Generations of visitors to the Butler Institute of American Art have passed the bronze statue of the Indian Scout in full headdress. The statue is the work of J. Massey Rhind, a personal friend of Joseph G. Butler, Jr, the philanthropist whose donation of art and money established the museum and continues to make entry free to the public to this day.
Rhind was a famous Scottish-American sculptor whose works may be found throughout the United States and Canada. These include one of the three bronze doors of Trinity Church in New York City, the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial in Washington D. C., the John Wanamaker statue at City Hall in Philadelphia, statues of several generals at Gettysburg, and many more. Locally, The statue of William B. McKinley, a friend of Butler’s may be seen at the McKinley Memorial in Niles. In addition, busts of Marcus Hanna, Philander Knox, Elihu Root, William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, John Hay, William Rufus Day, Cornelius Bliss, and David Tod ring the president and all are works of Rhind.
Butler first became acquainted with the work of Rhind in 1907 when he executed a statue of Andrew Carnegie for the Main Library of Youngstown. Although the library was named after its founder, Reuben McMillan, it, like many American libraries was made possible through a gift from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.
When the Butler was built in 1919, J. Massey Rhind executed not one, but three statues outside the Butler to represent this museum of American art. Of course, the most prominent is that of the Indian Scout who has faithfully kept watch in every season and represents the Butler’s major collection of Native American art. The two other statues are in niches on either side of the portico where the main entrance is located. On the left is a statue of Apollo, the Greek god of music, poetry and dance. To the right (and partially visible above) is the statue of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, science, and the arts.
I discovered my own debt to Rhind. I’ve written previously of my love of Robert Vonnoh’s painting In Flanders Field. Rhind assisted Butler in the acquisition of the painting in 1919, the year the museum opened. When acquired, the artist had not yet given it a name. Rhind suggest the name from John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Field, and the artist approved and so it is known to us to this day.
The statue not only represents the art within, but the extraordinary friendship between J. Massey Rhind and Joseph G. Butler, Jr. I wonder if it also serves as a reminder of the native peoples who traveled through and sometimes made the Mahoning Valley their dwelling before we arrived, gathering at Council Rock or at the Salt Springs near the Mahoning River (whose name means “at the licks’).
To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!