Plain City artists celebrated

This painting by Joseph E. Grey, a former resident of Plain City, is among the dozens of pieces of art displayed in an exhibit at the Plain City Historical Society, 111 W. Main St.

The Plain City Historical Society has found a way to both dress up their storefront windows and pay homage to homegrown artistic talent.

According to member Bernie Vance, when Society members put the call out for artwork, the many replies came in the form of paintings, pottery, woodwork and more. The result is an art exhibit that pedestrians can admire just by walking up to 111 W. Main St.

“It’s a good way to show appreciation of the talent that comes from Plain City,” Vance said.

The public is invited to attend the Historical Society’s May 27 meeting to get a closer look and hear the stories behind at least one artist’s work. At 7 p.m., Robert R. Wilson, a 1954 graduate of Plain City High School and an Ohio State University alumnus, will talk about how he went from building bridges to painting bridges.

A retired colonel with the Army Corps of Engineers, Wilson began painting in the 1990s while living in Hilton Head, S.C. Four years ago, he set his sights on photographing and painting all of Ohio’s 141 covered bridges.

The paintings serve as Wilson’s link to the Buckeye State. He and his wife, Carole, live in Knoxville, Tenn.

“Bob comes back to Plain City for alumni banquets,”  Vance said. “We talked to him last year about coming in as a speaker one of the next times he visited. With the exhibit up and him in town again, this seemed like the perfect time.”

Wilson isn’t the only out-of-stater with artwork in the exhibit. Joseph E. Grey, a resident of Michigan and graduate of the Columbus College of Art & Design, has supplied the Historical Society with a few pieces, including one that depicts downtown Plain City in vivid hues.

Grey spent 45 years as a leading art director for national and international advertising campaigns. In that time, he won numerous awards for television commercials and print work. Now retired, Grey is devoted entirely to fine art. His work is represented in collections in the United States and Europe.

Carolyn Brown Stevens has returned to Plain City only a couple of times since graduating from high school in 1946.

“When she heard about the exhibit, she drove from her home in Piqua with a carload of art. She does beautiful watercolors,” Vance said.

Other exhibit participants who live closer to town include Suzie Rickard of Galloway and Dorothy Sayre of Hilliard.

Among the artists who still call Plain City home are Bill Baldwin, Bob Converse, Stephanie K. Cosgray, Historical Society member Joe Hofbauer, Kathy Wilson, and Historical Society President Karen Kile Vance. Sonya Adkins and Dianne Kreeger are represented, as well.

The exhibit also features art by individuals who are no longer living, including Elden Anderson, Elisabeth Ander-son, Dovie and Taylor Howland, Ernie Johnson, Fran Norris and Ethel Thompson.

Plain City resident Paula Williams submitted pottery created by her sister, Elisabeth Anderson, whose experimental work garnered national attention and high-profile devotees. Williams proudly shows off a 2000 edition of “Architectural Digest” in which one of her sister’s pieces is shown in an interior photograph of Robert Redford’s apartment. The actor had seen the piece in a shop in Santa Fe, N.M.

The list of artists grows by the day, as does the collection of stories and Plain City connections that come with them.

The Plain City Historical Society’s art exhibit will remain on display through the end of June. The Historical Society’s regular hours are 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Saturdays and noon to 3 p.m. on Thursdays. Groups can call 614-570-2962 to schedule appointments outside of regular hours.

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