Indiana...Seen Through a Gifted Hoosier's Eyes

By Eric Olson

June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 27, 2008 at 1:59 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--MUCH OF INDIANA HAS CHANGED LITTLE IN THE PAST HUNDRED YEARS OR SO. WITHOUT TELLTALE POWERLINES YOU CAN ALMOST IMAGINE IT’S STILL THE HORSE AND BUGGY ERA IN MANY PARTS OF THE STATE. BUT INDIANA HAS CHANGED, EVEN PLACES LIKE THIS. AND FOR THE BEST EVIDENCE OF THAT, WE CAN TURN TO THE ARTIST.
Tracy: A lot of people look at it and see home, especially here in Wabash County.
THE WABASH COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM HAS MOUNTED A TRIBUTE TO A LOCAL FAVORITE SON, HOOSIER ARTIST HOMER DAVISSON, KNOWN TO THIS DAY AS THE ‘PAINTER OF THE MISSISSINEWA’ FOR HIS BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES OF THE MISSISSINEWA RIVER VALLEY. DAVISSON WAS BORN NEAR MUNCIE JUST AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, TRAINED IN EUROPE PAINTING OLD GERMAN LANDMARKS AND MEDIEVAL FRENCH BRIDGES. WHEN HE CAME BACK HOME TO INDIANA THOUGH HE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE FLAT FIELDS AND ROLLING HILLS ALONG THE BANKS OF THE MISSISSINEWA RIVER IN WABASH COUNTY. HE SPENT THE REST OF HIS LIFE RECORDING WHAT HE SAW ON CANVAS.
Tracy: And that was really why we were attracted to having him in the exhibit gallery here was because he just he told Wabash's story.
DAVISSON TAUGHT AT THE OLD FORT WAYNE ART SCHOOL FOR DECADES...THIS IS HIS STUDIO ON PONTIAC STREET, IT STILL STANDS TODAY. BUT IN SUMMER AND FALL HE FOLLOWED THE MISSISSINEWA, CAPTURING ITS MOODS AS THE SEASONS PASSED..STUDYING THE CHANGES IN LIGHT AS WINTER APPROACHED. AND OFTEN WITH A CAMEO APPEARANCE BY SOMETHING MANMADE...THIS IS THE SOMERSET COVERED BRIDGE; IT WAS SWEPT AWAY BY THE FLOOD OF 1913. THIS IS PEARSON'S MILL; IT FELL VICTIM TO THE SAME FLOOD. INDIANA IN AUTUMN, THOUGH, IS WHAT DAVISSON PAINTED BEST..THIS IS CALLED 'THE LAST DAY OF SPRING 1924', IT'S ONE OF HIS BEST. AND THIS FALL LANDSCAPE..IMAGINE THE TREES TRIMMED BACK FROM THE ROAD AND A PAVED HIGHWAY IN PLACE OF THE DIRT, AND YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THIS SCENE LOOKS LIKE TODAY. HOMER DAVISSON DIED IN 1957. HIS WIFE ELIZABETH LIVED OUT HER LIFE AT THE PEABODY RETIREMENT HOME IN NORTH MANCHESTER. WHEN SHE DIED IN 1970 SHE LEFT THIS COLLECTION TO PEABODY WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO SHARE IT WITH ALL OF US…NOT JUST TO REMIND US OF WHAT WAS..BUT TO HELP US BETTER APPRECIATE WHAT STILL IS. ERIC OLSON, OUT IN ‘YOUR COUNTRY’.




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