“my indiana muse”

That’s Helen. She is the inspiration behind a huge, most likely lifelong, painting series, and a beautiful film by American painter Robert Townsend {or Bobby, or Rob}. The film is titled, “My Indiana Muse”... perfect, as Helen basically screams MUSE. I loved every second of this hour and half long episode… Rob’s paintings {yes, paintings} are insane. He is a self-taught, funny, modest, artistic genius as far as I can tell. Also, he loves donuts, so clearly we’re going to be friends.

First up, his watercolors from a few years ago. WATER. COLORS. I mean, I don’t even know:

What the?! Ok, that’s insane. And on that note, the first painting in the “Helen” series, back when Robert had named her “Kay”:

This was the piece he had titled “Kay and Patty”, before he found the slide with Helen wearing a name tag!

And, here are Helen and Roy on one of their many road trips, in matching outfits no less:

Hooray for pink pants! Looking good, Roy. ps. these are actually Rob’s paintings, NOT the original photographs. Crazy, right?

Now, for some people, painting the images would be enough. Rob is not one of those people. The film begins with him heading out onto the road to track down some of Helen’s fabulous mid-century destinations:

Note the orange/mud layer he uses for underpainting his large-scale oil paintings … it certainly does lend a warmth to Helen and her crew. Speaking of warmth… HAWAII! This is the painting Rob was working on throughout “My Indiana Muse”:

Note Roy’s Hawaiian shirt above. That took Robert six days to paint. SIX. DAYS.

I really do think Helen and Rob are kindred spirits, even though they never met. They certainly both love road trips:

How cool is that! He went where Helen went … ♥   I wish they could’ve gone on a trip together. I have a feeling they would have stopped here to buy a postcard and a slice of “World Famous Cheesecake”:

I double-checked with Robert, and this is actually an oil painting, not a watercolor – thank goodness because that would’ve broken my brain.

And finally, a peek at the trailer {and one of the posters} for this lovely ode to a mystery woman … who is now more like family:

Beautiful. If you can see this film at one of the many film festivals it’s part of, please do… it’s just so lovely. Gigantic thanks to Rob for taking so much time to answer all of my questions; thanks to Saatchi Art for supporting the episode; and thank YOU for listening. There will be more Art For Your Ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. “My Indiana Muse”
  2. Film Festival Schedule: Up next Beverly Hills, Phoenix, Palm Springs, Florida, New York…
  3. Film Makers: Ric & Jen Serena
  4. Original Score by Paul Bessenbacher & Matt Bowen
  5. Rob’s show in April at Altamira Fine Art, Scottsdale AZ


comments (24)

  1. Indiana wants me, Robert Townsend (because) – This isn't happiness /// 03.24.2018 /// 5:04am

    […] Indiana wants me, Robert Townsend (because) […]

  2. Jane Moore Houghton /// 03.24.2018 /// 7:54am

    Oh my goodness! How refreshing to see/meet a joy-filled artist and his practice! I am in love with this project, this story, and this artist!

  3. Marc Cardwell /// 03.24.2018 /// 1:49pm

    wow, this was one of my favorite of your conversations. bobby sounds like a cool guy, and has a great story, and that story genuinely inspires me. thank you!

  4. Marc Cardwell /// 03.24.2018 /// 1:54pm

    and, dammit, i’m not crying, you’re crying!

  5. the jealous curator /// 03.26.2018 /// 8:15am

    marc – hahaha! 😉

  6. Judy Wallace /// 03.24.2018 /// 5:09pm

    First time I’ve listened to your podcast, but oh my goodness, if the rest of them are even half this wonderful, I am hooked! I love Robert and I love that the two of you did shuch an inspiring job of telling this amazing story. THANK YOU!

  7. Julie /// 03.25.2018 /// 2:07am

    Loved every minute of this!! So lovely!!! Thank you!

  8. Christine /// 03.25.2018 /// 9:24am

    I m an artist in Indiana with an actual Aunt Helen. I listen to Art For Your Ear every weekend while I putter around in the studio. This. THIS.

    I am also an art educator and will tell you that any teacher – art or otherwise – who feels a need to diminish you and your dreams should find another vocation. That is the part of your conversation that made me cry, actually. Angry tears with the fire of a thousand suns. Seriously.

  9. the jealous curator /// 03.26.2018 /// 8:15am

    thanks christine … and i agree! luckily i had a few other wonderful teachers who helped guide me toward the life i have now!

  10. Robyn Arouty /// 03.26.2018 /// 9:58am

    Loved this!!! Any idea when the film will be available for rent & where? Thanks!

  11. ann /// 03.26.2018 /// 10:39am

    Holy floral pattern! I can not wait to see this documentary! Thank you!

  12. Barbara Eichin /// 03.26.2018 /// 3:57pm

    I listen to your podcasts while I work on my studio. Love them and live in fear of running out. This one is to die for. Robert, Rob, Bobby seems like the nicest guy EVER! So enjoyed his fascinating story and I can’t wait for the doc to come out. I already cried 3x during the trailer so stuffing my pockets with tissues when the time comes. Don’t you ever stop doing this Danielle!

  13. the jealous curator /// 03.26.2018 /// 8:57pm

    i don’t think i can, if if i wanted to 😉

  14. Kim /// 03.28.2018 /// 10:19am

    This is just so incredibly awesome! My favourite thing that you’ve had on here to date. Bobby has captured the joy of the american dream. It feels like such a familiar world but it’s so much more than nostalgia. I like to think that my grandmother Alice, my great-aunt Evelyn and their best friend Vienna might very well have been in Hawaii at the same time as Helen and Roy 🙂 I can’t wait to see this film, can you keep us up to date on when it’s released? Also… my mom had a Datsun 310! A little red one.

  15. Pamela /// 03.29.2018 /// 10:21am

    One of my favorite of your podcasts to date. Can’t wait to see this movie. Been trying to get the Bobby’s site/blog to learn more about him but it doesn’t seem to be working.

  16. Veronica /// 03.29.2018 /// 12:50pm

    is there any way you can watch this film living in Europe? Love this episode

  17. the jealous curator /// 03.30.2018 /// 7:14am

    i’m not sure … i’ll ask robert 🙂

  18. Ruby /// 04.05.2018 /// 4:50am

    Oh my! I haven’t even watched the trailer yet but I was already crying when Bobby was talking about Helen and how he tracked her family and stuff. First time I cried listening to a podcast hahaha! I wonder though how we from overseas can watch his film? Would really, really love to see it! I’m from the Philippines, by the way 🙂

  19. Heather /// 04.11.2018 /// 10:32am

    Hi..just listened to your podcast with Robert. I am also Helens niece from Indiana. Would love to talk to you.

  20. the jealous curator /// 04.11.2018 /// 10:37am

    wow! amazing!!! feel free to send me an email: contact@thejealouscurator.com

  21. Rick Petry /// 05.10.2018 /// 9:14am

    This is such a great story from a wonderful artist whose warmth and authenticity is matched only by his peerless talent. Thank you for sharing!

  22. Hagar /// 06.04.2018 /// 3:17am

    One of the best Podcast episodes!! Love everything about it. From early days till now. A true inspiring, amzaning artist. Thank you!

  23. Nora Simon /// 08.13.2018 /// 9:28am

    Is there any way to watch this film online? Thank you so much for this podcast!!

  24. Mandy Behrens /// 02.24.2019 /// 11:38am

    Incredibly captivating storytelling, of course. Thank you for continuing to nourish our artist souls. xo

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