Thursday, August 28, 2014

Indiana Bison-tennial!

We're still a year and a half away from the beginning of Indiana's bicentennial year, but I would like to be among the first to make the connection between that celebration and the Indiana State Seal, which includes the image of an American bison, and to say:

Happy Bison-tennial, Indiana!

The Seal of the State of Indiana, a design proposed before Indiana was a state. Only two other states--Kansas and North Dakota--include the image of a bison on their state seals. Both were admitted to the Union after Indiana. That will make the Hoosier State the first to observe a bison-tennial. By the way, whoever designed the seal is a candidate for the first illustrator to call Indiana home.

Update (Mar. 30, 2015): As it turns out, I was not the first to make the connection between the state seal and the bicentennial, but my wishes are the same. Also, there are some who believe that William Henry Harrison created the seal, modified from the original seal of the old Northwest Territory.
Text and caption copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hoosiers in Art


A cartoon by Art Young (1866-1943) showing types from the World's Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. In the upper left, lounging on a wooden chair, is what seems to be the simplest among them. According to the caption, he is "A Posey County Type on the Veranda of the Indiana Building."

Posey County is the southwestern-most county in Indiana and home of the New Harmony Utopian community of the early nineteenth century. It's the only county in Indiana that touches both the Wabash River and the Ohio River. I have never been there, but I imagine that the farming is good and that the timber is almost southern in character and composition. (Indiana by the way is the only state in which our two deciduous conifers are both native. Baldcypress, a southern tree, is found in Posey County. Larch, or tamarack, calls the northern part of the state home.)

Unfortunately for Art Young, he was not born a Hoosier. He was instead native to Illinois. Young worked for the Chicago Daily Inter Ocean early in his career and created this cartoon for the paper's color section. New York newspapers get a lot of attention because of their color Sunday comics--Hogan's Alley (The Yellow Kid), Buster Brown, and so on--but the Chicago Inter Ocean was the first American paper to print in color. This cartoon gave me the idea for today's posting. It's only right that it should come first.

A cartoon by a native-born Hoosier who was transplanted out of state, and referring to a cartoon by a non-native who was transplanted to Indiana. The native was Cyrus Cotton Hungerford (ca. 1889-1983), aka Cy Hungerford, a newspaper cartoonist in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and more famously, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Hungerford was born in Manilla, Indiana, not far from my home. He left Indiana early on but returned there for eternal rest. This cartoon, from fifty-seven years ago this month, refers to Toonerville Folks, also called Toonerville Trolley, drawn by Fontaine Fox (1884-1964). Fox was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but matriculated at Indiana University. That's where you will find his collection of original cartoons as well.

It's time for the county fair all over America, and children are carefully showing their livestock and poultry like the girl in this painting by Norman Rockwell from 1947-1948. Times have changed and clothing, too, but you might still see people like this at the 4-H fairgrounds this month. (Note the 4-H shamrock on the papers under the girl's arm.) Every one of them is a Hoosier.

In 1947, Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) made a trip to Jay County, Indiana, to take pictures of the Steed family and their neighbors. The artist used those pictures as references for his painting "The County Agent," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1948. From left to right, the people in the painting are Don Steed of Redkey; Mr. Steed's daughter Jama; Jay County Extension Agent Harold Riby (or Herald K. Rippey--I'm not sure as to the correct spelling); Larry and Sharon Lear or Steed (again, not certain); Mr. Steed's wife Martha; and hired hand Arlie Champ.
James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916), a portrait by T.C. Steele (1847-1926). Born in Greenfield, Indiana, Riley was known as the Hoosier Poet and the Hoosier Bard. Steele was the leading artist in the renowned Hoosier Group of the late 1800s and early 1900s. This painting is from 1891. Riley was then in his early forties, and the artist had not many years before returned from studies in Germany. The dark palette and careful brushwork indicate a German influence. Steele's landscapes, for which he known, are much more colorful and impressionistic.

