Travel & Tourism

Check Out the White River Art Canoes in Hamilton County, Indiana

Next time you visit one of these five outdoor spots in Hamilton County, you’ll see an exciting new piece of artwork installed.

The White River Alliance, in partnership with the White River Vision Plan, placed art canoes in key anchor locations along the White River to raise awareness of recent (and future) reinvestment and reinvigoration of the waterways. Each of the canoes was painted by a different local artist from Marion County or Hamilton County to draw out voices from the communities surrounding the White River and reflect the unique elements of the river at each location.

The canoes will be on display through October, with five canoes located in Marion County and the other five in Hamilton County.

Artist: Erin Goodman and Hamilton Heights Middle School art students

Erin Goodman is an art teacher at Hamilton Heights Middle School. In addition to teaching, Erin leads an after school art club with students in grades 5-8.

“On one side of the canoe, you will find a map of the White River which radiates with parallel lines, mimicking the river’s path. This abstract “ripple effect” symbolizes the positive and powerful impact the White River has had on the surrounding communities for many years. You will also find colors and beadwork patterns inspired by the artwork of the Lenape tribe (Delaware Indians), which settled along the North Reach of the White River prior to Indiana statehood. There are seven sections with various designs, each one representing one letter of the word “K-O-T-E-E-W-I”, which means “prairie or fire” in their Native American language. The opposite side of the canoe includes imagery of the many attractions you will find today at Strawtown Koteewi Park.”

Artist: Krista Darrow

Krista lives in Fishers and is a member of Nickel Plate Arts. She shows her artwork regularly at various community events and businesses.

“The inspiration of my artwork came from the prairie behind Potter’s Bridge. I chose flowers, dragonflies and the White River as my artwork subjects. Flowers bloom beautifully. Dragonflies fly freely. The White River flows carefree. Nature has no limits or boundaries in time and places. Nature flows infinitely (if we don’t disturb it). Nature at the Potter’s Bridge Park is COOL and makes me happy. I want people feel the same way when they see my art canoe.”

Artist: Darlene Patterson

Darlene is no stranger to the great outdoors. Her adventures include paddling a dugout canoe on the Amazon River in Peru and backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. She teaches art at Promise Road Elementary School and owns Patterson Pottery Studio. Her life goal is to establish a pottery school in Noblesville.

“Using 4-Seasons as the theme comes from my love of each and every stage the river transforms itself into as it moves through the calendar year. Each has a character unique to the season. The green and freshness of spring is alive with rebirth, summer shows growth and joy, fall is a nod to a quieter time ahead, and in winter it tells us to slow down and rest. The symbols I chose to paint on the hull of the canoe are a sampling of the MANY ways you can enjoy the river to make your life happier and healthier.” 

Artist: Geoff Davis

Geoff is a life-long Hamilton County resident and a multi-disciplinary artist best known for his hand-carved and colorful carved birds, whales and pull toys. Geoff is also a leather smith and letterpress printer.

“I grew up a mile from Hazel Landing Park. I spent my childhood exploring a river tributary behind my house. I’d spend hours observing crustacea and fish and mollusks. I’d build dams and canals. The creek was a place of mystery, learning and adventure. As an adult, I moved to Noblesville and ready access to the river. My adventure transitioned from that creek to White River. When designing this project I looked to what turned me to face the river and engage. For me, the birds pulled the river to the forefront. There is something special and engaging in the flitting of orioles across the channel or the life and death interaction of a kingfisher and a Cooper’s Hawk. For me, the river provides access to wildlife – especially birds. I want to share this gateway. In this project, I depict the birds that I most associate with the river. Every bird has a story. Every bird represents an experience. It is my hope that that this work will give folks reason to take to get on the river and observe wildlife.”

Artist: Walt Thacker

Walt is an oil painter who paints ordinary landscapes in an upbeat and surreal sense with a taste for antiques. For him, the love and excitement is in the painting: creating the scene and subject matter, mixing the colors and applying it to the canvas always puts him in a better place.

“River Road Park in Carmel is my location for inspiration in my canoe painting project. River Road Park is all about Native American culture so my idea for the canoe is two murals. One for the Woodland Indian culture on one side and an Ice Age motif on the other…The Woodland Indian scene features a woodland village with inhabitants going about their day. Several canoes in the river, Three canoes with rowers, one on the shore, and two canoes with Indians spear fishing. The other side will be in the Ice Age. Laurentide Ice cliffs in the distance with lots of meltwater forming waterfalls, streams and creeks, leading to the “Paleo White River”.

Learn more about the White River Art Canoes and go on an adventure to find them all. Post your photos on social media and use #WhiteRiverArtCanoes.

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