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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Artist's work on display in Terre Haute

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Clay County Historical Museum has donated three pieces of art to the Terre Haute Swope Museum.

The pieces were created by Evalyn Gertrude James.

James was formerly the head of the art department at what is now Indiana State University in 1929, and a member of the faculty from 1928-30.

She left her job there and moved to rural Brazil, where she became prominent by making a living as a nature artist featuring landscapes and bird pictures.

From the 1940s through the 1970s, she was something of a legendary character in the Brazil area. She never had a car and could be seen walking along United States 40 or State Road 340 with a huge bag or art supplies slung over her shoulder.

Many of the professional class of people in the Brazil area purchased one or more of her works, including the Clay County Hospital (now St. Vincent Clay Hospital), where one of her geese paintings is still on display in a main hallway.

In the 1940s, she had a gallery in the former Davis Hotel in downtown Brazil, where she sold her work to people from all over the country passing through Brazil on U.S. 40.

She also gave art lessons at her gallery and then at her home.

Often, James traveled by bus to the Gulf Coast or Great Lakes on painting trips. She was noted many times in "Who's Who in the Midwest," books during her lifetime.

In the late 1970s, she was hit by a car while walking along U.S. 40. She lost a leg and ended up in a nursing home on the northeast side of Brazil on Hendrix Street. She died in the early 1990s, but many people remember her.

Recently, her work reemerged at the Halcyon Gallery in Terre Haute, which is part of the Swope Art Museum, located in the Swope Building.

Somebody from the Rockville area submitted one of her landscapes to a juried competition for a February showing, which led the gallery to become interested in a full showing of her work in May.

On Friday, from 7-9 p.m., there will be a reception at the Halcyon in honor of James and her work.

Approximately 25 of her paintings will be on display, including works offered by the Clay County Historical Society.

More than 300 invitations have been sent out, but the reception is open to the general public.

After the reception, the James collection will be available for viewing for most of the rest of the month.

The gallery's normal hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, or by appointment.

For further information, call 812-645-3535.

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