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Courthouse artwork on display at ISBA

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The Indiana State Bar Association's courthouse art project is now on display for the public at the ISBA's offices in downtown Indianapolis. As of March 24, the collection included a total of 27 original paintings, charcoal drawings, ink drawings, and other artistic interpretations of historic and modern courthouses around Indiana.

In what started as an idea of then-ISBA president Douglas Church, which he kicked off with a donation from the Hamilton County Bar Association, the project continues to grow as a handful of artworks were donated in March. More are on the way, and "somewhere between six and 10 counties" have expressed an interest in donating to the project, Church said.

Church added that his last act as president of the ISBA when he stepped down in late 2009 was to name himself the "unofficial permanent chairman of the courthouse art committee."

He quickly credited the committee's actual co-chairs Julia Kozicki and Jane Merrill for their work on the project.

Church, along with Kozicki, Merrill, and others at the ISBA, have a goal to have artwork from about half of Indiana's counties by the end of the year.

To reach that goal, Church said committee members have been contacting attorneys in counties that aren't yet represented by the project.

"Part of the intent of our effort initially was to reach out to local bar associations and provide assistance and resources for things they couldn't do on their own," he said. "For example, the ISBA hosts local bar association's Web sites free of charge and makes sure the content is kept up to date."

Church and Kozicki said they've been impressed with how the counties have collected artwork for the project. Some have held contests where the first place winner's artwork is given to the ISBA and runners up have had their art displayed at the respective county's courthouse. Others have had contests for prize money or received donations from area judges, lawyers, or county bar associations who already had original artwork of their county's courthouse.

Each donation also has a story, Church and Kozicki said. In one county that held a contest, the winner was a high school student. In another county the winner was someone Church said was "unfortunately familiar with the court system."

To get the word out, the ISBA has published a brochure of the art they've received so far - along with a list of counties who haven't yet donated - to distribute at various events. That brochure, which includes information about the artists and donors, will be updated periodically.

Church said he hoped to have all of the art available for viewing at an upcoming statewide event, but those plans were still being finalized at Indiana Lawyer deadline. Until then, there are two ways to see the courthouse art: visit the ISBA offices, which some attorneys and artists have been doing; or visit the ISBA's Facebook page, which is available even to those not on Facebook. The Facebook site also has photos from various donation ceremonies.

The Facebook page includes artwork from Bartholomew, Benton, Daviess, DeKalb, Delaware, Dubois, Elkhart, Fulton, Fountain, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Jasper, Knox, Lake, Madison, Miami, Morgan, Posey, Sullivan, Tipton, Vanderburgh, Vigo, Wabash, Washington, and Wells county bar associations, lawyers, and others. Other artworks that have been donated but not yet officially handed over to the ISBA, including one from St. Joseph County, will be added to the site as they are available.

"I'm delighted we're over 25 percent of the way through the counties," Kozicki said. "The art is just lovely. I've enjoyed seeing it come in. We're always happy to learn about new counties."

For anyone who'd like to help their county contribute, Kozicki suggested they first touch base with county bar association leaders, and then call the ISBA or Kozicki, who said she was listed in the ISBA directory. "We'd be happy to help them get started."

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