“A Century of Ohio Watercolor” Exhibition Preview

by Molly Rutledge

A familiar childhood pastime for many of us, watercolor conjures memories of Crayola sets and painting at the dining room table. It is a special artistic medium deeply rooted in personal histories, and also the histories of artists, art movements, and entire art communities.


Alice Schille, “White Houses,” 1916, 26″ x 29,” Collection of the Canton Museum of Art

The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery challenges perceptions of watercolor, peers into Ohio’s artistic past, and provides a glimpse of its future in A Century of Ohio Watercolor, on display January 29 through April 15, 2015. The show’s curator Charlotte Gordon, artistic director of the Southern Ohio Museum, Portsmouth (SOM), stated that the exhibition, “showcases watercolor painting from around the state and across the decades from Impressionism to Postmodernism. It exposes what was happening within the walls of studios around Ohio from artists that reflect the state’s cultural and sociological diversity.”

Beginning the century-long display, audiences will catch a glimpse of Alice Schille’s paintings. Schille was exposed to emerging art movements abroad such as Impressionism and Fauvism, and brought them back to Columbus, Ohio, where she lived and taught at the Columbus Art School (now the Columbus College of Art & Design). The two pieces in this exhibition reflect her overarching impact and influence that helped further important art movements in Ohio and the Midwest.


Emerson Burkhart, “Street Scene,” 1940, 19″ x 22,” Collection of the Canton Museum of Art

Like Schille, Emerson Burkhart worked and lived in Columbus, Ohio. While both Burkhart and Schille frequently painted scenes of everyday life, Burkhart’s work specifically captured the American Midwest, revealing Ohio’s past through his signature Regionalist paintings. Street Scene, one of two Burkhart works on display in the Riffe Gallery, captures Columbus’ darker days during the end of the Great Depression. Watercolor provided Burkhart the ability to capture this specific, fleeting moment and simultaneously convey a stagnant, dark, and relatable era in our nation’s history.

Effective not only in realistic representations, watercolor is frequently used to paint across various subject matter, styles, and techniques. Even pop art icon Roy Lichtenstein painted with watercolor on occasion. Lichtenstein studied and taught at The Ohio State University and later lived in Cleveland for more than 10 years.  The Sheriff, included in this exhibition, was created in 1952 while he lived in Ohio. The humorous subject matter and cartoon-like manner of The Sheriff foreshadows work the artist created during the 1960s Pop Art movement and reminds us great artists experiment and work through various mediums and art movements in their careers.

Fred Fochtman_Pear Study

Fred Fochtman, “Pear Study,” 2014, 16″ x 16″

Watercolor continues to be a versatile and varied medium in the work of contemporary Ohio artists. The singular, fleeting moment conveyed by the lush, painterly pears in Fred Fochtman’s still life, Pear Study, is countered by a sense of prolonged stillness in Will Reader’s austere, calm, hyper-realist wintry landscape, New Growth. The watercolor medium perfectly captures these two moments of artistic reflection. Both artists successfully express a sense of familiarity through their portrayals of common, everyday subjects despite their differing artistic styles. The variety of approaches to the watercolor medium seen in A Century of Ohio Watercolor comes together as part of a greater narrative and a common connectedness.

Willard Reader_New Growth_web only

Will Reader, “New Growth,” 2014, 14.5″ x 19″

Enjoy the history, tradition, and artistic excellence in A Century of Ohio Watercolor, then grab a paintbrush, Ohio. Here’s to the next century!

Learn more about A Century of Ohio Watercolor and related events here.


Artful Aging Ohio

Cheryl Vassiliadis

by Missy Ricksecker

Pablo Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” Recent scientific research gives this axiom tangible meaning for older adults by demonstrating that involvement in creative pursuits has a positive effect on physical health, mental health, and social functioning as a person ages, regardless of their ability (Arts and Aging Toolkit, Chapter 2).

The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) recognizes the power of creation as a transformational experience for the men and women who participate in the arts as older adults. The agency’s new Artful Aging Ohio (AAO) initiative was created to connect senior adults with teaching artists to learn about the arts and engage in hands-on art making. The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) was a catalyst for this statewide effort; Ohio is one of 13 states invited by the NCCA to form a community of practice to explore ways to strengthen the presence of the arts in the lives of senior adults.

