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 Inez Russell Bolinger  (1887 - 1967)

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Lived/Active: Indiana      Known for: landscape and floral still-life painting, sculpture

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Brown County Autumn Landscape
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Mrs. Chester (Inez) R. Bolinger, Sr., a well-known Warsaw, Indiana, artist of rare ability, would have rather been a sculptor.   She arrived at this decision however, in mature life after having achieved wide recognition as a successful painter in oils.

From early childhood Inez maintained an avid interest in art and in expressing herself through this medium.  Born February 13, 1887 in Tipton county, near Elwood in central Indiana, she was one of four children of Robert and Margaret (Finan) Russell.  When she was six years of age the family first noted her interest in art.  During a visit to an art gallery, the youngster was so fascinated by the treasures to be found there that her mother had difficulty getting her to leave.

The school years passed, she graduated from high school, married Chester Bolinger in 1907, moved to Warsaw, Indiana and had three children.  It was not until Mrs. Bolinger was 29 years old that she seriously considered studying art.

At the John Herron Art School at Indianapolis, design, composition and art appreciation were studied under William Forsythe; drawing under Ralph Sowell; Homer G. Davisson, of the Fort Wayne Art School, gave special instruction in landscape and still life work; under Wayman Adams of New York, she studied anatomy and portrait painting.  At one time, Leo Ruckle taught her the techniques of pastels.

In an interview in 1956 Mrs. Bolinger stated: “ It is my good fortune to be associated with such brilliant artists of Indiana, for they hold a prominent place in today’s world of art.”  “For its great heritage, the people of Indiana owe much to four artists; T.C. Steele, J. Otis Adams, Otto Stark and William Forsythe.  It was my privilege to study under Mr. Forsythe at the John Herron Art School.” “Today, hundreds of students of these artist have gained stature as painters and have learned the secret of expressing beauty on canvas.”

In 1934, recognition came to Mrs. Bolinger when her paintings were accepted for exhibit by the Hoosier Art Salon at the Marshall Field Art Gallery at Chicago.  One-man exhibits were also held by her at the Willard Hotel, Washington, D.C.; the Audubon Gallery, Fort Wayne Art Museum; John Herron Art Museum; L.S. Ayers, Indianapolis; Tampa Art Institute, Tampa, Florida; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Northern Indiana Artists; National Terry Institute, Miami, Florida; Anderson Society of Artists, and at Elwood And Tipton.  

The Kosciusko County Federation of Women’s Clubs sponsored Mrs. Bolinger’s first show there in 1939.  The artist held a lifetime membership in the Warsaw Fine Arts Club and was annually invited to exhibit her work by the National League of American Pen Women and the National Museum, Washington, D.C.  The National League of American Pen Women was an organization of professional women engaged in creative work under one or more of the following classifications: arts, letters and music.  Founded in 1897, it boasted some of the nation’s most outstanding artists and members.

Clara Sackett, state art critic commented:  “In spite of many handicaps and obstacles, Mrs. Bolinger has become one of Indiana’s outstanding artists.  Her landscapes, flowers and other subjects put on canvas fill one with a consciousness of a definite continuing purpose that harmonizes with the whole, be they scenes from far away or near.

In the late 1940’s, Mrs. Bolinger became interested in clay modeling and sculpting.  She did some very fine work in clay and acquired her own kiln.  It was at that time she realized that she preferred sculpting.  That type of work however, demanded heavy physical exertion, and studio floors must be reinforced to support the heavy materials used.  Dust also presented a problem.  Because of those problems, Mrs. Bolinger continued to paint, doing the clay modeling on the side.  Sculpting, except on a small scale, was out.

According to her obituary, Mrs. Bolinger died June 6, 1967, of complications following an extended illness.  She was buried at Oakwood cemetery in Warsaw.  

Submitted by Edward Bentley, art researcher from Lansing, Michigan


Excerpts from the article: “Well-Known Warsaw Painter Revels That She Would Have Rather Been a Sculptress,” by Marguerite Sand, Women’s Editor for the Warsaw Times-Union, January 7, 1956.  Also, the artist’s obituary published in the Warsaw Times-Union, June 7, 1967.

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