“Labors,” a New Art Show at OSU-Mansfield

“Labors” runs from Feb 26-March 23, closed March 12-16 for spring break, at the Pearl Conard Gallery in Ovalwood Hall


Untitled IV (Stuff) by Courtney Kessel

A new art show called “Labors” opened at the Pearl Conard Gallery at OSU-Mansfield this Monday. The show, curated by Kate Shannon, aims to explore the complexities of motherhood and discusses much that remains unspoken in public dialogs on parenting and motherhood, specifically.

“Labors” includes pieces by 18 artists who are also mothers of young children. Shannon said in a statement that she sought out “artists who address motherhood in their work and integrate art-making with tedious parenting responsibilities.” The show was certainly successful in making me think about how few mother-artists I knew and why that was. Continue reading


Meditation Extreme: a Team Sport

medextremeRecently I was given the special privilege of being at the screening of the short film, Meditation Extreme. The film is the culmination of an “Acting for Screen” class taught by Daniel Roemer this past summer. This screening was the first time the actors — all locals — had seen the finished product. I had no clue what to expect from this product of our community.

Daniel Roemer grew up in this town, graduating from Mansfield Christian in 1999. He moved away to study film at USC and stayed out in LA for the next 15 years. In that time his CV exploded impressively with top honors and finalist positions in such programs as “On the Lot,” a reality show produced by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett, showcasing filmmakers “bound for stardom.” He was also twice a finalist for best director in the esteemed Project Greenlight. Continue reading

Beers & Opera: Feed Your Soul


Joel Vega & Andrew Potter, singing at The Phoenix Brewing Company

I don’t know one bean about opera. What I do know, is that Andrew Potter produced a note Monday night so low and resonant I felt it in my bones. You don’t have to know much Wagner to appreciate the talent and hard work behind making that music.

I attended “Hopera2!” at The Phoenix Brewing Company — a pairing of Phoenix’s beer with music by Mid-Ohio Opera. The opera company was founded by Joel Vega, a name I knew growing up here as someone to watch out for at the yearly solo and ensemble music competitions. And now look at him! Maybe it was the beer, but the man couldn’t stop smiling. As someone who has created his own successful arts nonprofit in a town where many said, opera? he has every right to grin. Mid-Ohio Opera brings in singers from around the country and offers Mansfield world-class performances. Not to mention the fact that Joel, himself, is a talented opera singer who teaches others for a living. Continue reading

The Poets of “We Are United”

The “We Are United” Hurricane Benefit at La LUNA last Friday raised money and collected donated items to send down to people affected by the recent hurricanes. The event featured performances by musicians, comedians, and writers from the central Ohio area. Here we have collected the works of the three writers and video of their performances.

Mansfield, a Love Story by Llalan Fowler

You fall like rust off an unused warehouse, you sound like broken glass under my heel, you taste like the lead paint curling down walls in your empty Gothic homes. You scream like the trains passing through every morning at two and you are as silent as the empty storefronts whose dusty windows throw back a dirtier version of myself. Mansfield, you birthed me, you raised me, and I left you. Continue reading

Mansfield: We Are Creating


From an alley, Mansfield, Ohio

I visited New York City last weekend and spent enough hours wandering through the boroughs that I began to compare it to our town. We are not New York and we know this. We are not New York and are yet happy for that. We are not New York, we are Mansfield, Ohio, and we are creating.

There are parts of New York City where each breath I drew was art. It was not merely a painted canvas, a vibrating string, or an astute analogy, but a sense of ecstatic freshness. The world as I knew it was new again, shimmering. I could feel my own creativity roiling just beneath the surface of my composure, and my mind, surprised with new agility. In the presence of others’ imaginations, mine ran giddy and wild. And the people standing around me, they were ready to experience everything I had to give, absorb my offerings and further the cycle of ideas.

In Mansfield, we artists breathe rust. We breathe poverty and establishment and someone else’s idea of what our town should be. When we experience the moment of collaborative elation, we have worked damn hard to get there. We work in factories and gas stations and chain retail stores where we lock our art in the break room and keep it to ourselves until we clock out. Art is not an employer, but not a hobby either — it is an unstoppable drive we have, the one that reminds us we’re alive, the one we must have to stay alive. Continue reading

When Swing Was King

After the February 18 Mansfield Symphony Orchestra Pops Concert


Carl Topilow and the MSO

Carl Topilow, in red coat with red clarinet, leads the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra with his knees and shoulders, bobbing on the podium to the music as he plays along. The conductor leans with a sidelong glance to the drummer and, as one, the group moves toward the end of the piece, finishing on one blue note of a dime. Tonight, at the MSO’s “When Swing Was King” pops concert, Topilow is not Topilow. He’s Benny Goodman, he’s Artie Shaw. He and his bright  red clarinet lead a big band and it’s 1944 and the audience is young again.

At the introduction to each song the crowd murmurs appreciatively. Next to me my grandmother hums along. Everyone of a certain age has a memory that corresponds with each song. A piece of their youth, of the early years with their spouse, of their time serving their country.

The songs Topilow picks range from Gershwin excerpts to Glen Miller to an entire patriotic piece fitted around a bugle solo. Before I had thought of swing as swing, but now I begin to think of the complete range of sweet to sultry to stars and stripes.

The sweet songs inspire my grandmother to turn to me and tell me memories of her courtship with my grandfather. She uses the word courtship, and it occurs to me that I’ve only ever heard this word from someone of her generation, and also that I’ve never been courted. Stardust, Moonlight Serenade, Night & Day — a sweetness and innocence that I cannot fathom, but desperately want to know. Continue reading