Artist of the Month gallery returns to Vigo library featuring RCAA artist Dian Der Ohanian Phillips

Lyford Barn acrylic by Dian Der Ohanian Phillips

Artwork by River City Art Association’s president Dian Der Ohanian Phillips will be featured throughout October in the Artist of the Month gallery at the Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute.

Gallery space was put on hold in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dian explains her longtime love of Hoosier barns in her artist’s statement:
“I’ve been drawing and painting barns for more than fifty years. The earliest example is
an etching created July 1965. Having grown up in Southern Indiana, I was very familiar
with rural farmland scenes.

“So, for this first attempt at making an etching, I recall drawing this scene from memory … a gambrel-roofed barn with silo and overgrown
field. It is an iconic image and one that obviously resonated in my young mind.
“Barns evoke a sense of tradition and community, and they also reflect local architectural
styles. Some recognizable regional styles include Dutch, bank, crib and round barns.
“The exterior color and decoration of barns also has historical and practical roots. New
England settlers didn’t have enough money to paint their farms, so they needed a cheap
way to protect the barns’ wood. They mixed skimmed milk, lime and red iron oxide to
make a red, plastic-like coating. The coating protected the wood and kept barns warmer
in the winter. The color red soon became the most famous among farmers because it
was the cheapest. The tradition continues today. However, barns in Kentucky are
mostly painted black because black barns raise the heat inside, aiding the curing of
tobacco. Many got their color from creosote, which repelled termites. Sign painters also
took advantage of the size and visibility of barns in an age before billboards. “Chew Mail
Pouch Tobacco” signs were numerous in the first quarter of the 20th century.

Barn Again acrylic by Dian Der Ohanian Phillips

Dian Der Ohanian Phillips studied at Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, and received a B.F.A. in visual communications. She completed a Masters program at Indiana
University, and did additional post-graduate work at Boston University. Dian was a graphic designer/art director for the majority of her professional life, however, she continued her fine art pursuits during those years by taking drawing and painting classes. After retiring, she began painting again full-time and has participated in several group and solo exhibitions in the Midwest. She works primarily in watercolor, acrylic and oils. Her paintings and her black & white photos are strongly influenced by nature and rural scenes. Her art is in private collections throughout the United States.

Photo courtesy of RCAA photographer Debra Butler

For more works by Dian Der Ohanian Phillips go to


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Debra Butler is RCAA’s September Artist of the Month

Photography by Debra K. Butler of Terre Haute is featured in River City Art Association’s September Artist of the Month virtual exhibition created by the Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute.

Visit the library’s YouTube presentation here

“I am honored to be the designated artist of the month of September by the River City Art Association. As an artist, I have explored various mediums but have been primarily a landscape and nature photographer for the last forty years.

“For the library show, I provided photographs taken at different times in Turkey Run State Park. I tried to select a sampling that share my attraction to beautiful places as I hiked through Turkey Run State Park. While photographing in the field, I approach it as a “plein air” painting, and work to achieve the spatial balance in the digital shot with the layout and mood I want to capture. I do very little editing on the computer.

“The scenes I have presented in this collection share the natural surroundings that bring me serenity. Though at times I wonder if I am an artist or simply a perpetual tourist, if my photographs bring you even a moment of quiet calm, I am happy to have succeeded in sharing the beautiful world I see. I hope you enjoy this sampling.”

Debra grew up in Terre Haute and graduated from high school here. In college at Purdue, she studied physics, writing, psychology and took art classes in drawing, design, and photography. She moved to California and became a lawyer, which combined her diverse fields of study. She and her husband moved back to Terre Haute at the end of 2019 for retirement.

“While finishing my law degrees, I worked in retail stores in arts and crafts supplies, and framing departments, learning the use of different art materials, and framing techniques, and enjoyed painting and working with wood in my spare time. After becoming interested in 35 mm photography, I began taking photographs as an art form in earnest. I had fun photographing ball games and surfing events for friends, but discovered I much preferred taking scenery shots.

“When my legal career was most active, I was able to continue my artistic interests by photographing my vacation travels. After I started my own law practice, I was able to occasionally sneak away for a class, and spent time learning water color painting. But photography has always been my preferred medium for documenting the world I see. Because of my work as a disability lawyer, I feel a calling to capture what I see in my outings to share with less mobile friends.

