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The Artists of the Wonderland Way

he Carnegie Center is pleased to present the exhibit The Artists of the Wonderland Way, on display January 25 through April 6, 2013, in celebration of New Albany’s bicentennial. The exhibit explores artworks created just before World War I and in the inter-war years of the 1920s and 1930s by local artists who were members of the Wonderland Way Art Club.

The 1906 opening of the Art Shop in New Albany by James L. Russell created an influential venue for regional art in the Southern Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky, area, and a gathering place for such artists as Joseph Krementz, Ferdinand Graham Walker, Harvey Joiner, Paul Plaschke, John Bauscher, Grover Page, Orville Carroll, and Russell and his son, James J. Russell. The Art Shop was a combination art supply shop and gallery, and the Wonderland Way Art Club was born there.

The artists who formed the club were inspired by, and took the club’s name from, a network of roads, going along the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio to Mount Vernon, Illinois, that was designated the Wonderland Way in the immediate post-World War I years in an effort to promote tourism by automobile. New Albany was one of the major Indiana cities on the route, along with Madison, Jeffersonville, Corydon and Evansville. While the Wonderland Way Art Club itself had a short life, the name endures to describe those artists who frequented the Russell Art Shop from the World War I era to the start of World War II.

The exhibition The Artists of the Wonderland Way will include work by Norvin Baker, John T. Bauscher, Orville Carroll, Hundley Coolman, Sidney D. Crosier, William Hancock, Harvey Joiner, Walter Kiser, Joseph Krementz, Carl Lotick, Grover Page Sr., Grover Page Jr., Harvey Peake, Paul Plaschke, R.M. Rasmussen, James L. Russell, James J. Russell, Lawrence Russell, Fred Shrader, A. J. Van Leshout, Ferdinand Graham Walker, and Cora Weymss. This exhibit represents the first time that the work of these artists has been shown together in over 50 years.

Warren and Julie Payne, of Payne Fine Arts, served as guest curators for this exhibition. The Paynes are art collectors who have curated exhibitions in southern Indiana and Louisville for many years. They are very familiar with the artists of the Wonderland Way and have published eight art exhibition catalogs, including one titled, “The Collectors’ Showcase: Artists of the Ohio Valley School and the Wonderland Way, 1883-1940.”

Support for this exhibition was provided by The Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, The New Albany Bicentennial Commission, and the Carnegie Center, Inc.

Photography by Julie Payne.