ARCANUM — The story begins with a mail carrier at the center of Roger Snell’s painting, A New Day in Arcanum, an original acrylic of Arcanum’s town hall and water tower.
“It’s very subtle,” said Snell, of the symbol of his father, Donald, who was an Arcanum mailman in the 1970s and 1980s.
Snell explained how his father delivered mail to about half the town and, in his later years, worked at the Arcanum Hardware store.
“That’s how most people will remember him,” said Snell, of those later years until his father passed away two years ago.
A parent in a painting is one of several examples of “putting heart into the painting,” explained Snell, who “dabbled” in painting for several years. But it wasn’t until he took professional classes for the first time a year ago that his ability “jumped.”
“I wish I had done [it] twenty years ago,” said Snell, emphasizing how great it was to learn something new at sixty years young. His interest piqued, perhaps in part by his mother, Rosella, who also started painting late in life.
Since then, “it’s been pretty exciting,” continued Snell, who began to paint in earnest, and went on to professionally showcase his work when he received what he calls the greatest compliment.
Someone was looking at his work and said he didn’t just paint landscape but, “paints feelings, emotions.” Something he never considered until that moment.
It is feelings, emotions that brought the Arcanum village hall into the picture. It was “ten or 15 years ago,” when Snell took a photo of the building, tucked it away, and “forgot about it.” At least until six months ago, when he decided, out of the blue, that he would like to do a painting.
The very week he began work on the project is the same week it was announced the building was in danger, and the Arcanum Preservation Society took form, continued Snell.
“[It’s] inspiring,” the fact the village hall was on his mind at the same time as the possibility of it being sold or abandoned, said Snell, going on to state the building is the heart and soul of Arcanum.
Born in 1959 and raised in Arcanum, Snell graduated from Arcanum High School in 1977 so, “everything about my childhood is about Arcanum. That’s what inspired the painting, it means home, and it means Arcanum.”
Yet, Snell’s story was only getting started.
Currently, Snell resides in Frankfurt, Ky., and works fulltime for the Kentucky Proud program, part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. His job is to help farm families get their products into grocery stores and restaurants. He’s been with the program for 20 years and thoroughly enjoys his work.
“That’s how I chose Sutton’s [Foods] to unveil the painting,” said Snell, who was in Arcanum last October to unveil the painting at the locally owned and operated grocery store.
“I know the battle these retailers have, how important to have a place like Sutton’s,” explained Snell, who graduated with some of those who now also serve on the newly established Arcanum Preservation Society.
Snell regards Sutton’s Foods as equally important as that of the village hall.
“It’s near and dear to my heart, too,” said Snell, with his painting currently on display at the grocery store as part of a silent auction hosted by the Arcanum Preservation Society. The bids start at $400 and must be done in $10 increments and ends March 7.
Snell hopes the proceeds will help the Arcanum Preservation Society with other prints available on his website, with 10 percent from those sales also going to the Society.
However, if one thinks this is the end of the story, they are mistaken, as Snell shared the most significant part, which reignited the spark for painting and giving back.
It begins in April 2017, when he had a near-death experience and was written off by three doctors who sent him home to die.
“I was down for the count,” said Snell, who was bedridden with an auto-immune related illness. Fortunately, and according to Snell, he found the right doctor who offered the right, if somewhat radical treatment, including a diet that did everything to boost his immune system.
In one month, Snell was out of bed, out of a wheelchair. He got a second chance.
“I’ve not wasted a moment of it,” said Snell, who is celebrating the beauty of life, using every spare moment to celebrate.
While Snell notes a few bad patches, he is using the positives in life to redirect energy, “to that building.”
For more information to support the Arcanum Preservation Society visit www.rogersnell.com or on Facebook @arcanumpreservationsociety
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.