Saturday, October 25, 2014

One of each, please ...

I've been adding to my virtual collection this week while touring the Art Attack exhibits in the Main Street District --- and am now prepared to announce the most recent (vicarious) accessions.

Walls, easels and tabletops already would be filled with Susan Baers, Steve Scotts, Susie Thurmonds, Meg Pranges and others, of course --- so these are works by newcomers to Chariton art events or by artists less frequently seen.

I've fallen in love with Susan Lee's "Madonna of Too Much Information" (top). I considered a robot or two (below), too, but that would have been greedy.

This is my neighbor Nash Cox's first exhibit, and while his detailed depictions of vehicles are wonderful --- I'd have to have this depiction of the staircase in the Storie House, just east of First Presbyterian Church.

Ashley Bedford's triptych won my heart last year; this year, it's a raku-fired mask. Had to have it.

Finally, more work by Iowa City artist Jacob Yeates. I'd have brought home at least one of his larger graphic works last year, and would have to have at least one of this year's smaller series, too. These lithographs revolve around characters from Cormac McCarthy's 1985 novel Blood Meridian and I think them quite wonderful.

The art remains on display until early afternoon today in the Main Street District. Juried and People's Choice awards will be presented at 3 p.m. at the C.B.&Q. Freight House during the Lucas County Arts Council's annual Fall Festival, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A few of the Art Attack exhibitors will join many others showing and selling at this year's festival, which is a great event. Don't miss it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Art and artists on the square

So I started out Monday to take a few photos for the Chamber/Main Street Facebook page of art works on display in the Main Street District this week as part of the annual Art Attack exhibition. 

Then obsessive-compulsion set in and I decided to shoot at least one work and often more by each of the participating artists. There are 20 individual entrants and two collectives. The Iowa Art Quilters' work is on display at The Sampler and Youth Division artists have an entire building filled with creativity on the east side of the square (118 North Grand). Don't miss either.

Also, don't forget to walk just off the square to the Chariton Free Public Library to see Susan Lee's work in the display case there (it will amaze you, guaranteed), Loren Burkhalter's work at Demichelis Law Firm and Andrew Linderman's pottery at Ameriprise Financial.

Many of the artists provided photos and brief biographies that accompany their exhibits. Look for these --- sometimes it's useful to know where the artist was coming from as you appreciate his or her work.

Some of the artists were working on the square late yesterday afternoon. That's Susan Baer at the top, at Ben Franklin.

Meg Prange was down the street at Piper's. The wall hanging she's working on is a piece commissioned by the owners of the Iowa City Victorian that is its subject.

Susie Thurmond, art instructor, and Emma Nelson, one of her students, were demonstrating pottery just outside the entrance to the Youth Division building. Thurmond's paintings are on display at Iowa Realty.

And finally, Jeri Reeve, whose photography is on display at Connecticut Yankee Pedaller. Jeri actually was just touring the square when her friend warned, "careful, or you'll end up in the picture." The rest is history.

Art works remain on display in the Main Street District thorugh 2 p.m. Saturday. At 3 p.m. Saturday, both juried and people's-choice awards will be presented at the C.B.&Q. Freight House during the annual Fall Arts Festival sponsored by the Lucas County Arts Council. Don't forget to vote for your favorites either at the Chamber/Main Street office or the Youth Division building.

I'll be posting more art work on the Charitone Area Chamber/Main Street Facebook page. Look for it and "like" it to share the fun.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three maples and an oak

I've heard several say the leaves this fall are among the most colorful remembered, especially the brilliants that are not necessarily native to southern Iowa, but planted in towns, cemeteries and elsewhere in part because of their autumn showiness.

The caution is, these show-offs are moving beyond their peaks right now --- and if you don't open your eyes and look you'll miss them.

These leaves were performing in late afternoon light Monday in the Chariton Cemetery. I'll not even try to sort out the three maple varieties, and the oak. Get out your tree-identification guide and go to work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The quality of October's evening light

A few geese had settled for evening by the time I got down to the marsh late Tuesday --- and I disturbed them. They honked a little and moved away.

There were at least a dozen other things to do before sunset, but watching October's bright blue drain from sky into the pond, then woods and grassland flame out, was the most important.

Politicians come and politicians go, then are ground to dust and scattered. Gods and devils and the occasional angel, too --- human vanities.

