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Major exhibition showcases paintings and other works of James Spencer Russell
Hand – Body Parts Series”, mixed media construction and found objects, image: 21”x 21” x 4”d. date 1966, courtesy Kelly and Pamela Leeman.
INDIANAPOLIS, IND.- The Indiana State Museum hosts a major retrospective exhibition of 60+ paintings, drawings and mixed media wall constructions by Hoosier artist James Spencer Russell (1915-2000), from April 4 to October 12, 2014.

The exhibition Style, Elegance and Wit: The Art of James Spencer Russell is drawn from the Indiana State Museum permanent fine art collection and several private Indiana collectors including Steve Conant, a noted Indiana art collector. Conant also wrote the forward for the exhibit catalog.

“James Spencer Russell was virtually unknown in his native state of Indiana, yet earned a national reputation with his work regularly featured in gallery and museum exhibitions in New York City and across the United States for more than 30 years,” said Curator of Fine Art Mark Ruschman. “We present an extensive assortment of both personal artifacts and artwork; chronicling Russell’s entire career. Through this exhibition, we’ll reintroduce the public to this uniquely talented and inventive Hoosier artist.”

The exhibition features several works that will excite the imagination, including significant works inspired by Russell’s fascination with James Joyce’s modern literary masterpiece, Finnegan’s Wake.

James Spencer Russell, born in Monticello, Ind., spent his early years in Kewanna, Ind. He spent most of his professional life as an artist in New York City. He studied with Raymond Johnson (American-born Modernist painter known for his paintings of the American Southwest) at the University of New Mexico, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and with Donald Oenlenger at Yale University in theatre set design where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree.

Russell exhibited his work in New York City and all across the U.S. from 1961 to the 1990s, and was considered a pioneer of set design for conversion to color television, working at NBC Television. His one-man shows of mixed media wall constructions resulted in the inclusion of pieces in the movies Midnight Cowboy and John and Mary. An avid jazz fan, his artwork served as the design for the cover of Chico Freeman's album titled Chico. He was represented by the 57th Street gallery, Ruth White Gallery in New York City for many years and exhibited at the American Federation of the Arts, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Cleveland Museum of Art before returning to his hometown of Kewanna, Ind.

The exhibition is included with museum admission.

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