GREENFIELD — As James Whitcomb Riley is Greenfield’s celebrated poet, so Will Vawter is Greenfield’s celebrated artist.

After several years with a June date, the Will Vawter Art Show and Competition will return to a date closer to the artist’s April 13 birthday.

“There were so many competitions in June,” Jackie Osting, gallery coordinator for the Hancock County Arts Council, said. “It just made sense to move it back to April.”

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Vawter was born in 1871 in West Virginia but moved with his family to Greenfield at the age of 6. Basically a self-taught artist, Vawter began his career doing illustrations for the Indianapolis Sentinel in 1891.

Soon, his work appeared in other newspapers and magazines. Around this same time, another Greenfield native, James Whitcomb Riley, was also making a name for himself as the Hoosier Poet. In 1893, Riley needed an illustrator, and Will Vawter got the job.

During the next 30 years, Vawter’s work appeared in many of Riley’s books. In 1908, Vawter and his wife moved from Greenfield to Nashville, Indiana.

There he helped to establish what would later be known as the Brown County Art Colony, along with other famous Indiana artists such as T.C. Steele and Adolph and Ada Shulz.

Despite moving to Brown County, Vawter maintained his Greenfield ties and often visited the city. Will Vawter died in 1941 and was laid to rest in Greenfield’s Park Cemetery.

It’s Vawter and his work that are celebrated with the Will Vawter Art Show and Competition, now in its 17th year.

More than 30 artists from all over the state have submitted work in the areas of oil and acrylic, water color and other 2-D mediums. Prizes will be given in all three categories with $1,000 being awarded to the overall Best in Show.

Osting expressed excitement about the skill of those who are displaying their work.

“We’ve received entries from a lot of new artists and gotten a lot of good art,” Osting said.

The juried show, featuring the winning artwork, will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the new Twenty North Gallery, 20 N. State St.

Many pieces of original art in the show will be for sale throughout the event with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Hancock County Arts. An original Vawter painting, “Trees,” will be on display.

The juror for this year’s competition is David Slonim, whose fine art career began with a sold-out show in 1998 at Overland Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. His work has been selected for Great American Artists, the Western Rendezvous of Art, the Western Miniatures Show at the C.M. Russell Museum, and the Rising Stars exhibit at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.

Slonim’s paintings hang in corporate, museum and private collections nationally.

For information on the contest, visit

Christine Schaefer is arts editor and editorial assistant at the Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3222 or