Well-Known Warsaw Painter Reveals That She Would Have Rather Been a Sculptress

By Marguerite Sand, Times-Union Women's Editor

Mrs. Chester (Inez) R. Bolinger, Sr., a well-known Warsaw artist of rare ability, would have rather been a sculptor. However she arrived at this decision in mature life after having achieved wide recognition as a successful painter in oils.

From early childhood Inez has maintained an avid interest in art, and in expressing herself through this medium. Born in Tipton county, nearl Elwood in central Indiana, she is one of four children of Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Russell, no longer living.

No other member of her immediate family maintains an artistic bent. However, Charles M. Russell, the renowned cowboy painter, is a cousin of Mrs. Bolinger's late father. Artist Russell has accomplished outstanding work in his field. Many of his paintings sell for as high as $18,000 each. They are sought by collectors all over the world.

On her mother's side, a brother was an excellent architect. Mrs. Bolinger relates that his fine craftsmanship fascinated her as a child.

Mrs. Bolinger's brothers, Robert and John reside in Newport, Ky., a sister, Mrs. John Keifer, in Elwood. It was not until Mrs. Bolinger was six years of age that 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.

Sister Mary, a nun at St. Joseph's school at Elwood, recognized the talent when Mrs. Bolinger attended her classes as a second grader. The artist cherishes the memory of the Sister who took an interest in her, and who put her first picture on exhibit. Mrs. Bolinger had painted an American Beauty rose. So highly was the picture regarded by the nun that she had it framed and hung in the class room.

From that time Mrs. Bolinger drew holiday pictures and maps on the blackboard. The school years passed, she graduated from high school, married and had three children, two sons and a daughter. 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 Wiliam Forsythe; drawing under Ralph Sowell, Homer G. Davisson, of the Fort Wayne Art school, gave special instruction in landscape and still life work; Wayman Adams of New York, anatomy and portrait painting. At one time, Leo Ruckle, formerly of Huffman Lake, now of Florida, taught her techniques of pastels.

Mrs. Bolinger says, "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."

"From 1880 to 1883, these men studied in Munich, Germany. While there, they decided upon their return to America to work towards making Indiana famous in the art world. After studying the state's natural endowments, they went to work painting its quiet meadows, brooks and rich foliage. Soon they developed a style that was as distinctive as that of the Italian schools of the Rennaissance."

"Today, hundreds of students of these artists have gained stature as painters and have learned the secret of expressing beauty on canvas."

Mrs. Bolinger is annually invited to exhibit her work by the National League of American Pen Women and the National Museum, Washington, D. C., of which she is a member.

The N. L. A. P. W. is 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 boasts some of the nation's most outstanding artists and members.

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 have been held by Mrs. Bolinger 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, Fla., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Tex., Northern Indiana Artists, National Terry Institute, Miami, Fla., Anderson Society of Artists, and at Elwood and Tipton.

Mrs. Bolinger's prize-winning paintings are owned by art lovers over a wide area. One was recently purchased by an art collector in Maricaibo, Venezuela, South America.

The Kosciusko County Federation of Women's clubs sponsored Mrs. Bolinger's first show here in 1939. She holds a lifetime membership in the Warsaw Fine Arts club.

Clara Sackett, state art critic, says, "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.

Kosciusko county scenes are favorite painting spots for Mrs. Bolinger. One of her many prize-winning pictures is "October Reflections" painted at the Tippecanoe bridge on Road 30, west of Warsaw.

Sometimes a picture made on the spur of the moment at the instigation of sudden inspiration turns out to be a winner. When Dr. and Mrs. Dean Van Osdol (Mrs. Van Osdol is Mrs. Bolinger's daughter) and family lived on Union street, the neighborhood children loved to play in an old barn on the alley to the rear. The alley with its old barn, hollyhocks and trees and a winding path appealed to the artist. She painted the scene and called it "Margie's Alley." Wherever the picture is exhibited it wins prizes and causes favorable comment.

"The Blue Coat" is another award winner. This painting tells of man's freedom in his home. Hanging on a beautiful hand-carved Japanese screen is a man's blue coat which has draped a bowl of blue asters. On the table rests a pipe.

About ten years ago, Mrs. Bolinger became interested in clay modeling and sculpturing. She has done some very fine work in clay. She has her own kiln. It was at this time she realized that she preferred sculpting. This type of work demands heavy physical exertion, and studio floors must be reinforced to support the heavy materials used. Dust also presents a problem. Because of these problems, Mrs. Bolinger has continued painting, doing the clay modeling on the side. Sculpting, except on a small scale, is out.

Students from as far as Marion attend Mrs. Bolinger's art classes. In addition to her art work, Mrs. Bolinger takes a great deal of interest in her family. Her husband was at one time owner of a local department store located on the present site of the Gamble store. They have three children, Russell and Mrs. Dean (Marjorie) Van Osdol, of Warsaw, and Chester, of Memphis, Tenn. Dr. and Mrs. Van Osdol have seven chidlren-Sally Jo, 20; Susan Jane, 18; Tommy, 15; Billy, 13; Tony, 10; Mary Pat, 8; and Margaret Ellen, 3. The son at Memphis has two children, Ci who is 17, and Ebbye, 13.

Mrs. Inez Bolinger
At work in her studio at 412 North Columbia St. putting finishing touches to an oil of the old North Webster mill.
Mrs Bolinger is shown sculpting clay model of Chinese Foo-dog, wearing grotesque mask and ceremonial robe. She has developed sculpting talents only within the last 10 years.

Warsaw Times Union Saturday Jan. 7, 1956

Back to YesterYear in Print