Art within the Club
The University Club of Indiana University in Bloomington is proud to display two Rudy Pozzatti prints. Considering his international reputation as a fine-art printmaker and cofounder of Bloomington’s Echo Press, it may be a surprise to learn that Rudy Pozzatti might have become a doctor had it not been for a chance encounter when he was 17.
Pozzatti, 86, grew up in Telluride, Colorado, an area then known not for ski resorts but the gritty culture of gold and silver mines. His mother had come to Colorado by herself from her Italian hometown of Trento at the tender age of 13, invited by her uncle to help run a boarding house for miners. Several years later she married a miner who was also, coincidentally, from Trento. As a child, Pozzatti developed a keen interest in drawing, though formal art instruction scarcely existed in the largely working-class town. With a scholarship to the University of Colorado, he imagined he would study medicine, but when the head of the art department happened to see his portfolio, she declared, “You’re going into art.”
After serving as an artilleryman during World War II, Pozzatti married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy, and completed an M.F.A. He taught printmaking at the University of Nebraska, and in 1952 a Fulbright Fellowship enabled him to take Dorothy and their first child to Italy. “I’ve never been the same since,” he says of the impression made on him by the abundance of centuries-old art and architecture.
Pozzatti sold one of his paintings to writer and Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce, then-American ambassador to Italy, who later presented the piece as a wedding gift to her private secretary, Letitia Baldrige (etiquette expert and later First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s social secretary).
In 1956, Pozzatti was invited to apply for a position teaching printmaking at IU’s Department of Fine Arts. Bloomington has been his home base ever since. In addition to teaching, exhibiting his work around the U.S., and working overseas—in the early ’60s he traveled to the Soviet Union as an arts ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and later studied woodblock cutting in Japan—Pozzatti founded Echo Press with fellow printmaker David Keister in 1979. Almost immediately, the press became a place where artists had their work printed, collaborated on projects, and presented guest lectures. The press closed in 1995, four years after Pozzatti retired from IU.
Rudy and Dorothy recently downsized, selling the house they designed, built, and called home for 51 years. But this artist has no plans to quit. “I simply want to continue my creative pursuits without the pressure of specific projects,” he says.
Theodore Clement Steele is perhaps the most famous of the “Hoosier Group” of American impressionist painters. Born in Owen County, on Sept. 11, 1847, T.C. Steele moved to Waveland, southwest of Crawfordsville, when he was 5 years old. Steele attended a college prep school called the Waveland Collegiate Institute, where he was given a box of paints and began to develop his talent as an artist. By the age of 13, he was giving his fellow students lessons in drawing. Steele also received some instruction in Cincinnati and Chicago and later moved to Indianapolis to become a portrait painter.
In 1870, he married Mary Elizabeth Lakin. For the first few years of their marriage, they lived in Battle Creek, Mich., where Steele did some portrait painting. The couple returned to Indianapolis in 1873 and T.C. began painting portraits of wealthy Indianapolis residents, some of whom supported the artist enough to fund five years of study in Munich, Germany. In 1880, T.C. and Mary left for Europe with their three children, Brandt, Daisy and Shirley.
The Steele family returned to Indianapolis in 1885 and T.C. opened an art school in addition to painting portraits. Though T.C. made his living by painting portraits, he knew that painting landscapes was his true love. He wanted to capture the light and color of the autumn landscape and spent summers and autumns in the country so that he could work on his landscapes. He even purchased a “studio wagon” in which he and his family could travel the countryside in comfort. In the 1890s, Steele became a nationally recognized painter, but this success was bittersweet due to his beloved wife’s death in 1895. After Mary’s death, he decided to focus on painting landscapes, something his wife had always encouraged him to do.
Steele purchased 200 heavily wooded acres in Brown County, married Selma Neubacher, the assistant superintendent of art in the Indianapolis school system, and settled into “The House of the Singing Winds” to paint the hilly landscapes of this rural area near Bloomington. At first, his farmer neighbors thought Steele and his wife were strange. The Steeles were refined “city folk” who did not seem to understand that the land was to be worked for profit, not captured in art. Over time, the neighbors came to respect the artist. Steele eventually became an honorary professor at Indiana University. He died on July 24, 1926. The University Club is proud to house two T.C. Steele paintings.
HERMAN B WELLS PORTRAIT over the fireplace in the Presidents’ Room
The legend that is Herman B Wells figures prominently in the history of the University Club. Under the inventive guidance of Dr. Wells, the University Club was formed as an umbrella organization for its constituent clubs and was provided the space it occupies on two floors of the Indiana Memorial Union building. Considered one of the great leaders in higher education, Herman B Wells devoted his life to making Indiana University an academic and cultural institution of international stature. He entered IU as an undergraduate in 1921, joined the faculty in 1930, and began his legendary 25-year presidency in 1937. The fruits of Dr. Wells’ efforts and ideals can be seen throughout the university system.
Come visit University Club at 900 East 7th Street, Room 150, Bloomington to see the finest collections of arts we have. We welcome visitors to check out this incredible place! Planning to use our halls for a party or event? please call us at (812) 855-1325. Our office is open from Monday to Friday: 9:00am – 3:00pm.