Fall is the perfect time to visit southern Indiana. Plan your weekend so you can saunter into Harrison County on Friday. Dubbed the “River of Glass,” this weekend takes in two of Indiana’s most scenic Ohio River towns. Harrison County is not only home to Corydon, Indiana’s first state capitol, it’s also home to Zimmerman Art Glass.
Managed today by fourth-generation glassmaker Kerry Zimmerman, Zimmerman Art Glass produces a line of 110 hand-crafted glass works of art such as baskets, vases, candleholders, lamps, paperweights, fruit and holiday ornaments, in addition to a wide variety of decorator items. Kerry’s great-grandfather, Frederick, was a glass presser at the US Glass Company in Pittsburgh. His grandfather, Victor, learned the craft and at 10 years old began odd jobs at glass factories in Marion, Indiana. As he and his skills matured, he moved and began full-time work for the Corydon Enterprise, a lamp chimney factory. His son, Joe, also started young, taking odd jobs at the Corydon Enterprise and later mastering the skills of offhand glass production at Glass Handcrafters, a Corydon factory where Victor had become chief glass artisan. In 1963, it was Joe who started the family namesake company that Kerry manages today. Zimmerman Art Glass, in Corydon at 392 Valley Road, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Historic Corydon and Harrison County offers several overnight options, from cozy inns along the river to hotels in the heart of the city. The Kintner House Inn, called the “Hideaway for Romantics,” has 16 rooms, and one, the Joe Zimmerman Room, honors the founder of Zimmerman Art Glass. The lamps in the room are, of course, glass and were made by the Zimmerman’s. Saturday morning, if you want to linger a little longer, the Harrison County Harness Racing & Wine Festival starts at 11 a.m. at the Harrison County Fairgrounds. Post time is 11 a.m. and wine tasting is noon to 4.
An hour-and-a-half upriver is Madison, and on Saturday and Sunday, from 10-5, it hosts the 43rd Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art. Of the 250 artisans involved in this annual fall pilgrimage for art lovers, 13 are glass artists. Hailing from seven states, including Seth Bickis, Jerald Hatton and Tim Spicknell from Indiana, the artists create every possible glass artform: flameworked glass, blown glass, beads, dichroic art glass, sun catchers, kaleidoscopes, stained glass, sculpted glass using traditional Venetian techniques, beveled, fused and slumped glass, as well as kiln-formed and lampwork glass. There also are paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, weaving, folk art, jewelry, fiber, wood, baskets, clay, paper, leather, and wearable art. Madison is a stunning river town, and you will stroll the tree-lined streets of its National Landmark Historic District as you enjoy this event. Food artisans are set up along the riverfront. And maybe best of all, the event is free.
As you can imagine, overnight accommodations are hard to find in Madison this weekend; however, the Visit Madison website provides all the options.
And speaking of options, you have three for your next destination(s).
(1.) Back in Harrison County, Best Vineyards Winery offers a free concert Saturday from 4 – 8 p.m. Turtle Run Winery offers an afternoon concert Sunday from 1:30 – 5:30. And on both Saturday and Sunday, Deere Farms is open for the season, featuring corn mazes, hayrides, a pumpkin patch, pig races, and more. Historic Corydon and Harrison County has all the details.
(2.) If you want to head north on Saturday, Brown County is arguably the Arts Capitol of Indiana. Another beautiful town with tree-lined streets, Nashville’s reputation began in the 19th century as an artists’ colony, and it has broadened its appeal ever since. Scores of studios and artist galleries line a six-block area that includes Anne Ryan Miller’s stained glass studio and Ron Schuster’s Sweetwater Gallery, offering his glasswork. A video on Ann, Ron and the Lawrence Family Glassblowers is here. The Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau offers all the overnight options in and around Nashville.
(3.) About a half-hour east of Nashville is Columbus. Named the sixth most architecturally innovative city in the country by the American Institute of Architects, Columbus has long been known for modern architecture as well as its monumental appreciation for glass. The focal point of the Columbus Area Visitors Center is a Yellow Neon Chandelier and Persians, originals by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. If you are a collector, the Center also has several Chihuly pieces for sale. Open Saturday 9:00 – 5:00 and Sunday noon to 5:00, the Visitors Center is at 506 Fifth Street.
The Columbus Learning Center is a masterpiece of architect Kevin Kennon. The signature artistic element in the Center is “Chihuly Sun Garden Panels in Suspended Circle.” An enormous piece, suspended from the atrium’s ceiling to allow natural light to flow through, “Sun Garden” is made of 32 translucent white Plexiglas panels. Weighing 2,500 pounds, it is unique in that it was blown and painted by Dale Chihuly himself. Each panel is signed by Chihuly and represents blown-glass forms such as baskets, reeds, ikebana and floats. This weekend, the Center is open only on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is at 4555 Central Ave. There is no cost to enter the building, and the atrium is to the right as you enter.
The Columbus Area Visitors Center offers all the overnight options around the county, although they are hard to come by this weekend due to the Mill Race Marathon. If your interest in glass art is matched by an interest in races, head for Columbus on Saturday and join the more than 4,000 runners in the Mill Race Marathon. You may register online right up until the day of the run. If watching is more your pace, 3,000 spectators also are expected in Columbus on Saturday to be part of this full marathon that includes half-marathon and 5K courses. Beginning Saturday at 8 a.m., the marathon is sanctioned by the United States of America Track and Field (USATF) and is a Boston Marathon qualifier course.