The grouping of artworks included artists considered to be pioneer painters or artists whose work has naïve characteristics. A common thread through these two movements was simple, uncomplicated technique, formulated composition or skewed perspective.
The pioneer painter traveled during the frontier days of the Indiana Territory until the late 19th century when social and industrial structures were established. Following wealth and prosperity westward, the pioneer painters sought portrait commissions but would paint carriages, signs, or stencil ornamental friezes for additional income. A majority of these artists had little or no formal training and learning took place through apprenticeships like other trades of the time. This exhibit includes the work of Indiana’s foremost pioneer painter George Winter and landscape artist Rose O’Byrne.
It is believed that an artist whose work is influenced by a naïve style lacks education. In the late 19th century and early 20th century this was often true; however, more formally trained artists have adopted this simple method as a springboard to artistic expression. This exhibit included the work of 19th century artist Jacob Maentel and 20th century African-American artist Charles A. Owens.