But you can touch eternity right now in the marsh, along shorelines and in the woods. How could you miss it?

Or join a blackbird assembly, convened for evening, and chatter about the impending flight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Art Attack in the Main Street District

It's Art Attack week in Chariton, a Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street-sponsored event wherein some 22 invited artists from near and far display their work in business and professional establishments around the square, turning the Main Street District into a rather large gallery. Visitors are welcome to stop in at any time during business hours, take a look and vote for their favorites.

In addition, businesses will be open until 7 p.m. Thursday and some artists will be working on site during those hours.

I happened to be in Family Shoe Monday afternoon when the artist whose work is on display there, Ron "Swede" Meyer (top), walked in. His works are among the most traditional on display this year --- you'll find works in various other media and in many other styles as you walk around the square.

Here are works by my neighbor, Nash Cox, in the display window at Blong Chiropractic.

And works in various media by Ashley Bedford at Copy Plus.

Art Attack leads up to the annual Lucas County Arts Festival, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the C.B.&Q. Freight House and sponsored by the Lucas County Arts Council and Vredenburg Performing Arts Series. Art Attack awards --- both juried and people's choice --- will be presented at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Freight House.

You can stop in at the Chamber/Main Street office on the east side of the square to pick up a brochure that includes a map, showing all of the display sites and the artists whose works will be found there. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Roads less traveled: The Colyn Area

I started this trip down a Lucas County back road to the Colyn Area more than a week ago, then was struck down in the prime of October by a virus and didn't finish. The colors will have intensified now as fall advances --- and it will be even prettier. So either use your imagination or go see for yourself.

I grew up just south of Colyn --- pronounced KO-line --- so it's familiar territory. But I don't remember Isaac N. "Ike" and Minnie Colyn, after whom it was named. Their farm was the largest piece of property incorporated into what is now an 853-acre tract four miles due south of Russell on the Chariton River.

For the record, Colyn remains state property although it is sandwiched between units of the 11,000-acre Rathbun Wildlife Management Area --- federally owned land along the Chariton and South Chariton at the upper end of the Corps of Engineers' giant Rathbun Lake that is leased to the state for management purposes. Headquarters of the Rathbun operation are located in the west unit of the Colyn Area.

But we're headed for the east Colyn unit, which is prettier and --- I think --- more interesting. To get there drive south out of Russell on paved County Road S56, curve east, then south and watch on your right for the sign pointing west to Colyn. Take that gravel road west to a "T" then turn left for a short roller-coaster-road trip to come up beside this sign.

I'm really fond of the lane into the unit, which cuts between hickory trees then makes a memorable 90-degree turn before coming out into a woodland area above the unit parking lot.

Water levels in the marsh pond vary considerably, dependent upon rainfall, but at the moment its about as scenic as it gets. You could launch a small boat now if you wanted to, hike around or just look --- hunting allowed in this part of Colyn in season. Much of the west unit is a refuge.

The Colyn Area and its former neighbor to the southeast, Brown Slough, were developed during the early 1950s in a joint federal-state effort to provide marshlands for fishing --- and ducks. Brown was built in 1953 and construction of Colyn started during September of 1955.

At Colyn, engineers engaged in a good deal of environmental adventurism that probably wouldn't pass muster today, with justification. Chariton River meanders to the north were cut off and the channel diverted straight southeast between dikes to form a 90-acre pond to the south and a 200-acre pond to the north.

The scenic wooded bluffs that edge the north pond now are bluffs that once rose above river meanders, still visible from the air when water levels are low.

The original plan was to keep water levels in the ponds high and stock them for game fishing. The river, however, never cooperated. The first of many major floods occurred in 1959 and again in 1960, damaging dikes, shoreline and structures and allowing rough fish to flood into the ponds at both Colyn and Brown.

The entire landscape changed after 1969, when gates were closed on the Rathbun Dam. Brown Slough disappeared, sort of --- although the state retained ownership of a couple of timber tracts. 

Although the Colyn Area remained intact, its recreational attraction waned in comparison with those vast expanses of water just downstream --- although it's still used locally.

Back on the main road outside the Colyn entrance, if you take a right you'll come to the parking lot down along the river for Hickory Hollow Marsh. Getting there involves a short hike.

When I was a kid, you could turn right about here, cross the river on a rickety old iron bridge, follow the dirt road across the river bottom and come up headed south on the road where I grew up. All of that has long since disappeared.

