Toledo Museum of Art is in a family way

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Van Campen Family is having a reunion at he Toledo Museum of Art. Other 17th Century Dutch families have joined as well as families, biological and social, from across time and the globe. That includes the museum’s neighbors. Even I’m invited. The international exhibit “Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion” is now at the Toledo Museum of Art.  The centerpiece is a reunification of three parts of the “Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape,” a painting from around 1623-25. Over the years this family portrait of the Van Campens and their 14 children has been cut apart. Two parts, the larger portrait and a smaller fragment “Children of the Van Campen Family with a Goat-Cart” first appeared on an auction list in 1810 as separate works. In 2011 the Toledo Museum acquired the main section, knowing there was another part to the painting owned by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels.   It has since been discovered that there was indeed a third part, and when set side by side there is likely at least one more fragment.  Lawrence Nichols, the senior curator at the Toledo Museum who oversaw the exhibit, holds out faint hope that remainder may be discovered. He speculates that the painting probably was damaged, maybe in a fire, and that was the reason it was disassembled. Other theories are posited, including it no longer fit in a smaller house. None will likely ever be proven. The exhibit also brings together the four other family portraits by Hals, who was known mostly as a portrait painter of individuals.  That and other related works form the core of the exhibit. That’s what will travel to Brussels and then Paris after the exhibit closes Jan. 6 in Toledo. The Toledo Museum, though, is using these works to reflect on the meaning of family as an ever changing concept.  So the viewer will find in the first of the exhibit’s four galleries  a Yoruba mask, “The Mother of Twins,” next to a Albrecht Durer’s 15th century print of Adam and Eve. The definition is stretched to include sub-cultures including portraits of “Ghoullies” taken by contemporary Dutch photographers. Even before arriving in that gallery, the visitor sees a mural made up of 75 photos of area families, some submitted to the museum and some taken by a museum photographer during the museum’s Block Party in early July. That’s why a photo of my wife, Linda Brown, and me greets me as I enter the exhibit. Museum Director Brian Kennedy said this montage symbolizes the museum’s efforts “to grow the relationship between the museum and its neighborhood and community.” Those snapshots show a diversity of ages, ethnicity, and family configurations. They’re also a tribute to a time when selfies and cell phone portraits are the norm. We can capture our family’s image in an instant. In Frans Hals’ time someone had to hire a painter, like Frans Hals. That’s why the family portraits are displays of wealth. These being the Dutch, those displays are understated. But what makes Hals’ family portraits great is that they aren’t just dour depictions of folks assembled in their finery. The Van Campen family is captured in a moment of spontaneity, snapshot like even. Hals has “an…

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BG Schools task force looks at who’s picking up tax tab

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green School District financial task force found out Wednesday who is footing the tax bill to support the district. The bulk, 54 percent, comes from property taxes. The next biggest chunk comes from the state, at 33 percent, followed by income taxes at 10 percent. David Conley, facilitator of the financial task force, said the “vast majority” of school districts in Ohio only have local property taxes. He estimated that out of the state’s 600 school districts, only about 40 have income taxes. However, several rural districts in this area do have some income tax revenue – including Bowling Green which passed an income tax levy renewal in 2017. The question that some task force members want answered is – are all local citizens paying their fair share of the property tax pie? Or is the agricultural community being asked to pay too large of a portion. Conley’s numbers showed the makeup of the Bowling Green City School District tax base is as follows: 58.9 percent is residential. 24.1 percent is commercial. 9.7 percent is agriculture. 5.7 percent is industrial. 1.5 percent is public utility. One task force member questioned how the agricultural community feels it is bearing the brunt of property taxes for schools – since the numbers show otherwise. Conley said that the agricultural piece of the pie is being shared by a smaller number of people. However, it was also pointed out that while agricultural values recently increased significantly, they have since come down some, and are expected to continue that decline. The valuations also sat at very low levels for years before taking the recent jump in value. Residents also asked for specifics about which residents of which political entities in the district were picking up the tax tab. So broken down by political entities, the numbers showed: Bowling Green landowners makeup 74.7 percent of the tax base. Liberty Township, 6.8 percent. Plain Township, 5.5 percent. Center Township, 5.4 percent. Milton Township, 4.2 percent. Village of Portage, 0.8 percent. Middleton Township, 0.4 percent. Village of Custar, 0.3 percent. Village of Milton Center, 0.2 percent. Jackson, Richfield and Webster townships had a combined 0.12 percent. A great deal of Wednesday’s meeting focused on a 1.7-mill permanent improvement levy originally passed by voters in 1984. The district reduced the amount to 1.2 mills in 1999 and asked voters to approve it as a continuing levy. The voters supported that effort. The permanent improvement levy generates about $516,000 a year for the district. The school board recently used a portion of the levy revenue to put an addition on the middle school. Some members of the task force felt that the board had used the funding illegally – or at least improperly – for that addition. However, Conley said permanent improvement levies can be used to pay for any capital improvements with a life of five years or greater. “The board had the legal right to do an extension to the building,” he told the task force on Wednesday. But some continued to question the wisdom of the board to use the PI levy funds rather than going to the voters again for a levy specifically for the middle school addition. Task force member Richard Strow expressed concern that…


