Maureen O’Hara Pesta & Jesse Pesta

​Two artists with deep roots in Southern Indiana — and who for years have found inspiration in Jackson County’s rich landscape and history.h.The mother-and-son exhibit, featuring pastels by Maureen O’Hara Pesta and the black-and-white photography of Jesse Pesta, opened Aug. 31, 2016 and remained on display through Sept. 27, 2016.

The title of the exhibit is ”Home Grown: Two Indiana Visions.”

The event marks the eighth collaborative exhibit for the two, who select a theme and present their individual interpretations in photography and painting.

Celebrating the Indiana Bicentennial, the artists have sought to represent unique aspects of life in Jackson County–a place that both call home, even though Jesse has in more recent years lived in New Delhi, India, and currently resides in New York City. Maureen lives and maintains a studio and gallery near Vallonia, where the family has lived for decades and where Jesse grew up.

During an extended visit to the family home, “I spent a month around Vallonia taking long walks just to rediscover things–the lakes, the woods, the country roads out toward Medora,” Jesse said. “It was eye opening. I had to leave and come back to appreciate what we have.”

This month’s exhibit at SICA, “Home Grown,” captures the very different, but complementary, visions of a place that the two artists have developed over a lifetime. While they work in different mediums–Jesse in black-and-white photography, and Maureen in pastels–the two have identified some unifying ideas in their approach to making art.

“I’ve traveled the back roads for years, a tattered map of Jackson County in the glove compartment,” Maureen said, “drawing and painting as I go. For this project Jesse and I have both tried to get closer to the soul and mood and history of this place. Our varied approaches, complementing one another, tell a little story of a big place.”

Jesse said he tries to keep his eye out for photos that express more than one idea. “Maybe it captures something beautiful, but sinister– but makes you wish you were there anyway,” he said. Humor helps too. “Contradictory feelings can make something feel real because after all, that’s life.”

Maureen Pesta is a familiar sight around the county, often working outdoors at her French easel creating plein air pastel paintings. She has traveled the U.S., Europe and Asia, sketching and painting along the way.

A long-standing Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America, she has received awards in juried shows at national, regional, and state levels. Her paintings have hung in museums and art galleries throughout the U.S., including the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, and the National Arts Club and Salmagundi Club, both in New York City.

For 21 years she created the featured artwork for the annual SICA Artful Affair auction gala. Posters of her work were published and sold to benefit the center annually.

Maureen also creates studio work, developing an idea using various sources combined with her imagination. Her studio and gallery adjoin the Jackson-Washington State Forest in Starve Hollow.

Jesse is an editor at The New York Times where he works with the staff writers to develop investigative and storytelling projects. Before that, he was a roving reporter and photographer focused on India and South Asia for The Wall Street Journal.

Last year he traveled to Nepal to cover the massive earthquake there. And in 2014 and 2015 he spent months reporting and photographing an in-depth project about a young woman in India who maintained that her in-laws intentionally set her on fire to punish her for giving birth to two daughters, and no sons.

Jesse’s photography has been published in various magazines, including Marie Claire. The Wall Street Journal has published his photo essays related to the Nepal earthquake, the burning victim, and an unusual orphanage in New Delhi that accepts babies left anonymously in a wicker basket, among others. He has exhibited in and around New York City at the Front Street Gallery, Exit Art, the Christie Street Gallery and the Edward Hopper House, a gallery in Nyack, N.Y., located in the home where the painter Edward Hopper grew up.

Jesse’s writing has won awards for feature and enterprise reporting. A piece that he wrote and photographed in 2015–about a road accident in India where an overnight bus fell off a bridge and tumbled into a river–was a finalist this year in the photography category of the South Asian Journalists Association awards.


​The Photography of Forrest M. Willey

Forrest Willey is a native of Jackson County, IN and has been more or less a permanent resident of this place his entire life.  Born on April 7th, 1986 to Michael and Lora Willey in Seymour, he became interested in astronomy and by extension astrophotography at the age of 9.  The inspriation for this was a book on summer stargazing written by Terence Dickinson that featured a long exposure photograph of the “summer band” of the Milky Way galaxy.  He is a 2004 graduate of Seymour High School and a 2008 Graduate of Purdue University with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a minor in History.

