Last evening I had the opportunity to attend a small arts festival in Cynthiana, Kentucky. There, a group of dedicated Civil War enthusiasts are working to preserve Civil War battlefields in and around town. But perhaps more importantly, they are working to preserve local history, via walking history tours, events and simply reaching out to the community. My prints, including some made specifically for this event, and a few by my husband were featured in the booth supporting and promoting the work of the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation.
There is much to find appealing about the Passion Flower. Its colors are richly saturated. Its structure is intricate and a bit surreal with its long tentacle-like corona filaments. And its pronounced stigma, ovary and anther add a unique architectural structure to the flower . 'Say what?' non-botanists ask. Ha! You don't need to be an plant connoisseur to know the Passion Flower is unique- even if you don't know the technical terms.
Rich in Symbolic History
The Passion Flower was called "Espina de Cristo" (Christ's thorns) by Spanish Christian missionaries who first discovered it in South America. Each part of the flower holds symbolic meaning in recognition of the passion of the Christ. Five sepals and five petals refer to the ten faithful apostles (excluding Judas and Peter). Three stigma represent the three nails that held Christ to the cross, while five anthers represent his five sacred wounds. The tendrils of the flower are said to resemble the whips used in the flagellation, while the filaments, which can number in excess of a hundred depending on the flower, depict the crown of thorns.
We were traveling west, into Indiana, when we took a break to walkabout North Vernon. A railroad town with an interesting downtown configuration, we came across a lot of fascinating lines and patterns in the roads, the tracks and along sides of buildings.
This wall reminds me of countless walls in almost every small town and city we visit. But what really drew me into this one was the lamp post- perfectly sited to create a most interesting intersection of lines and movement within the frame.
In the historic Battle Grove Cemetery in Cynthiana, Kentucky stands a statue that is unlike most you will come across in your cemetery explorations. The "Little Boy Statue" as it's referred to by locals, is often adorned with small tokens like coins or flowers. While its exact history is a bit unclear, local stories are abundant and most likely come close to the truth. Stories say the statue is for a boy who died from falling off of a horse, was killed by hogs or died of an illness.
According to the BGC website, "In October, 1885, James S. Withers re-interred all of his deceased family members and placed their remains on his lot in Battle Grove Cemetery. He erected the "Little Boy Statue" and placed his three deceased sons in front of the statue. Even today, descendants of the James S. Withers family are unsure as to the significance of the statue."
There's always a bit of trepidation in entering a piece in a gallery show or donating a piece to charity that will raise funds via an auction. What if it's not accepted? Better wait to promote until after you know you are in the show! Or what if no one bids on my piece? Mortifying!
Or, I decided as I had all these negative thoughts in my mind, you can put on your big girl pants and go for it! I remember something a dear old friend of mine once told me over our pre-English Literature class pot of coffee, "Submit the damn query letter! Aren't we worth the price of a stamp?" Yes, yes we are!
Duck's words still ring true. I think of that day often. Thank you, friend.
To that end—I have a piece in an auction being hosted by EBTH to benefit the Karen Wellington Foundation. This organization gives vacations and much needed days of fun to women battling cancer. I submitted Seating for Three- it's still one of my favorites and my hope is, it will be several bidders' favorite, too.
Usually a walk in the woods results in pretty photos of spring ephemrals, soft green leaves emerging from recently dormant branches or autumn leaves covering a well worn path. But on this day, a skull propped on a log was my find.
I wonder who was here before me, to pick up the bone, turn it over in their hands in examination and then decide to place it in a place of reverence or at least a bit of respect- up off forest floor and in full view of all who pass by.
Nature and gardens- they always make me think of things that are pretty. It's hard to come away with an ugly garden photo. It may not be well composed, but ugly? Never. Walks in the woods are much the same. It is mostly 'pretty' until you really take the time to look at what makes a woods or any natural space healthy- death. Without death, the woods would perish.
So not all is pretty, like this skull on a log, but it's all beautiful.
Very rarely do I go to an art show or festival and see an artist with just paintings, or just photography. There is always something else in the display, be it greeting cards, tiny prints, paintings on pillows or photos on tiles.
