TERRE HAUTE —
The best views of the Wabash come with wet, muddy feet.
Free flowing and untamed, the river’s banks often test human visitors. Rocks, trees and grassy weeds line its shores for most of its 474 miles. Parks and public access points in several towns give people a more comfortable peek at the murky stream. Its most scenic vistas, though, can’t be seen from a highway, parking lot or picnic table. The Wabash looks its finest at water’s edge, where nature rules and man’s domain lies over the bank, out of sight.
Nancy Nichols-Pethick set up her easel there, atop uneven stones, mossy dirt and marshy weeds.
Thank goodness she did, capturing the visuals on canvas with oil paintings and pastel drawings at various riverside locations while exploring the Wabash last year from Huntington in northern Indiana to New Harmony near its southern confluence with the Ohio River. Too few Hoosiers ever witness the Wabash from such a perspective. Nichols-Pethick’s artwork gives them a chance to see what they’ve missed.
“In most places, you have this beautiful river flowing and all this wildlife, and you wish more people would be enjoying it,” she said.
Those who dropped in at the Turman Art Gallery on the Indiana State University campus earlier this month got a glimpse of such images. The gallery exhibited nearly 30 of her Wabash River pieces, collectively entitled “Notes on a River.” They’ll go on display again March 3-21 at Marian University in Indianapolis, with a reception 4 to 6 p.m. March 6. The pictures emanated from Huntington, Delphi, Americus, Tecumseh, Clinton, Terre Haute, Hutsonville, Merom and Harmonie State Park at New Harmony.
She painted and drew quickly, preserving a brief moment. The sunlight and reflections changed by the minute. She created artistic snapshots, sometimes camping to motor her “mobile studio” — a Chrysler minivan — to a destination just in time to catch a sunset or sunrise. She started in the days of heat and lush foilage of August and by October and November, the falling leaves exposed the vastness of the valley.
In autumn, “it was really overcast and really foggy,” Nichols-Pethick recalled. “You can go back to the same place again and again and again, and it’s never the same.”
Nichols-Pethick toured the Wabash as her sabbatical project during the fall semester at ISU, where she teaches painting as an assistant professor of art. The local community’s 2013 Year of the River celebration sparked her idea. Born in Alaska and raised in rural Maine, she experienced the wilderness on family camping trips. Her dad was an outdoorsman and an artist, who drew the woods and lakefronts using charcoal pencils and an easel.
Thirty years later, Nancy was doing the same thing on the banks of the Wabash in her adopted state of Indiana, where she and her husband have lived since the mid-1990s, eventually raising their two young kids here. Some lifelong Hoosiers expressed surprise when Nichols-Pethick described various places along the river she chose to depict on canvas.
“The people who grew up near it, their reaction was, ‘Why would you want to paint that?’” she recalled, “and I think it goes back to the fact that we have this wonderful natural resource and we aren’t really taking advantage of it.”
That said, Nichols-Pethick realizes, in some ways, the Wabash benefits from being overlooked by man. Unlike other rivers that accommodate commercial shipping and barges, the unnavigable Wabash flows with little human interference. Its only dam lies near Huntington. From there, it meanders for 411 miles, unrestricted. Maintaining “a balance” between making the river more accessible to more people, and protecting its wild freedom, matters greatly to her.
The 44-year-old artist walked — or, more accurately, hiked — that thin line to craft her pictures. She hunted the undeveloped stretches of the Wabash and stuck to those.
“It’s hard to get the view I really enjoy — the natural, untouched beauty,” she said.
Just a few miles from the dam at Roush Lake, the river gets back to its natural self at Huntington’s Forks of the Wabash Historical Park. The Wabash and Little Wabash rivers converge there, blending two tints of water in eye-catching fashion. It became one of Nichols-Pethick’s favorite spots during her journey.
The stream ran shallow there. She ventured out on some rocks. The Wabash stretched out ahead.
“I enjoyed getting that long view of the river,” she said. “I know it a lot better than when I started, but I know there’s more I can still see.”
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
The best views of the Wabash come with wet, muddy feet.
Princes, princesses, pirates invited to Fairy Tale Ball
Come one, come all to the third annual Fairy Tale Ball from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 26 in the Terre Haute Children’s Museum.
Bricker’s art is April’s feature at VCPL
A collection of artworks of Wabash Valley Art Wabash Valley Art Guild member Julie Bricker is on display at the Vigo County Public Library.
- MUSEUMS/EXHIBITIONS: April 10, 2014
Swope to present work by young artists in spring exhibit
Spring brings one of the most popular yearly exhibitions at the Swope Art Museum, its annual showcase of work by student artists.
Halcyon to present international juried ceramics exhibition
“Contemporary Ceramics International Biennial — Clay and Context 2014” is on exhibit from April 4-26 in the Halcyon Art Gallery at Seventh and Ohio streets. An artists reception is 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 4. The first of three artist talks is April 5.
Clabber Girl to host Artisan exhibit in April
Works by six of West Central Indiana’s finest artisans will be featured throughout April at the River and Roads Artisan Trails Spring Exhibition in the Clabber Girl Art Gallery at 900 Wabash Ave.
