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  • James Nottage retires after 50 years in Western museums

    by Bryan Corbin, Storyteller magazine editor | Jun 14, 2018

    James Nottage, Chief Curator
    James Nottage

    The curator who led the Eiteljorg Museum’s curatorial and collections efforts for the past 17 years is an authentic son of the West. James Nottage grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, and remembers as a small child meeting a turn-of-the-last-century Old West train robber, long since paroled and a larger than life character. “He had these extraordinary stories about robbing trains and going to prison; and that motivated my young imagination,” James said.

    That spark lit the fire of James’ love of the history and heritage of the West, which led ultimately to his 50-year career in museums. Since 2001, James has served as the Eiteljorg’s vice president and chief curatorial officer and as the Gund curator of Western art, history and culture. His management and creative vision led to important acquisitions such as the Helen Cox Kersting and Kenneth “Bud” Adams collections, and to exhibitions such as Guitars and Red/Black. He has authored and edited many Eiteljorg art publications and closely worked with artists, collectors, donors and scholars.

    As he retires from the Eiteljorg in June, James said what has been most motivating throughout his career was the opportunity to work on major projects involving the expansion or creation of museums: at the Kansas Museum of History early on, at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles at its founding, and then at the Eiteljorg during its 2005 expansion that doubled the size of the museum.

    “Being a curator is an opportunity to have some really important privileges,” James said, such as the responsibility to work with important objects and artworks and help people understand them. “It’s the kind of job where you have the opportunity to work with a range of people who can share your passions,” including artists, colleagues and also patrons who support the museum financially or with donations of art. “Of all the places that I’ve worked, the Eiteljorg is rather profoundly successful in relating to all sorts of people,” he said.

    Early museum years
    Knowing from a young age in Laramie that he would be a museum curator, James discovered the untapped scholarly potential of studying the West professionally. “As I went through early jobs, early college, it was clear that an emphasis on the study of America was always heavily weighted on the East Coast, and there is plenty of room to do things besides Pilgrims,” he said.

    He served in state historical institutions in Wyoming and Kansas, earning two master’s degrees along the way. In 1985, James and his wife Mary Ellen were the first employees hired by the new Autry Museum — where he was vice president and founding chief curator, she the vice president of collections. The museum was founded by Gene Autry, the singing cowboy, movie and TV star and baseball team owner.

    “He loved a good joke and a good meal and was very personable,” James said of Gene Autry in his later years. “The challenge anything, it was difficult for some people -- including myself -- to separate this well-known and regarded personality from just being an everyday person.  It was hard to have a restaurant meal (with him) and him not be interrupted all the time” by Autry’s fans.

    Eiteljorg.Museum.The Reel West.Exhibit
    Eiteljorg Museum exhibit The Reel West, with "Lone Ranger" costume items of Clayton Moore.

    Through the Autry Museum, James got to know many well-known entertainers — not only Gene Autry, but Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Clayton Moore, TV’s Lone Ranger. “He was hugely personable and very kind. (Moore) always astounded me: I met him the first time and it would have been maybe a year later when I saw him again, and he greeted me by name and asked about my wife by name. He was an extraordinary individual in a lot of ways, so he kind of justified my childhood perceptions of the heroic Lone Ranger,” James recalled.

    West in the Midwest
    The opportunity for James to work on the Eiteljorg’s expansion drew the Nottages from L.A. to Indianapolis in 2001. Among the many exhibitions whose curation he led and managed, James cited Red/Black in 2011 that explored shared histories of Native Americans and African-Americans, focusing on their touching connections. “I think that’s the value of any museum. It’s not just that you might say, ‘We have a great painting or an object,’ but you can see for yourself and tell the public about how something connects with people’s real lives, whether it’s part of someone’s creativity, or an object that’s very telling about events in people’s lives.”

    Retiring as chief curator, James will continue to consult on the Eiteljorg’s Western gallery reinstallation and on a future exhibit. His wife Mary Ellen is retired executive director of the Indiana Medical History Museum. A music buff and collector, James is learning to play steel guitar, and retirement might afford more time for music and to finish personal book projects. The Nottages plan to remain in the area and attend Eiteljorg events.

    James said it’s been rewarding to see the Eiteljorg Museum mature and grow in terms of major acquisitions, educational programming, collections, publications and recognition among scholars and the general public. “There’s plenty of room for future growth. It’s a young institution with a good soul; it’s great to be a part of that.”



