In Memorium: Mike Bender, award-winning artist and River City Art Association past president

Click on the link to read about our friend, dedicated River City Art Association past president, and award-winning pen and ink artist.

Mike L. Bender, 62, of Terre Haute passed away Sunday, March 15, 2020 in Signature Healthcare. He was born July 27, 1957 in Brazil, Indiana to Claude and Della (Brown) Bender.
Mike is survived by his mother, Della Bender of Terre Haute; son, Brandon Bender (Brooke) of Terre Haute; grandchildren, Makayla Bender, Drake Bender, and Aiden Bender; great-grandson, Dominic Bracken; and life partner Sandy Whitcomb.
He was preceded in death by his father.
Mike was past president of the River City Art Association.
Per Mike’s request no services are scheduled and cremation has been chosen. Samaritan Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Online condolences may be left at

Obituary published March 17, 2020/Terre Haute Tribune-Star
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Elise Spaid-Roberts featured in Community Outreach Gallery at Regional Hospital

Elise Spaid-Roberts at Regional Hospital COG

Elise Spaid-Roberts of Terre Haute is featured in the River City Art Association Community Outreach Gallery at Terre Haute Regional Hospital.

Her mixed media paintings featured here are examples of blackout poetry.

Elise’s works can be viewed until mid-June.

Elise also uses coins, acrylic and spray paint to create miniature landscapes.

See more creative works by Elise in her Etsy shop.

Read more about Elise.


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RCAA portfolio featuring works by 20 artist members available on Amazon

RCAA portfolio on Amazon

Available now on Amazon!!

River City Art Association now has a portfolio that features artwork and biographies of 20 artist members and the wide variety of art styles River City Art Association’s members contribute to the Wabash Valley.

“This collection of paintings, drawings, photographic images and other media promotes the accomplishments of River City Art Association award-winning artists. The biographies give insight into the inspiration driving the creativity of 20 Indiana and Illinois artists, focusing on their talent and individual contributions to the arts community beyond the reach of the Wabash Valley,” states the book’s introduction on Amazon.

To purchase the book and support local art:…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

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RCAA’s Donald Turner celebrates Black History Month with library exhibit

Charcoal drawing of Harriet Tubman by Donald Turner

River City Art Association’s Donald Turner is the February Artist of the Month at the Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute.

Each year the Terre Haute artist celebrates Black History Month with his exhibit. On display throughout February are his six portraits of African-American women, past and present, he chose to recognize for their significant contributions to black history and black culture.

Turner’s tribute wall of charcoal drawings includes Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Madam C.J. Walker, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Harriet Tubman featured here.

Don’s artistic skills emerged while attending McClean Junior and Garfield High schools, where he learned the fundamentals of art from Frida Terhorst and Jessie Martin.

After high school he attended Butler University and Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, where he studied with renowned Indiana artist Harry Davis.

Don later studied art with Charles Reddington, Whitney Engeran Jr., Monty Montgomery and Dick Hay at Indiana State University.

After earning several degrees in art education, a master of arts and a master of science degrees, Don studied watercolor painting in spring 2008 with internationally known painter Joseph Fettingis NWS at Turkey Run State Park.

Don is well known in Vigo County for his work in the community. After many years of teaching art in the public schools and at ISU, he retired in 2008 to start his own art business as an illustrator.

Don’s company, Turner Graphique Designs, has created work for several well-known companies in Terre Haute and the surrounding area including Clabber Girl, Williams/Randall Marketing and Communications, and Kiwanis Club of Terre Haute.

Don also is well known in the art community for the drawings and watercolor paintings he has created for area art shows. His many honors and awards include a Best of Show pastel drawing in the library’s Big Read Art Competition in 2017, and a first place pastel drawing in 2016 at RCAA’s eighth annual juried competition.

Turner is a past president and past vice president of RCAA. In addition to the art business, he also is active in the Vigo County Retired Teacher’s Association and Kiwanis Club of Terre Haute.

Contact Turner at Turner Graphique Designs, 2129 Spruce St., Terre Haute, IN 47807; or

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Artwork by Monty ‘Indiana’ Jones and Lynne Dunnavant on display in The Crow Show

The Old Crow Shooter by Monty “Indiana” Jones (Photo by Marty Jones)

River City Art Association’s co-founder Monty “Indiana” Jones of Terre Haute and Lynne Dunnavant of Parke County have artwork in The Crow Show 2020 that opened Feb. 7 in Arts Illiana Gallery in Terre Haute. Their work was selected by guest curator Arthur Short Bull whose works are on display in the north gallery at Arts Illiana during the run of the Crow Show.

Monty shares this backstory on his Facebook page: “Just as the swallows return to Capistrano, the crows return to Terre Haute to decorate our streets and sidewalks every winter. This is my accepted entry for the Arts Illiana Crow Show. As I worked on this piece I thought a lot about my long deceased uncle who used to like to rassle in the grass with all us kids {my brother, my cousins, and I} He liked to go out late at night to play cards, smoke, and shoot some Old Crow as he called that hard stuff in a shot glass. We lost him way to young to liver disease, so I guess the Old Crow came out the winner in the end. I dedicate this piece to my late and great uncle titled “The Old Crow Shooter.”

Oil painting of crows by Lynne Dunnavant

This oil painting by Lynne was selected for The Crow Show. She also shares this backstory on her Facebook page: “This was painted from a photo I took West of Hawthorn Park one evening leaving Christen and Steve’s house.”

A closing reception for The Crow Show is set for 6 to 9 p.m. April 17 in Arts Illiana Gallery at 23 N. Sixth St. in Terre Haute.

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RCAA artists honored at recent ‘small art’ show

Congratulations to River City Art Association members Elise Spaid-Roberts of Terre Haute and Lynne Dunnavant of Parke County for honors received at the recent closing reception for the ‘smallart’ show in Arts Illiana Gallery in Terre Haute.

“Storm Lights” by Elise Spaid-Roberts

Elise was awarded Best in Show 2D for her unique landscape titled “Storm Lights.” She used coins, acrylic and spray paint to create her entry. See more creative works by Elise in her Etsy shop.

Derelict Will Not Fall by Lynne Dunnavant

Lynne received the People’s Choice award for her “Derelict Will Not Fall.” She created the old barn with watercolors on paper. She also enjoys painting with oils. See more of Lynne’s work on her website Artwork by Lynne

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RCAA show during ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ at Community Theatre of Terre Haute

Membership show during The Drowsy Chaperone in Community Theatre of Terre Haute

River City Art Association will have a membership show Jan. 31 through Feb. 9 in the Carolyn Toops Gallery at Community Theatre of Terre Haute.

CT patrons can view the art show before the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” and during intermission.

Participating artists include Edith and Richard Acton, Bob DeFrance, Sandy Fisher, Valerie Funk, Monty “Indiana” Jones, Marcia Norman, Elise Spaid-Roberts, Todd Stokes, Sheila K. Ter Meer and Thomas Wright.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Jan. 31, Feb. 1,  and Feb. 7 and 8 with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 2 and Feb. 9.

CT is at 25th and Washington streets.

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