Gwen: Even if it's an old dilapidated barn there's so much beauty there, especially maybe because it's so worn because it's lived all those years and done all those things and seen all that life. They're almost alive.
Gwen Gutwein is part artist, part historian, part champion of obscure causes. Her cause for several years now has been rescuing a fast disappearing chapter of our story; the Midwestern hay barn.
“As a child I lived on a farm,” she says. “My brothers and sisters and I played in the barn, we played in the haymow we played cowboys and Indians we played hide and seek. That passion is coming into my painting and I think that's part of what makes me want to go paint barns.”
Gutwein has madder her Fort Wayne home command central in an effort to preserve historic Indiana hay barns. Her mission is to paint portraits of two barns from each of Indiana’s 92 counties and use that work to raise awareness of the value of these historic structures. It is a very personal quest.
“Sometimes a barn will be quiet and subtle,” she says, “and some barns you get there and they're real in your face. Like people they all show a character.”
Gutwein admires the independence and hard work life on a farm demands. And for her the hay barn represents those values, values she feels are slipping away as these grand structures disappear. She hopes her portraits will convince lawmakers to change state tax laws to encourage owners to maintain and preserve their barns, to honor the men who built them, the generations who depended on them for their livelihoods, and for us today and for days to come, who simply love the sight of these fine old monuments.
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