THE ART OF COMBAT - Indianapolis Art Center Exhibition details.

Artists and the Vietnam War, Then and Now
Indianapolis Art Center
October 27, 2000 - January 7, 2001

Forward Air Controller Pen and ink by Jim Pollock, U. S. Army Vietnam Combat Art Team IV, US Army War Art Collection Washington D.C. Depicts a Forward Air Controller looking out Huey doorJoin the Indianapolis Art Center this fall as they explore the impact the Vietnam War has had on the visual and literary artists who participated in it as soldiers. The Center will host several events, six exhibitions, a panel discussion and numerous other programs in an effort to understand how active combat affects an artist's later work. A community component of the project will feature artwork by Central Indiana veterans of overseas conflicts.

During the Vietnam war the U.S. Army operated the Combat Artist Program, which selected soldiers with artistic training and assigned them to "paint what they saw" in combat zones. These artists drew, painted and sculpted their vision of the war with virtually no restrictions on themes, geography or subject matter. The Center will show a selection of works created between 1966 and 1971 by 37 of these artists, as well as a one-person show of work by former Combat Artist Richard Emery Nickolson, now on the faculty of the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis.

Also on view will be work by California glass artist Michael Aschenbrenner and Kentucky fiber artist Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, both nationally-recognized artists and members of the Chicago-based National Vietnam Veterans Arts Group. Aschenbrenner's work has for a long time consisted of his "Damaged Bone" series, which refers to the leg wound he suffered during the war but is less about the specific event of getting wounded than about the circumstances, conditions and environments that affect the individual. Sandoval uses a variety of materials--mylar, film, netting, even old painted canvases--and stitches them into collages featuring the American flag or other symbols relating to war. Recent themes in his work are that of terrorism and total nuclear annihilation. Sandoval also discovered that his Spanish ancestors had been weavers for over two centuries, and has incorporated weaving and interlacing techniques in all of his fiber creations.

Yet another aspect of Vietnam war art is the work by the military's combat photographers who were occasionally civilians but who were primarily soldiers. These images, held by the National Archives, shaped the public's perception of the war and served not only a journalistic and documentary function at the time but today stand also as great works of fine art. On show will be a selection of 40 classic images.

Visiting writers, including poets W.D. Ehrhart and Yusef Komunyakaa, will give readings throughout the project and lead discussions about literature by Vietnam veterans. An Educator Resource Guide will be distributed to area teachers with suggestions for guided school visits of the exhibition.

For more information, contact Julia Muney Moore, Director of Exhibitions and Artist Services, Indianapolis Art Center, 820 E. 67th St., Indianapolis, IN 46220, (317) 255-2464 x233; FAX (317) 254-0486; email

The Art of Combat: Artists and the Vietnam War, Then and Now
October 27, 2000 through January 7, 2001
Indianapolis Art Center
820 E. 67th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46220
(317) 255-2464


Friday, October 27, 7-9 p.m. (patron event 6-7 p.m.) Open to the public, voluntary contributions accepted.
Opening Reception featuring Sen. Robert Kerrey, D-NE and honoring the participating artists

Friday, December 8, 6-8 p.m. Free and open to the public.
Reception honoring Indianapolis artist Richard Emery Nickolson



Combat Artists of the Vietnam War: Selections from the Collection of the U.S. Army Center for Military History Churchman-Fehsenfeld Gallery, October 27-January 7
The U.S. Army was unique in its commitment to using its own soldiers to officially document for posterity what they saw during the Vietnam War. Many of the works in this exhibition have never been publicly exhibited.

Arturo Alonzo Sandoval
Hurt Gallery, October 27-December 3
Sandoval served aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War and is a nationally-known fiber/mixed media artist based in Lexington, Kentucky. On view will be a selection of works created between 1989-1999 and reflecting the influence of his Vietnam experiences.

Michael Aschenbrenner: The Damaged Bone Series
Clowes Gallery, October 27-December 3
Aschenbrenner, a nationally-known, California-based glass artist, served in the U.S. Army and was wounded during the Tet Offensive in 1968. Selections from his "Damaged Bone" series, 1985-2000, will be on view.

