A painter, decorator, and lecturer, Derk Smit was born in the Netherlands and lived most of his adult life in Chicago, Illinois. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago with Joseph Allworthy. He exhibited at the Navy Pier in 1939 and was President of D. Smith Interior Decorating Company of Chicago. Derk Smit died in 1985 at the age of 96. He was a member of the Hoosier Salon and won 6 awards there between 1953 and 1968. He was best known as a landscape painter. Smit’s most desirable paintings are those of Brown County, Indiana and of California, where he experimented with Plein-Aire landscapes with bold colors. He moved to California around 1953 but made trips back to Illinois and Indiana to paint.
Many of these artists were either native to Indiana or lived, worked, and studied around the Midwest in the early 20th century, specifically in Indiana locales such as Indianapolis, Brown County, Muncie, Nashville, Portland, Richmond, South Bend, and southern Indiana.
Several artists studied or were integral figures at Indiana institutes such as the Fort Wayne Art School, Muncie Art School, Indiana School of Art, and the Richmond School. Others were associated with entities such as the Brown County Art Colony, Hoosier Group, Hoosier Salon, and the Richmond Art Museum. The artwork we are seeking includes impressionist, landscape, oil, still life, and watercolor paintings from these Indiana artists.
Brown County Art Colony
The Brown County Art Colony was formed in the early 1900s by artists who were attracted by the undisturbed picturesque landscape known as Peaceful Valley. T.C. Steele was the first to become a resident of the county when he purchased 200 acres near Belmont. Adolph Shulz is considered to be the founder of the Brown County Art Colony. He began visiting Brown County in 1908 and in 1917 became a permanent resident. Both Adolph Shulz and T.C. Steele influenced other artists and many began building cabins and moving to the area.
Will Vawter and Gustave Baumann were among the first to make Brown County their home. Other artists such as Charles Dahlgreen, Lucie Hartrath, and L.O. Griffith came from Chicago and by the early 1930s there were at least eighteen artists with permanent homes in Brown County.
Artists such as C. Curry Bohm, Edward K. Williams, Ada Walter Shulz, Carl Graf, V.J. Cariani, Gustav Baumann, Will Vawter, Dale Bessire, Georges LaChance, Marie Goth, Leota Loop, Adam Emory Albright, Olive Rush, and Alexis Fournier flourished and created the Brown County Art Colony nearly 100 years ago.
- Letsinger-Miller, Lyn. The Artists of Brown County. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.
- Nesbit, M. Joanne, ed., Barbara Judd, comp. Those Brown County Artists: The Ones Who Came the Ones Who Stayed the Ones Who Moved On. Nashville: Nana’s Book, 1993.
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