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Dudley, Frank Virgil The Dune Vineyard, No Date


Frank Virgil Dudley was born in Delavan, Wisconsin, and became interested in the northern Indiana lakeshore dunes around 1916. In 1921 he built a cottage there, which became known among artists as “cottage number 108.” Every Sunday Dudley and his wife held an open house so that the public could view his work. He used his artistic talent to raise awareness of the dunes and to support the movement to make the area a national park. According to Dudley, the first event in the publicity campaign for the park was a pageant in 1917, featuring 800 actors and attended by an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 thousand people. “I felt I could do something in my own way that might help some, and so got very busy,” he told the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette. “In 1918 I put on a one-man show in the Art Institute [of Chicago] which was sponsored by ‘The Friends of Our Native Landscape’ and 20 other organizations that were interested in conservation.” In 1923 the Indiana Dunes State Park was established on 2,183 acres. In 1925, 2,200 acres were added, including 3.25 miles of frontage on Lake Michigan—thus saving part of what Dudley and others considered the most important primitive landscape in the Midwest. In 1966 the U.S. Congress established the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in order to preserve this unique area. Dudley and his wife continued to live in cottage 108 after creation of the park. His rental payment to the state consisted of one original oil painting of the dunes each year; he completed 19 paintings, which are in the collection of the Indiana State Museum.

  • The Dune Vineyard, n.d.
  • 27″ x 30″
  • Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
  • Keywords: paintings, natural landscapes, oil on canvas
  • Subjects: outdoors, dunes, lakes, trees, grapevines

Dudley explained to the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette: “We have many grapevines in the dunes, particularly around the edges of the blowouts, and as the dune moves along and covers and kills the trees, the vines survive, and in cases where the trees are entirely covered the vine lives. It may be covered by the sand in the winter and spring when we have heavy winds and the sand movement is greatest, but by midsummer it will be back again.” In this painting the sky and lake do not blend together; there is a clear difference between them. Notice the textures of the vines, sand, and water.

Some Points to Consider

  • Discuss with the class the reasons that artists make art. Ask them to describe Dudley’s philosophy for making art and what impact it might have on conservation of the Dunes. (Art 4.4.1)
  • Ask students to describe the relationship between the geography of the Dunes and the works of art by Dudley. Why do they think this unique area of Indiana compelled Dudley to paint the dunes many times? (Art 4.1.1)
  • Ask students to identify the sensory affects of the high horizon line and the contrast of textures. (Art 4.3.1)