Tuesday, August 17, 2010

God Bless The Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair is in town.  Indiana has a good state fair.  The layout of the fairgrounds is great and the parking is surprisingly well organized.  It is clean and just the right size, not too big and not too small; however, this year I am taking issue with a situation displayed at the fair.  A traveling sculpture inspired by (knocked-off from) Grant Wood's famous 1930 American Gothic painting is on display in a prominent location on the fairgrounds.  I saw it first hand last week and I just didn't dig it.  The sculpture is by American artist J. Seward Johnson (a Johnson & Johnson heir) and is titled God Bless America.  It is on loan from The Sculpture Foundation which encourages the placement of public art.  The sculpture had previously been displayed in Chicago (also to mixed reviews, per my reading) so I realized this was a, "Hey we're in the area and have got this sculpture and you guys have the state fair going on do you want us to drop this thing off before we move it on to someplace else?" kind of situation.

(sculpture display in Chicago)

The angle the Indiana State Fair is taking with Johnson's sculpture is that they hope God Bless America will remind fair visitors of the importance of agriculture in Indiana.  Huh?  Isn't that what the fair does in general?  Anyway, the American Gothic painting does not remind me of Indiana, ever.  It reminds me of Iowa.  So, instead of me seeing the God Bless America sculpture and thinking about it as a sculpture I was left thinking of the people and personalities that are actually from Indiana and how great it would be if the Indiana State Fair commissioned 25-foot sculptures of influential, well-known or even popular people or personalities from Indiana.  You know, celebrated their own.  (I am choosing to ignore the general weirdness of having the same sculpture mean something different depending on its placement, another topic appropriate for discussion on it's own.)  As I pretend the state fair has the budget to commission giant sculptures I have compiled a list of both past and present Hoosiers that that I am nominating for consideration.

Here we go...
Abraham Lincoln - lived in Spencer County, IN from age 7 - 21 - 

James Dean - actor - born in Marion, IN - 

Karl Malden - actor - starred in A Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront & Patton among many others - I've always liked him - raised in Gary, IN - 

Steve McQueen - actor - born in Beech Grove, IN - 

David Letterman (with his Mom of course) - born and raised in Indianapolis, IN - 

Steve Kroft - longtime correspondent for 60 Minutes - I've always liked him too - born in Kokomo, IN -

Sydney Pollack - director, producer, actor - some of my favorites from his best known movies include Jeremiah Johnson, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, The Way We Were, & Out of Africa out of many, many others - born in Lafayette, IN - 

Michael Jackson - no explanation on who he is - born in Gary, IN - 

Axl Rose - if you don't already know who he is you probably don't want to know - he would surely cause controversy, but he'd have a lot of fans - born in Layfayette, IN - 

David Lee Roth - ditto on knowing who he is already - even thought I place myself in the Sammy Hagar over David Lee Roth camp - ditto on controversy potential - born in Bloomington, IN - 

John Mellencamp - Mr. Indiana himself - born in Seymour, IN and lives in Bloomington, IN - 

Larry Bird - duh - born in West Baden, IN and grew up there and in French Lick, IN - 

Chuck Taylor - How cool would a big pair of these be for a sculpture? - born in Azalia, IN - 

Halston - fashion designer - went to high school in Evansville, IN - 

Bill Blass - fashion designer - born in Fort Wayne, IN - 

Orville Redenbacher - Mr. Popcorn - born in Brazil, IN - 

Robert Indiana - artist - a giant version of his LOVE sculpture would be nice - born in New Castle, IN - 

Kurt Vonnegut - cooler than cool American novelist - born and raised in Indianapolis, IN - 

Colonel Eli Lilly - without the business he founded the city of Indiana would practically collapse and I would not be able to enjoy my position in life as the "financial anchor" around my husband's neck (as he affectionately likes to call our daughter and me) - grew up in, became, was, is Indianapolis - 

Garfield - Who doesn't love this cat? - his cartoon is set in Muncie, IN - 

And last but not least, my very favorite ... 
John Dillinger - gangster, bank-robber & one time "Public Enemy" to the US Government at least - born, raised and buried in Indianapolis, IN - 


  1. I wonder what statue would be appropriate for your own home town. Perhaps the Christmas water tank.

  2. That is a no-brainer ... Glenn and his twin brother.

  3. Don't forget stuffy designer extraordinaire Mark Hampton, born in Plainfield.

  4. Maybe my favorite part of the state museum is the famous hoosier enclave with Mellancamp and Cole Porter alternating from the speakers....I'm happy I found your blog as I live in Indianapolis, too, but really...."bland"? Harsh.

  5. My other favorite way to describe Indianapolis is "white bread". The people are nice though...and there are 2 Nordstroms here.

  6. This is the great post here..and well good thinking of this one..
    sell your home quickly