Logan, Ohio – June 2018 – A Sharp (Pencil) Place

A couple of years ago we were in Logan, Ohio and made a brief stop at the Pencil Sharpener Museum. Since we were back in the area we made another stop, spending more time to really check out the amazing collection, put together by a man named Paul Johnson – 3,479 in all!

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Paul died in 2010, but the Hocking Hills Tourist Information Center maintains his collection in a small building that looks more like a garden shed from the outside – but is very cool inside.

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The thousands of sharpeners were arranged by categories, including photography items. I wish I had a ‘roll of film’ pencil sharpener!

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Household items like a chair, gas grill and cement mixer sharpener.

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An entire collection of airplanes

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Famous buildings of the world.

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Office and retail shop tools.

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Presidents.

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And finally globes. If you find yourself in southern Ohio and need a break, give the nice ladies at the Hocking Hills Tourist Information Center a visit, and check out Paul’s collection – well worth the visit.

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Worthington, Ohio – June 2018 – Come for the Produce, Stay for the Art

The town of Worthington, Ohio was settled in 1803 by settlers from Connecticut. As a result the center of town resembles a New England town, complete with the village green. Long an affluent Columbus suburb, Worthington has a year round farmers market, with the summer season held in the village green area.

This farmers market is nice, with an interesting selection of produce (when in season), meats and a collection of hipster booths like artistic chocolate and little bags of pasta from Cleveland. Still we enjoy going down to buy local honey and other items.

This week though we had a surprise in that the annual Worthington Arts Festival was being held.

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Over 100 artists had booths set up offer a variety of mediums including ceramics, paintings, photography, fiber, glass, jewelry, metalwork, leather work, and sculptures.

A local art teacher makes Bruce the Garden Shark – whose role is in theory to be like a scarecrow. We brought one home to ward off the groundhogs and skunks.

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While the much larger Columbus Arts Festival attracts artists from all over the country this one was mostly local artists, including this one who did a mixed media sculpture.

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There were a number of wood carvers making sure we know we are in Ohio.

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A clay ceramics artist had great skill in his use of paints and approaches to his firings to make interesting pieces.

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Interested in the steam punk look?

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A husband and wife team had a wood/glass mix.

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Finally a basket of funky little characters.

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Columbus – June 2018 – Annual Arts Fair

After our morning and early afternoon in Amish Country we returned to the city to attend the annual Arts Festival.

Our first stop was one of the music venues, where all the spectators were off to the sides to sit in the shade on this hot day (including us).

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There are hundreds of artist and vendor tents, with an expected 3 day crowd of over 400,000 people.

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The young lady playing the violin was very skilled – much to the amusement of the old man.

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An artist who specialized in what appeared to be high end comic art had decoration on top of their tent.

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A demonstration of pottery making.

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Our plans were to check out a baseball game in the evening, but the weather did not cooperate. It was however a spectacular thunderstorm.

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Nazareth, PA – June 2018 – Martin Guitar Company Factory Tour and Museum

The Martin Guitar Company has been making guitars since 1833. The current CEO is the 5th generation of Martin’s to run the company.

The business started in New York City but moved to Pennsylvania after a few years, being located in Nazareth ever since.

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As you enter the facility you are immediately greeted by the company museum.

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The museum houses over 130 guitars from the 1830s until now. It is striking to see how similar they are from 200 years ago.

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In addition to the guitars they have some components from over the years.

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The craftsmanship is amazing.

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Martin also makes ukuleles and mandolins.

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The museum housed some custom ones, including one from the Grand Ole’ Opry.

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Having finished the museum portion, we headed out on the factory tour. The guide handed each person a headset and we headed out. First stop was where they are ‘booking the wood’, basically splitting it and attaching the pieces so the grain matches and is wide enough for the body.

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Nearly all of the manufacturing is done by hand.

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After formed they sit for an extensive amount of time with their collection of clothes pins to hold it together.

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The build process involves weeks and months of time as components dry.

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Fret board assembly.

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It was amazing the workers could focus with the continual tours walking by taking their photos.

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A polishing/sanding station.