    Top Image Caption:

    James Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer and Gund curator of Western art, history and culture, is retiring after 17 years at the Eiteljorg, where he managed the museum’s curatorial and collections departments. He is seen here in the museum’s work area with the E.I. Couse painting, The Wedding. The 1924 oil painting was a gift to the museum courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg.

    The James Nottage File:

    • Eiteljorg Museum: Vice president and chief curatorial officer, Gund curator of Western art history and culture, 2001-2018
    • Autry Museum of Western Heritage, vice president and founding chief curator, 1985-2001
    • Kansas Museum of History, supervisory historian, assistant museum director, curator of exhibits, 1977-1985
    • University of Wyoming Archives, archivist, 1976-1977
    • Wyoming State Museum, assistant curator, 1969-1975
    • Laramie Centennial Committee Museum, curator, 1968
    • BA and MA in American history and American studies, University of Wyoming, 1972, 1976
    • MA in history museum studies, Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University College at Oneonta, NY, 1975
    • Author, editor, lecturer, consultant with a focus on art, history and cultures of the American West


    Upcoming Events at the Eiteljorg Museum:

    Thursday, November 8

    5:30 p.m.
    Special celebration in honor of James H. Nottage’s retirement.*

    Friday, November 9

    6:00 p.m.
    Preview of reopened Western galleries, for members.*

    *For reservations to the above two events, please contact mwhistler@eiteljorg.org or call 317.275.1316.

    Saturday, November 10
    1 p.m. 
    James H. Nottage delivers the annual Gund Lecture about the new exhibition, Attitudes: The West in American Art.  The lecture is included with regular museum admission, and members are free.


    On Eiteljorg.org
    For behind-the-scenes updates on the work of museum employees, read the Eiteljorg blog:
    http://www.eiteljorg.org/interact/blog/eitelblog/2018/05/29/hello-goodbye-longtime-employees-will-be-missed-new-employees-welcomed

     

    This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Storyteller magazine. 





  • Favorite artists return and new features enliven the 26th annual Indian Market & Festival

    by | | Jun 08, 2018

    2017 Indian Market & Festival

    Indian Market is a fascinating opportunity to meet Native artists from many cultures across the U.S. and Canada.

    One of the region’s most memorable art and cultural experiences, the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival will be celebrated the weekend of June 23-24. This year will feature lively performances, talented artists, a new Market Morning Breakfast on Saturday morning and much more.

    Now in its 26th year, Indian Market and Festival is a fascinating opportunity for visitors to meet artists from more than 50 Native American cultures from across the U.S. and Canada. Seasoned art collectors and first-time market-goers alike will appreciate the personal interactions and wide variety of artwork represented, including jewelry, pottery, basketry, carvings, sculptures, paintings, prints and other fine art.

    Held on the beautiful Eiteljorg grounds, Indian Market and Festival features artists’ booths both outside and inside the museum. Cultural experiences are a big part of the weekend, and this year’s live performances include music, dancing and storytelling.

    “Visitors often say Indian Market and Festival broadens their cultural horizons by allowing them and their families to experience Native American art for the first time and meet the exceptional artists,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “Experienced art collectors always enjoy the opportunity to purchase Native art close to home without traveling out West. Non-collectors bask in the memorable market and festival experience. And returning artists appreciate the Hoosier hospitality and the opportunity to get reacquainted with old friends and meet new collectors and fans.”

    Indian Market jewelry

    Intricate Native jewelry from many cultures is sold at the market.

    After a modest start in 1993, Indian Market and Festival now is considered one of the top Native art markets in the nation. Artists are invited to participate through a juried selection and must be members of a federally or state recognized tribe. Judges award ribbons and cash prizes to winners in multiple divisions.

    Each of the past 25 years, a work of art shown at Indian Market was chosen as that year’s signature image, featured on commemorative Indian Market T-shirts. For the 26th market, the judging committee this year chose not one but three signature images: Purest of Love by Michelle Lowden (Acoma Pueblo), Tu’utuli by Gabriel Ayala (Pascua Yaqui) and Four Ravens by Gordon Coons (Ojibwa/Ottawa/Chippewa). Three T-shirt designs depicting the signature images will be available through the Museum Store.

