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Square Deal Art Show

Area artists to exhibit,
sell their 12x12-inch artwork

The annual show has gained in popularity
since it began in 2012

(November 2016) – When the late local artist Bob Saueressig suggested the Madison Art Club start the annual Square Deal Exhibit in 2012, Elle Smith already had a 47-year history with the club.
“My husband and I met each other at an art club meeting around 1965 or ’66,” said Smith. “Another member, Ann Campbell, introduced us. She saw him looking at a painting of mine and walked over and said, ‘I want you to go meet this guy.’ That started our love affair.”
A few years later, Elle and her husband, Jack Smith, opened the first Madison Art Gallery in 1968, right across the street from Art on Main Gallery, which is now the art club’s headquarters.
“Ann loved painting flowers, and my husband and I painted portraits,” Smith said. “He and I had similar styles and could paint on each other’s canvases. He would look at one of his paintings and say, ‘I don’t remember doing that.’ ”
The range of art in the Square Deal Exhibit stretches far beyond flowers to portraits, but everything in the exhibit is on the same 12x12-inch canvas.

Photo by John Sheckler

Elle Smith displays one of her 12x12-inch paintings she will enter in the Square Deal Art Show.

“We provide the canvases, so everyone starts with the same exact surface material and size,” said art club President Teresa Waller. “The artists can do whatever they want. Traditional artists do oil or acrylic, but others do a collage. I have seen watercolor paper pasted on the canvas. Whatever they want to do on the canvas that will appeal to the artist and the public is allowed.”
Square Deal started when Saueressig came back from a trip out west, where he had seen a show with a similar concept. Waller threw out the name Square Deal and it stuck.
“This is one of our more popular events because we love to see what the artists come up with,” Waller said. “It has grown into a two-month show – November and December.”
Smith is trying for something different than her usual style for her Square Deal entries this year. Her work will lean toward Impressionism but with bright colors. The 12x12-inch canvas is also much smaller than works she has had accepted in other shows in the region.
For two years, her work has been accepted in the Indiana University East 38th annual Regional Art Show.
This show accepts artists from a 200-mile radius of the Richmond, Ind., campus.
“There are normally around 200-250 entries in this juried exhibition,” said Smith. “Out of that, they select 30 to exhibit. Last year, my entry was a 4x5-foot portrait of my mother called “Mature Vine.” She was in her middle ’70s and was next to a great big mature rose bush.”
Her entry this year was also 4x5-feet in size.
“This year, it was titled ‘Sunday Afternoon at the Broadway Fountain Park,’ ” said Smith. A man and woman are sitting on a park bench eating ice cream. Across from them is an older woman, and behind her is the funeral home. Her face does not show but you can see by her legs that she is elderly.
I tried to show we live and we die, and make the best in between.”
Smith earned a bachelor’s degree at Hanover College with Departmental Honors in Art and a master’s degree in Fine Art from Ball State University in Drawing and Painting. She has also done post masters work in Art Education and Museum Management at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Her portrait of J. Graham Brown hangs in the Brown Campus Center Library at Hanover College, and one of her works was hung in the West Wing of the White House during the administration of George W. Bush.
Waller has high praise for Smith and her artwork.
“She played a major role in the art club for many years,” said Waller.” She was president when I moved here and became involved in the club in 2011.”
Smith shares her praise with her husband and other early members of the Madison Art Club.
“He was quite a salesman,” she said. “He sold WAKY Radio on the idea of us painting portraits of all their deejays. We did Bill Bailey and Johnny Randolph. There were 10 all together. The club started in 1949 with 12 artists. I knew some of the original members who got together and formed the club.”
The club is much larger now. There are expected to be more than 100 paintings without frames from more than 50 artists to be displayed in the club’s Art on Main Gallery. All paintings are then priced at $99, and the art club takes 25 percent on sales.
“Sometimes we sell off enough that we need to add more,” Waller said. “We are not strict on artists who come in after the deadline. If someone wants to add more canvases, we let them.”
The Square Deal Exhibit runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. The Art on Main Gallery and Gift Shop is located at 309 W. Main St., in Madison. It is the largest art gallery in Madison and is one of the oldest continuously operating art clubs in the state of Indiana. The gallery offers jewelry, wearable art, hand crafted wood items, note cards, small original paintings and other one-of-a-kind pieces.
An opening reception is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, during the “Christmas in Madison Downtown Open House.”

• For more information, call Art on Main Gallery at
(812) 265-2923.

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