The Art Scene in Lafayette
Rooster and I took a trip to Lafayette, Indiana to look at art a week before the Coronavirus came into all our lives. #Art #Lafayette #Indiana #Fort Ouiatenon #Purdue University #Art Museum of Greater Lafayette #Fuel Coffee Shop #Artists Own
The plan for our excursion to Lafayette was to check out the local art scene. Rooster and I make at least three trips a year to this city on the banks of the Wabash River. We usually visit the Indian Dealership and enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants. There are some excellent motorcycle roads outside the city, so we often experience a long rambling ride home.
We have never considered exploring the downtown area of this community. I was surprised to discover there was more than one art gallery in this municipality when I went online hunting for adventure ideas. Purdue University is on the west side of the river, making up the tiny town of West Lafayette. I expected the hub of local culture to be centered there. To my surprise, the artistic center of the city was located downtown on the east bank of the river.
Lafayette, Indiana history
The French first settled the area around Lafayette with the establishment of Fort Ouiatenon. Before the war of 1812, there were many French settlements in Indiana. The fort was a place where fur trappers, settlers, and Indians came to make deals. Fur traders brought iron axes, knives, blankets, glass beads, and other manufactured items into the frontier to trade for beaver pelts.
Merchants soon came to the area and set up a trading post. The reenactment of the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon takes place every fall to honor the community’s early history with fur trappers and Native Americans. The settlement grew from a trading post into a city in 1825. The town’s founders named it after Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.
The Revolutionary War hero Lafayette for short. The community’s early history illuminates the role this tiny hamlet on the banks of the Wabash River held as a place where cultures met to exchange ideas
Our first stop on the art scene in Lafayette
The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette was our first destination of choice. We told the GPS to take us to 102 S. 10th Street, and we were on our way. Frog and pig sculptures served as sentinels near the museum entrance. I noticed them as soon as we pulled into the parking lot. The two statues were so colorful; I had to snap a picture. The museum layout was slightly confusing.
There was one exhibition on the ground floor made up of black and white photos of people dealing with mental illness in their life experiences. We climbed down the purple stairs, thinking we would find other works of art in the basement. What we ran into was a series of studios where artists in the community came to create. There was also a small collection of masks noticeable when we descended the stairs. It was on the top floor, where we discovered amazing paintings dedicated to the African American experience.
The African American experience as part of the art scene in Lafayette
We wandered through the two rooms, mystified by the quality of the work. We explored the gift shop before climbing back down the purple stairs. Rooster said he would like to have a stairway the same color in our house. My taste runs in a different direction.
Rooster and I have never considered downtown Lafayette as an ideal adventure destination. We stumbled across this beautiful place when we searched for the Artist Own gallery. The shop advertised itself as a place where local artists displayed and sold their creations.
A stop at Fuel Coffee Shop during the art scene in Lafayette experience
We drove around Main Street, searching for a place to park several times. On our journey, we discovered Fuel Coffee Shop and decided it was time for us to enjoy a cup of Chai. If you’ve read many of my adventure blogs, you know Rooster and I are on a quest to find the perfect coffee shop to spend the afternoon writing. We were impressed with Fuel. I edited an entire chapter while we were there getting caffeinated.
Rooster enjoyed the cute Ph.D. couple sitting beside him, trying to make a love connection. (Purdue University lies on the other side of the river in West Lafayette. From what I could make of the conversation, the couple worked there. We weren’t eavesdropping. Their discussion was hard to escape. Rooster thinks they were on their first date.) When we finished working, we walked across the street to an antique shop.
Antique shop as part of the art scene in Lafayette
It wasn’t open for business even though the sign on the door stated otherwise. There was a wooden lamp made to resemble a life-sized man, which attracted Rooster’s attention. He wouldn’t have bought the light fixture even if the doors were open. He’s too frugal to pay the high price listed on the tag.
Artist Own as part of the art scene in Lafayette
We were able to find a parking space close to Artist Own. There was a wide variety of exciting pieces scatter throughout this space. From glass vases sitting in front of the window to capture the light, to sculptures, and jewelry, every item in the shop reflected the individual artist’s unique touch.
The clothing items and quilts caught my eye. It’s been a long time since I dabbled in quilt making. There are times when I miss sitting down with needle and thread and creating something with my own two hands. I even found tiny chicken pictures scattered in this gallery. Artist Own proved to be a stimulating stop on our Lafayette art excursion. Rooster and I decided to make a return trip and explore the downtown area of Lafayette when the warm weather arrives.
Saving the Hann Museum of Indiana Art for another visit to the art scene in Lafayette
The Hann Museum of Indiana Art was supposed to be our last stop for the day. We pulled into the parking lot, and the old house with the museum tucked inside, looked deserted, so the Museum doors closed early. There was a large garden in the back, and so we decided to make a return trip in the spring when it would be in bloom.
Rooster and I enjoyed our art excursion into this fascinating city. I know we will come back again when the weather turns warm. Lafayette may become one of our favorite adventure destinations over the upcoming summer. The sun was making its journey into the west to bring the end to another day of adventuring. It was time for us to make the journey home. It’s always nice when you can look at a community with a fresh set of eyes.
Who Is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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