The recent exhibit at The David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA) honors some of Muncie’s most famous and influential painters, including their artwork and their marriage. 

"Impressions of Love" is the first display of John Ottis Adams and Winifred Brady Adams’ work in more than 90 years. 

John Ottis Adams was the brother-in-law of Frank C. Ball, who moved to Muncie during the city’s booming years after studying in London, England. Adams began teaching in the area soon after, where he had Winifred Brady Adams as a student. 

In the 1880s, John Ottis Adams and Winifred Brady Adams began working together professionally and married soon after. 

Both impressionist artists had such a love for the arts they became two of the founding members of DOMA. 

“They were part of a group of people who influenced an interest in the arts here in this city during its booming years,” said Robert La France, director of DOMA. “[Their interest] eventually led to something called the Art Students’ League, which is still around today.”

More than 90 paintings and objects are on display at the museum, 28 of which are works from Winifred Brady Adams. The DOMA exhibit is the first to display so many of her paintings at once. 

“We want to emphasize Winifred Brady Adams’ work,” La France said. “Her work has been kind of obscured by [J. Ottis Adams’] fame.”

Those who created and set up the exhibit designed it to give both artists and their works equal weight. On the upper level of the museum, the main focus is John Ottis Adams and his development as an artist, while the lower level focuses on Winifred Brady Adams and her training with the famous American Impressionist painter William Merritt Chase. 

Among the pieces on display are collection items from 28 private collectors, which La France said could be the first time some of the Adamses’ artwork has been seen by the public.

Not only is the exhibit important to the Muncie community and the Ball legacy, but it has had an impact on students as well.

“It helps me, an art student, understand there is a grand amount of progress I can make stylistically and technically in my art with continued practice,” said Breyanne Urbin, a junior art history and studio art major. 

Shaun Dingwerth, executive director of the Richmond Art Museum, is one reason the exhibit has such a unique selection of paintings and objects from the Adamses’ past. He functioned as the main curator of "Impressions of Love." 

The George and Frances Ball Foundation also helped make the exhibit possible because the grant they offered helped restore 100-year old paintings and frames from the Adamses’, making them suitable for display. 

Dingwerth will speak at the Petty Memorial Lecture April 11. The public reception begins at 5 p.m., and he will present an hour later.

The honoring exhibit opened Jan. 24 and will remain open until May 19. For those interested in diving deeper into the artwork and the history of the couple, DOMA also offers scheduled programs, including Music in the Museum, a Couple's Painting Workshop and a Youth Painting Workshop.

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