Art in New Albany, courtesy Southern Indiana CVB
Just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, the communities of southern Indiana have found numerous ways to weave art into their historic and modern culture.
“There’s some really unique visual art in New Albany,” said Jim Keith, executive director of the Southern Indiana Convention and Tourism Bureau. “This year is the bicentennial of the city, and they’ve done a three-year project on visual arts, with art installations all over the community. You can take a tour of downtown and see all the installations of bicentennial art.”
Much of the public art, which will be on view through next year, relates specifically to the areas of town where it is displayed. Large sculptures of fruit hang in front of the local farmers market, and an artistic house built on stilts sits in the middle of a residential street. Groups will also find abstract sculpture in front of the visitors center.
New Albany is also home to the Carnegie Center for Art and History, which hosts rotating art exhibits throughout the year.
In nearby Clarksville, the floodwall along the Ohio River has been painted to beautify the city and honor its past.
“An internationally known muralist has done a series of murals that depict some of the history of the local community along the floodwall,” Keith said. “There’s an additional set of more modern murals adjacent to that.”
Centuries-old tradition and modern artistic expression blend seamlessly in Elkhart and the Amish Country of Northern Indiana. Groups visiting the area have opportunities to explore both Amish quilt traditions and contemporary arts experiences.
“There’s a new package available for groups called Wine and Canvas,” said Sonya Nash, travel trade marketing manager for the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s an artsy dinner party with a local artist. You get your own smock, canvas, easel and brushes, and you get to be your own inner Renoir. You have a glass of wine and a lunch or dinner buffet, and the artists teaching it make it easy and fun for everybody.”
Groups can also have hands-on classes at B on the River Bakery and Cafe in downtown Elkhart. Those programs often combine jewelry or scrapbook making with the cafe’s signature homemade gelato and cupcakes.
For a look at the artistic side of the area’s Amish heritage, groups have a number of different options. The convention and visitors bureau offers an Amish quilting program exclusively for groups.
“An Amish quilt historian brings historic quilts and talks about the Amish patterns and how they used the quilts for communication and translation,” Nash said. “We also have hands-on quilting bees with the Amish.”
At the Old Bag Factory artisan complex in Goshen, groups can meet and talk with Shirley Shenk, a modern quilter, and see the designs and equipment she uses in her work.
“She’s one of the top quilters in the nation, and she looks at quilting like an art form,” Nash said. “Her work is all original designs and concepts.”