BGSU fraternities march to raise awareness of sexual assault issues

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The men of Alpha Tau Omega know what many people think of when they think of fraternities and  sexual assault on campus. For Cameron Johnson that “stigma” stings, so he and his fraternity brothers as well as those from two other fraternities marched across campus Thursday to stand up and say that in sexual relationships “no” means “no,” and “quit asking.” Brothers from three fraternities including Tau Kappa Epsilon and Kappa Sigma marched from the Greek Village. Observers couldn’t tell what house they were from. They all wore white t-shirts. Instead of Greek letters, their shirts were emblazoned with statements calling attention to sexual assault.  “Are you part of the problem?”  “Consent is mandatory.”  “Stand up don’t stand by.”  “We believe victims.” “We’re coming at this as men first and foremost, before Greek affiliation,” Johnson said. The three fraternities along with Sigma Chi will be collecting money Friday and Monday in the student union to benefit the Cocoon Shelter. “We recognized an issue within our community,” he said. “We wanted to be the one to stand up and address it publicly. We want to encourage a dialogue.”  Dejontay Shakespeare, Alpha Tau Omega, said  there’s a  belief  “that people in Greek life don’t  stand up for sexual assault awareness.” But on Thursday “we’ve come together as a complete community to say that consent is absolutely required in a sexual relationship.” Shakespeare knows the importance of the issue. He’s had family members sexually assaulted. And during his time in the military he served as an advocate for victims. Brooke Barman stood by and watched as the march concluded in the student union, and the 100 or so marchers assembled on the steps. “Sexual assault is something that’s becoming very prevalent on college campuses,” she said. “There’s been a lot of attention around making voices heard and making victims’ voices are heard, and making sure they know they can report and that they have people there for them.   “To see this coming from this big group of men supporting consent and making sure it’s known that consent is mandatory is a really big thing.”


‘You Got Older’ delivers emotional look at family, sex, & cancer

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Late in the play “You Got Older” actor Jim Dachik makes a slight gesture to his neck. That’s where his character has had cancer surgery. The gesture is casual, just something this aging man would do. Yet the slight, silent movement speaks volumes. The touch is freighted with concern about his health, and the desire to conceal that concern from his daughter, Mae (Kelly Dunn) who is seated at the breakfast table across from him. They’d already been through a lot, and it’s all packed in that simple gesture. Clare Barron’s 2014 award-winning drama opens tonight (Thursday, Oct. 18) for a two weekend run in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at Bowling Green State University. Click showtimes and tickets.  When the play opens, Mae has just arrived to spend some time with her father who is undergoing treatment for cancer. Mae is a 30-something woman at a critical point in her life. She was just dumped by her boyfriend who was also her boss so she also lost her job. She’s missing physical intimacy — she knows exactly how long it’s been since she’s had sex — but she’s also suffering from a severe rash on her back stretching to under her breasts. She struggles to keep all this away from her father, who wants to know. They have the kind of relationship where a discussion of toothbrushes erupts into an argument. He seems determined not to let the cancer weaken his involvement with his family. He’s torn between being resigned and defiant. This is captured in what he calls his cancer song, Regina Spektor’s “Firewood,” the song he listens to on the way to treatment. He has Mae listen to it. The song with its opening line “the piano is not firewood yet” and talk about rising “from your cold hospital bed” expresses what he cannot. Alone in her older sister’s former room though never safe from a casual intrusion by her father, Mae has intense visions of a cowboy (Tyler Fugitt), who treats her as property and handles her roughly. In real life, she goes out to the local bar and meets townie Mac (Adam Hensley), who both offers comfort, but is also kind of odd, at once sweet and  creepy. As Dad goes in for treatment, we meet Mae’s siblings — in-charge older sister Hannah (Hope Elizabeth Eiler), the lost in the muddle middle brother Matthew (Caleb Wise), and the needy younger sister Jenny (Missy Snyder).  The family dynamic plays out as they sit in their father’s hospital room sharing food Hannah has selected, mostly because of Jenny’s dietary restrictions. They have their problems, just like all families, but “You Got Older” does not trade in deep secrets suddenly revealed. The family’s discontents play out within a context of love.  Barron dares employ cell phones, technology that may date it in just a few years, as a device to connect the world to this family’s activities and used by individual members to disconnect from the immediate situation. What they need, Matthew says, is a family dance party. That would mean a wedding. That seems unlikely to occur.  Directed by Sara Lipinski-Chambers, “You Got Older” makes us hope that maybe the family will get a chance to dance together, and maybe the…