    2017 Indian Market & Festival inside

    Market-goers can meet Native artists and purchase their beautiful art.

    Also new this year is the Market Morning Breakfast, held at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 23, for early birds who want to meet the artists in a more relaxed setting before big crowds arrive. Reservations are required for the Saturday breakfast; contact mwhistler@eiteljorg.com or 317.275.1316 for details.

    For the general public, Indian Market will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, June 23-24. Adult tickets are $15 at the gate. Advance tickets can be ordered online for $13 at www.eiteljorg.org or by calling 317.636.WEST (9378). Youth ages 17 and under are free at Indian Market. For Eiteljorg Museum members, free admission to the market is available for the individual named on the membership card, but the admission fee will apply for their non-member adult guests.

    Tickets to Indian Market includes museum admission, so plan to take advantage of the air-conditioning, Museum Café, beautiful galleries and special exhibitions The Reel West, Interwoven and Harry Fonseca: The Art of Living. Parking is available in the White River State Park underground garage while spaces last. Popular food vendors return, and artist demonstrations and art-making opportunities for the entire family will be available both days.

    Performers on the Indian Market Stage, June 23-24

    1. Gabriel Ayala - performerClassical guitarist Gabriel Ayala (Pascua Yaqui) performs classical music, jazz and flamenco and has released several albums. From Tucson, Arizona, Ayala has performed at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and won numerous music industry awards. Ayala also is a fine artist and will
    be showing his work at Indian Market. He performs at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. both June 23 and 24.

    2. Kalyn Fay - performerSinger-songwriter Kalyn Fay (Cherokee) is part of the vibrant folk music scene in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has made an impression with her first album, a mix of country, folk and rock original compositions about her life and journey. She performs at 10:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. both June 23 and 24.






    3. Dana Warrington - performer New PhotoTraditional dancer Dana Warrington (Prairie Band of Potawatomi/Menominee) also is an award-winning visual artist who creates quillwork and beadwork. His piece Family Traditions won the Best of Show award at last year’s Indian Market. A featured dance performer, Warrington has won several championships and creates his own dance regalia. He performs at 1:15 p.m. both June 23 and 24.   


    4. Tchin - performerStoryteller Tchin (Narragansett) is an award-winning metalsmith, flute-maker, educator, folklorist, musician and culture-bearer. Through the art of oral tradition, Tchin will share stories passed down through generations. He performs at 12:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. both June 23 and 24. 



    5. Buddy Big Mountain- performerEntertainer Buddy Big Mountain (Mohawk of Kahnawake Tribe of Canada) is a master puppeteer who blends his own grassroots style of comedy while sharing knowledge of his American Indian heritage. He performs at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. both June 23 and 24.





    To see the Indian Market and Festival entertainment performance schedule, click here


    This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Storyteller magazine. 





  • Experience Miami culture, Sandhill Cranes on Eiteljorg tour Nov. 3

    by | | Jun 06, 2018

    Sandhill Cranes
    Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area

    Join the Eiteljorg Museum staff on Nov. 3 for an all-day coach trip to northern Indiana focusing on the Miami Tribe and the fall migration of the Sandhill Crane. This is an ideal tour for those interested in Native American and Indiana history and for nature lovers.

    Learn about the Miami during stops at cultural sites important to the tribe’s history, including Seven Pillars near Peru, Indiana. We will arrive at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during a peak time to witness thousands of Sandhill Cranes stopping to rest during their migration.

    Seven Pillars
    Seven Pillars near Peru, Ind.

    Spaces on the 32-seat motor coach are going fast. Eiteljorg members are $150 per person; non-members are $175. Cost includes travel by coach, lunch and dinner. For more information or to register, contact Martha Hill at mhill@eiteljorg.com or 317.275.1377.

    Sandhill Cranes at Sunset
    Sandhill Cranes at sunset


    Images by John Vanausdall



    This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Storyteller magazine. 





  • Summer renovations will lead to fall reopening of Western galleries

    by | | Jun 06, 2018

    Wilson Hurley_October Suite, Grand Canyon

    Exciting changes ahead will enhance the public’s enjoyment and appreciation of the Eiteljorg Museum’s two main Western art galleries.

