Indiana’s plein air painters urge preservation

In 2000, the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association published a very popular book featuring the works of 5 well known plein air painters who traveled the state and created paintings in each of Indiana’s 92 counties.

The Madison County painting, which features Mounds Park, was created by Lyle Denny.  Here’s what he wrote about it– “There are many beautiful places to paint in this county… but I chose Mounds State Park because of the Indian history and the hills.  I love to hike with a camera and each time I visit this overlook of the White River, I stop to soak it in.…”

In the preface of the book, IPAPA’s president, Anne Bryan Carter wrote the following pertinent observations:

We discovered that the gift of Indiana’s richness is a precious thing, and it is woven into the paintings that the artists have produced.  Throughout the project, our concern for these wonderful places has grown.  The changes of the last 100 years have not all been positive– the price of progress can be too high if scenic and unspoiled places are adversely and irreversible affected.  Much of Indiana’s land has changed since the turn of the last century, and the pristine view that has been painted by artists of the past has become more difficult to find.  But somewhere in every area we passed through, there are wetlands, wildlife refuges, state parks, and preserves.  These places, left to themselves to grow unencumbered, offer homes to countless varieties of native wildlife and vegetation.   The importance of preserving them became abundantly clear to us as we experienced the undisturbed Indiana lands.  Will they be there for artists in another hundred years?   Only with careful planning, protection, and involvement of all of us who understand the gifts that they provide and will continue to provide for our descendants can we be sure of their longevity. ”   (emphasis added)

Painting Indiana, Indiana Plein Air Painters Association, 2000

Heart of the River’s vision and mission statements

Vision statement

We envision the White River as a free-flowing stream, allowed to perform its many natural functions with minimal human encroachment.  We envision the river as an ecological, aesthetic, inspirational, community/cultural, and recreational resource which deserves protection.  We envision the preservation of the home places and family heritage which many local residents have established over several generations and desire to preserve.  We also envision the preservation of all sites, earthworks and artifacts of the earliest inhabitants for whom the White River meant both survival and spiritual sustenance.

Mission Statement

The Heart of the River coalition is a grassroots organization formed in 2013 in response to the threat of a planned dam on White River in Anderson, Indiana and a reservoir that would affect Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville, and Madison and Delaware Counties.  It will work to present our vision to the community and to public officials. It will offer an alternative nature- and community-oriented vision to the dam and reservoir proposal.  It will work to critique the rebuttable rationale offered by the promoters of a dam and to monitor, consult, and intervene, as appropriate, in proposed actions by public agencies.

Preserving wild and scenic Indiana

“If the world is a Creation, as many people believe, then we ought to leave good portions of it alone out of respect for the Creator.  Even if the world is an accident, as others believe, anyone with eyes to see must admit it’s filled with glories, and that should be reason enough to cherish these lands.  The choice is not between paving the entire state or turning it all back to wilderness.  We can chose to live here without forever expanding our domain.  We can chose to curb out appetites, protect the wild lands that remain, and begin, with Nature’s help, to restore some of what has been lost.  Instead of merely residing here, we can choose to become true inhabitants of Indiana, versed in its natural and human history, awake to its needs and splendors.  We only defend what we love, and we only love what we know.  Learning to know a place, whether a backyard or a watershed or an entire state, is an endless challenge, and therefore an endless source of delight.  ..”  Scott Russell Sanders, Wild and Scenic Indiana, 2005

The Art of Creeks, a poem by Lyle Loder Friedman

Here’s a prize-winning poem by a third-grade student from the 1996 River of Words Art and Poetry Contest.   The River of Words is a great program.


The Art of Creeks

When the sun sets

the creek turns

shiny yellow

which I paint.

When the moon

is in the sky

the creek is shiny white

which I paint.


Slithering water

keeps going,

keeps going

While under

the water,

the shiny gold rocks


The water is their blanket.


The creek of coldness

shakes your hand

as it turns


Quickly, I pull out

with cold


where I was.


The winter chills

the quiet creek.

That blizzard

rushed away

the noise.

I need the

Spring to come.