In order to get to the west Colyn unit, it's necessary to drive several miles now. Here's the sign marking the entrance to Rathbun Management Area headquarters just off what I would call the Transformer Road, although the electrical transformers that once were located at its intersection with U.S. 34 also have long since disappeared.

There are a couple of pretty ponds back in here, but the large marsh pond rarely has water in it these days.

And at the top of the hill --- called Bader Mountain by some --- is the shiny new Russell Sportsman's Club, replacing the the old frame cabin with brick fireplace that was the scene of many celebrations, parties and neighborhood gatherings when I was a kid.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall colors and a venerable school building

I was at the Community Center yesterday morning for the Chamber/Main Street-sponsored Kids Carnival (photos posted in various places on Facebook), so took a few shots, too, of the venerable building upon which the high school complex is centered --- commenced in 1922 and finished in 1923.

The new high school cost $250,000 then, and has proved to be a sound investment. Today's high school students use the same doors my parents did back in the early 1930s. I think my dad was a 1932 graduate and my mother, 1933 --- but would have to check that for sure.

The high school sits on ground where the legendary Smith H. and Annie Mallory and their daughter, Jessie, first lived when they arrived in Chariton during 1867. The Mallorys owned roughly the south half of the block between what now is North Grand and North Main with a relatively modest home to the east and barn, outbuildings, gardens and orchards to the west.

In 1877, as the Mallorys were planning their grand new home in North Chariton --- Ilion --- they sold the southwest corner of the block to the school district and a two-story brick school at first called "North" but christened "Bancroft" in 1892 was built there. Bancroft was a noted historian of the day --- not local.

In 1900, the old Bancroft was torn down and the new Bancroft built with high school on the top floor; elementary grades below. It was renamed Alma Clay in honor of a revered teacher during 1924.

Three residential properties were displaced and the houses moved elsewhere before construction of the new high school began on the east side of the block in 1922. Only Sam Beardsley's funeral home at the north end of the block survived. Alma Clay continued to serve as an elementary school and as junior high.

As the years passed, all other homes on the block were purchased and cleared, allowing space for the major 1951 addition to the north end of the 1923 building.

Alma Clay eventually developed structural issues and was taken down and during 1984 was replaced by the Community Center, attached to the school and containing Johnson Auditorium, the gymnasium-scaled multi-purpose room, meeting rooms and kitchen. The Community Center opened during January of 1985.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Starting the day --- twice

So I went to bed really early Friday night --- like 8:30 p.m. --- after a busy day and still recovering from cough-induced sleep deprivation.

Then I woke up, glanced at the bedside clock, thought it said 4 a.m. (or close), got out of bed, came downstairs, made coffee and sat down at the computer to go to work. Midway through the first cup, the computer clock caught my eye --- 12:30 a.m. 

What's up with that?

Turned out the lights, went back to bed and slept 4 hours more. When I woke up this time, looked at the clock without glasses, then put on the glasses and looked again. Yup. 4:07 a.m. --- really --- this time.


I was going to complain about my cold, but other than a constant cough it was not remarkable, although miserable. Democrats healed me. The cough dissipated at last during a meeting of the party faithful late on Wednesday.

Colds and pregnancies can lead to cravings. Mine was for Kellogg Pop-Tarts --- three boxes of Brown Sugar Cinnamon consumed during the cold's critical period. Wonderful stuff.


It now seems, after a Friday meeting, that all the pieces for the Hotel Charitone commemorative book will be in place and in the hands of the printer (in Pella) next week. This is a joint project of Ray Meyer, myself and Ruth Comer with Jeri Reeve providing concluding photo/design assistance and the Lucas County Preservation Alliance/Hotel Charitone LLC as sponsors.

The text has been complete for several weeks; the final step has been selecting images to accompany the text and transferring those to the designer. So it looks like we'll publish later this fall.

Most of the copies will be sold as a fund-raiser for the Charitone project --- more details about that later.


This is one of those busy days in Chariton that provide a good deal of entertainment, but kind of drive the Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street staff and volunteers to near distraction as they prepare for them.

The annual Kid's Carnival begins at 9 a.m. at the Chariton Community Center (attached to the west side of Chariton High School). There will be carnival games, goodie bags, other treats, the Smiley Train, face painting and arts and crafts.