Project Connect links people with the help they need

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Justin Stricklen was in serious need of a haircut when he showed up at Project Connect on Wednesday. It had been six months since his last trim, and he wasn’t particular about how it was styled. “Whatever she does, I’ll like it. I’m not picky,” Stricklen said as he sat in a makeshift barber chair as a volunteer stylist used clippers on his hair. Stricklen was one of about 300 people who showed up at the annual Project Connect Wood County event Wednesday at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green. He was there for more than a haircut – looking for help with employment and some winter clothes. Project Connect is an annual event bringing together health, employment, housing, food and other services all in one location on one day. When the doors opened at 9 a.m., people were waiting to get in. “At 8:30 we had a line around the building,” said Kathy Mull, one of the coordinators of the event. “The benefit of Project Connect is we can bring 57 providers in one space together,” Mull said. “People can come to one location and go from one to another.” People attending don’t just get a brochure about services available – they get the services that day, or get help navigating the sometimes complicated path to receiving help. “Folks aren’t always sure where to start,” Mull said. They may need help with utility bills, or dental care, or food. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. So Project Connect brings all the help to one location. Jenessa Holtgrieve, of Bowling Green, came to Project Connect for help with food, winter clothes and diapers. “It helps a lot. They’ve been very generous here,” Holtgrieve said. Charlie Jones, of Bowling Green, waited in the hallway as his wife got an eye exam. Jones said he came in search of Christmas gifts for their son, employment help, and winter coats for his wife and son. Brandie Guinn, also of Bowling Green, has been attending Project Connect for the last three years. She came to get flu shots, her blood pressure and vision checked, and to get birth certificates. “This place is amazing,” Guinn said. “It’s a really great resource.” Project Connect brings together many governmental, health and educational agencies. Some agencies offered several services during the day. For example, the Wood County Health Department offered smoking cessation help, WIC assistance, nutrition and budget advice, relaxation skills, and free birth certificates paid for by Zonta and BG Exchange Club. In the area of medical care, people attending were offered dental screenings, podiatry examinations, PAP screenings and mammograms, blood pressure checks, relation therapy and yoga, eye exams and glasses, blood pressure checks and breast health evaluations. Aid offered for children and families included help applying for child support, holiday assistance, child care assistance, Headstart enrollment, developmental screenings for children, and WIC cards. Other benefits offered included legal services advice, referral for health human resources, health care for Medicaid/Medicare recipients, nutrition and wellness assistance. Personal care assistance included chair massages, haircuts, clothes, and personal hygiene products. Several agencies offered help with transportation and assistance for senior citizens. There were also library resources and pet food supplies available. Help with housing and utilities included assistance with home repairs, homeownership and fair…


