This ambitious portrait presents the members of the Hoosier group, (from left to right) T. C. Steele, Otto Stark, J. Ottis Adams and William Forsyth. Richard Gruelle had died seven years earlier.
The artists are posed as if they were choosing paintings for an art exhibition.
Wayman Adams was born on a farm near Muncie Indiana to a Quaker father who was a livestock breeder and amateur artist. Adams' father encouraged his interest in art. The first portrait commission the young boy received was a picture of a heifer named “Gypsy Girl III” for which he was paid five dollars. In 1904 Adams began his art education at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, where he spent four years studying under William Forsyth. In 1910 Adams traveled with William Merritt Chase and his students to study art in Italy. A few years later he made a similar trip to Spain with Robert Henri. Adams' developed a style of “alla-prima” painting, which means “all at once,” is a method of painting in which the work is completed in one sitting, usually without the use of glazing or underpainting. These rapidly painted works contain energetic brushwork and bold, expressive images. Adams was an extremely prolific painter whose subjects included U. S. presidents, university leaders, authors, artists, society ladies, actors and actresses, military heroes, sports personalities, musicians, royalty, and governors. “At one point in his career, Adams had studios in Indianapolis New York City and Philadelphia. During the winter he traveled extensively, looking for exotic areas and interesting subjects.
The Art Jury, which depicts T C. Steele, Otto, Stark, J. Ottis Adams, and William Forsyth, the Hoosier Group artists who were Adams' first teachers in Indiana, exemplifies the Adams' group portraits. This realistic view of his mentors shows them judging works of art. Each portrait is carefully constructed to express the artists' personalities, demeanor and facial features. The portrait even shows Forsyth smoking, Stark with a cane and the signature beards worn by the men. It is one of the few group images of the members of the Hoosier Group that depicts their likenesses with such accuracy. The only missing member, Richard Gruelle, died before the work was painted.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art has more than fifty works by Wayman Adams in its American collection. Many of these are portraits of famous Indiana residents. Included in this group are the author Booth Tarkington, the poet James Whitcomb Riley, the pharmaceutical giant, Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., the artist Randolph Coats and the local art dealer Carl Herman Lieber.
Judith Newton. A Grand Tradition: The Hoosier Salon Art and Artists 1925-1990, Indianapolis: Hoosier Salon Patrons Association, Incorporated, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0963836007
Purchased from the artist by a group of local patrons for the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art, in 1926.