Colorful Touch

Madison, Ind., area arts groups
join forces for art banner project

Several local artists’ talents are displayed
on new street banners

(December 2018) – On the west end of Madison, Ind.,’s business district, “The Pink Lady” is one of new art banners just installed on the light poles. This image of an elegant woman in a bright pink gown is visible at the Cragmont and Main streets. intersection. Painted by Jacob Loudon, the original painting was inspired by pictures of historical events on the lawn of the Lanier Mansion. The original painting measures 3.5x3.5 feet.

Photo provided

Artist Jacob Loudon’s “Pink Lady” banner is shown above. It hangs at Main and Cragmont streets.

The “Artsy Banner Project” is the brainchild of Andrew Forrester, Community Relations Director of Madison, and Kim Nyberg, executive director of the Madison Area Arts Alliance. Forrester noted it is “fantastic from the city standpoint, to work with the Arts Alliance on a grant funded project.”
Nyberg echoed his enthusiasm, saying, “the city officially contracted with our association to make things happen. It was a partnership with everyone in the community.”
The idea was to cast a broad net, including members of the arts association, the Madison Art Club as well as anyone in the overall community who was interested in participating. 
Many states are represented by local Madison artists. Some came home to Indiana, some were transferred here and some visited, fell in love, and chose to move here. Other artists were born here and have chosen to stay. Collectively, they represent the arts alliance and the Madison Art Club. In spring 2018, many of them answered the call to submit one or more of their paintings to be reproduced as a banner. The banners celebrate Cultural Arts District designation, and showcase iconic images of Madison. At least 30 paintings were needed for the project. Thirty-four works of art were received and all have been used. 
Loudon is one of the newest members of Madison’s art community. He studied geology, not art, at the University of Kentucky. “Actually, I failed art class in high school,” he said.

Artist Jacob Loudon

His interest in art was more pragmatic. He looked at artwork to decorate his walls in Lexington, Ky. He said to himself, “I could do that!”  He bought some acrylic paints and started painting. He likes to paint abstract landscapes. While visiting his grandmother, Carolyn Sue Loudon of Madison, Loudon was drawn to the artistic opportunities in Madison. 
In 2017, Loudon decided to move to Madison. He found a job at Lowe’s to support his painting hobby. With the help of Madison Art Club President Teresa Waller, he joined the club. He received a grant from the HArT (Helping Artists Thrive) program of the club. He also participates in the Tuesday figure drawing classes twice a month. While drawing the human body seems very different from painting abstract landscapes, he said both start with basic shapes. Loudon said he is impressed that the Madison art community is so progressive and open minded. 
Elle Smith’s “Belle of Louisville” painting spans two banners. Smith is an artist who started drawing at age 3. She had a small desk with a chalkboard top. The perimeter of that top was bordered with the alphabet and corresponding drawings, such as the letter “C” and a cat picture. Her mother tried to teach her to copy the letters. However, Smith was only interested in drawing the pictures. By Easter that year, she decided to draw an egg.
A few hours later, she drew a crack in the egg. A few hours later, she drew the head of a chick, beginning to break through the crack in the egg.

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

Madison, Ind., artist Elle Smith created a double banner featuring the Belle of Louisville.

Her artistic talents continued to develop to the point of winning an art scholarship when she graduated from high school. However, her artistic life took a detour for a few years when she decided to get married instead of attending college on that art scholarship. She never lost her love of art.  She studied at the Columbus (Ohio) College of Art and Design, completed her undergraduate degree from Hanover College, a master’s in painting from Ball State University, post master’s in Art Education from Ball State and in Art Management from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her formal teaching career included public and private schools in Jefferson County, Ind., Hanover College and Purdue University Extension
The oil painting Kevin Carlson submitted for a banner is called “Old Court Days. It depicts the booths of Old Court Days, set up in front of the iconic Knights of Pythias building on Jefferson Street. Carlson’s art career started in the first grade. He brought a drawing of a beached whale for show and tell. He then had the class copy his drawing while he critiqued their work. He followed through on that early interest in art with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Purdue University.

Artist Bill Borden

His first job was a “stroke of luck.” He walked into the employment office and found a position posted at Clifty Falls State Park. After an interview with the Naturalist, he was hired immediately. The two-year position was responsible for creating displays at the Nature Center, just what he liked to do. In 1986, he started making signs as well as art. His fine art gallery and studio, Carlson Sign and Art. is located at 301 Jefferson St., in Madison.  He said, “I have learned a lot in 31 years.”
On the east end of Madison’s Main Street business district, Bill Borden’s watercolor painting, “Fair Play Fire Co. 1” banner is just across the street from the actual Fair Play Fire Co. 1. Borden, an Indianapolis native, graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He spent his career as an automotive designer with the Ford Motor Co. Design Center in Dearborn, Mich., and the Ford Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
He and his wife, Sharon, wanted to retire in a location where he could walk out of his back door and paint. They found a great location in Hanover. They purchased that home one year before he retired. They were able to take weekend trips and vacations to the Hanover-Madison area before they actually moved. He retired in 1997 and became a full-time watercolorist. He immediately joined the Madison Art Club and the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association. He is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society since 1988, as well as the Watercolor U.S.A. Honor Society and the Watercolor Society of Indiana. 
On that same pole at the intersection of Walnut Street, Jane Vonderheide’s abstract painting reflects Madison’s history in the Underground Railroad. The painting is now the property of the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County, which provided it for the banner project. Vonderheide is a Madison native. She credits her confidence as an abstract artist to the encouragement of Lou Knoble, her high school art teacher. She said she did not get serious about her art until age 30. She also pursued a career as a barber. She has worked in Hanover and Madison for more than 20 years. Last year she bought the building at 207 E. Main St. and opened her own shop. “House of Jane” is both a barbershop and an art gallery.  

Artist Jane Vonderheide

Each major intersection on Main Street between Cragmont and Walnut streets features the new light pole banners on all four corners of the intersection. Other participating artists include Aaron Kelsey, Arthur Knebel, Bob Saueressig, Brenda Shropshire, Debi Black, Debbie Boston, Eric Phagan, Frosty Rankin, Hal Davis, Harry Elberg, Jane Vonderheide, Jenny Straub, Kathy Dalton, Karen Taylor, Larry Rudolech, Linda Wood, Lou Knoble, Marshal Falconberry, Patty Cooper Wells, Paul Hassfurder, Rick Bennett, Russ Vossler, Steve Bickis, William M. Snyder and Frank Whitlock. 
The project was sponsored by a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. This office works with Indiana communities to build relevant and economically thriving places where people want to live, work and grow. Working with local state and national partners, the office provides resources and technical assistance to aid communities in shaping and achieving their vision for community and economic development. 
Technical assistance was provided by Cassey Higdon. Stephanie Hellmann and Margaret Nowling. Shropshire assisted with the photography. The Community Foundation, Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art and the Jefferson County Historical Society also provided art to be used in this project.

The Madison Area Arts Alliance is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Contributions to support future projects can be mailed to: P.O. Box 322, Madison, IN 47250, or donations can be completed online at www.madisonareaarts.org.

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