While Willey took his first photo of the stars in October of 2004 using an inexpensive Nikon point-and-shoot type camera, he didn’t take up photography seriously until July of 2014 using a Canon T3i before upgrading to a Canon 6D the following year.  His favorite images to capture are “nightscapes,” images of the nigh sky worked into the background of terrestrial scenes, but subjects in his body of work range from simple portraiture to wildlife to deep-sky and multiple exposure astro-images.

He currently resides near where he grew up in the community of Honeytown with his wife, Jill, and daughter Eva Lillian.

​Paintings by Bill Bickers

Artist Bill Bickers was born and raised in Columbus, IN. Bill is a graduate of Ball State University. Careers moved Bill and his wife, Kris, to Central Illinois where they raised their family. The Columbus native grew to appreciate design, color and texture in the local architecture. Bill’s painting is inspired by the infinite shades of color from every day; the shades of blue, green, red and yellow in the grasses, flowers and trees…all the colors from the world around us. Bill and his wife are proud to call Jackson County and Southern Indiana home. 

Don Lawrence

April 2015 featured the art of Don Lawrence.  Don’s daughter, Susan Mitchell Brewer, wanted to share his work of ‘Meditation Art’ as a tribute to her deceased father.

Lawrence’s paintings are rendered on heavy illustration board using acrylic medium.  As Susan explained, “His art had been an exercise of the power of God that the paintings had been executed.  My father was blind in his right eye, had an artificial lens implant in his left and was color-blind.”

Lawrence graduated from Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Howard University with a degree in Architectural Engineer and the Art Institute of Pittsburg.  His art hangs in foreign embassies, churches, colleges, corporate offices and private residences.  He served as art director at three Indianapolis department stores, H.P Wasson, Wm H Block and L.S. Ayres.  He was the first African American Creative Director in the US.  Lawrence had painted a mural on the wall of the Seymour Daily Tribune office when it was located on E Tipton Street.

Amy Greely

For me, it is all about observation and where we choose to focus our attention. It is an opportunity to slow down enough to become fully aware of the beauty that surrounds us every day with a quiet moment; a deep breath.  Perhaps a walk in the woods on a crisp autumn day, or the hush of dawn as the sun rises, chasing patterns through the trees.

Even the mesmerizing intricacies of lichen as it blooms in the textured bark of an ancient oak become a meditation; a moment of connection with the beauty that surrounds us when we shift our focus to the stillness, to the tranquility, to the enduring grace. Translating these observations into wearable art has grown beyond a profession; it is now a way of life. Using simple shapes as a canvas and precious metal as a medium, surface textures and color become the language with which to share these moments where time seems to stand still and awareness expands, inviting calm and quietude.

Early training in sculpture at Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, IN greatly influences Amy’s current work.  Those years honed strong design sensibilities and a love for metal, yet it would be decades before those interests become a profession.  “Seeking an adventure, my husband and I traded our life in the city for a bit of land and a crumbling farm house with the notion of building a cut flower farm.  It is here, on hands and knees in the soil, that I became enamored and entranced by plants of all kinds and the subtle beauty in the changing seasons”, Amy states. “As each spring led to the next, our business grew to include a retail store in the art colony of Nashville in Brown County, Indiana where a chance encounter with a local artist re-kindled my love of metal and sparked a return to creative expression.“

Further studies at Indiana University provided knowledge and experience in traditional metalsmithing techniques. In 1998 Amy Greely Studio was established with its first line of jewelry and it continues to grow today, represented by numerous galleries throughout the country. It has been juried in to the prestigious Indiana Artisan group.

Now living deep in the woods, Amy maintains studios both at home and in downtown Nashville, and is continually inspired by the beauty and creative history of the area.



Anne Ryan Miller

Anne Miller has lived in Nashville, IN for more than 25 years. We are better known as “Brown County”. As were many, many artists over the past 100 years, I also was drawn to the amazingly soft, sensual beauty of the area.

As an artist, I have found that Brown County is just one of the most beautiful, gentle and spiritual spots in the world. The soft, misty, hazy air, the rolling hills and the sweet, loving people, many of whom I include as friends, have all contributed to two and a half decades of my landscape and glass art.