The photos on tiles are fun to make (depending on your definition of fun, mind you) and are perfect to give as gifts.
I decided to start with photo transfers for my first tile offering. I use my photos, printed in reverse which I then transfer to the tile. It's a time consuming process that can be enjoyed in front of the television or an open window overlooking the trees and neighborhood. Once the image has transferred I waterproof the tiles with either a tile sealer or a fine art grade varnish. One option creates a matte appearance, the other a glossier look.
Each tile is handmade and therefore different. Each tile is rough tumbled stone with its own quirky characteristics. Each is finished with a cork backing to protect the furniture on which they rest.
I had a few on display at the previous Final Friday and my unscientific poll revealed that it was 50/50 as to customer preferring glossy to matte.
Next, I will be creating a line of garden inspired glossy tiles Stay tuned!
If you would like to purchase tiles, visit me at PAC for Final Friday. If you want to shop early and miss the mad rush of Final Friday, let me know, I am open by appointment, too.
I still haven't quite figured it out myself, but I'm enjoying the journey. I find myself needing to get in the car and drive to small towns, some not even towns, just an intersection in the road, if even that. Most of the time there is something of interest. Or in the least, I find something as I head out to the next tiny dot on the map. This old house or perhaps roadside shop (below) is one of my favorite finds, in SE Ohio. Old advertisements on the side of buildings are gems and Main Street, Ohio is the place to find them (bottom).
But then, sometimes only after a day on the road, I'm so excited to be back amongst the towering buildings. The sight of downtown Cincy from 75 via Kentucky literally makes me happy. So how do I explain that finding a tiny dot on the map called Oxford, KY Sunday was the highlight of my touring and as we were returning home I was thinking of which new streets I should explore in OTR? I guess the answer is we can like it all and perhaps we need it all to have balance in our lives and if not balance, simply to have an interesting life!
Go ahead, explore it all. Don't assume you only like architecture or landscape photos, you may surprise yourself as to what excites you.
As for me, I'll keep driving and exploring old historic routes and Main Street, Ohio and then spend an afternoon in the shadows of the high-rises, looking for little gems and sharing them all with you.
What grabs my eye is varied and sometimes surprising. The other day my husband and I went for a walk around Covington, Ky and OTR Cincy. It was fun watching him find views he likes and having him work the camera. Good reminder- we should learn to and remember to see things from all points of view. But with that said, as artist after artist has shared with the readers of 'my' art magazine, create the art you love, inspires you, makes you happy and remember - I can't be the only person who thinks this is great.
So with that in mind, I plug away. I'm trying to be more discerning with the photos I take, more thoughtful. I know when the light is not right or I am not really considering a photo carefully. Now I have scouting days where I find a photo I want to get on a better light day, but spend the time finding the best perspective. It's not the perfect set-up for what you think will look good with better light or a sky that isn't white (common in these parts) may turn out not to be how you anticipated. But it's all learning. So, what does this mean for me and for you as an artist?
Create every day. Be it a practice sketch, a scouting photo, a new medium; whatever it is keep working and discovering what inspires you.
This photo was not so well received when I first shared it. But, recently I noticed it drawing a lot of favorable attention. People want to know; Why was the statue painted? Where had it been after being in a church? Where was this shop window? Who would buy it, a church a gallery? It gets people thinking about the story. I love that.. it was my first sale in my new studio, too.
Studio 220, Pendleton was a great success! Lots of visitors, great conversation, sales and a lead on an additional place to hang my work. What else could you ask for from your first showing in your first studio, ever?
A year ago the leader of our Creative Group was placed on the waiting list for an open studio. At last one was available, but everyone who was interested was now long gone. This was fortunate for me for I was able to reserve a portion of the space. My wall, or shall I say, partial wall is modest. But it's more that the monthly rent, it's getting a cohesive group of photographs hung, prints in baskets and a design style that attracts customers' attention.
If you are in the Cincinnati area, be sure to visit Final Friday at Pendleton, OTR and come see me at Studio #220. Or make an appointment, I'de love to have you visit.
I am already dreaming of a space all my own. I have far more photos than will fit in my space, I have ideas simmering for new series and of course the photos to appear in my book ideas!
