A project by the Indiana State Bar Association and currently on display at Conner Prairie seeks to highlight the beauty of Indiana’s courthouses, which are not only the centers of law, but focal pieces for small town centers.
The ISBA through its Courthouse Art Project is looking for original art of courthouses from Indiana’s 92 counties, many of which have courthouses that are at least a century old. The art can be in any type of medium, from water color to paint, and in any style, from realistic to impressionistic. Doug Church, a partner with the firm Church Church Hittle and Antrim, is chairman of the project, and said there were a couple of reasons for starting the project in 2007.
“The primary motive was to create a unique collection, but also to get some art on the bare walls of the ISBA offices,” Church said.
The project has gotten new life thanks to Indiana celebrating its bicentennial this year, and it has been designated as a bicentennial legacy project. More than 40 paintings of Indiana courthouses have been submitted, with 20 more in the works, Church said.
The paintings will be on display at Conner Prairie throughout this year in the museum’s main campus building upstairs in its atrium. It’s one of several bicentennial projects on display there, and Lana Newhart Kellen, collections manager for the museum, said it’s been popular.
“We’ve had to refill the upstairs pamphlets a couple of times,” Kellen said.
She said she loves the diversity of the paintings, which makes for a great look at Indiana history.
“We have line drawings and a diversity in architecture of each building,” Kellen said. “Each courthouse was made in a different fashion.”
Howard Huntington, a partner at Bullaro and Carton P.C. in Chicago, recently donated to the project a painting of the Union County courthouse he painted in memory of his grandfather. He’s had an interest in art since he was younger and thought this would be a great way to honor his grandfather, who practiced in the building for many years and inspired him to get into law.
“I thought it would be a neat thing to participate in,” Huntington said. “It was a new challenge and it was very difficult and frustrating at times.”
Huntington used water color for the first time, which he said made things more difficult. He said it was hard to get the sharp lines of a building right when he was painting, but overall the project was very relaxing and he’s glad he did it.
“I really enjoyed it and thought it was a great tribute to my grandfather,” Huntington said. “I always looked up to him for career advice.”
Right now, less than half of Indiana’s 92 counties are represented in the project, and Church said he’d like art from every county. For more information on the courthouse project, email Church at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see images of all the paintings submitted so far, visit the Indiana State Bar Association’s Facebook page.•