By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Simpson Gardens Friday evening was lush with hosta greens, delphinium and coreopsis complemented by artists scattered about the grounds intent on capturing the images of plants, rocks and water.
Along with the sounds of birds, mixed the trill of a Chinese bamboo flute, the rumble of a tuba, and young actors singing a show tune.
The occasional plop of a drop of rain provided an accent to the thrum of hand drums.
The third annual Art in the Park drew more visitors, as well as more artists, said Jacquie Nathan, of the Bowling Green Arts Council, which sponsors the event, hosted by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Artists took time from creating their art to chat with visitors.
Landscape artist Barbara Houdeshell has been painting outside, or plein air, for 17 years. It’s a natural for her. “I like painting, and I like people.”
Christie Moser, of Bowling Green, had stopped to chat with the painter. Moser moved to town about a year ago, and when she heard about Art in the Park, she knew she wanted to go. “I can really relate to this,” she said.
“I’ve been a musician myself all my life,” Moser said. She plays flute and sings. “I know the passion that swells within the soul that has to be expressed.”
Houdeshell’s passion was emerging before her as she looked over a small pond. This is a study that she will bring back to her studio and may turn into a much larger oil painting.
She grew up in Wood County, she said, but this is the first time she’d been in Simpson Garden. “The park is absolutely beautiful,” she said.
Plein air painting gives the artist a connection to the place, she said. “I can see the real color in front of me and feel the spirit of the place.”
Greg Justus, Maumee, got a lot of questions about his medium, alcohol ink. Working with a Q-Tip, he captures the shape of the rocks in front of him but depicted in other worldly shades.
“I think it’s a lot of fun painting and answering people’s questions.”
Nearby Rob Snyder, Bowling Green, was working with single sheets of mono-colored paper, folding them into intricate forms. He had made a frog. Now he was working out the patterns for a bear. He enjoyed sitting out in the garden, it gave him perspective on his work and time to think about the geometric problems it posed.
Jennifer Sader, a graduate of Bowling Green State University, was back in town for her first ever open air painting event. “I have never done plein air before,” she said.
An avocational artist, she draws and paints for fun. She found working from nature a challenge. When trying to frame the subject, she finds, “your eyes kind of fool you.”
Jennifer Hartman, from Waynesville, was back in town. She came to see the recent planting done by her father Phil Hollenbaugh.
She was glad to have the added attraction of the Art in the Park.
Her high school age daughter Sarah was with her. “I’ve always had an affinity for art,” she said. She enjoyed watching the different artists at work, studying their technique and materials.
Oppo Zongo, of Bowling Green, brought her grandchildren to the event. It was a good way to spend a beautiful day with them and expose them to the arts. She was keeping track of her favorite artists, so she could cast a ballot for her favorite.
Zongo also stopped and watched the excerpt of the Black Swamp Players “The Dixie Swim Club.” She was unfamiliar with the troupe, but what she saw piqued her interest in going to see a full production.
A variety of musicians provided the soundscape for the event. The sounds old time fiddle music, drumming, rock played on ukuleles, Irish tunes, traditional Chinese airs, and improvisations in which BGSU students on flute, tuba and hand drums, seemed to pluck tones from the air.
That added to the perception that art was in the air at Simpson Garden.