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Closer to being completed, but still more waiting – it takes months to get a custom guitar from Martin.

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One of the few automated functions – a polisher.

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Note someone from a tour watching the worker.

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This person was applying the detail around the edge of the body of the guitar.

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Similar to this worker – their lighting has been custom built to provide the optimum view.

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The work continues….

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Throughout the plant….

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Applying the strings.

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And a final polish.

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Before a test drive!

The visit to the Martin Guitar Factory Tour is easily one of the best we have done. Having the chance to walk the factory floor and take great photos of the quality work and hard working craftsman was fantastic.

If you ever get the chance to go to Nazareth, Pennsylvania and visit them – it is well worth the effort.

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New York City – May 2018 – Life Underground

Most New York City subway stations have some level of artwork in them. The 8th Avenue Subway station’s 14th Street station takes it to another level. There are around 130 small sculptures scattered throughout the multiple levels of subway platforms.

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Titled ‘Life Underground’ and designed by artist Tom Otterness in the 1990s, they were initially displayed above ground – eventually being installed in the station in the early 2000s.

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They are literally scattered everywhere.

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Underneath a gate to make it look like he his trapped.

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On the beams above the walkways.

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Some of the more popular are the legendary sewer alligators.

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Some of his inspirations were that the subways were designed in the 1890s, during the Tammany Hall/Boss Tweed era. This statue at the top of with a money bag head is one of the most popular with the commuters – the artist believes people rub it for good luck.

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We spent an hour wandering the station – many shots provided interesting backgrounds.

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This couple must be on happy hour.

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Many of the statues have some representation of poor versus rich.

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Some were hiding under stairs.

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One of my favorite, which I found in a couple of places, were two guys attempting to cut down the structural beams.

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Some were harder than others to figure out the message.

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Waiting on his train.

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One final look at another alligator and a number of others. If you find yourself in Manhattan it is well worth the effort to stop by this station.

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North Adams, MA – May 2018 – Mass MOCA

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is located in the small far northwestern Massachusetts town of North Adams. With a name like that it has been abbreviated to Mass MOCA.

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Located in an old factory complex it is now home to 19 galleries and 100,000 square feet of space. As we arrived we stopped by the cafe for lunch and had the opportunity to listen to some musicians.

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The galleries are scattered throughout the buildings – mixing new construction with the existing buildings.

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As with many contemporary art pieces, they are sometimes subjective to interpretation.

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A fencing mask with feathers.

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Pallet art with a record player (that was stuck on the same part of the same song).

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You have to hand it to them – they are creative.

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At first this seemed like a re-used satellite dish.

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But upon closer inspection it had hundreds of small reflective panels at different angles. All the little red spots are actually reflections of a nearby exit sign.

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The building itself is interesting with it’s high ceilings.

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My favorite gallery was by an artist named Gunnar Schonbeck – who specializes in making giant music instruments.

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A guitar from a large wooden box.

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Xylophones – they encouraged you to ‘play’

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Which many did – to the amusement of their friends.

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Another gallery had commentary on the American involvement in foreign affairs – complete with walls of (somewhat redacted) U.S. intelligence memos displayed in giant form.

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Many of the pieces are huge.

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As well as the statements.

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Mass MOCA is not an easy place to get to – a 3 hour drive from Boston – but it is a very popular artist town and museum.

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Albany, NY – May 2018 – A Governmental Stop

We had been travelling for a couple of hours when we came to Albany, New York. As the state capital there are a number of interesting buildings in the government section – including the capital itself.

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Just across a green space from the state capital is an older, art deco looking office building, the Alfred Smith Government Building – completed in 1930.

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The Department of Education Building lines another side of the park.

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This however ends any of the classic looking buildings – the rest are in the brutalist style of the 1960s and 1970s.

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The Empire State Plaza is lined with them.

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The Egg – A performing arts venue.

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One of the fountains was drained for repairs – giving it an interesting look.

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The view from the museum steps gives an interesting mix of architectures.

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The State Museum of New York.

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Whose arches frame the capital at the other end of the plaza.

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Nearby is either a) a sculpture gardenĀ  b) a workout park – not sure.

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A final view of the plaza.

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