences around the nation by playing an eclectic assortment of world music and sci-fi movie music. The Eiteljorg Blog had the chance to chat with Dianna Davis, who performs in the band on clarinet, accordion, flute, and vocals. In 2015, Davis joined Ron Fife (dumbek, bodhran, vocals) and founding band members Jon Silpayamanant (cello, vocals) and Robert Bruce Scott (vocals, mandolin).

    il Troubadore’s repertoire includes music from more than 60 countries, leading to their fitting tagline: “Putting the ‘world’ back into world music since 2004.”  When not dressed in costumes, the band members wear black and a color that represents “the country we were born in or where our family is from.” For example, members Robert and Ron both have Scottish heritage so they wear black and red plaids, a traditional Scottish decoration. For the band members, “It’s important to know where the music is from. I believe in intention, knowing the history and why we’re playing the music,” Davis said.

    The idea behind the band’s name comes from troubadours in the Middle Ages, traveling musicians who would compose and perform lyric poetry. “It’s the idea of old-school singing, like a 16th-century rock band. We sing everything from old European music and new music,” Davis said.

    Davis refers to il Troubadore as a “fusion band,” due to the fact that they play both world music and “out of this world” music, from and inspired by classic science-fiction films. One of the many languages they sing in is Klingon, a language created for the alien villains in the Star Trek franchise.  Two of the band’s side projects, “The il Troubadore Klingon Music Project” and “il Troubadore and the Wookiee Cellist,” have become part of the main set for many of their shows due to their audience popularity. Pictured above, (next to Davis in her Return of the Jedi costume) is Jon Silpayamanant as the Wookiee cellist, a fan favorite. Wearing an enormous furry Chewbacca costume, Silpayamanant is able to play standing up by using a half-size cello, which allows him to stay in character.

    il Troubadore at Summer Under The Sails 2017

    When asked what keeps il Troubadore coming back to the Eiteljorg, Davis says “I love venues like this that have a great way of getting people into the venue… I’ve come with a couple other groups and it’s a really fun and nice space to perform. It’s especially fun to do it in costume, because people are walking by and then they stop.”

    For il Troubadore, the Aug. 1 performance kicks off a busy series of concerts during Gen Con in downtown Indianapolis, when thousands of science fiction and fantasy fans descend on the city for several days of serious fun. Davis comments that “It’s so much fun to do the Eiteljorg show to kick off Gen Con week. It’s a good way for people who don’t want to pay a lot of money for Gen Con to see us, and it’s a fun way for us to get excited.”

    At the Eiteljorg performance, people can expect to hear “some familiar favorites — most people know the Star Wars music. They can expect to hear a lot of ‘Wookiee talk,’ which is always fun and people love that.” The band will also perform John Williams’ famous “Cantina Band” tune from Star Wars, which is hard to avoid getting up and dancing to. Aside from the sci-fi genre, il Troubadore will “introduce some music from other cultures that they maybe haven’t heard before; some music from the Middle East, some jazz . . . to give a diverse concert.”

    “In general,” Davis said, “I’m always trying to tell people that there’s a lot of great local music in Indianapolis. We’re trying to bring authentic, diverse music from different parts of the world to (the Midwest.) We do our best to be intentional and faithful to the musical styles we’re playing while having fun with it.” Davis enjoys both the variety of the band’s repertoire and the chance to be part of the music community here in Indianapolis.

    il Troubadore is ready to bring their best to The Sails on Aug. 1. The concert will conclude the Eiteljorg’s Summer Under The Sails concert series, which is free to all museum visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. with free admission to the museum itself starting at 5 p.m. Appetizers will be available for purchase at the museum café, as well as a cash bar.

  • Tad Robinson Brings Soul to The Sails on July 25 at the Eiteljorg Museum

    by Haley Stevenson, marketing and communications intern | Jul 23, 2018

    Tad Robinson performs at the Eiteljorg on July 25th

    Seven-time Blues Music Award Nominee Tad Robinson adds luster to every stage he takes, and soon Eiteljorg Museum guests will be under his spell. Robinson took some time to share some of his background and experiences as a longtime soul musician with the Eiteljorg blog in anticipation of his upcoming performance.

