Iridescence of a Shallow Stream, John Otis Adams

John Otis Adams (Amity, Indiana 1851 – Indianapolis, Indiana 1927)
Iridescence of a Shallow Stream, 1902
oil on canvas, 28 1/8 x 47 13/16 inches
Transferred from the Emeline Fairbanks Memorial Library, Terre Haute, Indiana 1961.13

“The Hoosier Group” was the name of five notable Indiana artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who captured the beauty of our state employing the then-modern style of impressionism. John Otis Adams was one of those five who exhibited in 1894 at the Chicago-based Central Art Association.

The exhibition was organized by the noted novelist Hamlin Garland to promote impressionism. The four other painters were William Forsythe, Richard Gruelle, Otto Stark, and Theodore C. Steele, all but Gruelle represented in the Swope collection.

Adams painted near Brooklyn in Morgan County, southwest of Indianapolis and Iridescence of a Shallow Stream was done in this area in 1902. Adams placed the viewer in the midst of a flowing stream, immersing us in nature as the sun flickers through the lush green foliage. Using pure, unblended tones to the canvas typical of the impressionist style, Adams conveyed the illusion of light dancing across the surface to the stream.

The painting won a bronze medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, better known as the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904. It hung for many years in the emetine Fairbanks Memorial Library in Terre Haute and was transferred to the Swope in 1961.

Writing of artists in the Hoosier Group Exhibition, Garland said: “These artists have helped the people of Indiana to see the beauty in their own quiet landscape. They have not only found interesting this to paint in things near at hand; they have made these chosen scenes interesting to others. Therein lies their significance.”


Featured in Terre Haute Living May 2021