“This programming answers the call to be a part of redefining our latter years as adults as a time of endless opportunities and heightened creative productivity,” said OAC Arts Learning Coordinator Chiquita Mullins Lee. To launch this investment in lifelong learning in the arts in Ohio, an AAO team comprised of gifted professionals who share a passion for working with senior populations has been assembled. Team members include Stacia Davis-Moore, who will conduct research on the effectiveness of art making by seniors; Goldean Gibbs, who has extensive experience in education; and OAC roster artist Patty Mitchell, who brings a wealth of artistic talent and experience as a resident artist in diverse settings, including those serving senior adults.

First Steps
  • The AAO team has designed a pilot artist residency program in five Ohio regions: central, southeast, southwest, northeast, and northwest. The first pilot residency began on December 1 in Athens at The Laurels, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center. OAC resident artist Patty Mitchell is leading a Winter Wonderland-themed group art project. The finished work will be on display at The Laurels with a public reception on December 16.

Organizations with large senior adult populations and current OAC roster artists interested in leading an AAO residency should contact Goldean Gibbs for more information. (Artists not on the OAC artist roster must first apply for the OAC’s Artist in Residence program and should contact Chiquita Mullins Lee.)

  • The OAC recently awarded a grant to the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging (BRIA) in Cleveland. BRIA is dedicated to addressing the important issues of aging, and the grant will support their efforts to train teaching artists to work with senior adults.

In the future, AAO hopes to create a comprehensive network of senior service agencies. The team is currently in various stages of developing partnerships/programs with Beautiful Minds, the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, and the NCAA.

“The benefits go beyond providing positive results for older individuals right now,” said OAC Executive Director Donna Collins. “Engaging older adults through arts and aging programs creates lasting benefits for the entire community. Ohioans of all ages benefit when the arts serve as a bridge to foster communication across generations, income, abilities, and cultures.”

Photos courtesy of the National Center for Creative Aging


by Kayleigh Kuhlman


On October 24 and 25, the Short North Arts District will be host to Columbus’ 2014 Highball Halloween, an annual event that pairs fashion and fantasy. Highball is a fast-growing event, with crowds of 25,000 expected at this year’s two-day extravaganza. General admission is $5, or $50 for VIP tickets.

HighBall 2012 Costume Couture Ryan Richmond by John Nethers

Founded in 2008, Highball Halloween is entering its seventh year, and its second year as a two-day event. Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, said that last year’s event was hugely successful, and let us in on what’s in store for this year’s event.

Kris_MisevskiThe Highball: On the Rocks concert, whose inaugural theme is “THE BIG ’80s,” will feature a variety of bands performing their favorite ’80s songs, as well as some of their own music, on Friday night. The show will be headlined by ’80s pop star Taylor Dayne. Attendees are encouraged to dress the part and participate in a public costume contest for the ’80s-themed night.

Highball_  October 25, 2013_Brent_MackeySaturday kicks off with the Runway Run 5K, in which runners participate in costume. Highball Halloween’s premiere event is the costume couture fashion show that will take place on Saturday night. Fashion designers and costumers team up to create a runway show that features four looks imagined by the designer and created by the costumer. The runway show will be emceed by entertainer Nina West again this year, and eight designer-costumer teams will be included. The show will be followed by a general public costume contest where participants can strut their way down the catwalk for a chance to win their own prizes.Sen_Bai

For more information visit the Highball website at http://highballcolumbus.org.

Photos courtesy of the Short North Alliance

“Poetry Out Loud” teacher training workshops in Cleveland and Columbus

The Ohio Arts Council presents two free workshops for Ohio high school teachers with schools registered for 2014-15 Poetry Out Loud (POL); you can register your school here.POL2014_color

POL is a national recitation contest for high school students who memorize and perform classical and contemporary poetry. For more information, visit poetryoutloud.org.

At the workshops, talented poets and educators will share their expertise on using POL in the classroom and school, including how to engage students and coach them toward their best performance.

Columbus Workshop:
Thursday, October 23, 2014 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
State Library of Ohio
274 East First Ave

Workshop leaders are Lynn Taylor and Dionne Custer Edwards. Ms. Taylor, an English teacher at Centennial High School in Columbus, taught Lake Wilburn, the 2014 Ohio state champion who was first runner up at the national POL contest last April. Ms. Edwards is a Columbus poet and award-winning arts educator.

Cleveland Workshop:
Thursday, October 30, 2014, from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch of the Cleveland Public Library
1962 Stokes Blvd

Workshop leaders are Jeanette Flood, longtime POL lead teacher at the Lyceum, and noted Ohio poets Rose Smith and Ray McNiece.

For questions or to sign up for a workshop, contact Katie Swett, POL‘s state project coordinator at 614/728-4481 or by email. Walk-ins are welcome. 

Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, with local assistance from the Ohioana Library, Thurber House, and the Ohio Center for the Book.