Artist Doris Embry

by Susan W. Showalter
photo by George Bredewater

I had the pleasure of visiting one on one with my favorite Brown County artist, Doris Embry, on a recent steamy Friday afternoon at her cozy home in Nashville. She was preparing for an art show at the FigTree Gallery in Helmsburg.

We looked though several stacks of artwork in her studio including charcoal figure drawings, watercolor paintings, and note cards. Large windows light the room and reveal the nearby woods. Several work areas, lots of books, and a piano fill the space.

Doris mainly concentrates on watercolors but sometimes works with acrylics. She also paints on fabric and glass. Her latest passion is painting Santa Fe style windows.

This artist was the recipient of two scholarships at the prestigious John Herron School of Art when she was a junior high school student in Indianapolis but it was not until she was a twenty-nine year old mother of four children that she “got back into art.” She said she needed to get back into herself again. She eventually took classes at the Herron School for three years.

Doris was lured to our artist colony in 1969. She rented an apartment on Artist Drive in Nashville. “I was not quite sure I wanted to turn loose of my house in Indianapolis so I had one foot here and one foot there. But soon I realized that my children were raised and I did not need to be there anymore.”

A year or two later she put down some roots. She bought a house and became co-owner of the Bittersweet shop in Nashville where she sold her artwork as well as other artists’ work.

When I met Doris in the late 1970s she was director of the Brown County Art Guild. She wrote about the Art Guild’s news every week for three years in the “Canvassing Art” column of the Brown County Democrat.

Doris was a charter member of the newly formed Indiana Heritage Arts, Inc. (IHA). I had been one of the founders and was president of newly formed Brown County Craft Guild. She invited me to join the IHA board. As board members we worked together planning classes for children and hanging some of the early exhibitions.

Doris always supported the local art events. A past member of both the Brown County Art Guild and the Brown County Art Gallery, Doris is now less officially involved with the various organizations, but continues to support artists and musicians. Most recently she has attended meetings of the newly formed Brown County Artisans, a local grass roots artist group. She comes to the FigTree every Thursday evening to see local musicians perform.

This constant enthusiasm and expression of support for other artists is why Doris Embry is my favorite local artist.

This lady has aged gracefully. Her physical characteristics have not changed much in the 30 years I’ve known her. Perhaps her secret is being so active. Until a few years ago she tap danced with a local group. At the age of 84, she attends weekly ballroom dancing sessions led by Rob Lawless. She works as a secretary at Bloomington Hospital and manages to find time to take on house projects like refinishing her outside deck

Two of her children, Ross and Jeanie, are also artists. Other children are Annette and Bruce, who lives in Brown County with his wife Laurie and their daughter Tai.

To learn more about the artwork of Doris Embry or to arrange for a private showing of her paintings and drawings, call (812) 988-7511 or drop by the FigTree Gallery any Thursday evening. Look for a tall trim well dressed white-haired pretty woman. She may be dancing.