Indiana Bicentennial

Madison is represented well in state museum’s Bicentennial exhibit

Display includes art, sculpture,
saddletree and much more

INDIANAPOLIS (August 2016) – If you haven’t decided how to celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday, start at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. In honor of the Indiana Bicentennial this year, the museum created two new exhibits featuring Hoosier history, science and culture over the last two centuries – including more than a dozen items with ties to counties in and around Madison, Ind.
On display in the “200 Years of Indiana Art: A Cultural Legacy,” running now through Oct. 2, is a painting by Madison’s favorite artist, William McKendree Snyder, titled, “Civil War.” Snyder moved to Madison at age 5 with three siblings and his parents, William and Elizabeth Snyder. Together with his father, the Rev. William Snyder, he joined the Union Army in 1861, an event that likely inspired this oil on canvas, circa 1883.

Photo courtesy of Gary Qi of The StatehouseFile.com

Katherine Gould, Associate Curator of Cultural History, Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites, did an internship in Madison, Ind., with John Stacier at the Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum. She is pictured above at the Indiana Bicentennial exhibit at the Indiana State Museum.

“The Snyder piece has been very popular with our visitors,” said Mark Ruschman, Chief Curator of Fine Art. “In addition to being a beautifully executed work of art by an important Indiana artist, the painting speaks to the power of personal experiences and the influence those experiences can have on the work of an artist.”
Snyder’s work and other important early Indiana artists, including T.C. Steel and the Hoosier Group, can be found in the NiSource Gallery. The exhibit then flows into the Ford Gallery, where works from the 1930s and years forward feature many noted artists, such as Robert Indiana, Kay Rosen and others. Jerry Wallin of Vevay, Ind., is represented with a chiseled and forged steel decorative box titled “Draped Coffer.”
The exhibit has more than 100 2- and 3-dimensional works of art from Indiana Pioneer artist from the 19th century to today’s most modern works, including “Heterodox Swag,” an inflatable, site specific graffiti art sculpture by the artist team of Ish Muhammad Nieves and Claire Ashley.
Other works in the exhibit are located throughout the museum’s public areas and grounds. One must-see showpiece on display near the first floor garage entry is by Leticia Bajuyo, a contemporary artist and professor of art at Hanover College.
“Bajuyo creates truly fantastic site specific installation pieces out of discarded CDs and DVDs. It’s a nice contrast in styles with her work and Snyder’s,” said Ruschman."
"200 Years of Indiana Art: A Cultural Legacy" presents the immense artistic talent, both historically and present day, associated with the state of Indiana. Showcasing objects from the State Museum’s permanent collection and works borrowed from local and nationally known artists, collectors and institutions, the exhibition reflects how Indiana artists viewed the world, and how the world views us,” Ruschman explained.
"Indiana in 200 Objects: A Bicentennial Celebration" is another special exhibit featuring a collection of 200 unique objects on display through Jan. 29, 2017.

Photo courtesy of Gary Qi of The StatehouseFile.com

Pictured is a large sculpture by Leticia Bajuyo, an art professor at Hanover College.

“It’s organized into themes based on a mixture of fine arts, natural history and cultural history,” said Katherine Gould, Associate Curator of Cultural History. “We didn’t want this exhibit to be chronological, so we organized it in an interesting way that makes you think about the objects and how they relate to each other.” 
Each theme has a mix of natural and cultural objects from different time periods. For example, in the “Death, Discord and Destruction” grouping you’ll find a drum belonging to Jefferson County’s Civil War veteran George C. Smith. At just 12 years old, Smith enlisted in the Union Army as a drummer. He and his father served with the 6th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He returned to Madison after serving for three months and drowned 15 days later in the Ohio River.
“The theme idea sparks conversation,” said Gould, “like the saddletree story.” Not everyone knows that Madison is the saddletree capital of the Midwest and boasted as many as 12 saddletree companies during the industry’s peak in 1870. Prussian immigrant John Benedict “Ben” Schroeder opened the Schroeder Saddletree Factory in 1878 to produce saddletrees and other wooden items. His company stayed in operation until his youngest son died in 1987. Saddletrees were an important part of transportation, and the McClellan-type saddletree from Schroeder Saddletree Factory can be found with other items under the theme “Going Places.”
A beautifully engraved silver presentation pitcher, circa 1850, also is among items organized under “Death, Discord and Destruction.” David Buchanan, Curator of Decorative Arts and Furniture, explains, “We deliberately created the exhibit in groupings to tell consequences in Indiana history, rather than just in a 200-year timeline. It is fun to see how the diverse objects relate to the different themes.”
The silver pitcher was made by Edward and David Kinsey of Cincinnati. The brothers were respected silversmiths originally from Wales and active in Cincinnati from the late 1840s through the early 1860s. The pitcher is engraved with a sentiment: “From the operatives of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad to John R. Cravens, vice-president, as a memorial of their respect and esteem of the man and officer.”
While the exhibit is a small representation of 200 years of statehood, it does include items that define significant moments, events and people in Indiana. Each object is identified by county, and 70 of the state’s 92 counties are represented. Objects with origins from counties near Madison include a land grant issued to Abraham Walton on May 13, 1815, an 1805 slave registry from Clark County, Bobby Plump’s 1954 basketball warm-up jacket from Milan High School, and a courthouse chair from Floyd County with stains that mark the 1937 flood that raised the Ohio River almost 54 feet.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate 200 years of Indiana history in a fun and educational way. “The exhibit is a birthday party for Indiana,” said Gould. “We hope folks will come see the show. It’s for everyone!”

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