News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 10, 2013

Year nearing its end: 12-month celebration of Wabash spanned Valley

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Throughout this year, events and activities have focused attention on the Wabash River through Terre Haute, Vigo County and surrounding counties. It’s been called 2013 Year of the River.

On Tuesday, Art Spaces Inc. and Arts Illiana presented a wrapup of the observance’s events.

“We had 310 events,” said Mary Kramer, executive director of Art Spaces Inc. “I counted festivals as one event, but a festival usually includes a number of events.” Activities were undertaken in Vigo, Sullivan and Parke counties, she said.

No attendance numbers have yet been calculated, Kramer said. “We have not be able to gather all those statistics yet,” she said.

The year-long celebration included events such as art exhibitions, artist talks, poetry events, literary events, river-related courses at Indiana State University, concerts and cleanups of the Wabashiki State Wildlife Area and a neighborhood near the river.

It also included natural improvements such as planting 28 trees along the river and removing the nonnative, invasive honeysuckle plant, Kramer said.

Public art projects include a river mural on Wabash Avenue and outdoor art honoring Paul Dresser, who wrote “On the Banks of the Wabash,” to be erected in 2014. The 100th anniversary of Dresser’s song becoming the state song of Indiana was in 2013.

There was also a presentation before the Indiana General Assembly, as well as a boating event in which all eighth-grade students in Sullivan County rafted down the river.

The event allowed arts to engage the community, Kramer said.

Jon Robeson, executive director of Arts Illiana, pointed out other benefits.

“We have an expanded trail system,” including one for the Wabashiki State Fish and Wildlife Area, he said.

“It’s really a remarkable asset to be able to go five minutes from downtown and look out over this massive wetland and see the courthouse. Who else has an urban center that you can do that with? It is amazing to see that trail and future plans that it will continue,” Robeson said.

“It is just fascinating watching so many different aspects of the community come together,” Robeson added. “We might not be resource-rich with money, but we are resource-rich with some of the best people the Midwest has to offer,” Robeson said after the presentation.

Steve Letsinger, coordinator of arts programming and arts curator at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, agreed.

“You play well together. I think one of the really wonderful things this year was to see everybody step forward,” Letsinger said.

“You have a desire for this and want to contribute to this community and making it great. And it can be great because you can be great, so don’t ever lose track of that,” he said to those attending Tuesday’s wrapup. Among those attending were nonprofits, service organizations and representatives of Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

“Boom, it just started happening and it just kept going and everyone got inspired, so let’s stay inspired,” Letsinger said.

The group began a discussion of organizing another event in 2015, based around sustainability for the Wabash Valley. That event could be spearheaded by Our Green Valley Alliance for Sustainability.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or

Looking back at the year

Here are some of the 2013 Year of the River events and activities:

• Art Exhibitions: seven museum, six gallery, 3 non-art venues.

• Art Exhibit Receptions: 10 museum, six gallery, two non-art venues.

• Courses: four college courses; one bowhunting, one fishing workshop/activity, two ecology class/activity, one children’s combined art/theater (two weeks daily),

• Art Competitions: a six-county poster contest, resulting in five 2013 Year of the River posters displayed, one community-wide photography contest, one youth art competition.

• Poetry events: a six-county poetry competition for all ages; two poetry readings; one awards ceremony; one poetry writing event.

• Theater: one play with four performances; children’s play, one with three performances and one with one performance.

• Concerts: one symphony, nine band (one was multi-band festival), three choral, six musical performances.

• Conference/Symposia: one sustainability conference, one sustainability plan discussion, one local food discussion.

n Two fashion shows.

• Two surveys about the river  — about relationship and access to river plus perception of river use and quality; one proposal for water study of Wabash River, pending receipt of grant funds.

• Twelve Taize prayer services, focused on topics related to the river.

• Three cleanups — two Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area, one neighborhood by the river.

• Natural improvements: one invastive Honeysuckle removal; one tree planting along river.

• Development of trail from Fairbanks Park to I-70, pending completion in 2014.

• Public conversation series: eight art and ecology; three turn to the river.

• Exhibition artist talks: seven museum, five gallery, two non-art venues.

• One community-wide youth art exhibition.

• Cultural, historical and interpretive exhibitions: two museum exhibitions, one other venue.

• One community-wide big read.

• Literary events: one book slam; 10 book discussions.

• One public walk to the river

• Fundraising events: three dinners, one duck race, one Christmas ornament sale; Paddle for the Cure.

• One presentation to the Indiana General Assembly, one visit and news conference from Indiana’s Attorney General regarding invasive Asian carp in the Wabash River.

• Rafting trip for all eighth-grade students in Sullivan County.

• Festivals; one art, two cultural, one recreational.

• Two musical CDs produced

Source: Art Spaces Inc.