Painting Depicts 1900’s Lawrenceburg Riverfront

Posted On February 24, 2012

A proof of Michael Blaser’s oil painting “Lawrenceburg: It Was 1900 Yesterday.” provided

(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Steamboats, passenger trains, and the picturesque cityscape of an early 1900’s era Lawrenceburg riverfront have been immortalized in a new painting.


Renowned American maritime artist Michael Blaser’s original oil-on-canvas painting of the Lawrenceburg Riverfront will be unveiled during a reception at the Lawrenceburg Public Library on Saturday evening.


The work of art was commissioned by Lawrenceburg Main Street Association with the help of grants from the City of Lawrenceburg Community Grant Program and the Dearborn Community Foundation.


Blaser, a Des Moine, Iowa resident, has crafted hundreds of paintings of scenes along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers during his career. He started his painting professionally in the 1980s. One of his firsts gigs was painting for the first Tall Stacks Music, Arts, and Heritage Festival in Cincinnati.


Blaser had been discussing a Spirit City painting with locals for a while.


“This town has a wonderful little art gallery called The Framery and a native of Lawrenceburg, Mary Helen Crook, probably for 25 years we’ve been talking to Mary Helen saying ‘Well, we’ll have to do a painting of Lawrenceburg,’” Blaser said.


Once he was hired by main street, Blaser began his research to gain an idea of what the city riverfront may have looked like 111 years ago.


“We started with the (existing) county courthouse and the Hamline Chapel, of course they’re parts of this community which have been here over 100 years,” Blaser explained.




The challenge came in depicting the buildings which were around in 1900, but no longer.


“The 1937 flood destroyed all the historical documents in this town,” Blaser said.


That absence of information allowed the artist to do what he does best – get creative.


“That’s why I went to art school,” Blaser joked.


“The old Lawrenceburg roller mill, which wasn’t particularly pretty and has long since gone, dominated the landscape,” Blaser said, explaining the mill’s size was reduced in the final painting because of its eye-sore status.


The painting also strips away the large levee that now lines the riverfront to protect the city from floods.


Blaser wanted to strongly tie in Lawrenceburg’s former status as a hub for Ohio River maritime traffic. The painting prominently displays four mammoth steamboats.


“The big old steamer Indiana and the Tacoma and the Hercules Carroll – these are steamers that ran up and down the Ohio and they would regularly stop in Lawrenceburg because of the packing business,” said Blaser.


The unveiling reception will be from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Saturday at the Lawrenceburg Public Library, 150 Mary Street. The event is open to the public. Hors dourves will be served by the Dearborn Country Club.


Some of the only 250 giclée prints of the painting in various sizes will be available for purchase. Giclée – translated from the French term “spray-of-ink” – is a reprint in which the original painting is scanned and highly detailed computer printing technology sprays fine drops of ink onto a new canvas to create the most authentic possible reproduction of the original art.


Following the unveiling, the painting will hang at Lawrenceburg City Hall.