Travel a happy trail


By Marilyn Delk


Although June 20 is several weeks away, the Summer travel season actually begins with Memorial Day; although warmer weather may drive vacationers to beaches or journeys northward, local travelers can experience a world of wonder right here in Darke County! Have you checked out the Darke County Art Trail yet?

The initial installation celebrating the creation of the Darke County Art Trail took place on June 17, 2022; in addition to recognizing the Darke County Park District’s 50th anniversary, the event featured the unveiling of sculptor Joshua Shepherd’s statue of Tecumseh. The statue stands near the site where the revered Shawnee warrior and his brother established their Native American village over 200 years ago. Funding for this project and for further installations came from the State of Ohio. Since then, the Buchy Bench, a sculpture also created by Joshua Shepherd honoring iconic Darke County legislator Jim Buchy has been appropriately placed along the Buchy Mile of Darke County Parks’ Tecumseh Trail; other very recent additions include the Bear’s Mill “Bear” and the “Butterfly” sculpture at Bish Discovery Center, both by Maryland-based artist Kirk Seese.

Downtown Greenville’s Mural Committee has commissioned new works to enhance the city, including murals created by Greenville High School art students that currently decorate downtown power boxes and the “Greetings from Greenville” postcard mural seen on Washington Avenue. These new enhancements to the city’s landscape are also included on the Art Trail. Newly created artworks will continue to be added to the Art Trail; however, many eclectic selections are already waiting to be explored.

Several statues can be seen along the trail, including another Joshua Shepherd creation—Miami military leader and orator Little Turtle, sited in Greenville City Park; Montana artist Terry Mimnaugh’s recreation of Darke County icon Annie Oakley standing at the convergence of Martin Street, Washington Avenue, and Broadway in downtown Greenville; and delightful French-themed sculptures enhancing the town square in Versailles, a local place named forthe iconic French town and palace.

A beautiful building on the Trail, Greenville Public Library also holds stunning works within its walls and on its beautifully landscaped grounds. Inside the building, two striking art-glass windows, one honoring playwright William Shakespeare and the other memorializing the Library’s benefactor Henry St. Clair rightfully deserve attention, while a life-size bronze sculpture by Los Angeles artist Max Turtner entitled “Reading Opens a World of Knowledge” stands near the path to the Library entrance.

Funded through a bequest from Henry St. Clair with additional funds provided by his widow Ella, St. Clair Memorial Hall, another work of art on the Trail, stands near the Library. The revered structure is beautifully enhanced by three magnificent stained glass windows gracing the building’s grand entryway and symbolizing the values the St. Clairs wished to uphold—Literature, Labor, and Art.

Lest you think that the Art Trail might be a bit high-minded and staid, please note that the Maid-Rite Gum Wall is also a stop, and a place where you can add your own contribution to the unique bounty already on display. Also, a striking barn mural by Scott Hagan cheerily greets travelers going south on U.S. Route 127 near Ansonia; it features Annie Oakley and her famous quote— “Aim at a high mark and you’ll hit it.”

Wayne Healthcare, a partner in Art Trail support, displays a fine art quilt created by Mississinawa Valley students under the supervision of art teacher Ashley Austerman, who secured a grant from the Ohio Arts Council to underwrite the project. Missinawa students also created the Art Trail mural enhancing the railroad underpass in Union City, another project funded through OAC.

Jennifer Overholser, DCCA Visual Arts Artistic Director, says that the first edition of the art trail was a starting point for collecting all the public art stops throughout the county, adding that additions will be coming soon. “To stop at every location on the trail would provide a full afternoon of amusement and a look into the culture and history of the community,” she states proudly. For more information or to get a brochure, contact Jennifer at [email protected].

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