About the Collection
Kathy Russell Smith, granddaughter of James L. Russell, and her husband, Don Smith, greatly desired a permanent collection of works by Wonderland Way Artists be made available for the benefit of our region. They have spearheaded efforts in making the James L. Russell Wonderland Way Collection a reality. This collection has provided an opportunity to those interested in preserving the history and heritage of the art of the region. When completed, it will be the largest permanent collection of Wonderland Way artists in the world and will consist of more than 300 works of art.
History of the Wonderland Way Art Club and James L. Russell
The Wonderland Way Art Club was started by New Albany artist James L. Russell (1872-1937). The Art Club assembled at Russell’s decorating and framing shop in downtown New Albany from 1906 until approximately 1937. The Wonderland Way stretched from Cincinnati to Evansville, and at one time consisted of more than 300 artists living in or near New Albany, Indiana. Some of the more well-known artists who frequently gathered at the Art Shop included: Ferdinand Graham Walker, Harvey Peake, Joseph Krementz, Harvey Joiner, Sidney D. Crosier, Fred Shrader, Walter Kiser, Chet Neeld, Grover Page Sr. and Jr., Norvin Baker, Hundley Coolman, Virginia O'Fallan, Orville Carroll, Marshall Lane, William Hancock, John T. Bauscher, Paul Plaschke, and also the noted artists T.C. Steele and William Forsyth.
Grover Page, Jr., a former member of the Wonderland Way Art Club, writes about Russell, "James L. Russell was not only a significant ‘Depression artist’ of the ‘30s, he was the kindest and most gentle person I ever knew. He was the favorite artist of everyone in New Albany and the surrounding and distant areas. In 1931, at the age of thirteen, I became a ‘regular’ among local artists and art lovers who frequented Jim’s Art Shop on Market Street. Jim started the Wonderland Way Art Club for any artist in the area who wanted to study and discuss art."