By Gustave Baumann
Gustave Baumann’s woodblock prints of Brown County, Indiana, capture the essence of a simpler time and place: whitewashed homesteads with split-rail fences, men and women going about their chores, children, and chickens in the yards—all amid the full colors of the four seasons in the wooded hills around the town of Nashville.
One of the early artists to discover Brown County, Baumann (1881–1971) arrived in 1910 and resided in Nashville for six years before permanently settling in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1918. Decades later, he dreamed of telling the story of the origins of the Brown County artists colony, which had continued to grow and was by then a well-known center for art and tourism. Baumann lamented the absence of written records from the storytellers of those formative days, so he set about writing his own account. To that end, he jotted down his impressions of the landscape, memories of his fellow artists, and anecdotes about the colorful townsfolk.
Baumann’s drafts, which he titled “Of a County Called Brown,” were given shape for this book by editor Martin Krause, who gathered the notes, reminiscences, and other writings into the narrative whole presented here. The history of the artists colony is revealed in Baumann’s own voice, “as if it just happened, sort of casual like.”