March 2015 Edition ©

25-Foot Lincoln Coming

Return Visit by Seward Johnson © 1991, 2014 The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc. www.sewardjohnson.com

Return Visit by Seward Johnson © 1991, 2014 The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc. www.sewardjohnson.com

In past years while Troy, Ohio showcased famous artist Seward Johnson’s lifelike sculptures in everyday situations along downtown sidewalks, you sometimes had to have a double-take to be sure if someone was a real person or not. But this year, instead of numerous smaller sculptures, there’ll be one significant sculpture – Return Visit.

Troy’s Sculptures on the Square project always draws visitors from near and far. Every time the town hosts this spectacular outdoor exhibition, it is worth the trip. The previous exhibits in 2003, 2005, and 2013 drew thousands of visitors to Troy’s quaint downtown and its superb eateries and one-of-a-kind mom and pop shops.

Return Visit is a 25 foot bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and a modern-day man.  This sculpture is of monumental scale and has never been exhibited outside of the artist’s retrospective exhibit in New Jersey.   Troy, Ohio will be the first city in the world to receive the sculpture for public viewing! Return Visit will be placed on display in Downtown Troy at the Miami County Courthouse for a period of six months.

The scholars of the Lincoln Fellowship requested that Seward Johnson create a commissioned life-sized sculpture for the historic Gettysburg Plaza, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Originally, the sculptor was asked to craft a portrait of Lincoln for the square. Johnson decided that he would like to enliven the connection between Lincoln and his ideas and today’s world. He accomplished this by adding the contemporary man (rumored to be Perry Como) to the composition.  In Gettysburg, Lincoln gestures up toward the window behind which he sat to write the Gettysburg address. The address is reproduced on the bronze paper held in the modern man’s hands.  In Troy, Lincoln will be gesturing toward the historic Miami County Courthouse. The sculpture was unveiled for the first time in the spring of 2014 at the J. Seward Johnson Retrospective at the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey.

Troy Main Street will open the exhibition with a community party on May 3, 2015.  The exhibition will remain on display through October.

Illustrations from Children’s Books


People’s pets are such an important part of life. Wouldn’t it be fun to see an art exhibition about them? A new show at the Toledo Museum of Art provides the chance.

Presented by Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Best in Show: Animal Illustrations from the Mazza Collection is in Gallery 18 and features an assortment of pets from children’s picture books. Though small in size, the free exhibition has a lot to offer visitors.

All of the 54 works are on loan from the University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of original art by the illustrators of children’s picture books.

The illustrators’ creations include 22 dogs, 14 cats and assorted other animals from hens to horses that have populated books for youngsters from the 1930s to the present.

This is the second time TMA has partnered with the Mazza Museum. The 2009 Storybook Stars exhibition was very well received.

Visitors will see beloved characters, including Clifford the Big Red Dog created by Norman Bridwell (1928–2014) and a drawing of Walt Disney’s Pluto created in the early 1930s by Hardie Gramatky (1907–1979).

Also on view are Marley Makes a Mess in the Kitchen by Richard Cowdrey (born 1963) from John Grogan’s book “Bad Dog Marley;” the cover illustration for “Mrs. Huggins and Her Hen Hannah” by Lydia Dabcovich (1935–2011) and In Bed by Margot Tomes (1917–1991) from the book “Lysbeth and the Fire Kittens.”

“Many of these artists are from the Midwest, and many started as children wanting to do nothing but draw and make it their life’s work,” notes Chief Curator Carolyn Putney, who organized the show, her last before her retirement after 37 years at TMA.

The center of the gallery has a comfortable reading area so visitors may look at the original works of art then sit down and read the books for which they were made. Copies of some the books are available for purchase in the Museum Store.

In a hands-on section that may encourage the next generation of illustrators, children can make their own drawings to finish a storyboard and take part in an “I spy” game that challenges visitors to search for animals in other galleries at the Museum.

Although admission to the Museum is free, parking is $5 for nonmembers. For more information, visit toledomuseum.org.

A Year of Valor


This year the Shelby County Historical Society in Sidney, Ohio is dedicating their year-long programming to a themed series, “Year of Valor.”  Throughout the year the society will pay tribute to the men and woman who gave unselfishly of their own lives so that others could enjoy Freedom.

The year 2015 is a special one in American history.  2015 marks the 240th anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War, the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Vietnam conflict, and the 20th anniversary of Desert Storm.  In 2015 the Shelby County Historical Society will honor all veterans and first responders who served and continue to serve today.

