KOKOMO, Ind. — When Steve and Nancy Bayer began their careers as art teachers, they promised themselves they would continue to be working artists in order to keep their passion for art.
As Steve worked in pottery and sculpture, and Nancy created textiles and paintings, they immersed their daughters, Gretchen and Kendra, in a world of creativity.
The results of the family’s artistic talents make up Folklore, the newest exhibition in the Indiana University Kokomo Art Gallery. It continues through October 17.
“In our minds, this is all we know, this is our life. I understand now maybe it’s not so ordinary,” said Nancy Bayer. “There was no separating our art from our lives. If I was working in textiles of any kind, the girls were involved. They always had clay. Every vacation, we went to art museums.”
This is the first family exhibition they’ve had with their daughters, son-in-law, and granddaughter, and an opportunity they were not seeking.
Gregory Steel, associate professor of fine arts, discovered their work when he toured their Kokomo home, when it was for sale. Steel had admired the home, a mid-century modern in the Frank Lloyd Wright style, since moving to Kokomo, and jumped at the chance to own it. When he toured it, he was struck not only by the architecture, but the artwork on the walls.
He told the couple he wanted them to exhibit their work in the campus Art Gallery.
“You usually think of going to a gallery in a big city to see artwork, and here you have it right here in Kokomo,” said Nancy Bayer. “He thought the community would be interested in seeing what a group of individuals were doing right here.
They hesitated at first, because they were preparing to move to their new home in the former Bavarian Inn, with daughter Kendra Bayer-Foreman and her family. Now, they are glad they decided to move forward with the exhibit.
The show includes pottery and sculptures created by Steve, Nancy’s paintings and a quilt, Kendra’s sculptures and paintings, photos by Gretchen Bayer, and video created by Gretchen and her husband, Jake Segraves. It also features paintings created by Kendra and her two-year-old daughter.
The family hung the show themselves, and Nancy was amazed that so many of the pieces complemented each other.
“We seem to have an unspoken interest in telling a story in our work,” she said. “I never realized that, because we never had anything together before. There is time and distance between us, and when things were made, but they all looked like they went together.
“We are a Christian family, and there are elements of that in some of the work. You don’t really get that when things are so spread out. I am very thankful Gregory saw something we didn’t see, because we are too close to it.”
As retired art teachers from Tipton, Steve and Nancy were happy to see former students at the exhibit opening.
“I am really hoping people who are creative will be inspired to encourage people to try and do something themselves,” she said. “There are a lot of people who are really great in middle school or high school, and they drop it when they get older.”
The Art Gallery is located in Upper Alumni Hall. Admission and parking are free. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
For more information, call 765-455-9523, or go to iuk.edu/gallery
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.