Century 21 RVR

Madison Chautauqua

Richmond, Ind., artist Cruse-Griffin
wins Best of Show

In her first appearance, the art teacher
score the highest Chautauqua award


(October 2021)
Read previous Don Ward columns!

Don Ward

In a year marked by slow recovery from the previous year’s COVID-19 cancellations, the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art committee succeeded in pulling off a successful show Sept. 25-26 in the Madison, Ind., complete with stellar weather and huge crowds. And even though the number of exhibitors was down for the event’s 50th year, the show attracted many new artists who were juried into the festival. In fact, of the 144 exhibitors, 54 were first-time participants.
One of those newcomers, India Cruse-Griffin of Richmond, Ind., even won Best of Show over many other talented artists and craftspeople. Cruse-Griffin is a 63-year-old mother of two college-aged daughters and an art teacher at Richmond High School. She has lived in Richmond all her life and began doing her art 23 years ago.

India Cruse-Griffin

Photo by Don Ward

Richmond, Ind., high school teacher India Cruse-Griffin poses with her Best of Show ribbon inside her booth at the 2021 Madison Chautauqua.

Now that her oldest daughter recently finished graduate school and her second oldest is a college senior, she said she has more time for participating in art shows. So taking advice from her cousin, she decided to apply to take part in her first Madison Chautauqua. Her decision paid off in a big way when show coordinator Kara Hinze presented Cruse-Griffin with the award on Sunday, Sept. 26.
“What a surprise! Thank you, thank you! This is a great honor,” she exclaimed upon being told the news.
Influenced by her mother, who was an artist and strongly devoted to family, Cruse-Griffin began her career as an artist at age 3, according to her website biography. She earned a bachelor of science degree in art education from Ball State University. It was not until 1993 did she begin to exhibit her art publicly and pursue a career as an artist. She exhibited throughout the Midwest and participated in shows all over country.

India Cruse-Griffin art

Photo by Don Ward

India Cruse-Griffin has a unique style by painting with acrylics and pen and ink over small pieces of magazine pages.

Years ago, she developed a new technique of using pieces of magazine pages over which she paints with acrylics and pen and ink. Her works feature brilliant colors. And it is from her childhood memories growing up in Indiana that she began to paint and create multi-layered, multi-textured representations of the people in her life, according to her bio. Her work demonstrates everyday challenges relating to the many roles women encompass. Her goal is to express the feeling of all and show the underlying meanings behind the every day task of family, she writes.

During her career she has served as an Indiana Arts Commissioner, Legislative Arts Advocacy Council committee member, Humanities and Racial Equality Committee member, Art Museum Board member, along with teaching and serving on several state and local committees.
The Chautauqua committee presented several other awards in Fine Art and Craft divisions, as well as Best Presentation and two Honorable Mentions. First place in Fine Art went to Carrie Wild of Indianapolis. She is also a first-time participant in this show. Second Place in Fine Art went to show newcomer Peter Rujuwa, a stone sculptor from Greenwood, Ind. Patty Coulter of Greenwood, Ind., was awarded third place in Fine Art.

Carrie Wild

Photo by Don Ward

First-time Chautauqua exhibitor Carrie Wild of Zionsville, Ind., won First Place in the Fine Art division at this year's show. She makes nature-inspired designs with watercolor and pen and ink.

Dawn Hatzidakis of Crestwood, Ky., won First Place in Craft with her handmade jewelry. Second place Craft went to repeat winner and fiber artist Lizzie Gulick of Louisville, Ky. William and Jean Bowen of Charlestown, Ind., earned third place in Craft. They are also repeat winners at this show and in June won Best of Show at Oldham County’s Arts on the Green art show.
Sharon Haines of Park City, Ky., won Best Presentation with her display of botanical floral designs, wreaths and swags made from dried or preserved natural materials. This was her 21st year at the Chautauqua.
Honorable Mentions were presented to guitar maker Nathan Murphy of Madison and painter Zhen Zhong Duan of Dublin, Ohio.

Dawn Hatzidakis

Photo by Don Ward

Dawn Hatzidakis of Crestwood, Ky., won First Place in the Craft division at this year's show. She makes unique jewelry designs.

Hinze said she was very pleased with the turnout for the 50th Chautauqua, especially after having to cancel last year. “We couldn’t be happier with the crowds, and our vendors say they are very happy with their sales,” she said. “And several of our food vendors sold out on Saturday.”
Being the 50th year of the art show, the committee held a “Celebration” event on Saturday night on the North Lawn of the Lanier Mansion that featured a concert by the Doctors Band, including food trucks and beer tents. The event drew a large crowd.
Also back this year was the Kids’ Tent, along with the Chalk Walk and some new entertainers, who performed at various locations throughout the show grounds.
Planning already is under way for next year’s Chautauqua, Hinze said. The 51st Madison Chautauqua is set for Sept. 24-25, 2022.

• 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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