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Thursday, June 09, 2011

New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art presents "Natural Elements"

News and Information Article Photo
John E. Spurgin

"A Golden Rose"

Acrylic on canvas 1992
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Wendy Knipe Bredhold
Media Relations Specialist, News & Information Services
The New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art presents "Natural Elements," an exhibition of work by Curt Schmitt and John Spurgin, June 25 through August 14. A reception for the artists will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25, and is free and open to the public.

Despite the inundation of our society by technology, Schmitt, of New Harmony, and Spurgin, of Evansville, manage to be inspired by the natural world. Schmitt's beautifully hand-crafted wood furniture is determined by the natural qualities of his medium. The character of the wood - the grain, color, and texture - guides the design of the work.

"A beautiful curve in the grain impresses itself toward an arched chair back, or the particularly rich red hue of a cherry door panel faintly suggests the blush of a sunset," Schmitt said.

Likewise, Spurgin's equally abstract work references the beauty of the flat and parceled Midwestern landscape and includes a series of floral paintings the artist compares to the botanical prints popular in the 18th century and to the work of 20th century artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

Schmitt was born and raised in Indiana. Originally from Rockport, he spent most of his childhood in Greenfield. After obtaining degrees from Wabash College and Yale University, Schmitt taught philosophy, religion, literature, and art in Memphis, Tennessee, where he and his wife Paula and son Christian lived for 23 years.

During his years of teaching, Schmitt developed a successful woodworking business which became his sole profession when he retired from teaching in 2006. Long attracted to the rich history and culture of New Harmony, he and Paula are happy to call it home. Schmitt designs and builds fine furniture and cabinetry in a shop next to the house he built just outside of the town.

Indianapolis native Spurgin has been making art for 50 years. After receiving a master's degree in studio art from Indiana State University, he began his career as an art teacher in Flint, Michigan. He continued teaching art at the Flint Institute of Arts, the University of Cincinnati, Minnesota State University, and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, where he served as vice president of Academic Affairs. He and his wife Myrna relocated to Evansville in 1997 and he became director of the Hoosier Salon New Harmony Gallery in 2001. His work has been exhibited widely in more than a dozen states and in Canada.

The New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art is located at 506 Main Street in New Harmony, Indiana, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 812/682-3156 or visit

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