Meet the artist

In a state that has had its share of talented and world-famous artists, T.C. Steele has emerged as one of the best in Indiana history.

But despite his fame as an Impressionist painter and his recognizable name, few people know the whole story about his life.

Lou Ann Homan wants to change that. The Fort Wayne-based storyteller has created a presentation looking at Steele’s life. “T.C. Steele: A Poet, Philosopher and a Painter” was commissioned by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and the Indiana Historical Society in honor of the state’s bicentennial.

The show will premiere at 8 p.m. Friday at the Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis. Tickets are $15 in advance, then $20 at the door. High school and college students get in for $15.

Following the show, audience members will be able to “meet the artist” during a reception, view the Steele exhibit at the history center and purchase the 50th anniversary edition of the book, “House of the Singing Winds: The Life and Work of T.C. Steele.”

Homan shared her ideas about Steele in advance.

How did you approach Steele’s life to put this together?

I started by reading everything I could read: books, magazines, online articles. I looked at all of the paintings. I spent a week in the historical society’s library.

What did you learn about him?

He started out as a portrait painter. He was very good at it, with commissioned pieces and studying in Munich. But when he came back, he became interested in the Indiana landscapes. What he did for Indiana was really important, because he captured the beauty of the land.

How did you lay out the performance?

For me, his life was divided among three women who loved him very much. The first is his first wife, when they were young and married, so the first part of the show is told in her voice. The second part is told by his daughter Daisy, who knew him as a philosopher. They found some wonderful letters she had written about him, so I used a lot of that. Then, the third part of the story is the part most people think of him as, his second wife Selma and then coming to the studio in Brown County.

Why set up the story that way?

I decided to make sure that the beginning of his life, when he was so in love with the beauty of the land, that time with his first wife wasn’t forgotten.

What is the challenge of a commission like this?

It’s always difficult to do this type of work. The goal for me is to make it a story, not a documentary. It has to be accurate, but it also has to be pulling out what I feel. It’s up to me to use artistic license to decide what’s really important.

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.