Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Important Charles Russell Painting to Travel

    by James Nottage, Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer | Apr 09, 2014

    From the Gund Collection of Western Art, we are loaning Charles M. Russell’s important 1913 oil painting, Crippled but Still Coming to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  There, it will be featured in the exhibition, Harmless Hunter: The Wildlife Work of Charles M. Russell.  This notable exhibit for the first time examines a little known aspect of Russell’s art: the depiction of wildlife.  Our painting will be included in the accompanying book and will travel with the show to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, New York, the Sam Noble Museum of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, and the Charles M. Russell Museum, in Great Falls, Montana.  It will be returned to the Eiteljorg in the fall of 2015.

    In place of the Russell painting, we will be featuring two wonderful watercolor paintings by the same artist that were also donated as part of the Gund collection.  Both of these works are watercolors that have been resting from light exposure for a short while.  They will go on exhibit in mid-April when Crippled But Still Coming is shipped to Wyoming. Be sure to stop in and see these wonderful watercolors.  They remind us that the artist painted a wide variety of Western subjects.  His imagination never took a rest and he once said, “if I lived a thousand years I could not paint all the things that come into my mind.”

    Charles M. Russell (American, 1864-1926)
    The Scouts, 1900
    Watercolor on paper
    The Gund Collection of Western Art, Gift of the George Gund Family

    Charles M. Russell (American, 1864-1926)
    Prairie Pirates, 1904
    Watercolor on paper
    The Gund Collection of Western Art, Gift of the George Gund Family

    Charles M. Russell (American, 1864-1926)
    Crippled But Still Coming, 1913
    Oil on canvas
    The Gund Collection of Western Art, Gift of the George Gund Family

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  • Eiteljorg Western Collection | Catharine Critcher's PUEBLO FAMILY

    by James Nottage, Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer Gund/Western Art | Feb 27, 2014

    Catharine Carter Critcher
    Pueblo Family
    Oil on canvas, 1928
    Gift Courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg

                During the first week of March, one of the notable Taos paintings in our collection will be going off of exhibit.  Why? Change in the museum is constant and motivated by many factors.  Sometimes we have an opportunity to show something new, sometimes a work goes off of exhibit for conservation treatment, and sometimes highly important works are loaned to other museums for traveling exhibitions.  Such is the case with Catharine Critcher’s, Pueblo Family, an oil painted in 1928.

                Catharine Critcher (1868-1964) was the only female member of the Taos Society of Artists.  She first visited New Mexico in 1922 and was asked, along with E. Martin Hennings, to join this group of prominent artists in 1924.  For several years, she went to Taos each summer and is reported to have said that “Taos is unlike any place God ever made.  . . . There are models galore and no phones, the artists all live in these attractive funny little adobe houses away from the world, food, foes and friends.” Critcher traveled to the Southwest in 1928  and spent two months sketching and painting among the Hopi in Arizona. She was best known for portraits along with some floral works and landscapes.  Critcher studied art in New York, Washington, D.C., and Paris. In France, she operated an art school for four years, but returned to the United States to teach at the Corcoran School of Art.  The same year she joined the Taos Society she opened her own school in Washington, D.C., where she worked until 1940. 

                Pueblo Family is one of Critcher’s best known Southwestern paintings.  By including portrait and still life elements it combines those genre for which the artist is best known. The first stop on the painting’s up-coming journey will not be that far away.  Eloquent Objects: Georgia O'Keeffe and Still-Life Painting in New Mexico opens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (October 30, 2014- January 25, 2015) and then travels to the Tacoma Museum of Art (March 1, 2015-June , 2015). Upon returning to the Eiteljorg Museum, Pueblo Family will be placed back in the Art of the American West gallery.


