Eiteljorg leads citywide National Endowment for the Arts reading celebration of classic Western novel, “True Grit”

Calling all book lovers: Join us for a community experience involving the classic Western novel True Grit by Charles Portis, including family programs, special events, book discussions, film screenings and more.

The Eiteljorg is one of 75 organizations nationwide to receive a 2019 NEA Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for a community-wide reading initiative, designed to connect people through the joy of sharing a book. For the Eiteljorg, True Grit was a natural fit with our mission.

True Grit is a 1968 adventure novel set in the Old West in which a young woman, Mattie Ross, and a U.S. marshal, Rooster Cogburn, search for the killer of Mattie’s father. The book by Portis was first serialized in the Saturday Evening Post magazine and soon adapted into a 1969 film. Another film adaptation, by the Coen brothers in 2010, also was critically acclaimed.

“Charles Portis’ Western novel True Grit explores themes of courage, endurance and personal growth,” said Dr. Martha Hill, vice president for public programs and the Beeler Family director of education at the Eiteljorg Museum. “Those themes will be explored during the two months of Eiteljorg events and programming as part of the NEA Big Read project, offering the community a shared reading experience. We are thrilled to participate and share this classic novel with the community.”

From April 5 to June 15, enjoy a full lineup of True Grit-related program offerings. The Indianapolis Public Library will conduct book discussions at various locations around the city and 1,000 copies of the book will be distributed. Brick Street Poetry, Inc. will host events, including a poetry reading with Larry Woiwode, the state poet laureate of North Dakota. Duos Kitchen will offer a cooking class called “True Grits.”

The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Its focus is on living authors, contemporary works and the universal appeal of themes that are likely to inspire lively and deep discussions within communities. Program details are here: www.artsmidwest.org/programs/neabigread

Here is a list of the Eiteljorg’s NEA Big Read activities:

April 5: Curator’s Choice Series talk with Johanna M. Blume about artist Harry Jackson’s bronze sculpture The Marshall, inspired by the 1969 film version of True Grit.

April 13: Big Read True Grit Kickoff Event: Enjoy a festive Western family day featuring a chuck wagon, storytellers, historical re-enactors, Cameo the horse, Western games and art activities. The day includes a talk by author and filmmaker Jay Jennings, an expert on the work of True Grit author Charles Portis.

April 25: Saloon Night with Brick Street Poetry includes Western drink tastings and readings by local poets. (Registration and fee are required.  Age 21+)

May 9: True Grits Cooking Class with Duos Indy. (Registration and fee are required.)

May 11: Words and Other Wild Things with Brick Street Poetry takes place along with Snakes Alive!, kid-friendly programming with live creatures from the Joseph Moore Museum in Richmond.

May 18: Screening of the 1969 film version of True Grit, followed by a keynote talk by Western scholar and author Dr. Richard Etulain about presidents who shaped the American West.

June 1: Juneteenth Community Celebration with free admission.

June 7: Curator’s Choice Series talk with curator Johanna M. Blume about Women in the West (as viewed from the perspective of Mattie from True Grit.)

June 12: Poetry reading with North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode and Brick Street Poetry.

June 15: Screening of the Coen brothers’ 2010 film version of True Grit.

For more information about True Grit book discussion dates and locations, visit this link.



This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Storyteller magazine.

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