Gordon’s resignation comes under cloud of accusations

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After seven years of being the voice of the First Ward, Bowling Green City Council member Daniel Gordon has stepped down. First elected as a college student, Gordon fought for the rights of those often unheard by city government. He worked to improve East Side neighborhoods and to make the city a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds. But he steps down from City Council under a cloud of accusations of sexual assault and rape. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said this morning that his office is looking into the allegations that were reported to the police division by a third party. Hetrick said he could not reveal details. “I can’t comment on an investigation,” the chief said. The person making the accusations has not reported them to police. The accusations were posted on social media, including as comments on the Wood County Democratic Party’s Facebook page. Mike Zickar, president of the Wood County Democratic Party, said he saw the comments last week on the party’s Facebook page. “I notified the police. I felt like they were the people to investigate,” Zickar said. “I felt like that was a serious charge, and the party doesn’t have the mechanisms to investigate,” he said. Council President Mike Aspacher said he was made aware of the social media posts last week, and was aware those were forwarded to the police division. Gordon had one year left on his council term. Council will follow the same process it has in the past to fill vacancies, Aspacher said. Any First Ward resident interested in the position has until Oct. 31 to submit an application to the city. Prior to the next council meeting on Nov. 5, a Committee of the Whole meeting will be held to hear from all the applicants. A replacement will be selected at that time, Aspacher said. Aspacher said Gordon has served the city well during his seven years on council. “He was always eager to discuss issues of inclusiveness in our community,” Aspacher said. Gordon provided a valuable connection between the university and the city, Zickar said. “I feel Daniel brought a real nice link between students and the city,” Zickar said. Mayor Dick Edwards also praised Gordon’s efforts on council. “Obviously this comes as quite a surprise,” he said about the resignation. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with Daniel,” Edwards said. “He’s reached out to me a number of times and has asked my thoughts on different matters.” The mayor said Gordon was a responsive council member, who had a good understanding of the need for neighborhood revitalization. He praised Gordon’s efforts on the “Welcoming BG” initiative, and his success at creating Ridge Park. “I think that was a good accomplishment,” Edwards said. The mayor agreed with Aspacher that a First Ward replacement should be found by the next meeting. “It’s so important that we get a good person on there right away.” The First Ward seat will then be on the November 2019 ballot. Gordon said this morning that he was unaware of the police looking into any accusations against him. He had intended to announce his resignation at Monday’s City Council meeting, but said he was instead in the hospital ER at that time after having an asthma…


3B’s ‘Shrek the Musical’ hits the right tone in reprise of beloved show

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The freak flag is flying high in the Maumee Indoor Theatre again, thanks to 3B Productions. The company is bringing the fairy tale musical, based on the hit animated film itself inspired by William Stieg’s picture book, back just four years after last staging it. The show’s charms are undeniable — a twisted love story with a fairytale backdrop and an uplifting message about accepting oneself. Not to mention a love-besotted dragon. “Shrek the Musical” will be on stage at the Maumee Indoor Theatre this weekend Oct. 18-21 with shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Contact 3Bproductions.org for tickets. This “Shrek” hits the mark in several important ways. To me, the show’s big challenge is to take on  the leads as real characters not simply the comic projections of the actors in the beloved animated film. Jake Drouillard as the title character, Dylan Coale as his sidekick Donkey, Jennifer Braun as Princess Fiona, and Matthew D. Badyna as the evil Lord Farquaad all understand this, and bring their characters to life in a fresh way that remains true to the script. Drouillard makes sure Shrek’s lovable layers are evident from the start. Coale’s Donkey is more level-headed for all his hysterics. Braun’s inner ogre shades her whole performance. Even when she’s trying to play out the standard damsel in distress script, she insists on being in charge. Badyna, acting as the part requires on his knees, plays up the comedy as the scheming lord. And you have to love the nod to “The Producers” in the production number “What’s Up Duloc.” All this comes through because their enunciation of witty lyrics is clear. They deliver the comic and emotional nuances embedded in the songs. Special mention should be made of Chloe Smallwood who provides the voice of the dragon. A lot goes on in her big scene. Her vocal has to compete with an antic Donkey being pursued the dragon — the creation of Hannah Kinney for 3B’s 2014 show and the go-to dragon for other area “Shrek” productions. Stationed apart from all this, Smallwood delivers the dragon’s soaring internal monologue about what’s really on her mind. She’s in love with Donkey. Smallwood’s voice cuts through all the stage business to set up that important emotional twist. The show’s popularity also rests on the large cast, including a host of fairy tale creatures, each with a personality and back story.  The climatic “Freak Flag” is a rousing anthem — “what makes us different makes us strong.” Pinocchio (Bob Marzola-Hughes), who struggles with his own identity crisis, debates whether they should just retreat while the Gingy (Cayla Kale) argues for rebellion. One can feel the collective energy of the story book characters as they decide to confront Lord Farquaad over his campaign of fairy-tale cleansing. Unlike them the diminutive Farquaad — the son of Grumpy (Zack Hubaker) of the Seven Dwarfs — wants to deny his special qualities and instead wants stand tall among “normal” folk. The production team opted to use projected backdrops for most of the scenery, with only a very few select set pieces. That means the show moves along with little time between scene changes. The show, directed by Joe Barton with…