A colony of artists resided in Irvington during the 1920s and 1930s that became known as the Irvington Group. From 1928 to 1937, the Irvington Union of Clubs sponsored ten exhibitions of Irvington artists. Seventeen professional artists displayed their works during these annual shows.

Hoosier Group artist and Herron School of Art instructor, William J. Forsyth, ca. 1927 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

Irvington Group exhibits were not juried art competitions but group shows exhibiting the varied mediums of the artists who lived in the community. The exhibits, usually held in December, were popular and profitable. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, 24 of 90 paintings were sold.

Lectures, gallery talks, and art demonstrations further enhanced the exhibits from year to year. Wilbur D. Peat, director of the John Herron Art Museum, was a contributing speaker, as were artists William Forsyth, Dorothy Morlan, Helene Louise HIbben, and Frederick Polley. The 30-minute portrait demonstrations of Simon Paul Baus were especially popular attractions during the shows of the 1930s.

As individuals, the artists of the Irvington Group found varying degrees of success. Most notable were the careers of William Forsyth, dean of the Irvington Group, a renowned instructor at the John Herron Art Institute, and a member of the Hoosier Group; Clifton A. Wheeler, an art teacher at Herron and Shortridge High School, and painter of the mural above the marquee of the Circle Theatre in Indianapolis; and William F. kaeser, celebrated Regionalist artist and painter of the Pendleton, Indiana, post office mural.

Revised February 2021
Visual Arts

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