Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • 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. 

    Go comment!

  • Marketing Guitars| Why you see us EVERYWHERE

    by Bert Beiswanger, Eiteljorg marketing manager | Jul 22, 2013

    Guitars billboard
    Guitars! ads are on billboards all around Indianapolis.

    An extremely enjoyable facet of marketing a museum is that things are always changing. Sure, there’s a core plan that’s executed every year - a core audience we’re always communicating to. But ever-changing special exhibits present unique opportunities to promote the museum to new audiences. Guitars! Roundups to Rockers has certainly done that. Just as our holiday model train exhibit Jingle Rails has opened a door to a new way of marketing the museum, so has Guitars!

    Guitars! ad on Indygo buses.

    Guitars at Indiana black expo
    Guitars fans were very popular at the Indiana Black Expo. (Left) WISH-TV Sports Director Anthony Calhoun grabbed a few for himself and his mom. (Middle) Studio G Fitness Zumba dancers needed a few fans to cool off after their Expo performance. (Right) WTLC's Amos Brown lefte our booth with a "Guitars Are Hot" fan.

    If you’ve driven around the city, you’ve seen Guitars! everywhere. Our ads are all over interstate billboards and Indygo buses. And – if you attended this year’s Indiana Black Expo, you might have even grabbed one of our popular Guitars! fans from our booth.  Believe it or not, we've distributed  20,000 promotional fans and more than 35,000 brochures here, there and everywhere in between – from the Indianapolis Convention Center and downtown hotels to guitar shops across the Midwest and in Nashville, Tenn.

    guitars peter framptonMarketing this exhibit also involved partnering with entertainment company’s like Live Nation. We worked with our contacts there to develop a sweet deal for Peter Frampton fans. If you bought a VIP ticket to Frampton’s Guitar Circus, you could visit Guitars! free of charge. The fact that we developed some fun working relationships in the process with folks within the music industry – people with direct ties to these musicians – is pretty cool.

    People often ask what’s been the most fun part about working on this exhibit. That’s hard to say. What I can say is I never get tired of seeing people walk through the door with a Led Zeppelin or Nirvana tee shirt on. I never get tired of hearing people say, “I heard the Guitars spot on the radio,” “My husband saw the billboard on 465,” or “We saw the ad in the Indy Star.”

    And I never get tired of hearing people apologize for it being the first time they’ve visited the Eiteljorg. It all means that we’ve captured a new audience. People are noticing us and are invested emotionally in what we’re doing. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.

    guitars indy star
    Guitars! Indy Star ad.
    guitars bob and tom johanna james
    The Eiteljorg's James Nottage and Johanna Blume on the "Bob and Tom Show" as comedian Frank Caliendo looks on.

    It all starts with the product and what a product this Guitars! show is. But it’s also been a heck of a lot of fun and rewarding working with great people to help tell the story.

    Q95's Laura Steele at the Guitars! opening night party.
    Photo courtesy: TJF Photography.

    Folks at 92.3 WTTS, Hank FM, Q95 (particularly, good friend and Q95 voice of Guitars! Laura Steele), Nuvo, Indianapolis Star, Live Nation and countless others have been great partners on this tour. We certainly had solid subject matter to work with but everyone we worked with along the way made it much more rockin’.

    Bert and boys
    Taking a break from an early morning WTHR segment, the Beiswanger boys stand in front of a striking image of guitarist Gary Clark, Jr.

    This exhibit – which closes Aug. 4, has something for everyone! Whether you’re a diehard guitar enthusiast or an everyday casual music fan - we’ve seen them all walk through the door. Fans of country, classic rock, contemporary rock, jazz, swing and music and American history in general have all come to get a glimpse of guitars once played by Vince Gill, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, Kurt Cobain, Charlie Christian, Jimmie Hendrix and more.

    If you haven’t checked out Guitars! you’ve got just a few more days to do it. See what everyone is talking about before these 100 guitars go back to their loaners! 

    Go comment!

  • The mating advantage of male musicians - Why all guys should play guitar

    by Zach Brown, Eiteljorg marketing/PR intern | Jun 05, 2013

    As a 20-something single guy, I’ve heard the old adage of “chicks dig a man who can sing” plenty of times. But does playing an instrument or musical ability really make a man more attractive to an interested woman? According to a study in France, it actually does, and later on I’ll tell you where to get free guitar lessons and be on your way to winning that lucky lady’s heart.

    In this particular experiment, a 20-year-old man was instructed to approach 300 women on the shopping streets of a medium-sized French city (population roughly 70,000) and ask for their phone number. The man was carrying a guitar case, a sports bag or nothing at all. The study showed that 31 percent of women gave the man their phone number when he was carrying the guitar case, while only 9 percent gave their number when he held the sports bag. When the man was empty-handed, 14 percent complied with his request.

    The conductors of this research hypothesized that the guitar case condition would yield a more favorable response from the women whom the man approached. Their hypothesis was not only supported by the results, but by me as well.

    There are plenty of ways that guys use to capture the heart and attention of lady, whether he’s good with music, sports, animals or kids (kudos to the guy who brought his son on the season premiere of ABC’s The Bachelorette). However, musical ability is special because it exudes a unique combination of confidence, compassion and intellect. In addition, the musician or “rock star” image is appealing because some woman my associate it with wealth and status (

    I know what you might be thinking now: “What about sports guys? They get wealth and status, too!” Indeed they do, but the ability to play guitar lasts longer than the ability to throw a football or dunk a basketball. Athletes may also have the task of dispelling the wildly inaccurate “dumb jock” stereotype, a generalization to which I refuse to subscribe.

    The bottom line is that a music guy may be more likely to make a deep, emotional connection than someone who can’t play a note to save his life (i.e. - Me). According to Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard, ladies see a musician as someone who is potentially willing to practice and work at something. To me, this could mean willingness to put in the effort for a relationship.
    So gentlemen, if you have musical ability, use it. You can thank me later. And to those of you who don’t, never fret (10 Cool Points if you got the guitar pun), there’s still time to learn! You can get guitar lessons from 12-2 p.m., every Saturday during the run of Guitars! Roundups to Rockers, at the Eiteljorg by Benito DiBartoli (pictured here) of the band Black Voodoo. He's an expert player who works with anyone interested in learning. Lessons are free with the price of admission. And the Museum has plenty of extra guitars if you don't have your own! Don’t forget to check out our Guitars: Roundups to Rockers exhibit as well.

    Zach Brown is an Eiteljorg marketing/PR intern and a senior at Ball State University. He is single.

    "Men's Music Ability and Attractiveness to Women in a Real-life Courtship
    Context." Psychology of Music (2013): 1-5. 1 May 2013. 28 May 2013

    Jacobs, Tom. "The Mating Advantage of Male Musicians." Pacific Standard., 6 May 2013. 28 May 2013.

    1 Comment

  • "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

    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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