“Now that I have more unstructured time, I have renewed my commitment to my artistic endeavors, and became a member of the River City Art Association, a vibrant organization of diverse artists. I recently began publicly sharing my photographs as I feel the serenity and regeneration that can be found in viewing beautiful nature scenes is especially needed now.”

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People’s Choice, Artists’ Choice awards go to Thomas Wright

River City Art Association member Thomas Wright received the People’s Choice and the Artists’ Choice awards at the close of RCAA’s 13th Annual Juried Exhibition in August at First Financial Bank in downtown Terre Haute. His photography entry, “Orange Ghost Flames,” will be included in RCAA’s display of other winning entries throughout September in the lobby of First Financial’s Springhill Bank.


Orange Ghost Flames, photography by Thomas Wright
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RCAA’s August Artist of the Month: Christel Gutelius

“Heavenward” by Christel Gutelius

River City Art Association member Christel Gutelius is RCAA’s August artist of the month showcased in the Vigo County Public Library’s Virtual Art Exhibition.

Her “Heavenward” was awarded first place in painting in the Wabash Valley Art Guild’s Spring Show at the Vigo County Historical Museum in May of this year.

It is one of the five works featured in the library’s YouTube video at

Gutelius with painting “Meditation” voted “Most Popular” at 2021 Abstract April show, CBAA, Rockville.

This Parke County, Indiana, artist also was awarded Most Popular painting in the Abstract April show at the Covered Bridge Art Association Gallery in Rockville.

Currently, she has gallery representation at Athens Arts Gallery in Crawfordsville, Indiana, which hosted her solo show, “Lessons from Nature” this past July.

Christel says that natural settings are her preferred subject matter, which she interprets using oil paints as her preferred medium.

“I am most inspired by God’s manifestations in nature and all the diversity of that subject matter. I love being immersed in it, as well as taking it all back to the studio to play and learn and see what I can do with those impressions. I hope other people enjoy my art adventures and can get a sense of the feeling of each piece.”

In addition to “Heavenward,” Christel’s works recently displayed at her show in Crawfordsville also are featured in the video presentation.

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Winners in RCAA’s 13th Annual Juried Exhibition

Best of Show: Mystic Melody by RCAA member Jan McVay of Tangier.

River City Art Association recognized the talent of 22 Indiana and Illinois artists during its 13th Annual Juried Exhibition opening reception on Aug. 6 in the lobby of First Financial Bank Plaza in downtown Terre Haute.

The late Monty “Indiana” Jones was posthumously honored for his lifetime dedication to the visual arts and the nonprofit art group he loyally served as founding member since 2008. Three of his works are showcased alongside the 63 entries on display through Aug. 31.


Exhibition juror Michael Tingley, former graphic designer for New York City magazines, art handler and fabricator for NYC museums, and presently a full-time artist and retiring gallery director for Arts Illiana Inc., announced winners in six categories.

Best of Show, announced by Sally Whitehurst on behalf of event sponsor First Financial, went to “Mystic Melody” by Jan McVay of Tangier in Parke County. McVay also received a first place for her photography entry, “Dancing in Venice.”

Other first-place medallions were awarded to Jo Rich-Vadas of Marshall, Illinois, for her drawing, “Todd’s Path”; Dian Der Ohanian Phillips of Terre Haute for her painting, “Get to the Point”; “Cathie Laska of Terre Haute for a mixed media entry titled “Aurora”; Edith Acton of Terre Haute for a fused glass wall hanging, “Stitched Together”; and Bob DeFrance of Terre Haute for a 3-D wood carving, “Sycamore Freshman.”

Second-place honors went to DeFrance for another 3-D wood carving, “Sycamore Emeriti”; Todd Stokes of Dennison, Illinois, for an etched glass entry, “Subtle Rhythm”; Mary G. Mayhew of Terre Haute for her painting, “Happy”; Bryan Bromstrup of Terre Haute for his photography entry, “Vicksburg Graveyard Road”; and Sharon Hawk of Terre Haute for a mixed media entry, “Full Moon Phenomenon.”

Another special presentation, the Marty Martinez Contributory Award, went to Dian Der Ohanian Phillips, RCAA’s president.