Here is a later portrait of Riley by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). The palette is still dark, but there are rosy tones in the subject's face and hands, and his tie is red. Sargent was trained in France; he is known for his quick, loose, and impressionistic brushwork. Of the two, I believe this is the more successful portrait. Nonetheless, T.C. Steele was a very fine artist.

Here is the Hoosier Poet on a smaller scale: a U.S. postage stamp from 1940.

I believe this is a picture of Gene Stratton Porter (1863-1924), author of A Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles, but the source on the Internet does not describe or identify the painting, nor does it give the name of the artist.

"The Underground Railroad" by Cincinnati artist Charles T. Webber (1825-1911). Painted in time to be displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, "The Underground Railroad" shows Levi Coffin (1798-1877) and his wife Catherine White Coffin at their work. The Levi Coffin home in Fountain City, Indiana, is a National Historic Landmark.

"The Canal: Morning Effect" by Richard Buckner Gruelle (1851-1914), a member of the Hoosier Group and father of a family of artists in Johnny, Prudence, and Justin Gruelle. The view (from 1894) is of the Indiana Statehouse, and beyond that, of the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Indianapolis. There is in fact a Hoosier in the painting, a woman wearing a red hat. I saw an image of this painting years ago and I have never forgotten it. It came from a self-taught artist. The canal in the picture is just west of  Downtown. My grandfather's brother drowned in its waters at the age of four more than one hundred twenty years ago.

A statue of a Doughboy from a cemetery in Monroe County, Indiana. One hundred years ago this summer, the world went to war. America sent hundreds of thousands to men to the Western Front after entering the war in 1917. They proved decisive in victory for the Allies. Hundreds of thousands were also killed, wounded, or died of non-combat injuries or disease. In 1918-1920, the Spanish flu killed tens of millions of people all over the world. When I see a death date of 1919 for a young person in the United States, I can't help but think it was because of the flu. The Riddle brothers, one of whom may be depicted in the statue shown here, may very well have died of the disease that so ravaged the world.

If you go to Monroe County, or Lawrence County, or places closeby in Indiana, you will see much that is made of limestone, including the statue of Joe Palooka at Oolitic. Joe Palooka was created by the cartoonist Ham Fisher (1900 or 1901-1955), a Pennsylvanian by birth but also a traveling salesman. He is supposed to have sold Joe Palooka the comic strip first to the Indianapolis Star. Whether that story is true or not, Fisher seems to have had a soft spot in his heart for the Hoosier State. On June 14, 1948, he was on hand to dedicate the Joe Palooka statue at its original location. (It was later moved to Oolitic.) Near Oolitic is the quarry where the limestone used in the Empire State Building was cut.

Johnny Appleseed (1774-1845) came to Indiana late and life. He died there and was buried there, in or near Fort Wayne in 1845. 

Edward Eggleston (1837-1902) wrote The Hoosier Schoolmaster, one of the most popular of nineteenth century novels. It was adapted to this children's version in the 1940s. The cover illustration is unsigned. In 1812, my family came over from Kentucky into Jefferson County, Indiana, about where Eggleston's book is set. Maybe those are little Bear children running around the school. 

Speaking of little bears, here is a picture of the kidnapping of Frances Slocum (ca. 1773-1847), which took place in Pennsylvania in 1778. Frances, renamed Mo-con-no-quah (translated as Young Bear or Little Bear), was removed to Indiana, grew up in the Delaware Indian tribe, and married a Delaware man. In 1837, she was reunited with her family, but she decided not to return to them. Instead she lived out her life in Indiana, a place named for her people.

Mo-con-no-quah in adulthood. The portrait is signed. It appears to be the same signature as in the image above.

O-Saw-Se-Quah (or O Sha Se Qua), Frances Slocum's daughter, a drawing that is perhaps also by the same artist. (Note the distinctive B in the lower right corner. The date appears to be 1904.) American Indians were the first Hoosiers. I'll close with the image of a woman who was descended from them and from the white settlers who displaced them. 

Captions copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley