The Haan Museum is excited to present Indiana Realities: Regionalist Paintings 1930-1945. Rather than the nostalgic images depicted by the impressionist painters, they are realistic documentations of everyday life in the Midwest in the Depression era. Artists used well-defined shapes to depict urban settings, industrial scenes and everyday activities of common people.
The Federal government supported this new style of art, also known as American Scene or Regionalist art, through programs that provided work for artists who were affected by the Depression. Many of the artists were students at the Heron Art Institute in Indianapolis. Heron was going through hard times, and the Board hired Donald Mattison as the first full-time director in 1933. Mattison, who won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1928, restructured their programs and brought in new instructors. He encouraged students to set their sights beyond Indiana, and to apply for the Prix de Rome and the Chaloner Paris Prize, the largest national prizes for artists.
No Heron student had ever applied for either prize, but they soon began to win prizes with their Regionalist paintings.
One of the paintings in the exhibition is Robert Weaver’s Next Up, which won the Chaloner Prize in 1937. It was the largest national prize, and Weaver was awarded a $6000 stipend to study in Paris, plus a New York studio. Another painting in the exhibition is Harvest Dinner by Harry Davis, which won the Prix de Rome in 1938. That prize included 3 years of study in Italy, which was interrupted by the war. Davis returned to Italy in 1942 as an Army private, and he documented the war for the State Department. He painted Tillers of Grain, which is also part of the exhibition, on his own time. He sent it home to his father, and it won an award at the annual Indiana Artists’ Club.
Rachel Perry, who has written numerous books that tell the stories of some of Indiana’s most notable artists, will speak at the free public reception, from 6 to 8 pm on August 26. As Fine Arts Curator at the Indiana State Museum, Perry organized numerous exhibitions of Indiana art so that the public could see exceptional works in person, and feel proud of their Hoosier cultural heritage. Indiana Realities was one of those exhibitions. Those works were all from the Haan collection, and the same paintings will be featured in the home-like setting of the Haan Museum.
The exhibition will run from August 26 through November 12 at the Haan Museum, and is included in general admission to the museum. Operating hours are currently Wednesday-Saturday from 1-4pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for youth ages 5-17, and free for members.