Other participating artists are Debra Butler, Lynne Dunnavant, Josie Ellis, Shayla Fish, Christel Gutelius, Jean Kristeller, Rebecca McFadden, Steven Raez, Sandy Ridge-Fisher, Elise Spaid-Roberts, Sheila K. Ter Meer and Thomas Wright.

All entries in RCAA’s exhibition can be viewed during regular banking hours through Aug. 31, when the Artists’ and People’s Choice awards will be announced and join winners in a September display in the lobby of First Financial’s Springhill bank.

For more exhibition highlights and membership meeting updates, revisit and River City Art Association on Facebook.

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Call for Artists for RCAA’s 13th Annual Juried Exhibition

River City Art Association will bring its 2021 juried exhibition back to downtown Terre Haute, returning to the spacious lobby of First Financial Bank Plaza on Aug. 6.

The annual Downtown Terre Haute First Friday event, hosted by First Financial and assistant vice president of marketing Sally Whitehurst, will begin with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. and a brief awards ceremony at 6:30.


Winners in six categories, as well as the Best of Show, will be selected by Michael Tingley, former graphic designer for New York City magazines, art handler and fabricator for NYC museums, former art professor for Oakland City University, and presently a full-time artist and gallery director for Arts Illiana Inc.

First- and second-place entries will receive monetary awards. First Financial will sponsor the Best of Show monetary award.

The Artists’ Choice and People’s Choice awards will be determined from votes by participating artists and guests attending the exhibition.

A special honor will be awarded posthumously to RCAA’s co-founder Monty “Indiana” Jones, award-winning Terre Haute artist who shared his love of automobilia, wildlife and the great outdoors in his paintings, drawings and pyrography.

Artists who place in the exhibition will have the option of displaying their artwork in a “Winner’s Circle” in FFB’s Springhill lobby Sept. 1 through 30.

Admission is free during the First Friday event and regular banking hours through Aug. 31.

Exhibition entry deadline is July 23. Deliver artwork to the bank (Sixth Street entrance) between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aug. 3.

For more information click on the links below and/or contact RCAA vice president Todd Stokes at 812-870-8252.



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RCAA’s July Artist of the Month spotlight pays tribute to the late founding member Monty “Indiana” Jones

River City Art Association’s July Artist of the Month, featured in a YouTube exhibition by the Vigo County Public Library, is in memorium of Monty “Indiana” Jones, 79, of Terre Haute, who passed on April 13, 2021.

After Monty retired from the printing industry at age 60, he became a well-known artist in Vigo County and several nearby art communities. He created countless paintings, drawings and pyrography works that reflected his passion for nature and automobilia, in particular sprint car racing.

Monty was one of seven founding members of the River City Art Association and also enjoyed being involved in the Wabash Valley Art Guild, the Gaslight Art Colony in Marshall, Illinois, the Covered Bridge Art Gallery in Rockville, and the The Link art gallery in the Bicentennial Art Center in Paris, Illinois.

He joined Indiana Wildlife Artists in 2011 and won several first- and second-place awards in that time. In addition to awards in RCAA, WVAG and area shows, Monty’s work was selected for juried exhibitions in Arts Illiana Gallery.

Watch the tribute to Monty at

1st Place Drawings, RCAA, 2020,Monty Jones,Ragtop


Monty at 2020 Crow Show-CourtesyMartyJones

The Old Crow Shooter by Monty “Indiana” Jones at Arts Illiana Crow Show

First place for “Homeward Bound” at show in The Link Gallery, Paris, Illinois
1st-Drawing-Horned Owl-Monty Jones-RCAA juried show-photo by Patrick Robbins
Monty’s painting of a photograph by his son, Marty, at Gaslight Art Colony gallery, Marshall, Illinois.
monty jones Indiana Wildlife Artist

First Place: “Outfoxing the Hounds” at Indiana Wildlife Artists show.

Third Place Painting: Big Mouth by Monty “Indiana” Jones
The Pumpkinseed, Most Popular Award, Covered Bridge Art Association Associate Members Show, by Monty Jones
King of the Oak by Monty Jones at Covered Bridge Art Association, Rockville.
Monty Jones First Place in Mixed Media & Other category at Indiana Wildlife Artists show.

Watch the tribute to Monty at

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