Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Dunes artist Dale Fleming passes away at age 81

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By JAMES B. LANE

Dunes artist and former Edgewater neighbor Dale Fleming, 81, passed away August 8. 2020, his family has announced, after a fall from which he evidently never recovered.

James B. Lane, Professor Emeritus of History, IU Northwest has written a short remembrance of the well-known regional artist.

Fleming’s sister, Phyllis Fekete, recalled that from a young age he loved to draw and in 1955 fell in love with the Northwest Indiana dunes when an art teacher took the class to Marquette Park in Gary’s Miller Beach neighborhood. After graduating from the American Academy of Arts in Chicago, he briefly worked for an advertising agency but hated the “9 to 5” routine and opted to become a freelance artist. Though part of Miller’s coffeehouse and folk music scene, he lived simply a few blocks from Lake Michigan, his only luxury being a passion of model trains.

His sister Phyllis wrote: “Friends and family found that if you sat still too long in his house, he would sketch you for free because he had a generous heart and used his art to express his love. His pride and joy was son Carl, as were his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Fleming tells in “Steel Shavings: Tales of Lake Michigan and the Northwest Indiana Dunelands,” edited by Lane, that he enjoyed being with Carl at the dunes, “whether it was flying kites, skipping stones across the water, or sliding down a dune on a piece of cardboard.” “He was a very kind, gentle soul, a friend to all with a great sense of humor,” Phyllis said. She summed up his character perfectly.

When approached to sketch drawings for an oral history of Portage’s Edgewater neighborhood, Fleming readily agreed and would accept only a few hundred dollars. He’d study a building or outdoor scene for a few minutes and then draw at a frenzied rate. With a keen eye and talent for detail he preserved images of a dying community, since all properties were eventually razed to make way for the what is now the Indiana Dunes National Park. After the magazine was published, many admirers attended an opening at Lake Street Gallery to greet what was for him a rare public appearance.

This article, along with photos of and drawings by Fleming can be viewed on Lane’s blog at: northwestindianahistorianjamesblane, under the title “My Back Pages.”

 

Posted 8/13/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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