Art program draws attention to the White River


The story took place on the surface of the overturned canoe.

On one side, in vivid colors surrounded by red, white and blue, paintings show victorious American forces defeating Native American and British forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe, an integral part of the War of 1812 held near Lafayette. The reverse side of the canoe shows the perspective of Native Americans, who lost their lands as America grew.

The canoe, ridden in the open in Southwestway Park, south of Indianapolis, is designed to get people thinking about the impact of colonization on different people.

“My goal was to do a historical satire that would be both educational and entertaining to watch. I hope people see this piece and see the sacrifice that was made to build the country we now know, ”artist Jamahl Crouch, who created the piece, said in a statement.

The Crouch Canoe is one of 10 canoes located in central Indiana designed to get people thinking of the land we call home, especially when it comes to our waterways. White River Art Canoes features 10 specially painted boats, all set up in parks and stopping points along the waterway.

The goal is to raise awareness of the recent reinvestment and revitalization of the Indianapolis Main Waterway, as well as future plans.

“Our mission is centered around protecting and enhancing the White River, which really requires people to pay attention to it, pay attention to it and develop a sense of belonging,” said Jill Hoffman, Executive Director of White River Alliance. , an organization dedicated to improving and protecting water resources in central Indiana.

The White River and its watershed encompass an area of ​​2,720 square miles in central Indiana, spanning 16 counties, including significant parts of Johnson County. Thousands of people get their drinking water from the river, and its ecosystem is home to countless types of wildlife.

But throughout its history, the waters of the White River have been poorly managed and polluted. Just 20 years ago, the river was so polluted that it killed an estimated 4.6 million fish.

Local governments, environmental groups, tourist boards and others have worked together in recent years to protect the White River and engage the public in the river. Dragon boat races, a river festival, and free kayaking and canoeing sessions are White River Alliance programs that grew out of these efforts.

“The river is the main source of drinking water. It is extremely important in our everyday life. It also supports a number of our local businesses and provides us with benefits that people don’t think of, such as cleaner air from trees on the shore, wildlife and recreation, ”Hoffman said. “It’s really important that we put people’s eyes on it and let them know that this is not something we can take for granted. “

White River Art Canoes is an art-centric example of this awareness. The project was envisioned and organized by the White River Alliance, in conjunction with the White River Vision Plan – a coordinated, community-led plan to improve 58 miles of the White River in Marion and Hamilton counties.

Government officials from Indianapolis and Hamilton County have collaborated with the philanthropic arm of the tourism organization Visit Indy to enjoy the beauty of the river, while emphasizing its importance to the ecosystem and our daily lives. The goal is to create an accessible, recreational and cultural environment that encourages a unique sense of belonging for the community and ensures a sustainable future for the river itself.

White River Art Canoes supports this goal by encouraging people to explore some of the places along the river. The locations of the canoe facilities were chosen to accentuate and highlight the anchor point locations for the White River Vision Plan.

“As central Indiana increasingly embraces the White River and begins to implement the unifying vision of the White River Vision Plan, Art Canoes allows us to celebrate the unique tapestry of places, neighborhoods and communities. along our river, ”said Brenda Myers, President and CEO. Hamilton County Tourism. “The river physically connects these places, and the artwork and storytelling reminds us of our connection to the river over time, across cultures and to each other. “

To make the canoes themselves, the organizers worked with renowned artists from across the region, who had a connection to the communities surrounding the White River. Their designs help reflect the unique elements of the river in each location.

Hamilton Heights Middle School art students, led by teacher Erin Goodman, created a canoe depicting a map of the White River, with ripples of color extending outward, symbolizing positive impact and power of the river on the surrounding communities.

Artist Krista Darrow’s canoe, located at Potter’s Bridge Park in Noblesville, features river-backed flowers and dragonflies, inspired by the meadow adjacent to the bridge. With the importance of the river to Native Americans and the land shaped by the prehistoric ice ages, oil painter Walt Thacker incorporated both into his design.

One of the more interesting designs and locations comes from Belmont Beach, which was the separate area along the river where the black community swam and held gatherings. The site represents the damage done to people of color in the city, but has also become a revitalized symbol of resilience.

Samuel Penaloza designed a canoe depicting a woman looking to a hopeful future that in the past may have been impossible for residents who lived around Belmont Beach.

“She wears flowers in her hair and is surrounded by abstract representations of bubbles, circles, organic shapes that highlight the vital resilience of people here,” Penaloza said in a statement by the artist.

The artistic canoes will be on display in their various parks and locations through October, coinciding with the Free White River Alliance paddling days and the Indiana Water Summit.

“This period marks a number of our events. There are many ways people can get involved, and we hope the artistic canoes draw them to the river and get them to ask more questions about how to get involved, ”Hoffman said.

In one look

White River Art Canoes

What: An art project featuring 10 canoes painted by local artists, designed to raise awareness of the recent and future reinvestment and revitalization of central Indiana’s waterways.

Who: The program is a partnership between the White River Alliance and the White River Vision Plan.

When: now until October


  • Southwestway Park, 8400 Mann Road, Indianapolis
  • Belmont Beach, 2020 N. White River Parkway W. Dr., Indianapolis
  • White River State Park, 801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis
  • Riverside Adventure Park, 3702 N. White River Parkway W. Dr., Indianapolis
  • Broad Ripple Park, 1500 Broad Ripple Ave., Indianapolis
  • Hazel Landing Park, 10601 Hazel Dell Parkway, Carmel
  • Conner Prairie, 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers
  • River Road Park, 12575 River Road, Carmel
  • Potter’s Bridge Park, 19401 N. Allisonville Road, Noblesville
  • Strawtown Koteewi Park, 12308 Strawtown Ave., Noblesville



Kayleen C. Rice

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