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  • The best of the West head to Indy for Quest Art Show and Sale

    by James H. Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer | Aug 26, 2013

    Walks in Beauty, 2013
    John Coleman, Walks in Beauty, 2013
    Bronze, 24x19x12 inches

    High-end paintings and sculptures, spirited discussions about Western art, plus the chance to meet artists and collectors in the comfort of a Hoosier home – three reasons you won’t want to miss the eighth annual Quest for the West® art show and sale! Quest begins Friday, Sept. 6 with several events. Then it’s game on Saturday, Sept. 7 with the thrilling sale.  The exhibit opens to the public Sunday, Sept. 8, and will run through Oct., 6.  Excitement is building, registration is up and there’s a palpable buzz in the world of Western art.
    Robert Griffing, Family, 2013
    Oil, 46x42 inches
    On sale during Quest

    Scott Tallman Powers, Hidden Melodies, 2013
    Oil, 20x18 inches
    On sale during Quest

    Daniel Smith, The Suitor, 2013
    Acrylic, 24x36 inches
    On sale during Quest
    Quest has grown in stature as one of the top shows of its kind in the nation, based upon the reputations of the participating artists, their work  and our delivery of first-class hospitality. Another Quest is the presentation of the Artist of Distinction award. This year’s honoree is John Coleman.  

    Best known for his sculptural portrayal of the American story through depictions of 19th century Native people, Coleman will be honored with a solo exhibit in the museum’s Paul Gallery, through Nov. 17. The Coleman exhibit acknowledges the quality of his work submitted to Quest and celebrates his long-term achievements. Coleman’s show will feature his best known sculptures including a major series of ten figures inspired by the 1830s work of painters George Catlin and Karl Bodmer. They traveled separately up the Missouri River to record members of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and other tribes.  Also included in the show are paintings and drawings for which the artist is increasingly well known. 

    On Saturday afternoon of the opening weekend, guests of the event will be able to enjoy a special panel presentation featuring three artists and their spouses. We expect it to be a rousing discussion about how couples work together during the creation, promotion, and marketing of the art.

    Most of the nearly 50 Quest artists wil be in attendance and five new artists are included: John Moyers, Mike Desatnick, C. Michael Dudash, Logan Maxwell Hagege, and Blair Buswell.  Museum staff and our collaborators in the museum’s support group, the Western Art Society, think you will find this presentation of Quest even better than last year! Visit Quest pages on the museum’s website to see work by all the artists.

     John Coleman, Artist of Distinction (pictured)

    Since receiving the Artist of Distinction Award in 2012, John Coleman has graciously worked with the Eiteljorg as we planned his special exhibition that opens to the public Sept.  8. Coleman devoted himself to art after a career in contracting and construction.  He became a member of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America in 2001, joined Quest in 2006 and is a frequent winner of major awards for works shown at these and other shows.  He speaks with ease and enthusiasm about art and his subjects. 

    “[I tell] a story that is deeper than what you see on the surface, and that conveys an underlying emotion or mood. . . .I find Native American culture has so many stories that lend themselves to being told visually and in
    ways people understand.”

    Coleman draws inspiration from the art of others and surrounds himself with paintings, sculptures, and examples of Plains Indian clothing, weapons, and accessories.  A large library of art and history books makes the accomplishments of others accessible to him. His bronze sculptures, drawings, and paintings that will go on exhibit at the Eiteljorg are usually featured in private collections across the country.

    “I want to draw you in, to convey a story about life and to share something about the lives of others,” he said.

    Coleman says he holds the idea of art at a high plane.

    Visitors to his exhibition, Honored Life, The Art of John Coleman will be able to enjoy what he has learned from art and history. 

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  • Happy trails to 100 iconic guitars | How we packed them, where they're going

    by Christa Barleben, Eiteljorg registrar | Aug 20, 2013
    The Eiteljorg enjoyed having over 100 historic guitars here at the museum for our Guitars! Roundups to Rockers exhibition this spring and summer -- and we were sad to see them go. As the registrar at the museum, it was my job to help pack the instruments up and organize their safe journey back to their owners and lending institutions.
    christa packs up buddy holly's guitar
    Christa Barleben, and Brandi Naish, collections intern, packing up Buddy Holly’s leather tooled Gibson J-45 guitar, on loan from Mike Malone.

    So how does a guitar travel?
    When the museum ships objects we use fine art shippers that are trained in art handling and moving to make sure that the guitars get a very comfortable and safe ride. Also, all of the guitars were packed in some type of hard guitar case, hard flight case, or wooden crate which protects the guitar during travel.

    Empty guitar cases and boxes waiting to be packed by museum staff. It took staff 4 days to pack all the guitars, averaging about 25 guitars a day.
    amy mckune with george harrison's guitar
    Amy McKune, Director of Collections, packing up George Harrison’s Gibson SG Electric guitar, ca. 1962, on loan from Jim Irsay.