All in due time I tell myself.
Main Street, Ohio - Shawnee - Jesus
I can only hazard a guess that residents of Shawnee dislike being called a ghost town. But on the day I explored, the biting, cold winds and threats of snow and ice made the town feel exactly like that. Certainly no one was about looking like they would want to stop for a chat. The downtown street of Shawnee was mine alone to explore. Even on this gray, cold day, Shawnee had its colors on display in the painted shops lining downtown. Many were vacant or closed for the day, but the potential that lives deep within this town was palpable.
The Shawnee Furniture store displayed a greatly distressed Jesus statue behind a cracked window—a bit battered and worn and full of promise; much like Shawnee.
It's amazing and a bit embarrassing how I can live in a neighborhood much of my young and adult life and find streets I have never explored so close to home. That's part of the reason why I started Cincinnati Saunters, to meet my lovely city, one street at a time.
The other day I dipped behind the Precint, famous restaurant in an old police station (thus the name) to find this charming dead-end street. What really grabbed my attention was this ornate metal wok around a staircase leading to a tunnel that passes under the railroad tracks. So, should you live on this quiet Cincinnati drive and you don't feel much like dressing up for steak at the Precinct, you can dip into the tunnel and pop out on 52/Riverside Dr and feast at Eli's.
Oh this place is a marvel. Lines form early and long, the interior is tiny so tents have been set up around the building and everyone- young, old, rich poor, professionals, bikers gather to enjoy Eli's impeccably prepared ribs and other Bar-B-Q items. It's a culinary revival...
Spring has passed through town a few times this winter. What? Yes, it's true. We can go from 50 degrees to wind, snow and sleet a day later, in January, in Cincinnati. During this most recent spring I took a Cincy Saunter along the Ohio River. Starting at Friendship Park, walking to the far end, backtracking and continuing on to the Roebling Bridge I saw smashing views of the city, the river, of course, and views of Kentucky. A day for great skyline photography it was not. Like many days in spring, of this winter season (are you getting the hang of this yet?) the sky is flat, white and dull.
The more I look at this photo the more I am loving it. A lone man on his own Cincy Saunter. Dwarfted by the landscape and bridge he does not look lonely or tiny, but at home, walking along the veins of his city. This reminds me that in the big picture we are all pretty puny, but small we are not.
Flooding has crested just below the base of the graffiti writing.
Remnants of last night's feast at The Secret Garden.
When I am not traveling about taking photos, I will often be found in the garden. Interestingly enough, I live in a high-rise condo. So to get my hands in the soil, I care for gardens that I have adopted. I have had as few as two to as many as five gardens at Ault Park as part of their adopt-a-plot program and this years marks the third year I am caring for a courtyard garden at Bettman—The Secret Garden.
I am very honored to have this garden entrusted to my care. The courtyard garden is my dream garden space. The first year was spent removing invasive species, giving trees and shrubs much needed pruning and amending the soil. Year two, last year, was countless bags of soil amendments turned into the clay-heavy soil and bringing in fresh plant material. This year marks the tail-end of the soil amendments and a definitive shift to more plant additions.
As the adopter of this garden, I am responsible for the design, planting and maintenance of the garden space. I purchase the plants and tools needed and the park showers me with pine fines (very, cool!!). Last year, a lovely helper came on board, Sister Rose. She is the best weeder I have ever worked with—she is a true gift!
I also adopted part of the 'prairie' garden and with a lot of help from a fellow garden enthusiast we replanted a portion of the space—making it more inviting to visitors.
Check back often, for I will be posting news from the gardens and posting lots of pictures.
How you can help! I will start a series of photos from The Secret Garden. Proceeds from the sales of those prints will go to purchase plants for the Secret Garden. I am a volunteer, and volunteer only. I am not a not-for-profit. If you would like to support the gardens with the purchase of a print or a financial donation, it is not tax deductible, but will be very apriciated by myself as well as those who enjoy the garden on a daily basis.
If you grant me permission, I will post a thank you online with your first name and a photo of the plant(s) that were purchased for the garden with you help.