    The Art of the American West Gallery and the Gund Gallery, both on the museum’s first floor, are being renovated this summer, and the beautiful paintings, sculptures and other objects seen in them will be reinstalled. Exciting new acquisitions and interactive activities will help convey the history and meaning of the art, allowing visitors to have deeper and more exciting experiences.

    Since early May, the two galleries have been temporarily closed. Beginning on Saturday, June 9, a portion of the Art of the American West Gallery will be temporarily reopened so visitors still can experience some of their favorite Western art works on exhibit through Aug. 6, when it will temporarily close again.

    Renovations are timed so that the Art of the American West Gallery can house the 13th annual Quest for the West® Art Show and Sale, from Sept. 7 to Oct. 7. Once completed, the reinstalled Western galleries will fully reopen to the public in mid-November. Beyond familiar works, new acquisitions will be featured, including compelling works by African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and Native American artists.

    With only a portion of the building under renovation and the rest of the museum open as usual, there still is much for visitors to see and do at the Eiteljorg this summer. The Reel West exhibit about Hollywood Westerns remains open, as are the Native American galleries on the second floor, the two new exhibits Interwoven: Native American Basketry from the Mel and Joan Perelman Collection and Harry Fonseca: The Art of Living, and the R.B. Annis Western Family Experience downstairs. The Museum Store and Museum Café are open for business, and enjoyable programming events are held at the Eiteljorg throughout the summer.

    To conveniently plan their visits around the changes, visitors can get the latest updates by checking the Eiteljorg’s social media — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — or its website, www.eiteljorg.org, or by calling Guest Services at 317.636.WEST (9378).

     

    Image caption:

    Wilson Hurley (American, 1924 – 2008)
    October Suite, Grand Canyon, 1991
    Oil on canvas
    Museum Purchase through the generosity of Harrison Eiteljorg


    This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Storyteller magazine. 





  • The Reel West: Blockbuster exhibit on Hollywood Westerns keeps rolling at the Eiteljorg Museum

    by | | Jun 05, 2018

    The Reel West_032

    From the classic era to modern day, the Eiteljorg’s 2018 featured exhibit The Reel West explores the fascinating influence our favorite Western movies and TV shows have had on shaping American identity and influencing American culture. Featuring costumes, props, interactives and more, some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and popular Westerns are represented in The Reel West.

    Fans have the chance to see Danny Glover’s boots from Silverado, hats worn by Clint Eastwood in Rawhide and Pale Rider, a mask, shirt, hat, scarf and gun belt worn by The Lone Ranger (actor Clayton Moore), a hat worn by Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained, items from several John Wayne films, costumes worn by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas in the Zorro movies and so much more. The Reel West is a true delight for movie fans of all ages.

    As The Reel West continues, so does an exciting array of programs that provide ample opportunities to return to the museum:

    • Saturday, July 7, 1 p.m. — Join Bruce Morgan, former Hollywood stunt performer, for an action-packed presentation as he unveils the secrets behind iconic Western stunts.

    • Saturday, Aug. 11, 1 p.m. — Author and historian Chris Enns focuses on the lives of some of Republic Studios’ most notable actresses from B-movie Westerns and the roles they played on and off screen.

    • Friday, Aug. 24, 5–8 p.m. — Wild Western Trivia Night: Don’t miss your chance to show off your knowledge of Hollywood Westerns during this entertaining trivia competition. For registration, contact sschmidt@eiteljorg.com or 317.275.1348.

    Eiteljorg Film Series

    Western films shown at the Eiteljorg are included with museum admission, and members are free.

    • July 7, 11 a.m. — The Searchers (1956) starring John Wayne

    • Aug. 4, 11 a.m. — Tombstone (1993)

    • Aug. 11, 11 a.m. — The Cowboy and the Senorita (1944)

    • Sept. 22, 11 a.m. — The Magnificent Seven (1960)

    • Sept. 28 — City Slickers (1991) Outdoor evening film showing, with chuck wagon grub.

    Westerns at the IMAX at the Indiana State Museum

    The IMAX Theater next door to the Eiteljorg will give Western film fans the chance to see classics on the largest screen in the state.

    • June 12, 7 p.m. — No Country for Old Men (2007)

    Tickets at www.tickmarq.com/sites/indyimax/films/ST00000234

    Check www.eiteljorg.org/thereelwest for additional film screening dates.

    The Reel West_001


    This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Storyteller magazine. 

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