Suzanne Slick, Collection Information Specialist
Teacher, Artist, Lecturer, Craftsman, Traveler
An exotic-sounding name keeps popping up in my world – Miss Blanche Hutto – compelling me to take a deep dive into Fort Wayne’s art history. If you read my December blog post about Bill Blass you know that Miss Hutto was Blass’ art teacher at South Side High School in the 1930s when the young designer was a Scholastic Award recipient. And if you attended the panel discussion on the Fort Wayne Art School in December, you heard Don Kruse reminiscing about Miss Hutto who was one of the teachers of the Art School’s Saturday Young People’s Classes when Don was a student. I heard her name as a teen in the 1970s when my mother would tell us about her fascinating experiences at various Fort Wayne Museum of Art lectures and demonstrations that Blanche organized. I loved her poetic-sounding name (her mother, Nellie, was a poet), and envied those who were entertained and educated while attending all sorts of lively talks and activities conducted by Miss Hutto. When I began working at FWMoA, Blanche’s name appeared inside the front covers of many of the art books in our reference library – they were given by her estate in the 1980s.
Miss Huttos’ name also appeared in the local papers numerous times in the 1960s and 1970s as a “well-known local artist”; as her many lectures for the Museum’s Exploring Arts series were covered in the newspapers’ local culture pages. In a February 1969 article, The Fort Wayne News Sentinel said “Fort Wayne audiences are accustomed to expecting an interesting talk with enlightening highlights when Miss Blanche Hutto is the scheduled speaker.”
The topics of her talks ranged from the Byzantine to the Impressionists, from the elements of design to portraiture, and were often supplemented by her travel photographs and objects of art and craft from her personal collection. In her “retirement” after decades of public school teaching, she taught hands-on classes as part of the Museum’s Decorative Living Series – some of these were on needlework, enameling, making sculptures from found objects, ceramics, reverse applique, weaving, macramé, photograms, and jewelry crafting.
Soon after her death in January of 1981, The Fort Wayne News Sentinel roto Magazine published a remembrance of Miss Blanche Hutto. Sharon Little wrote, “Her friends, colleagues and acquaintances agree: Blanche Hutto was a woman, educator and artist they will never forget. They take comfort these days in the fact that the many art forms she eagerly pursued, mastered, created and then shared with others in settings as multi-faceted as her talents will continue to speak even though their creator died Jan. 4. Thousands of lives were touched by Hutto, who advised by a teacher in third grade she should become a teacher, followed that career for 48 years in elementary, secondary and college-level classes. Although she formally retired from public schools in 1967, that “retirement“ only signaled her prompt move into other arenas where she enthusiastically, and freely, shared her time and talents.”
Her friend, Marcia Adams, is quoted as saying, “Blanche worked tirelessly teaching arts and crafts for the Museum’s Exploring Art Series, for which she refused to be paid. Blanche would say, ‘Just give my check to the museum, they need it worse than I do.’ Above all she was a show person. She knew how to market art using the idiom of the day. And she was always fair, never petty. She was a mentor to many of us at the museum.”
Blanche Hutto truly lived a life in art!
Some of Miss Hutto’s many credentials:
B. A., Ball State University
M.A., Columbia University
Continuing Studies: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Cleveland Institute of Art, Cranbrook Academy of Art, East Connecticut State College, University of Tennessee, University of Oregon and Indiana State University
Art Instructor, Fort Wayne South Side High School
Art Department Head, Fort Wayne Central High School,
Art Instructor, the Young People’s Saturday Classes of the Fort Wayne Art School
World Crafts Council member
American Crafts Council member
Indiana Craftsmen member
Indiana Weavers Guild member
Shuttlecraft Guild member
Fort Wayne Museum of Art Decorative Living and Exploring Arts Series lecturer and instructor
Fort Wayne Museum of Art docent
The exhibition 1026 West Berry Street: The Fort Wayne Art School, will be up through February 10, 2019.