Adventure in Ohio

I don’t consider myself a real coffee drinker.  If it is black, well, I just can’t swallow the swill.   However, I do enjoy a little coffee with my sugar and flavored creamer – especially vanilla, crème brûlée, or hazelnut.  And, I’ve discovered the perfect little artsy-fartsy café to drink my brew and work on my portraits.
It isn’t one of those places where everybody knows your name.  At least, not mine.  But, Emily knows what to brew when she sees me.  It’s always the same drink, and I invented it.  Kafé Keraouc has special lattes named after authors. Well, Kerouac, Dahl, Tolstoy, and the like just won’t do for the artist in me.  I always have a Van Gogh, inspired by my favorite artist.  Naturally, any drink named after VAN Gogh needs a dash of VAN-illa.  And, since Vincent was a redhead, it also has a shot of cinnamon.  And finally, you must admit that anyone who cut off part of his ear wasn’t painting with a full deck, so the drink needs a little hazelnut.  There’s also a lot of steamed milk, and Emily always sprinkles my drink with extra cinnamon and love.
I hang out with my brew almost every Sunday afternoon.  Most of the time, nobody ever comments about what I consider to be masterpieces.  However, on occasion, there are other artists in the café, and I always introduce myself to them.  That’s how I met Max.
Max is very involved with local cartoonists.  Who knew there were any of them in Columbus?  I certainly didn’t.  Well, there are lots!  I attended one meeting with over 30 comic artists and writers!  It’s the tip of an art iceberg!

Max among the admiring

If that isn’t enough, Columbus has a long history of cartoonists and is the home to the largest cartoon museum in the world.  Seriously, who really knew?  Yep, the Billy Ireland Museum is right in the middle of the Ohio State University.  I got a private tour as soon as I learned of the place.  And, I held original works of Charles Schulz!  For me, it was one of life’s moments.
Now, your list of Ohio cartoonists might include Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), and Phillip Martin (ah, shucks, I wish I was on your list).  But, long before any of Ohio's current batch of cartoonists put pencil to paper, humorist James Thurber made his mark in Columbus, Ohio, and around the world. Thurber, known for his witty cartoons in The New Yorker magazine, was also an author, journalist, and playwright.  He wrote more than 40 books including My World and Welcome to It and the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Thurber was born in Columbus in 1894.  As a child, James and his brother liked to play William Tell.  Well, at least, they played it one time too often.  I knew he was blind in one eye, but I didn’t know that it was because his brother’s aim was a little low.  Yep, what you imagine really did happen.  Thurber lost the sight in one eye immediately and further complications hampered his vision for the rest of his life.

From 1913 to 1917, Thurber attended the Ohio State University and rented the house at 77 Jefferson Avenue that in 1984 became the Thurber House Museum.  After a year in Paris, in 1926, Thurber moved to New York City to work as an editor for The New York Evening Post.  He wasn’t known as a cartoonist until after the move to the Big Apple.  It was there that fellow editor, E.B.White (Yep, the guy who wrote Charlotte's Web.) found James’ drawings in the trash and submitted them for publication.  It was a very lucky Thursday for Thurber, because White only came into the office one day a week.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Thurber House Museum, more than twenty local Columbus cartoonists (including me!) were invited to make their renderings of Thurber cartoons in their own style.  There were no rules. Imaginations were free to run wild, and that is exactly what happened.  The exhibition, hosted by the Wild Goose Gallery, eventually moved to Jefferson Avenue for permanent exhibition.

In my particular drawing, I selected Thurber's “American Male Tied Up in a Typewriter Ribbon”.  If you are too young to fully understand the frustration of that moment, consider yourself a blessed member of a computer society.  I updated the art to the computer age and wrapped the American Male up in mouse cord.  But, it was my intention to keep a very true element of Thurber's drawing in my version.  I tried to match every curve and twist of the typewriter ribbon with my mouse cord.  Each generation has their own problems and frustrations with communication.  But, I promise you, a mouse cord is a whole lot less messy.

Who wouldathunk that any kind of exhibition like this would have come from a very delicious brew of coffee?  Again, as usual, life has surprises for me.  I truly have no idea what to expect next.  But, I will sip my Van Gogh on Sunday afternoons and await my next adventure.