Richard Emery Nickolson: Souvenirs of War and the "Alignements"
Hurt and Clowes Galleries, December 8-January 7
Nickolson is a Professor of Art at the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis. He was in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and participated in the Combat Artist program, documenting support services in and around Bangkok, Thailand. Selections from his combat work will be on view, as well as recent work inspired by the standing stones of southern France.

Combat Photography of the Vietnam War
Basile Exhibition Corridor, October 27-January 7
Classic images by military photographers, reproduced from negatives held by the National Archives.

The Art of Combat: Community Connections
Northeast Exhibition Corridor, October 27-January 7
Featured veterans/artists: Nikolai Aleksandrov, Michael Byers, Harry A. Davis, Bob Erikson, Myron Green and Ben Kennedy.



Friday, October 27, 7-9 p.m., Frank Basile Auditorium. Donations accepted.
Project keynote address by Sen. Robert Kerrey, D-NE. 

Saturday, October 28, 10am-noon., Frank Basile Auditorium. Free and open to the public.
Panel discussion with participating artists: "Art and Vietnam, Then and Now"
Moderator: James Pollock, former Combat Artist

Wednesday, November 1, 7-9 p.m., Ruth Lilly Library. Free and open to the public.
An Evening With...Daly Walker. Walker is a Vietnam veteran and writer living in Columbus, Indiana.

Friday, November 10, 7-9 p.m., Frank Basile Auditorium. Free and open to the public.
An Evening With...Yusef Komunyakaa. Komunyakaa, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and a former professor at Indiana University, is a Vietnam veteran. He has published his experiences in the award-winning poetry collection Dien Cai Dau (1988), from which he will read. This program is presented in conjunction with the Spirit & Place Community Festival with the support of Indiana University and the University of Indianapolis.

Saturday, November 11, 10am-noon, Frank Basile Auditorium. Donations accepted.
Sammy Davis, former Indiana resident and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery during the Vietnam War, will speak about his experiences and place the artwork in the exhibition in context.

Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12, 9am-4pm each day. "Mixed Media Collage," Taggart Studio, $141 members, $155 nonmembers.
Hands-on workshop with participating artist Arturo Alonzo Sandoval. Sandoval is a nationally-known fiber and mixed media artist.

Wednesday, November 15, 7-9 p.m., Ruth Lilly Library. Free and open to the public.
An Evening With...Elizabeth Weber. Weber is an Indianapolis-based poet and essayist whose personal connection to the Vietnam War has guided her writing.

Wednesday, November 29, 7-9 p.m., Frank Basile Auditorium. Free and open to the public.
"Art and War, Then and Now." Participating artist Richard Emery Nickolson will present a slide-illustrated discussion of the historical depiction of war and conflict in the history of art.

Tuesday, December 5, 7-9 p.m., Ruth Lilly Library. Free and open to the public.
An Evening With...W.D. Ehrhart. Philadelphia-based Ehrhart, a Vietnam veteran and poet/essayist, has written or edited 17 books on the subject of war, literature and society. He will read from his work and discuss his Vietnam experiences as they relate to his writings.

School tours of the exhibitions are available during the month of November, 2000. A free Educator Resource Guide is available upon request. For more information about school programming, please contact Julia Muney Moore, Director of Exhibitions and Artist Services, (317) 255-2464 x233.


Indianapolis Art Center website: -- Julia Muney Moore informs me that they don't have anything up yet except a one-page banner for the project, and really won't have much of substance there until mid-September.  They will also be releasing an Educator Resource Guide around the first of October, and posting it on the website for free downloading around that same time (.pdf format).  Their big publicity push will hit around October 1.

My thanks to Jim Pollock for first contacting me and subsequently drawing my attention to this event. Also, to Julia Muney Moore, Director of Exhibitions and Artist Services at the Indianapolis Art Center, for providing the information.


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