From K’s journal…
In Cincinnati, Alfonso and I tour the Taft Museum. We like to split up in museums and meet back to talk about our favorite paintings. While walking through the galleries, I realize that we haven’t left each other’s side since the MOCA in Chicago. People always say that the first year with a baby is tough on a marriage, but I wonder what they say about newlyweds living on the road together for a year. I’m convinced that if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything!
For now, we do make it to Columbus. We drive through the Brewery District and German Village. Then, we end up at a tucked away place called The Book Loft. Down an uneven brick walkway, the entrance to the Book Loft leads to a thirty-two-room maze of manuscripts. Without exaggeration, one could easily get lost in this labyrinth of literature…of course I do. To help find the exit, there are little stickers and arrows on the floor leading the way out. While we could spend our entire week exploring this bookstore alone, we follow the arrows out and decide to pay homage to Mr. Dave Thomas. I totaled it up and at this point in our trip we have eaten 114 99¢ Wendy’s side salads. The salad is lunch and the container is a paint palette. It only seems fitting to stop and visit the original Wendy’s before leaving Columbia.
Every step we take, I scribble another page into my sketchbook and little elements of the state sneak into my composition. We explore the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but when we travel to Kent State, time stands still. I run my hand over the bullet hole that has forever scarred a metal sculpture in the lawn. Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder were killed here in the shooting on May 4th 1970 when the National Guard opened fire. Nine students were wounded, with one permanently paralyzed, and several seriously maimed. Today, on the hill where students fled, it is a piece of art which stands as a permanent reminder of that tragic day.
The next day is full of lighter journeys as we bounce around to road-side oddities. We walk through a field of cement corn in Dublin, climb a Native American tribute made of stone blocks, and stand in front of an eight story building shaped like a Longaberger basket. As evening closes in, an Amish carriage leads us down the road to Mansfield. We have scheduled to meet with the director of their art center and to our surprise, our arrival feels as if a red carpet has been rolled out for us.
We are so used to a humbly appreciating a quick meeting with gallery owners so when The Executive Director of the Mansfield Art Center takes his afternoon off to show us around, you can imagine our surprise. We head with him to the Walnut Lounge for lunch and dive into some fried pickles. I mention the Amish buggies that we’ve seen around and we learn that Ohio currently has the largest Amish population in all of America. Apparently tax breaks on Ohio land has lead to the recent influx of Amish communities from Pennsylvania.
That same night, we are invited to attend a Saturday night symphony followed by dinner with some of the director’s friends. As Alfonso plays a few songs around their evening fire, we are asked to present an assembly for the Elementary school and give a talk at an Art Center luncheon. We aren’t difficult to convince, however the cherry on top is that I am given a true studio to paint while we are in town.
I am constantly reminded that it is the most unplanned, unexpected moments of every journey that have the most meaningful impact on our lives. Mansfield was never even on our radar, yet it suddenly became a meaningful part of this voyage. To end our time in the small but mighty town, we are inspired by the students questions at Discovery Elementary School. Then, when we present to a group of art center patrons, a woman leaves her seat to place a buckeye in Alfonso’s hand. “This is for good luck,” she says. And with that, the final piece to the Ohio painting is placed.