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Tarble Arts Center Permanent Collection

The Tarble Arts Center permanent collection contains just over one-thousand objects. Intended as a teaching collection, holdings are concentrated in:

  • 20th century Illinois folk arts, complemented by Folk Archives of audio and video tapes and recordings, photographs, and interviews of musicians, artists and craftspersons
  • 20th and 21st century contemporary works on paper; with a focus on original prints, drawings and watercolors by Midwestern artists
  • American Scene/Regionalists prints and watercolors circa the 1930s and 1940s
  • Paintings by the late Paul T. Sargent- a Charleston native, and Robert M. Root of Shelbyville; both associated with the Brown County (Indiana) Artist Colony
  • Select examples of art in other media, and art from other cultures and historical periods in various media

Click here to access the Tarble Arts Center Permanent Collection website.

Tarble Arts Center Folk Arts Collection and Archives

Eastern Illinois University began to actively collect examples of Illinois folk arts in 1976 through the College of Fine Arts. The impetus and basis for the Folk Arts Collection came from three surveys of east-central and southeastern Illinois folk artists, conducted between 1976 and 1985, and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding to purchase contemporary Illinois folk art was made possible through two grants from the Charles E. Merrill Trust, based on the survey information.

The Folk Arts Collection, survey data, and archival materials have been housed in the Tarble Arts Center since its opening in 1982. The collection has been added to through gifts and grants, and works by Illinois artists continue to be sought for the collection, especially contemporary works from artists living in east-central and southeastern Illinois.

Sub-collections include the Ferd Metten Collection (carvings and assemblages), the Buzzard Textile Collection, Famous Black American Dolls by I. Roberta Bell, the First Lady Doll Collection by Leta C. Whitacre, and the Burl Ives Cane Collection. Notable artists represented in the collection include Jennie Cell (paintings), Cora Meek (embriodered quilts and rugs), Lee Godie (drawing), and Arthur Walker (carvings and assemblages). Other ethnically diverse pieces are included in the work of Northern European bobbin lace, and also in the work of Pysansky (Ukranian).

Many works illustrate traditions carried from peoples of the Upland South and Yankee North who settled in eastern and southern Illinois. From the Upland Southern tradition are woven rag rugs, bi-lobed baskets, and bent-stick furniture. From the Yankee tradition are hooked rugs, baskets done on crossed-hoop frames, fish decoys, and apple-head dolls. Also in the collection is a scale replica of an 1820s log tavern, similar to the type found along the National Road which at one time ended in Vandalia, Illinois, and brought travelers to the area from the North and South. The Amish from the area are represented by quilts, leather work, and blacksmithing. Nearly all of the objects in the Folk Arts Collection speak to the traditions and values of the rural Midwest.

Contemporary Works on Paper

Excluding folk arts, most of the Tarble Arts Center collection holdings are works on paper by 20th and 21st century American artists- primarily from the Midwest; and include original prints, watercolors, drawings, and mixed media works. Some noted artists include: Alice Baber, Leonard Baskin, Lawrence Calcagno, William Stanley Hayter, Jasper Johns, James McGarrell, and Claus Oldenberg. Sub-collections, suites, and series include: Plucked Chicken Press Subscription Series I and II color lithographs; The Farm intaglio suite by Jamie Wyeth; Cityscapes Suite of Photo-Realist screen prints (John Baeder, Charles Bell, Arne Besser, Tom Blackwell, Fran Bull, Hilo Chen, H. N. Han, Ron Kleemann, Noel Mahaffey, and C. J. Yao); A Midwest Portfolio by Fred Jones, intaglio figure studies by Herbert Fink; A Salute to Art History by Mel Ramos. Some of the Illinois artists represented include: Peter Bodner, James Butler, Ruth Duckworth, David Driesbach, Richard Hunt, and Ed Shay. Watercolors and drawings by Illinois artists are acquired through purchase awards for a biennial competitive exhibition, Drawing/Watercolor: Illinois.

American Scene/Regionalists

The American Scene/Regionalist holdings consists primarily of prints, and the grouping is broad, in some cases relying more on art historical associations than on the imagery itself. Essentially, these works can be grouped into two categories: those that were purchased from Associated American Artists (AAA) in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and those that were produced through Federal “New Deal” art projects of the 1930s and ‘40s.

Artists represented: Thomas Hart Benton, Federico Castellon, Aga Cheffetz, Howard Cook, John Steuart Curry, Adolf Dehn, William Gropper, Rockwell Kent, Julian Levi, Luigi Lucioni, Samuel Margolies, Fletcher Martin, Paul Sample, Raphael Soyer, Stow Wengenroth, Grant Wood. “New Deal” artists represented: Briggs Dyer (PWAP), Ann Michalov (WAP/FAP), Cornelius Sampson (PWAP), Paul Stoddard (PWAP), Charles Turzak (PWAP), John R. Winters (WPA).

Additional Information

For more information about the holdings of the Tarble Arts Center, or policies concerning access for study or loans to qualifying institutions, contact the Tarble Arts Center at (217) 581-2787 or email tarble@eiu.edu.