By:  Lyle Loder Friedman, 1996

Grade 3, Albington Friends School

Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania

(Delaware River watershed)

Grand Prize poetry winner (one of four)

1996 River of Words Poetry and Art Contest

Two pearls of wisdom from Two Coots in a Canoe

“Every species needs two things to exist:  clean air and clean water, but as a society, we’d rather waste billions ditching, diking, damming, and channelizing our rivers rather than just cleaning them up.  How sick is that?”


“One of the great fears of Homeland Security is that terrorists will contaminate our water supply.  If clean, potable water is so important to our homeland security, why aren’t we aggressively cleaning up our rivers?  All Congress has to do is enact a law that would make it illegal to dump any untreated waste—human, industrial or agricultural – into the river, but Congress won’t do that.  … Cleaning up our rivers is not a national priority.  As a society, we’re too complacent, too short-sighted, too greedy, too arrogant, and too stupid to see what we’re doing to ourselves.  Forget the terrorists.  In the words of Pogo, the possum sage of the Okefenokee Swamp, “We’ve met the enemy, and they are us.”

Two Coots in a Canoe—An Unusual Story of Friendship by David E. Morine, 2009

“Endgame” (Part 2) — from The Creation by Edward O. Wilson

In Chapter 10, Endgame, of E. O. Wilson’s 2006 book The Creation—An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, the reader is introduced to the sobering possibility of the imminent onset of next major era—

“The human hammer having fallen, the sixth mass extinction has begun.  This spasm of permanent loss is expected, if it is not abated, to reach the end-of-Mesozoic level by the end of the century.  We will then enter what poets and scientists alike may choose to call the Eremoziic Era—The Age of Loneliness.  We will have done it all on our own, and conscious of what was happening.  God’s will is not to blame….

“Life on this planet can stand no more plundering.  Quite apart from obedience to the universal moral imperative of saving the Creation, based upon religion and science alike, conserving biodiversity is the best economic deal humanity has ever had placed before it since the invention of agriculture.  The time to act, my respected friend, is now. The science is sound, and improving.  Those living today will either win the race against extinction or lose it, the latter for all time.  They will earn either everlasting honor or everlasting contempt.”

Hats Off to Garry Hill– Living Legend river man

The photo on this blog was taken May 18th during our Paddle Protest on White River.  Garry Hill, in the white shirt, is paddling the stern in the tan canoe.  When Garry saw the photo, he quipped something to the effect that the two “senior” guys in the photo didn’t exactly add luster to the brand.  However, in Garry’s case, I’d say the opposite is true— his presence in the photo very much adds panache.

Here’s why.  Last Saturday night, the Hoosier Canoe and Kayak Club hosted a large gala to celebrate its 50th year anniversary.  The long-time active members and leaders were honored.  Garry has been a club member for 33 years.  But he hasn’t just “been a member”. Here’s an excerpt from the presentation of Garry’s recognition as a “Living Legend”.

…“Garry has introduced hundreds and hundreds of people to the river, through his teaching, his myriad of great trips, his writing and wonderful trip reports, his photography, and his incredible knowledge.  Whenever any of us are looking for information about a specific river – flow levels, put-ins, etc., Garry is the person we turn to.  He always drops everything to help.

“And when we consider his advocacy work, the tireless campaigns to protect our naturally beautiful streams, in particular the prevention of dams from being built on the Wildcat Creek – which span decades – his work inspires new warriors to protect the river.  It’s because of Garry’s leadership that we know that a small group of individuals can win a big fight for the river.  He’s now working with the Heart of the River Coalition, the newly-formed group to oppose the plan to build a dam on White River near Anderson.

“Garry’s passion, enthusiasm, and dedication for bringing people to the rivers is boundless. Not only is he one of the best River Men of the Hoosier Canoe Club, but I would venture that he’s probably one of the best River Men that this state has ever seen, and will ever see.  “

A big Hats Off and Thank You to Garry Hill, and to the other honorees of the Hoosier Canoe and Kayak Club, for their strong leadership in protecting our continually threatened natural world!