Somewhere around 1979, I began to develop my copper metal overlay technique. It started with a need for small little details of natural elements on stained glass windows and has now become multi-layered and extensively involved work.

By using this metal overlay technique; I can hand-cut very intricate designs. Using landscape and wildlife motifs, I can create a pictorial effect. By applying the metal on the front and back of opalescent glass, I achieve an enormous amount of depth. By allowing the natural light to diffuse around the metal from the backside, I obtain a shadowy, misty effect, which plays off of the tantalizingly strong silhouette that the metal on the front creates. This is an original and unusual technique.

Michele Heather Pollock

What It Means To Be Human Artwork and Poetry

Science is progressing quickly in understanding us.

The human genome project means unprecedented insight into the similarities and differences between humans and other animals. Even human emotions and relationships are being defined in terms of brain activity and chemical reactions. Questions of humanness and identity are no longer the exclusive domain of philosophy and religion.

What It Means To Be Human is a visual and poetic exploration of what all of this means to me, as an individual, and collectively to us, as human beings. When complete, the project will consist of 23 pairs of art and text (one for each human chromosome pair).

I have an unusual background. I hold a BS in Chemical Engineering from Purdue, and I spent a decade doing fundamental science research at 3M. As a visual artist, I was trained at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, attend workshops, rely on traditional techniques, such as sewing and quilting, and invent new techniques in my work. I also hold an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry). What It Means To Be Human draws upon all of my background experiences.

At the place where art and science intersect, there are opportunities to discuss larger issues 




Lois D. Griffith and William H. Griffith

Bio for Lois D. Griffith, Quilting and Rug Hooking
Lois D. Griffith, a retired Dental Hygienist, began quilting in 1980 and Rug hooking in 1991. She was one of the founding mothers of the Columbus, Indiana Star Quilt Guild. Lois has taught at many quilt guilds and quilt shops around the country and hosts a rug hooking group in her home each month. Her work is her legacy for her family, but her quilts also hang in the Library of Northern Baptist Seminary, Lombard, IL; Desert Hills Presbyterian Church, Carefree, AZ; and the First Baptist Church, Columbus, INShe is the mother of three children, grandmother of ten and great-grandmother of one child. Lois also enjoys gardening and genealogy.Bio for William H. Griffith, Wood turner
William Griffith has worn many hats over his 74 years; husband, grandfather, great-grandfather, pastor, hospice chaplain, author of three books on death and grief, woodworker and wood turner. His love for woodturning began in 1999. He enjoys redeeming wood from the woodpile and turning it into something beautiful, and often useful. For the past three years he has shown and sold his turnings at the Déjà vu art show held in November at the Commons in Columbus, IN. His latest wood venture is learning how to make Shaker Boxes.



John Knifley

Note from the artist :

Apologies for the delay with all this stuff. I’m no good at talking about myself, so I hope the biography works. Cut and paste it as necessary. I’ve attached some artwork in a zip folder. Pick out whatever you think is best. You mentioned a newspaper, and if the paper needs artwork of a different size or shape, let me know the specifications and I’ll get whatever back to you as soon as possible. Thanks again for your time and patience. – John Knifley

John Knifley is the creator of Haunted, and is a multi-faceted artist with a broad range of experience in entertainment and publishing. Aside from writing and drawing Haunted, he’s done inking work for Pickle Press and character designs for Studio Akumakaze.

Knifley is a primarily self-trained artist. He graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2006 with a degree in International Studies and a Minor in Eastern European Lanuages and Literatures.

Knifley began his comic book career on Break The Line #’s 1-3, with Rhett Whittington. They both produced a self-contained story for each of the three issues. He is currently working on his independently published graphic novel Haunted, along with other projects.

Martha Sechler

Artist’s Statement:
“I am fascinated by patterns: patterns in nature, patterns in folk art, and patterns in folklore. These patterns connect us with one another, too. Whether we are looking at tree branches, roots, or veins in our hands; a sunflower, a starfish, or the iris of the eye, we are looking at patterns that repeat themselves over and over. They connect us to all other beings, living and nonliving, on this earth and beyond. The pattern of wind-blown sand is repeated in the lines found in ancient rock or the wrinkled skin of a desert nomad.Patterns individualize us and make the world recognizable to us. But they also bring us all together, connect us, and make us part of every other human being, animal, plant, stone,water, and star. Discovering these patterns through story, design, nature, music, and sound, and then reconnecting them in new ways is what I am always striving to express; spinning stories into art.”


