Front Street Studio

In this post, I am going to jump forward several decades, although my next post could go right back where I left off in Tick Ridge. But for now, I must give credit where credit is due. Without our studio at Front Street, I might not even be writing this post.

You see, when I retired in 2013 from the Education Department at The Dayton Art Institute, I knew I needed something creative to do. Friends with whom I had worked with at the museum (who retired at the same time) needed an outlet as well. What to do? A studio space seemed like a natural direction, but where could we find a space? Dayton is replete with artists and creative folks, and it is not easy to find a studio space.

We had taken one of Mike Elsass’ painting on rusted steel workshops in the Front Street Building a few years before as a gift from our boss. Since Mike is a friend of mine on FB, I sent him a message asking if he knew of any available spaces.  In no time, Mike got back with me, and guess what? Mike had a place we could use! Over the course of the last four years, we have moved three times on the third floor, and hopefully, this last studio is the space in which we will stay. In fact, we just acquired additional studio space right next to us for displaying our art. The third floor of the B-C building is full of creative energy, as Mike likes to say. A year or so ago, The Front Street Building Co. was bought by someone else, and now things are even better. That horrible leak in our studio is gone,  and there is always toilet paper and soap in the restroom (although I really miss the quirky paint colors and sightly dusty fake flowers that no longer adorn the restroom). 

Best of all, our studio is the perfect place for me to make some beautiful art with melted beeswax.

My father, the garden, and his darkroom trash can.

My father, GF Johnson, was a man of many interests - truly a renaissance man during the 60s. Stubborn, proud and highly creative in his own way. If it could be made, Father would make it himself. If something broke, he fixed it. You got in trouble if you threw something away - that something could be just what he needed to make a repair.  

During the 50s, he and my mother bought a beautiful piece of property in the country, and over the course of time he built the house that I grew up in. He and Mother always had a garden on the hill outside of our house. The tractor used to plow the garden was one that he built himself. He would make me stand on the plow to ensure that the furrows were cut deep as he drove the tractor through the garden. Carrying brown paper bags filled with seeds bought from the bins located in Plegher’s General Store, we would drop just the right amount of seed into the warm dark soil. The garden provided lots of delicious produce, which Mother spent hours freezing, canning and preparing into delicious country-style meals. As for myself, I was just happy being outside.

One of Father’s many interests included photography. He built himself a small, but adequate darkroom directly off of his and Mother’s bedroom. I loved going into the darkroom as it was always filled with interesting equipment, chemicals and tools. It was particularly fascinating to be invited in when he was using the enlarger or developing prints. It was a commitment; you couldn’t just leave when you felt like it as any light let in by opening the door would ruin the photos! The warm darkness, except for the red safe light, and the acrid smell of the chemicals come back clearly in my memories. But, best of all, I relished looking in the small round yellow plastic trashcan underneath the table on which the enlarger was placed. You never knew what you might find in the trashcan: small metal film canisters, bits of this and that, all of which provided interesting detritus for creative play. My Father didn’t throw away much, but the items that he did “pitch out” were fascinating treasures to me.

Welcome to WaxWork Musings

Hello, and welcome to my blog about my artwork. My love of nature and desire for creativity began on a winding dirt road located on Tick Ridge. Spending much of my free time in the woods and fields formed the basis of my love for leaves, sticks, grasses, and especially rocks! I spent countless hours in the cow pasture, located across the dirt road from my home, watching the cloud formations in the open blue sky. To get to the best location in the field I first had to shimmy under the barbed wire fence without impaling myself. Next, after I made sure there weren’t any scary bulls in the field, I would climb a long path, beaten hard by the hooves of the slow moving cows, to the top of the high grassy hill. Once at the top, you could see for miles and miles. You could see corn fields, cows grazing in the fields or standing in the holding pens of dairy farms in the distance, and across the river to even more farms and woods. 

Nobody worried as I roamed the woods behind our house, exploring the creeks and river bed for interesting moss and rocks and animal life. No one minded if I brought baby snakes in the house or made cricket houses to keep in my bedroom. My mom never complained that I brought in mud on my feet (I was usually barefoot), or that I wanted to play outside in the rain or snow. 

Nature served as my playground, playmate and best friend when I was growing up. As an adult, I enjoy bringing attention to the beauty of nature through my artwork. I hope that you, too, appreciate the natural world that surrounds us, and that you will enjoy learning how I create my work. Thanks for joining me on WaxWork Musings - I will be posting more soon!

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