Indiana’s Nicest Day: The Annual Penrod Arts Fair


Selling art in the digital age has caused a problem for modern artists: artwork of every range of quality can be found in every corner of the internet, leaving artists drowning in the masses as they try to promote their work.

The Penrod Society is a volunteer organization which focuses on helping encourage and support artists in Central Indiana with an event referred to by the IMA as “Indiana’s Nicest Day.” This day is marked by the annual Penrod Arts Fair, allowing a number of artists to showcase and sell their work to the public.

Photo from IMA Website

Photo from IMA Website

Bloomington woodwork artist Nathan Hunter sells his work online through his own website, Etsy, and other online sales outlets. He has worked the arts fair the last four years and plans to continue working the annual event for the foreseeable future. He stated that while online marketing is a year-round business, he brings in a large amount of revenue every year at the Penrod Arts Fair.

“The crowd is a high-quality crowd,” he said. “Every year the crowds are consistent.”

The Penrod Arts Fair is well known to the artists of Indiana, and many apply to be one of the few accepted into the event. Bobbi K. Samples, an oil painter featured in the fair, has participated in the Penrod Arts Fair since 2004.

“It’s the most prestigious art fair in Indiana, and maybe in the Midwest,” she said. “It definitely gives you something to put on a resume,” she said. “Everybody knows Penrod, and not all artists get in. If an artist sees you’ve been at Penrod, they know you’re an outstanding patron.”

Hunter praised the Penrod Society in both their ability to run the fair and the extent to which they help vendors.

“They know how to do a show,” he said. “Penrod is incredibly helpful with setting up and supporting the artists.”

“It’s so well organized,” Samples said. Many artists frequent different arts and craft fairs in a year, but Samples only participates in the Penrod Arts Fair. “It’s the only art fair I do because it’s done so well,” she said.

The arts fair covers a wide variety of interests, with everything from watercolor and oil painting to metalwork and woodworking.

Artists of nearly every media can be found selling art at the fair.. Photo from Penrod Arts Fair Facebook

Artists of nearly every media can be found selling art at the fair.. Photo from Penrod Arts Fair Facebook

“The artwork is very high quality, with a lot of variety,” Hunter said. Because not every artist is accepted to be in the fair, the products found there are considered to be the best available in the region.

“It’s a one-day event for the family or for friends,” Bobbi K. Samples said. “It’s very family orientated, but it’s also a ‘Let’s go drink wine and look at art’ thing.” The fair features a specific area aimed towards children where entertainment from magicians to marionettes. For the adult audiences, there will be an Indiana Craft Beer Garden and various performances on a symphony stage, a dance stage, and an Indy Jazz Fest stage.

The 51st Penrod Arts Fair will take place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, rain or shine, on the campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Tickets can be purchased for $20 on the day of the event. Admission is free for children 10 and under. Learn more about Nathan Hunter and Bobbi K. Samples at www.NathanHunterDesign.com and https://bobbik.com.