The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 9.


Porter County's Artists Have Glorified Its Natural Charms With Pen and Color Brush

Porter county was fortunate in the class of people who were attracted by the variety of its scenery, its rolling prairies, its hills, around which flowed numerous water-courses, and its beautiful lakes, hemmed by trees, refreshing with the vedure of spring and gorgeous with the hues of autumn. The soil produced in abundance in the early days, and the settlers did not envy the greater fertility of the flat lands lieing to the east and west of their homesteads. Nearly every family brought with them from the East some cherished bit of art, miniature, laces, a piece of rosewood or mahogany furniture. In the crowded pioneer life the women made the beautiful old quilts and hand woven spreads so cherished today and embroidered baby clothes which are marvels of delicacy to their descendants. Even their company tables were adorned with preserves cut in the form of leaves and posies and with natural flowers, which always bordered their kitchen gardens. It is such an atmostphere which Hubert M. Skinner sums up in this sonnet, "Valparaiso".

"Of right thou bearest they sweet Spanish name,
O Vale of Paradise in threes embowered.
With Edens' wealth of grace and beauty dowered
Thou enviest not the Chilean city's fame.

Whether enwreathed in autumn's tints which flame
Apocalyptic splendors or o'er flowered
In vernal bloom, proportioned, spired, and towered
Of matchless beauty thou art still the same.

In waving lines extended, where the land
Rolls in long billows, trough and crest asleep,
Thou'st made thee home. Abide forever there;
For all that know thee love thee, Ne'er a band
Of Romans breathed a patriot love more deep
Than thou'st inspired or a more fervent prayer."

When the struggle for food and shelter became less arduous the arts were developed more seriously. There was a course in art offered in the Valparaiso Male and Female Institute, as the catalogue shows, in 1868. In 1873 he building of this Methodist institution was purchased by the city and presented to H. B. Brown, who founded a non-sectarian school. From its earliest years it maintained an art course and most Porter County artists had the benefit of its training. Many specimens of its art work are owned in Valparaiso.

Among the more famous artists born or education in Porter County we note Robert Paine, a pupil of and co-worker with Augustus St. Gaudens; Walter Louderback, painter and illustrator, who exhibits in the Paris Salon yearly; Mrs. Mollie Sparks Dolson, instructor in art at Valparaiso university for many years; James Bailey, whose landscape was exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1930; John W. Brein, winner of many exhibits in Paris, New York and Philadelphia; Louis Curtis, born in Porter County, now residing in Denver, Colorado; and Frank V. Dudley, nationally known for his paintings of the Porter County Dunes. His pictures are found in the permanent collections throughout the country. Artists and art lovers make pilgrimages to his home in the duneland.

From the dawn of history the Dune region of Lake Michigan has been one of the centers of interest to the peoples who inhabited America. Its commanding position at the southern shores of Lake Michigan, the center where the trails from the North and South crossed those from the East and West, where the rivers from Lake Michigan are connected by short portages with the Kankakee and the Desplaines, gave it a preeminence that make it a well-known center over all the continent.

In addition to its geographic position, the Dune region for centuries has exercised a charm peculiarly its own, that is now being appreciated by people from all over the world.

One who has never seen the Dunes has no conception of their beauty. He thinks of them as mere sand-hills, of bare glistening sand -- a veritable Sahara. If he skirts the Dunes in a train or auto, he can see not only the great dunes of glistening sand but also the belts of forest, trees, and other vegetation, with the sides bordered by marshes. If his curiosity is sufficiently arouses to take a trip through the Dunes, he will find himself in a new world.

The many enchanting views spreading before him; the Indian trails winding over the hills and through bosky glens and dense jungles; the old post road from Detroit and Michigan City that follows the beach from Michigan City to Polk's Slide near Tremont, thence winding through Dune Park, or Miller, then back to the beach again, along which the road ran to Chicago -- all these beautiful and interesting.

Before leaving this phase of our subject, mention should be made of the influence on art of Mrs. Mollie Dolson Sparks. She was a great teachers and evidence of this may be seen in the work of many of her pupils, as one incident will illustrate. Recently Mrs. Leota Williams Loop of Kokomo was introduced to an audience as a self trained painter. Mrs. Frank Lunbeck of Valparaiso, a pupil of Mrs. Sparks and for some years also an instructor in art at Valparaiso University, recognized the technique of one trained in colors and spoke to Mrs. Loop of her intuition. Mrs. Loop said that the chairman of the meeting had been mistaken; she for a short time had been one of Mrs. Sparks pupils. Mrs. Lunbeck herself, whose home is filled with evidence of her own skill and taste, speaks of Mrs. Sparks with merit, is another of her pupils.

In an entirely different medium should be mentioned in this connection, the beautiful hand-made furniture being turned out at the present time by Mr. John Hughart. His pieces are of sturdy construction and beautiful design; the inlays of light and dark wood are particularly effective. Mr. Hughart's work is not for the trade but is done for pure love of the finished product.

To turn to another phase of the subject, the use of modern reproductive processes to bring appreciation of art within the training of all has never been more employed than at the present time. Valparaiso high school has a flourishing art department under the conduct of Mrs. Leatha Ponader and Mr. J. B. Brown, whose pupils have show great proficiency in drawing and reproduction in the different mediums of color and also in the industrial arts. It has fallen to the credit of Valparaiso high school to be what is believed to be the first institution to include in its art course a series of lectures on illustrative methods. These lectures have been possible because Mr. N. S. Amstutz, scientist and technician of national repute, is a citizen of the town and his laboratories are just outside the city limits. His lectures present intaglio, relief, and surface printing and a description of all the related steps of each process.

The value of these lectures was evident recently. Through the co-operation of the Woman's Club, P. E. O., Delta Tau, the Sphinx club (the business and professional women), the University Women's Faculty club, the Tri Kappas, and American Association of University Woemn, sixty-one pictures from the Hoosier Salon were exhibited for ten days in Valparaiso. All school children were admitted to the exhibition and were chaperoned by their teachers. The students in the art classes excited favorable comment by their intelligent questions regarding the different kinds of art. Artists from other towns comments also on the excellent hanging and lighting of the pictures. This had been done under Mrs. Ponader's direction. The co-operation of the study and philanthropic organizations of the city in these projects is evidence of the community interest in art.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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