This Main Street, Ohio is near and dear to me. My parents are from Delphos, their parents are from Delphos and I have relatives who live in town. It's like other small towns on our journey around Ohio- a plunky establishment, growth from industry and later transportation advancements and then, as bigger cities and towns attracted the work and amenities, the town began to decline. At first blush you may not find yourself smitten with my family's Ohio roots, but take a closer look and you will see there is good stuff here.
Miami Erie Canal. I learned to ice-skate on the frozen canal and caught a lot of catfish from its waters. The canal runs along my father's parents' old house. As a child, I thought that was really cool. Delphos has a canal museum which also gives a nod to the other great transportation gem, the Lincoln Highway which cuts through town, just north of downtown.
As kids we would visit the A&W for authentic root-beer floats. Now I like to have breakfast, (delicious and ridiculously inexpensive) at The Grind Cafe & Coffee House.
On Main Street, just south of downtown is the old hotel now antique store. This old truck has been parked here as long as I can remember.
Main Street, Ohio - Rendville - We Gather Today
The weather was less than ideal for my trip to areas around Shawnee and Burr Oak. The cold and low hanging clouds gave the small towns I like to explore an ominous feel. Everyone who could be inside was. As I parked my car across from this old church, I was the only soul on the street. Rendville was built on coal; established by the Ohio Central Coal Company. At its height there may have been close to 2,000 residents, mostly young men, living in town. But as the coal industry floundered the Depression landed a second hard punch. Rendville has never recovered. One source has the population in 2000 as 46 people.
This is pretty exciting for me, seeing my corner in the shop grow. I spend a lot of time at the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, consider them my friends and the grounds my garden away from home. So when Jan, the shop organizer, said I could have a place for SDP I was very pleased. We added more prints from my Main Street, Ohio series - Shawnee and Rendville and a few photos on painted acrylic canvas.
One day, while visiting the Civic Garden Center, a rustle in the ground ivy caught my attention and the attention of a hawk. Within feet of where I was standing the hawk dove into the ivy and snagged a snake. Perching in a tree just within arm's reach, he sat and had his lunch. He is accustomed to people, I assume, for he cared not that I was there, taking his picture and later delivering the half consumed snake back to his perch with a stick after it had slipped from his grasp and fell to the ground.
It is pretty exciting for me to share that SDP is now available at the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati. For two years now I have been their in house photographer- focusing mainly on flowers and gardens, as would be expected. But as I got brave and decided to share my work on this website, theirs was the first shop I thought of for carrying my work. These people are my friends, I love them and what they do for the community and for me. They have given me a second home and a second garden to spend my time.
A percentage of each sale of SDP goes to the Civic Garden Center and all the good work they do. To learn more about them, click here. If you are in Cincinnati, stop by, tour the grounds and visit the Shop in the Garden. If you are out of town and want to purchase SDP prints and help a lovely community based organization at the same time, check out their new online shop!
I spend a lot of time exploring small towns and villages in Ohio. I will often pick a page from the Ohio Delorme map book and try to find each town on the page. If you are familiar with these map books you know that everything is on the map, from large cities to towns that are no longer. So, when I drive to these potential discoveries on the map, I often find myself passing a field, an intersection or an old church- all that remains of what was once a town or village.
Other times, I drive into what looks like a potential ghost town with one main intersection and a few old buildings. I still get out to stretch my legs only to discover that in the old warehouse, Fellowship Hall or mercantile store are businesses, most often gift shops and antique stores and on a really good day- a bakery. Thing is, I am not a fan of pastries and such, but when I am driving all day, eagerly anticipating what is around the next bend in the road or in the next tiny dot on the map, a homemade sugar cookie or muffin and cup of coffee is simply wonderful.
Unless you take these types of journeys, it's hard understand what they are like. I am often asked, did you find anything? As if to say, the only thing worth finding is an established community with the expected amenities. What I find is so much more. I find old churches, and tiny cemeteries in the middle of nowhere that are impeccably maintained. I find intersections under a open, vast Ohio sky where I can park, get out and stand in the middle and take pictures without fear of traffic. I find ladies eager to share a story about their shop, life and the town' history and people who are eager to greet you with a hello and welcome.