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Tuesday through Saturday10 a.m. - 5 p.m
Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
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Indiana Experience Admission $15 Adults$14 Seniors (60 and over)$5 Youth (ages 5 through 17)$2 Access Pass HoldersFree Children under 5Free IHS MembersFree Educators and Military Our (FREE) parking lot is located on New York Street a ½ block east of West Street. Free parking with admission.

Color My World*: World Watercolor Month

July 3, 2024

One of my favorite fine art forms is watercolor. I can’t say why as I am not generally an art connoisseur, the paintings just speak to me more than some of the other mediums. July brings us World Watercolor Month, a celebration as noted in the National Day Calendar, was founded by Charlie O’Shields (Doodlewash creator), and has been celebrated since 2016. While the IHS does not make it a habit to collect art, as we are not an art museum, we do have some amazing watercolor pieces spread throughout the collection.

From William Forsyth’s Munich studies, ca. 1883; Sketch by Helen McKay Steele, 1902; William Ashton, medical student and artist, anatomy study, ca. 1852; William Constable’s American studies, 1807. IHS, M0691; IHS, M1078; IHS, OMB0037; IHS, P0126

We have several standalone watercolor pieces in our holdings, as well as pieces that are part of a larger body of work. Some of them are art for art’s sake, while others are tools for study or teaching. With Indiana’s rich art history, like the Hoosier Group, it is no wonder that we stumble upon so many great watercolor options in our digital collection alone.

Englishman Lefevre J. Cranstone, a selection of his Richmond, Indiana watercolors, 1859/1860. IHS, P0432.

Some of these groups of paintings really focus on a location in Indiana such as the Richmond, Wayne County, paintings above, and the Indianapolis watercolors below. Richmond was illustrated by Lefevre J. Cranstone when he was there visiting family with his brother from England in the mid-19th century. This juxtaposed with the much more modern view of the hustle and bustle of Indianapolis, below, from the early 21st century by artist Roberta Avidor.

Watercolor sketches of the Indianapolis by Roberta Avidor, ca. 2017. Ken and Roberta Avidor, IHS.

Comparatively, some imagery within the collection appears to be watercolors but exists under a different name such as those, shown below, by artist Karl Bodmer. Bodmer accompanied Prince Maximilian of Weid through the ‘American West’ between 1832-1834, which at the time included Indiana. His work, done in watercolor during his travels, was published through the aquatint process in Illustrations to Maximilian Prince of Weid’s Travels in the Interior of North America, 1844. Aquatint is a term for the printing process which sometimes included colorization during the printing process using multiple plates or watercolors done by hand on completed monochrome prints.

For more information about Hoosier artists in Indiana, check out our digital collection and search our library catalog. To see other great blog content, visit our blogsite.

*The title of this blog is a nod to my parents’ wedding anniversary early in August. Happy 49 years Mom and Dad, I hope you dance to Chicago’s ‘Color My World’ this year like you did on your wedding day.

Amy Vedra

Amy Vedra is the director of reference services. She is currently reading her way through the Great American Reads list.

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