Madison artists find subjects close to home

Gallery to hold ‘Madison on Canvas’
art exhibit in September

By Don Ward

MADISON, Ind. (September 2004) – Members of the Madison Art Club will celebrate their 1-year anniversary at the Madison Art Gallery, 301 E. Main St., with a September exhibit titled “Madison on Canvas.”


Photo by Melissa Pelsor

Madison-based artist Sally Fitch poses with her painting of the Shrewsbury House’s entry from the side facing the Ohio River.

The show, which features art works depicting scenes of Madison and Jefferson County, opens Friday, Sept. 3, and closes Sunday, Sept, 26, the last day of the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art. An informal gathering of artists and friends will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, to mark the opening.

In July 2003, “Madison on Canvas” was the first exhibit opening in
the new gallery at 301 E. Main. The intent was to emphasize the gallery as a venue for regional artists, who often depict Madison and surrounding Jefferson County in their works.
Since last year’s opening, the gallery has expanded its facility, adding more small rooms of what was once space for Madison Area Chamber of Commerce projects. The chamber owns the building that houses the gallery.
Artists from outside the area have joined the club and begun exhibiting in the gallery, yet many still consider “Madison on Canvas” to be the club’s signature show.
This September exhibit will include photography and paintings. But everything featured will depictc the Madison area. Three women and art club members – Sally Fitch, Carolyn Lopez and Laurel Sparks – have paintings with a close connection to the intent of the exhibition.
Fitch’s watercolor “Southern Hospitality” shows the river entry to the Shrewsbury-Windle House. Fitch and her husband, Paul Fitch, first met the home’s owners, John and Ann Windle, in l967, when the Windle home was about the only “Historic Home” open to the public. The Windles gave the Fitches a tour of the downtown, and the Fitches became so interested in Madison’s architecture and antique markets that they returned to visit many times over the years.
“Windle sure sold us on the town, its history and architecture,” Sally Fitch said. “However, it took a lot of years to get here.”
Finally, the Fitches retired to Madison in 2000 and set about restoring an 1840s home on Main Street. Fitch describes this as an ongoing project.
A former art teacher, Fitch received her master’s degree in art education from Indiana University. She taught art at Highland High School in Highland, Ind., for 25 years. She paints in both watercolors and mixed media. This year, for the second consecutive year, Fitch won first place in watercolors at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts’ festival in Seymour, Ind. She also received a merit (monetary) award for “Southern Hospitality,” the picture she will display in “Madison on Canvas.”
The setting for Lopez’s “After a Summer Storm” is Hanging Rock Hill on Hwy. 7. A watercolorist and pastel artist, Lopez painted Hanging Rock from different perspectives and during all four seasons of the year. She is perhaps best known, though, for her paintings of the Broadway Fountain. Several times, people have entered the Madison Art Club Gallery looking specifically for “a Carolyn Lopez fountain.”
Lopez said she has found 20 “full-size” Broadway Fountains that she has sold during her painting career. However, she also uses the fountain in triptyches that she sells from her in-home gallery at 411 W. Second St. To create the triptyches, she combines three small scenes: the fountain, Clifty Falls and a barge on the Ohio – or the fountain, Hanging Rock Hill and the Madison Railroad incline.
Lopez began her career by studying watercolor painting with Herman Fox of Salem, Ind. Over the years she has taken workshops in both watercolors and pastels. In addition to painting scenes of historic Madison, she loves to do florals. One of her florals, a stylized magnolia, became the l997 Madison Chautauqua poster. She participated the in Chautauqua for 17 years, and she has been a member of the Madison Art Club for nearly 30 years.

Sally Fitch

Photo by Melissa Pelsor

Madison-based artist Sally Fitch poses with her painting of the Shrewsbury House’s entry from the side facing the Ohio River.

Sparks’ entry for “Madison on Canvas” is a landscape titled “Green Gate.” It may appear to be a country scene, but its setting is actually the corner of First and Central streets in downtown Madison. Since she began
to “paint Madison,” she has used some conventional settings and some unconventional, she said.
“For example, among the works I have sold are land scapes titled ‘Third and Elm’ and ‘Hollyhocks on Jefferson Street,’ as well as a painting of the Broadway Hotel and another of a well-known historic home on Main Street.”
Sparks learned the basics of acrylic painting from the late Joe Mayberry, a long-time artist member of the Brown County Art Guild. “My earliest paintings sold in the Bloomington-Nashville area, but I had begun photographing Madison in l995.
After I decided that I wanted to “paint Madison,” my husband and I bought a second home here early in 2002 and then a main home in the spring of 2003.”
Within the past year, Sparks has won monetary awards for two of recent Madison paintings. “Down the Street,” which looks down Third Street from the corner of Third and West, won the “People’s Choice Award” at the Brown County Art Gallery Patrons’ show in November 2003 and also first place in acrylics at the Madison Art Club’s 2004 regional show. “Along the Creek,” set at Beaver Creek, won a merit award at this year’s SICA Art Festival in Seymour.
Not all of her artwork depicts Madison or Jefferson County, but she is a landscape painter who often puts buildings in her landscapes.
“This part of Indiana is ideal for such painting,” she said.
Other art club members who sell paintings at the gallery depicting the Madison area include Bill Borden, Hal Davis, Phillis Fultz, Stephanie Hellmann, Larry Rudolech, Bob Saueressig, Theresa Strohl and Karen Taylor.

• The gallery’s hours change, effective Sept. 1. The new hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (812) 265-3135, ext. 251.

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