    Currently based in Greencastle, IN, Robinson has been a part of the blues scene since the mid-1990s. His first record deal in 1995 was on one of the most prestigious blues labels in the country, Delmark Records. He defines his style as “soul blues” – some Southern soul, some Northern blues. Artists like Robert Cray, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Bobby Bland inspire and influence Robinson’s blues style, which is a mixture of Chicago blues and Southern soul.

    Robinson’s biggest influence as a young soul musician was Junior Wells, a Chicago blues singer and harmonica player. Robinson himself is an accomplished harmonica player, and developed his own sound in the Chicago blues tradition. “I moved to Chicago in the ‘80s to be close to the blues scene,” Robinson comments, “Where I met a lot of my heroes. The blues scene in Chicago was a great educational area for me.”

    Robinson is a veteran of countless national and international tours and blues festivals. When asked what brings Robinson to Indianapolis, Robinson replied, “The city is beginning to celebrate its musical heritage more in recent years.” Venues such as the Jazz Kitchen, The Slippery Noodle, and the Indy Jazz Festival have made it “possible for the blues scene to grow.” Robinson added that WFYI has been integral in doing public radio for blues in Indianapolis, while places like our very own Eiteljorg Museum “champion eclectic music.”

    Local players and the arts community have “carved out some space within the jazz scene” to recognize players like Robinson, who plays music that varies from the typical jazz sound. Robinson noted that while he does travel to Indy, he travels much farther including internationally to play in places like California, New York, Romania, France, and Germany. “We do go a lot of places,” he says, “But Indy is a good home to come back to.”

    Tad Album Cover

    The band Robinson will be playing with on July twenty-fifth is composed of “some of the most interesting and accomplished musicians in Indianapolis at this time,” including guitarist Paul Holtman and keyboardist Kevin Anker, who is also a member of Roots music band The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Each artist has their own career separate from the band, but they have a lasting connection through the gigs they play together. With each passing year, the group is able to play more “freely” because of the “great musical rapport” they have grown to share over time.

    During the summer, the Tad Robinson band plays at a lot of festivals. Like any good self-promoter, Robinson makes sure to include both classic favorites and new recordings in his setlist: “We’re generally promoting different recordings. The only thing about outdoor events is that we do one show, so we try to have a balanced set.”

    One of the things The Eiteljorg Museum has looked at in its exhibits is the role of African-Americans and African-American culture in the Western U.S.  
    Blues, a style of music that was created by African-Americans in the South, now has a universal appeal in every direction, including internationally. Robinson comments that “the African American tradition of blues music is one of the great gifts to the world…. I feel very fortunate to be able to play this music…. [it] resonates worldwide because each person that approaches blues can put their own stamp on it. There are blues musicians everywhere trying to interpret this gift in their own way.”

    Robinson’s concert at The Eiteljorg is coming up fast, and he says he “just love[s] the opportunity to go to a beautiful place like the Eiteljorg and to perform with [his] best guys. We don’t always have the same group, because as musicians we’re in different places, so we don’t always get to play together, but these are my best guys that do my work justice.”

    Robinson and his bandmates are excited to reunite under The Sails on July 25. The concert, part of the Summer Under The Sails concert series, is free to all museum visitors every Wednesday in June and July from 6 to 8 p.m. with free admission to the museum itself starting at 5 p.m. Appetizers will be available for purchase at the museum café, as well as a cash bar.

    To see who will be performing next at #SummerUnderTheSails, visit this link:

  • Popular Indy cover band My Yellow Rickshaw to perform Wednesday, July 11 at the Eiteljorg Museum for Summer Under the Sails concert series

    by Rachel Foley, marketing and communications intern | Jul 05, 2018

    The band My Yellow Rickshaw performs at the Eiteljorg on July 11

    On Wednesday, July 11, the band My Yellow Rickshaw will perform for the summer-long Summer Under The Sails concert series that’s back for a fourth season at the Eiteljorg Museum.  Every Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. through Aug. 1, music acts will perform concerts under The Sails along the downtown canal. The concerts are free, and guests are invited to sit back and relax under The Sails, enjoy appetizers from the Museum Café and grab a drink from the cash bar. Admission to the museum, including The Reel West exhibit, is free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays during the concert series.

