By Eliza Sparacino
Primary Creator: Adams, J. Ottis (John Ottis) (1851-1927)
Extent: 2.5 Linear Feet
Arrangement: The collection is arranged into three series: Personal and Professional Materials, Exhibition Materials, and Journals.
Subjects: Adams, J. Ottis (John Ottis) (1851-1927), Art, American -- Indiana, Art Association of Indianapolis, Indiana, Artists--Indiana--Biography, John Herron Art Institute, Society of Western Artists
The landscape painter John Ottis Adams was born in 1851 in Amity, Indiana, a small town south of Indianapolis. He attended Wabash College in 1871, but left a year later for the South Kensington Art School in London to study under John Parker. Adams returned to Indiana in 1876, eventually settling in Muncie.
In 1880 Adams returned to Europe, traveling to the Royal Academy in Munich to study with Gyula Benczúr. In Munich, Adams met two other painters from Indiana, Theodore Clement (T. C.) Steele and William Forsyth. After seven years in Munich, Adams returned to Muncie and opened an art school there with Forsyth. Adams also taught classes in Union City and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In 1895 Adams, Forsyth and Steele were invited to exhibit at the Athenaeum Building in Chicago with two other Indiana painters, Otto Stark and Richard B. Gruelle. The exhibition, sponsored by the Central Art Association of Chicago, was named "The Hoosier Group," and the term was associated with the five artists throughout their artistic careers. Also in Chicago that year, Adams, Forsyth and Steele joined with other regional artists to form the Society of Western Artists. The mission of the Society was to promote Midwestern art and exhibitions of work by Society members and other artists circulated through the region annually. Adams was president of the Society of Western Artists from 1908-1910.
Adams and Steele purchased an estate together in Brookville, Indiana in 1897, which was later named "The Hermitage." The Hermitage hosted visiting artists and held summer art classes for the public. A decade later Adams became the sole owner of the property and The Hermitage became one of the Adams' family residences.
A year after acquiring the Hermitage, Adams married a still-life painter from Muncie, Winifred Brady. Winifred was the sister of Elizabeth Brady, who married Frank C. Ball, co-founder of the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Business (now Ball Corporation) and one of the founders of Ball State University. Winifred met Adams in 1889 when she was a student at the Muncie art school he founded.
Adams was instrumental in establishing the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis in 1902 and taught drawing and painting there until 1906. During this time, the Adams family began summering in Leland, Michigan. By 1910 Adams was in poor health and began spending the winters in Florida. He moved back to Indiana permanently in 1926 and passed away a year later. Adams is buried in Muncie.
Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.
Use Restrictions: Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder. Please contact the Archivist for more information.
Related Materials: An addition to this collection is available for research in the IMA Archives: J. Ottis Adams Papers Addition (M009). A related collection of primary source material documenting the life and times of J. Ottis Adams is also open for research in the IMA Archives: Reifel, J. Ottis Adams Research Collection (M010). For more information please see http://www.imamuseum.org/research/archives.
Preferred Citation: [Title of item], [Date], [Container information], J. Ottis Adams Papers (M001), IMA Archives, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 21, undated
The Artist’s Yearbook, 1905-1906
American Blue Book: Men of 1913, 1913
June 15 - August 13,1910 [15 brochures]
June 12 - July 31, 1911 [3 brochures]
June 17 - August 30,1912 [3 brochures]