    Where did they go?
    The guitars left the museum on three different trucks, traveling a total of 6,921 miles to 15 cities in 8 states to be returned to 26 private and museum lenders.  

    Amy McKune and Christa Barleben packing up a guitar on loan from the EMP Museum. The EMP was one of 4 museum lenders to the exhibit.  

    Museum Exhibition, Collections, and Facilities staff breaking down exhibit components. In total, it took staff a little over a week to deinstall the entire exhibit.

    Guitars! Roundups to Rockers was the museum’s best-attended show in its 24-year history. The exhibit, which featured more than 100 instruments – many played by American icons,  attracted more than 63,000 people from Mar. 9 through Aug. 4.

    The Eiteljorg’s next spring/summer exhibit, featuring the work of famed photographer, Ansel Adams, will open Mar. 1, 2014, in celebration of the museum’s 25th anniversary. The show will feature nearly 100 classic images, including 75 photographs Adams chose and printed as the best representations of the range and quality of his life’s work.


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  • "But what about Van Halen?" A peek at how we assembled GUITARS

    by Johanna Blume, Assistant Curator of Western Art | May 30, 2013

    guitars on display
     Guitars! Roundups to Rockers runs through Aug. 4 at the Eiteljorg Museum.

    It’s hard to believe Guitars! has been open for nearly three months! Since the opening, it’s been great to watch visitors interact with the exhibit, and to hear their comments and feedback. One oft-asked question is why we don’t have certain guitars in the exhibit. There are many reasons why you’ll see some guitars when you visit the Eiteljorg, and just as many reasons why you won’t find others. It's a complicated process that involves hunting, hoping, rejection and triumphs!

    THE HUNT...

    As a curator, I hunt for objects to include in an exhibit. Our team began with a dream list of all the guitars we would include if we had our pick of every guitar ever made. There were literally hundreds of guitars on that list, spanning time periods, geography, and genre. Of course, all exhibits are produced within limits on the time, budget, and space. So while our dream list was quite expansive, we knew we couldn’t accommodate every one of those guitars. And there was never any guarantee we’d even be able to find, let alone secure many of those instruments as loans. Obtaining an object for an exhibit is a complicated, multi-step process that requires finding the objects through research, filling out detailed loan paperwork, and arranging for objects located around the country to be shipped here to Indianapolis. It took more than a year for our dedicated exhibit team to work through all of these steps.

    We spent months running down leads in the hope of securing guitars representing greats like Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Billy Gibbons, Eddie Van Halen, and Joni Mitchell. In some cases, we were never able to make contact with an artist in order to make “the ask.” But even when we did connect, the answer wasn’t always “yes.” Many artists use all of their guitars on a regular basis. To be parted from them, even for six months, was not possible. In some cases, important guitars are held by other museums and are crucial components of their own exhibits and programs. And some guitars have simply disappeared over time.

    But for all of the dead ends, “No ways!” and missed connections, there were just as many triumphs. One of my most exciting moments came when I stumbled across the email address for the management company of the band The Decemberists. I’d been hoping to include one of their guitars in order to talk about guitar music today, and the thriving music scenes in the Pacific Northwest.

                                              G&L Electric Guitar; Loan courtesy of Chris Funk.

    It seemed like a long shot, but I wrote up a request detailing what the exhibit was about, and sent it. After all, the answer is always no until you ask. Within two hours I’d received a warm note from their manager expressing Chris Funk’s enthusiasm for the project and willingness to loan a guitar. While  it took time to finalize the details of the loan and shipping, we had the guitar confirmed by the end of the week. As you can see from the picture, I was excited to finally unpack Chris Funk's guitar! 

    That’s just one example of how we obtained the instruments you’ll find in Guitars! We were incredibly fortunate to work with private collectors and museums over the course of our search. There wouldn’t be an exhibit without their willingness to loan the amazing objects you’ll find in the gallery. While the process certainly had its ups and downs, I’ve never had as much fun working on an exhibit as I have had with Guitars! In the end, we hope that we can create engaging, exciting exhibits that appeal to our visitors and deepen their appreciation of the art, history, and cultures of the American West.

    Johanna Blume
    Assistant Curator of Western Art

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