Artist paints porcelain plates for display at Pences’ residence

When a Rockcreek Township resident stepped away from competing in pool tournaments, she was ranked 17th in the world by the Women’s Professional Billiards Association.

Diana Minor has been inducted into two halls of fame honoring world-class billiard players, including one in Las Vegas, Nevada.

But now, the southeast Bartholomew County woman has acquired a different ambition that has allowed her to become a part of American history.

Minor, 60, is among an elite group of porcelain artists selected to create 100 dessert plates featuring state flowers for the Vice President’s Residence in Washington.

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She was assigned to paint two plates featuring the magnolia to represent Louisiana, as well as two others honoring Nevada with depictions of the sagebrush, Minor said.

All four finished plates — completed as a donation — have been submitted to the Indiana World Organization of China Painters, and will be presented to Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, on Feb. 3, Minor said.

The plates, which are for display at the residence, are expected to remain on exhibit at the Vice President’s Residence, located in a 33-room house on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, even after Pence leaves office, she said.

Her selection was based on previous work submitted to the World Organization of China Painters museum in Oklahoma, as well as a number of honors she received at the Indiana State Fair, she said.

Minor said she has never considered porcelain as her primary artistic medium. The East State Road 46 resident classifies herself primarily as a portrait painter.

But she decided to expand her skills after learning most porcelain artists are well past retirement age.

“China painting is a dying art, and I’m just trying to keep it alive,” Minor said.

Largely considered a dainty, genteel craft for affluent housewives in the late 19th Century, china painting seems to hold little appeal to today’s active and career-minded women, Columbus artist Laurie Wright said.

“Today’s young people want to remain mobile, so they aren’t interested in collecting art items for their homes,” Wright said. “Instead of things, they collect experiences.” This isn’t the first time Minor has been asked to do ceramic painting for the Pences.

In October 2013, she was among a group of Indiana artists asked to paint 150 presentation bowls as part of a project, Helping Indiana’s Children Bloom.

Featuring representations of the peony, Indiana’s state flower, the bowls were accepted by Karen Pence, who was Indiana’s first lady at the time.

The ceramic creations, including five bowls painted by Minor, became part of a fundraising event to benefit Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Minor said.

Born Diana Montgomery, the artist was raised in Columbus like Vice President Pence, just a few grades ahead of him.

After residing for a time as a young adult in Massachusetts, she moved back to her hometown, attended Ivy Tech State College to study electronics, and married Mike Minor in 1981.

Once she retired from competing in world-class billiard tournaments, Minor met the late Nashville, Indiana, artist Harry Hugar, who served as her first mentor in china painting.

But for the past seven years, Minor has focused mostly on painting portraits under the tutelage of Venezuelan artist Mariela Villasmi, as well as teaching students in her home.

Pull Quote

“China painting is a dying art, and I’m just trying to keep it alive.”

– Diana Minor, Columbus area artist

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.