The Halloween costume contest begins at 10 a.m. and lunch ($3) will be served from 11 a.m. until noon. From noon until 2 p.m., participating businesses will be ready for trick-or-treat visits from the youngsters.


This also is kick-off day for the week-long Art Attack event in Chariton's Main Street District (the square and a block beyond). There will be a program on the square at 11 a.m. and works by participating artists will be on display all week in various businesses and professional offices.

Visitors will be able to vote until 2 p.m. next Saturday for their favorites among the works on display (for People's Choice awards). Judges also will be visiting the displays during the week.

Cash prizes will be awarded during a program at 3 p.m. next Saturday, Oct. 25, during the Lucas County Arts Council's annual Fall Festival show and sale at the C.B.&Q. Freight House.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Primitive, superstitious America --- and Ebola

Americans are a primitive and superstitious people, so I suppose the near-hysteria (in some circles at least) set off by the Oct. 8 death in Dallas of an Ebola victim shouldn't surprise. The victim was a Liberian, Thomas E. Duncan, who arrived in Texas on Sept. 20, became ill a few days later but was misdiagnosed at and then sent home by a Dallas hospital, returned critically ill a few days later, was admitted --- and died.

In the days since, two nurses who cared for Duncan have fallen ill --- apparently because the hospital failed to provide them with adequate protective gear for a day or two after Duncan finally was diagnosed.

But there have been no other Ebola cases in the United States --- not among those in contact with Duncan on the flights from Monrovia to Dallas, nor among those who interacted with him after his arrival. And the 21-day incubation "waiting" period has passed for many.

The folks at the Centers for Disease Control and others who specialize in communicable diseases really do know what they're talking about. The Ebola virus (there are four strains deadly to humans) spreads principally through contact with the bodily fluids of people in active stages of infection or items those fluids have contaminated. The major danger is to health-care workers. The virus does not become airborne, as do those transmitting the flu, colds and other woes that afflict us.

So there's no danger of an epidemic in the United States, nor for that matter in much of the developed world where adequate healthcare is available.

But we've been hearing the most outlandish things in recent days. Republican politicians, sensing an issue, blame President Obama. TV and online preachers blame the gays --- god's judgment you know, for same-sex marriage. There are calls for travel bans to and from West Africa. Calls for an Ebola "czar." On and on.

But contrary to the lead sentence in an MSNBC story this morning, "Ebola spreads in the United States," Ebola is not spreading in the United States --- although misinformation and brain-dead hysteria certainly is.

The epidemic is in West Africa --- specifically Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; and, in Africa, there is real danger that it will spread farther across a continent where resources, healthcare and otherwise, are limited. So beyond reasonable homefront precautions, that's where the energy, angst and resources should be directed.

Not because isolating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will make America safer, but because the Africans suffering and dying there are our sisters and brothers and children.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Strike up the (American Legion Junior) Band

My friend Ev Brightman brought this photo along to a meeting late yesterday and I borrowed it long enough to scan.

According to Ev, this is the 1958 American Legion Junior Band, directed by Helen Krutsinger. Ev doesn't remember the occasion.

That's the northwest corner of the square, although younger folks might have trouble recognizing it --- so much has been torn down and replaced by newer models.

The Montgomery Ward building still is there, but with upper windows blinded. In 1958, Wards fully occupied both floors of the building.

The good news is that if all goes according to plan those windows will be reopened next year as part of Charitons' facade improvement project.

In the middle distance is the third floor of the Bates House hotel, dating from the 1870s and once Chariton's finest. It was torn down to make room for the present Midwest Heritage Bank.

To the right of the Bates House (east of the alley) is the two-story annex to the Union Block, built by Chariton Masons at a time when their lodge rooms still were located in the "old red bank" building, a joint project of the Masonic and I.O.O.F. lodges. When I was a kid, we climbed a long stair between the Annex and main building to reach the offices of our family physician, Dr. R.E. Anderson.

The Union Block came down during the 1970s and was replaced by what now is Great Western Bank and its loss arguably remains the largest preventable architectural disaster on the square. First National Bank still occupied the first floor of the Union Block when this photo was taken and the Knights of Pythias, club rooms on the top floor. The Knights had moved in after their own south-side building was destroyed by fire in 1930 and the Masons moved to new quarters on South Grand later in that decade.

Finally, far to the right, you can see the neon-lighted sign advertising Halden and Thomas Clothing, at the time the major men's clothing store on the square.