Susie Gregory

Susie Gregory has been painting for nearly forty years. Dividing her time between the scenic and nostalgic hills of southern Indiana and the ever-changing yet ever-the-same marshland of coastal Georgia, she draws constant inspiration from her surroundings. She is particularly intrigued by the play of light upon her subject, whether a child at play, a snoozing puppy, a sun-struck stand of sycamores or the beach at sundown.

Susie and her husband David, a retired Emergency Medicine physician, have three grown children and five grandchildren who, along with their golden retrievers, Nellie and Ruby, provide wonderful and constant painting fodder. An avid golfer, Susie has painted courses from Ireland and Scotland to Pebble Beach and the Sea Island Golf Course on St. Simons Island, Georgia, her home away from home.

Her work has graced the walls of the Indiana State Museum and the Governor’s Mansion and hangs in corporate and private collections in twenty three states as well as Canada, Ireland, Costa Rica and Australia. She is currently represented by Simon’s and the Glynn Art Gallery on St. Simons Island, Georgia and The Venue in Bloomington, Indiana. Her work can also be seen at the Midland Arts and Antiques in both Indianapolis and Carmel, Indiana.


Monique Cagle

About the Artist

Monique Cagle lives in the hills of Brown County, Indiana, where she grew up. She finds never-ending inspiration for her art in her surroundings and her canvases fill with views of the fields, nearby Yellowwood Lake and old farm buildings. An animal lover to the core, her portfolio includes paintings of cats, dogs, even chickens. She accepts commissions for animal portraits, with a portion of those sales donated to the Brown County Humane Society.

Mostly self-taught, Monique gives a lot of credit for her artistic talent to her mother, who encouraged her children to be creative in a variety of ways and raised them in a television-free household. Monique’s art focused mainly on drawing, illustration and decorative painting until 2000, when her mother died. Painting then became both a therapy for grief and a celebration of the talent that was a gift from her mother.

Monique paints mostly with acrylics, though she dabbles a bit with water-mixable oils. She continues to draw, sketch and do decorative art. Her house has become her canvas too—floors, doors, walls, stairs and countertops have all been touched by her brush.

She has admiration for and finds inspiration in a wide range of artists, from Claude Monet to Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth to Marc Chagal, not to mention a parade of children’s books illustrators. A few of these include Maurice Sendak, Tove Jansson, Walter Crane and Edmund Dulac. Monique’s paintings result from a lifetime of exposure to a variety of art and literature, fusing color and light and occasionally a twist of whimsy.

Monique maintains memberships in the Art Alliance of Brown County, the Brown County Art Gallery Artists Association, Indiana Heritage Arts, The Indiana Plein Air Painters Association and the Hoosier Salon.

She has won various local awards, including the 2007 Hoosier Salon “Best Work, First-Time Exhibitor, any Medium,” award, three first prizes in the acrylics division at the T.C. Steele State Historical Site Paint Out and a merit award in 2005 from the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association.

Tom Hadley

Mr. Hadley uses semiprecious metals and alloys of copper, brass, bronze, and steel in his metal sculptures.  Rustic and natural settings are utilized in an array of wall hangings and table pieces.  Included in his works of art are “bible verse” inspired pieces.His works began some thirty years ago when took his first metal class.  Over those years he has developed a following that has lot of devotated patrons.  He continues on this success with local shows at Madison Chautauqua Festival of the arts in Madison, Indiana and the Déjà vu Art and Fine Craft Show in Columbus, Indiana.

The exhibit will be available for viewing beginning October 3 through the end of the month.  Southern Indiana Center for the Arts is located at 2001 N. Ewing Street, Seymour, IN.  Office hours are Tuesday-Friday 12:00-5:00 and Saturdays from 11:00-3:00.

Most all work below is for sale. There just might be that wall decoration you have been wanting, or that a very special gift may be waiting for you! Be sure to stop by to see this this amazing collection of Metal Sculptures by Tom Hadley!

Southern Indiana Center For The Arts