- Museums/Exhibitions: April 3, 2014
Minecraft Mania hits Terre Haute Children’s Museum
Minecraft and learning will collide on Thursday, April 3, when eBash Video Game Center presents Minecraft Mania at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum. The classes are being sponsored by Duke Energy.
Visit Children’s Museum Tuesday for Community Day
Tuesday will be Community Day at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, sponsored by the Indiana State University Federal Credit Union. Admission that day will be reduced to $2 per person, with museum members and children under age 2 admitted for free. The museum, at the corner of Eighth Street and Wabash Avenue, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Art Guild calls for entries for May 1-3 spring show
The Wabash Valley Art Guild with Clabber Girl Museum and Art Gallery will present the Wabash Valley Art Guild’s 37th Annual Spring Art Show May 1-3.
- Museums/Exhibitions: March 27, 2014
Rose to feature Valley artists at March 20 reception
Local artists Peter Bruning, Pat Grigg, Elizabeth Petrulis and Don Monroe are featured in the spring art exhibit on walls throughout Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Moench Hall and Myers Hall academic buildings.
Gaslight Art Colony showcases children’s work in annual show
Gaslight Art Colony in Marshall, Ill., announces winners of the annual Children’s Art Show. Many art pieces were entered in the show. Children and teens from kindergarten through high school were eligible for prizes, which were funded by show sponsors Kirchner Building Center, Lincoln Trail Ford, Old National Bank, First Bank of Marshall and Ann Sutton of First Financial Bank.
Clabber Girl gallery features photo art
Debbie Goodin, owner of Sarenity Photo, is the featured artist for March in the Clabber Girl Museum’s Art Gallery at 900 Wabash Ave.
Valley youth celebrate the work of Saint Mother Theodore through art in March
The creativity, ingenuity, talent and determination of young Wabash Valley artists were on display during the Sisters of Providence eighth annual Youth Art Contest reception March 13 in Providence Spirituality and Conference Center at St. Mary-of-the-Woods.
The winners’ artwork is on display on the first floor of Owens Hall across from the temporary location of The Gift Shop. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Gaslight features ‘Members Only’ show
Gaslight Art Colony in Marshall, Ill., will showcase the work of its members during a “Members Only” show through April 12.
- Museums/Exhibitions: March 20, 2014
Sullivan Area Art Guild to celebrate anniversary March 14
Residents are invited to join the members of the Sullivan Area Art Guild on Friday as it celebrates the one-year anniversary of its new gallery.
Activities are scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. in the gallery at 16 S. Court St. on the square in Sullivan. Refreshments will be provided.
Gallery presents ‘Halcyon Days’ exhibit
Halcyon Art Gallery is presenting the regional juried exhibition, “Halcyon Days 2014,” on view from Friday until March 28. The opening reception will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday. This is the ninth in a series of juried exhibitions showcasing the best of contemporary art in all media.
See dinosaurs, Dr. Seuss characters at Children's Museum
On Sunday, March 9, Terre Haute Children’s Museum guests will be in for a special treat. Prehistoric creatures from Erth’s “Dinosaur Zoo” will be roving the museum, and Dr. Seuss characters will come to life when the Children’s Theatre of Terre Haute presents “Seussical Jr.”
March library exhibit inspired by ‘Magnificent Ambersons’
Artists from River City Art Association and the Wabash Valley Art Guild in Terre Haute will feature works inspired by the 2014 Wabash Valley Big Read selection, “The Magnificent Ambersons.”
- Museums/Exhibitions: March 6, 2014
VIDEO: Mardi Gras at the Swope
Teresa Shaffer was handing out beads and masks at the Swope Art Museum's Mardi Gras celebration Saturday night. The event is an annual fundraiser for the downtown museum.
Paint ‘Spring Rain’ March 4 at Gaslight Colony
For over a year, Gaslight Art Colony has introduced painting to many groups of adults and children with a class called Canvas at the Colony. The next session, “Spring Rain,” will take place at 6 p.m. CST on Tuesday at the gallery, 516 Archer Ave., Marshall, Ill. The fee is $35 if paid in advance, or $45 at the door.
Be part of on-the-spot portrait exhibit March 14-16 at Indiana Historical Society
The Indiana Historical Society will offer its guests the opportunity to have their portraits both taken and incorporated into an on-the-spot exhibition with #300in3. The free event will take place March 14 through 16, from noon to 4 p.m. each day.
The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of the IHS, is at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.
- Museums/Exhibitions: Feb. 27, 2014
Children’s Museum to host birthday party for Dr. Seuss
Visit the Terre Haute Children’s Museum from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 2, for a birthday celebration for Dr. Seuss.
Tonight’s film at CANDLES postponed
“Nicky’s Family,” tonight’s film at the CANDLES Holocaust Musem and Education Center, has been postponed.
- Museums/Exhibitions: Feb. 20, 2014
Lightwire Theater today at Children’s Museum cancelled
Due to weather conditions, the Lightwire Theater/DiNO-Light presentation at the Terre Haute Children's Museum has been canceled. For the most current information on the status of the Lightwire Theater show at 7 p.m. today in Hatfield Hall at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, call Hatfield Hall at 812-877-8544.
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