Saturday, August 4, 2012

Fountain Park Chautauqua

The Hotel at Fountain Park Chautauqua

For the past two weeks I've been teaching painting at the Fountain Park Chautauqua in Remington, Indiana, and it truly was like stepping back in time.  It was founded in 1895 and has had families come for camaraderie and learning continuously since then, even during the depression and the wars.  There are only two others still in existence, the original in Chautauqua, NY being one of them, and Lakeside, OH the other.   Unlike the original one in New York which is very huge with internationally known speakers and a constantly changing audience, Fountain Park is almost exactly like it was 100 years ago but without the horses and buggies, and with indoor plumbing and electricity, but no air conditioning or TV. (The original Chautauqua in NY was founded by the Methodist Church to teach Sunday School teachers.)  Around the hotel, there is a huge circle of cabins which were built and owned by each family. 

So the people at Fountain Park were born into families who owned a cabin, grew up there during the summer, sometimes met their spouses there, and raised their children.  Today it's a "no growth" community.   Because there's no more land on which to build cabins, many people have built up, creating a second story for the grand children and others.  However, there is enough land for some campers and tents.   Here is a link to its history:   As with the first Chautauqua, music and lectures are very important along with games and art.  Here's the building for lectures and music with it's open sides and very old theater seats.
A woman named Mrs. Ethel Lough started to teach painting in 1938, and they painted under the trees until 1943 when a small building was offered to house an "art colony".   Now they have a much larger metal building with two wings, one for teaching painting to adults and the other for children to paint and for women to use for quilting.  Here's my class:
To raise money for equipment for the "art colony",  Mrs. Lough would offer a painting each year to be raffled at the end of the main two weeks of entertainment, classes, and lectures.  This tradition continues so I painted the hotel as I demonstrated the oil painting process to the art colony.

"Chautauqua Hotel"  11" x 14", oil on canvas board

The Fountain Park Chautauqua is truly a unique and almost a secret place as many people in Indiana don't know it exists.  However, the families are very welcoming to visitors who can come to see the entertainment and hear the lectures, paint in the art colony, and stay in the hotel, all meals included.  It's not surprising that it's on the National Historical Register and is truly a living history.   It was a privilege to teach there. 

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