Century 21 RVR

Madison Chautauqua

Artist Randall's painting
of Hanging Rock Hill stands out

Her submission was chosen as this year's
Madison Chautauqua poster


(August 2021)
Read previous Don Ward columns!

Don Ward

(August 2021) – Nancy Jo Randall grew up in Hammond, Ind., near Chicago, where she was influenced at an early age by her mother, Eleanor Randall, to pursue art. Her mother painted watercolors, and Nancy Jo decided to follow in her footsteps as an artist.
So Randall studied painting from a young age with her mother and took private lessons. This influenced her to teach art classes for young children. In the 1970s, she followed her dream by attending Chicago Art Institute of Fine Arts and Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., earning a major of BFA in painting.
She married and moved to Hanover, Ind., in 1988 at a crossroads of her life when her first husband took a job in Madison. Randall, meanwhile, worked for Grote Industries for 27 years as a line supplier. Her accomplishments as an artist include developing artistic signs for businesses and personal commissioned work. She also participated in several plein air events in Madison. Her work has been shown in several galleries throughout Indiana.


Photo courtesy of Kara Hinze

Nancy Jo Randall (center with poster) poses at the Lanier Mansion in Madison, Ind., with (from left) Heidi Kendall-Sage and Pat Magrath of poster sponsor Alcorn, Sage, Schwartz & Magrath law firm, along with Roy Graham of MPS Printing.

In 2007, Randall was honored to be the Chautauqua Festival of Art poster artist with a brown and white painting of a historic side paddle mail delivery boat.
Now her artistic career has come full circle. Last year, a painting she submitted was selected by the Chautauqua committee to be the 2020 festival poster. Her submission beat out seven other entries. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the festival in 2020. So this year, Randall’s painting of Hanging Rock Hill as seen around the 1800s will serve as the 2021 festival poster. The festival is scheduled for Sept. 25-26 in downtown Madison.
“I feel proud and honored to have been chosen again for the Chautauqua poster,” said Randall, 66, now a resident of Deputy, Ind. She said she chose Hanging Rock Hill as her subject because “when I first moved here, it was the first thing I fell in love with. I walked up the hill and did a watercolor abstract of it and also took some photos. Then I used those to paint it.”
Chautauqua coordinator Kara Hinze said of Randall’s poster submission, “We felt the artwork for this year’s poster was a great fit in many ways. It has great use of color, movement and texture. It has an impressionistic feel to it that we love. Hanging Rock Hill is uniquely Madison, but not one of your traditional icons. We felt the historical nature of the imagery was a good fit to help us celebrate our 50th Madison Chautauqua.”
Randall paints mostly with acrylics and watercolors because “I get frustrated with oils. I don’t like the drying period of oils.”
She sells her paintings mostly to previous customers who have come to love her work, she said. Her paintings mostly feature landscapes and animals. An animal lover, she also raises Nigerian Dwarf goats and enjoys gardening at her home. She has since retired from Grote, divorced and remarried Patrick Middeler.
She said that in her 20s and 30s, she hitchhiked around the country making drawings of the sights she saw. She kept those drawings, and they have become the inspiration for many of her current paintings.


Photo provided by MPS Printing

The 2021 Madison Chautauqua poster created by artist Nancy Jo Randall was printed by MPS Printing. It will sell for $45 each at the Sept. 25-26 festival.

Hinze said Randall’s painting stood out from the other contenders. “The selection committee looks closely at all entries as far as artistic quality, content and subject matter. Every year it seems that someone’s work always stands out.”
The poster has a new sponsor this year in Alcorn Sage Schwartz and McGrath law firm in Madison. Randall will sit for three poster signings at the festival’s Information Tent on Broadway: from 10-11 a.m. and from 4-5 p.m. Saturday and again from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday. A limited number of 200 posters will be sold for $45 each. They are 18x24 inches in size. Smaller versions of the poster were not printed this year, Hinze said.
This year, the Chautauqua is celebrating its 50th anniversary. While, the rebuilding year from the COVID-19 cancellation last year has made the celebration somewhat subdued, Hinze said, but the committee plans to move ahead with a special celebration on Saturday night, Sept. 25, on the Lanier Mansion lawn. The event, scheduled from 6-8 p.m., will feature a live band, drink vendors and food trucks, she said. It will be open to the exhibitors and to the public. The details are still being finalized.
Meantime, Hinze said many exhibitors have had to cancel their appearance at this year’s festival because many spring events have been rescheduled to the fall and over the same weekend as the Chautauqua. “So our numbers are down as far as exhibitors go,” she said.
The committee’s usual goal is to get about 200 exhibitors, but this year, it is looking more like 150-160. The registration deadline is July 31. Hinze said several factors are causing the decline in numbers. Some exhibitors are going to other events; some are still hesitant about being in large crowds. But many of those exhibitors who are coming are asking to rent larger booth spaces, possibly because they have extra inventory to sell.



The impact from COVID-19 also extends to the musical groups that are annually booked to entertain at certain locations around the festival grounds, she said. So visitors may see some new bands playing this year.
The festival committee also has had to deal with the challenge of obtaining sponsorships at a time when many businesses are still hurting from the impacts of the pandemic. “We get it; we understand. 2020 was a hard year for everyone, and many local businesses are hurting financially,” Hinze said.
The committee is bringing back the Kid’s Tent, a fun art activity for children, because of a new sponsor in Little Golden Fox. The Chalk Walk event also returns.
Hinze and her committee members say they are hoping to get the event back on solid footing by next year.
“It’s too bad that on our 50th anniversary year that this happened, but we are going to move forward and celebrate it anyway. We know it’s going to be a rebuilding year, but we are going to make the most of it.”

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at info@RoundAbout.bz.

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