Nancy Ford’s art studio fosters creativity, friendship
By Bernie Schmitt
Most of the artists refer to it as “Nancy’s,” or the “Studio,” where they go to exercise their artistic talents, to learn, and to socialize with like-minded people.
The group meets most every Tuesday, anywhere from late morning to early afternoon, though owner Nancy Ford says she’s there most of the day.
“Sometimes there are over 20 people here,” Ford said.
On a sunny April day, there were five or six artists at work, painting landscapes, flowers, and other things. Framed paintings from a variety of artists adorn the walls of the long, rectangular room. Rows of banquet tables provide lots of room for artists to work.
Patrons are friends, too, so a sense of camaraderie and goodwill prevails.
“There are no egos here,” says Denise Dayson-Bristol of Vincennes.
“Yes, there is never a cross word,” said Janet Vayhinger of Lawrenceville, Illinois.
“We don’t permit it,” Ford said.
The “Studio” which sits atop a hill near the Apple Hill Orchard just north of Vincennes, is a relatively new building — less than 10 years — but it is the site of Ford’s original studio. For many years she’s had a studio in an old building where her present studio is located. She then had a studio above Dot’s and the former St. Louis Soda Shop along First Street.
“But some people had a hard time with stairs and we decided to build this building when we sold the building downtown,” Ford said.
Her original studio had a green door, and thus it was named “The Green Door,” but hardly anyone, including Ford, refers to the “Studio,” as that. The studio downtown had a green door, too.
“I grew up in the ‘50s and there was a song about the green door (“Green Door” recorded by Jim Lowe in 1956), Ford said. “It said something about wondering what was behind the green door. So, we called it that.”
Art teachers and professors used to teach at her studio, and she’s hosted a variety of painting and art-related workshops over the years. She doesn’t teach anymore, preferring not to have the commitment. Instead, she enjoys the fellowship of other artists, all of whom — including herself — learn from one another.
“We have a good group,” she said. “It is interesting to see how people work and how they have learned and developed their art. I’m happy with the progress they have made.”
Ford studied art at Vincennes University for a year, after deciding to attend art classes to which she was taking her son years ago. She’s learned from others, as the artists who frequent her studio do.
“I’ll tell you, none of us would be here or doing this if not for Nancy,” said Steve Tevebaugh, a retired high school government teacher.
John DeCoursey, president of the Northwest Territory Art Guild, and a “regular” at the Studio, echoes Tevebaugh’s sentiments.
“She has been so nurturing,” DeCoursey said. “She provides a wonderful place for us, and she always has materials or gets things we can try. We are very fortunate to have her.”
In fact, Ford’s support of art — especially painting — is recognized with the “John and Nancy Ford Gallery,” at the Northwest Territory Art Guild. The Fords had helped with a gift to the Guild when the organization moved into, and was remodeling, its present location.
“I guess you could say this is my hobby,” Ford said. “I have enjoyed being able to do it.”