    The cover band My Yellow Rickshaw is known for its variety – playing popular Top 40 music covers from the ‘50s to the present. A quick search on YouTube will spawn covers of wedding staples such as “Shut Up and Dance” to fast fiddle classics such as “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The band started as a three-piece ensemble of Nathan Klatt, Eric Maitlen and Steve Hueber, all of whom grew up on the same street together in Portland, Ind. and spent their free time playing music.  After leaving their small town and getting through school, the guys – then in their mid to late 20s – made the decision to start a band. “Let’s sing some ‘chick-songs,’ be goofy and make fun of ourselves, and get serious about not being serious,’” said Nathan Klatt, lead man of the band as he recalled the early motivation of the band.

    Nathan Klatt (vocals, fiddle, mandolin) sat down to share more about the band with the Eiteljorg Blog. He is eager to share stories from his full-time work as a singer and entertainer and pointed out that, “Klatt spelled backwards is ‘Talk.’” His Klatt-isms and jokes make it clear why My Yellow Rickshaw has amassed such a regular presence at Indianapolis gigs through their humor, style and “joyful chaos” on stage.

    In the early years, the three bandmates performed at bars and coffee shops. Klatt was the front man playing the fiddle and leading the vocals, while Maitlen and Hueber accompanied with percussion and keyboard. “We weren’t that good musically yet, but we knew how to entertain and connect, make the audience feel like a part of the show and make fun of ourselves,” Klatt said.

    Nathan Klatt

    Nathan Klatt

    The unusual name of the band, My Yellow Rickshaw, was inspired during a long-term mission trip Maitlen and Hueber took to India. While based there, they had befriended the driver of a yellow rickshaw named Gopal Singh, and decided to dedicate the name of their band to Singh and his rickshaw.

    The band’s name aside, My Yellow Rickshaw’s ability to bring fun and humor to a set list of music has become their biggest appeal. As a cover band, they frequently are booked at weddings across the city. In a time where the standard and more cost-efficient way of entertainment is to hire a DJ with any song ready to go, a cover band such as My Yellow Rickshaw has to stand out.

    Klatt believes that anything has the ability to entertain and connect an audience for an evening. “I don’t care if it’s a band, a DJ, a magician, a fire-breather. Whatever you have that can keep people’s attention and draw everyone in and brings an atmosphere, warmth, radiation and joy – that will have people saying years later, ‘That was awesome!’ – do it. When you have real musicians playing real music, interacting with the crowd, drawing people in and pointing out someone doing a ridiculously stupid dance move, those moments (are when) you start adding a personal touch to it,” Klatt said.

    The band of three has now become a band of seven rotating members. Maitlen and Hueber have since moved on to other projects – and now Jeremy Lee (drums and percussion), Jonas Miller (keyboards, vocals and harmonica), Ryan Fitzpatrick (drums and percussion), Rick Stump (guitar and vocals), Cory Carleton (electric and upright bass, vocals) and Steven Lott (audio engineer, photographer and public relations) join Klatt. Despite their expanded ensemble, My Yellow Rickshaw performs with no more than four people on stage. “We can do a duo or trio, but we’ve found that four is the right number to create the energy we want to get and create the full sound we need,” Klatt said.

    In terms of sound, My Yellow Rickshaw performs Top 40 hits from every decade and genre. Most bands throughout the Summer Under The Sails series have brought a folk and Americana style, whereas My Yellow Rickshaw invites the crowd to dance and sing along. “The summer concert series looks for a variety of bands, as musical tastes tend to vary. MYR plays newer hits that you can sing along with, which definitely added to the series this summer,” said Sandy Schmidt, public programs coordinator here at the Eiteljorg.

    To learn more about upcoming concerts for #SummerUnderTheSails please visit


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