The first tribute event will take place at the Masonic Temple in Sidney on Saturday April 25, 2015.  To celebrate the 150th anniversary that marks the end of the Civil War, Historical Society Director Tilda Phlipot said, “What better way to celebrate the end of the War than the way they would have celebrated 150 years ago.  Back then, the community would have joined together to share a meal and enjoy an evening of dancing.”  At the April 25th celebration, period appropriate music will be provided by The Anonymous String Band along with a special dinner and dancing reminiscent of the of the mid to late 1800s.  Tickets to attend are $20 and can be purchased through the Ross Historical Center by calling 937-498-1653.

On Thursday June 18, 2015, the Historical Society’s annual Cemetery Tour, complete with living history characters, will be held in Sidney.  In keeping with the “Year of Valor” theme, the society will highlight some final resting places and stories about the men and women who served and sacrificed for this county’s freedom.

A highlight of the “Year of Valor” schedule will be the arrival of the travelling replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall and the creation of a Field of Valor.  The Field will be comprised of flags honoring those who served in any U.S. involved conflicts as well as first responders.

On Sunday August 30, 2015, Custenborder Field in Sidney will be transformed into a Field of Valor.  Here, family members will have the opportunity to place a flag in honor of those important to them who served this country in the military or as first responders.  Flags can be purchased in advance for $30 through the Ross Historical Center by calling 937-498-1653.

On September 2, 2015, motorcycle enthusiasts are invited to participate in “Rolling Thunder”, an escort for the Vietnam Memorial Wall that will be traveling from Wapakoneta to Sidney’s Field of Valor.   Those interested are requested to be in place at the Wapakoneta VFW parking lot not later than 6 p.m.  The Vietnam Memorial Wall will be assembled in Sidney on Thursday September 3rd beginning at 8 a.m.  Later that day, opening ceremonies will be conducted by the Sidney Civic Band, under the direction of Phillip Chilcote.  These ceremonies will formally welcome the memorial to Sidney and commemorate the Anniversary of 9/11.  A tribute honoring the service of veterans and first responders will be included.  The Vietnam Memorial Wall will be on display until 3 p.m. Saturday September 5, 2015.

On Friday September 4, 2015, car enthusiasts are invited to “Cruise to the Wall” and enjoy the camaraderie of other automotive enthusiasts at this special gathering place.  Saturday morning September 5th will feature a “Run for the Flag” 5K.  Additional information about this event will be available at www.shelbycountyhistory.org in July.  At the conclusion of the Run, a pancake breakfast will be offered by the Sidney Rotary Club.  To add to the enjoyment of the Labor Day weekend, an art show themed “Bad Art by Good People” and sponsored by the Gateway Arts Council will be held in the shadow of the Wall.  This year’s show will feature local art by local veterans.

Other activities and programs including the annual, and always popular, Ghost Tour will take place on Wednesday October 14, 2015 & Thursday October 15th.  It too will incorporate the “Year of Valor” theme.

For more information and to follow ongoing updates to this year long schedule, those interested are invited to “Like” the Shelby County Historical Society on Facebook.  For additional information about all things to see and do while in this area, visit www.VisitSidneyShelby.com or call the Sidney Visitors Bureau at 937-492-9122 or toll free at 866-892-9122.

Banking on Fun!

old bank vault

Old Bank Vaults Are New Tourism Moneymakers

Traveling around Ohio I see the darndest things. Several years ago, I filmed two videos around the same time. One was in Wooster, Ohio and the other in Tipp City, Ohio. What I discovered, I had never seen before but have since seen sweeping the state.

My Wooster stop included Gallery in the Vault at the main corner downtown. I walked into the art gallery and was instantly enamored not only by the visuals throughout but the enormous bank vault facing the door. It was open and inside was a variety of exhibits that all lent to the transformation of this former bank.

old-bank-vault-wooster-ohioThe big vault dates back over 100 years to when Citizens National Bank installed it. Later the building became a Bank One branch. In 1995, Gallery in the Vault bought the building and opened for business the following year.

“There’s another vault that hasn’t been opened in decades,” said Judy Schmitt, owner of Gallery in the Vault. “Nobody knows what’s inside it if anything at all.”

This vault has a combination lock but nobody knows it. It would probably take Diebold to come break it open to crack the mystery. But don’t go calling Geraldo Rivera for another TV special because it would probably turn out the same as his infamous two hour special – The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults – empty!

The big vault, also Diebold, is filled with safety deposit boxes. When the old bank sold, all of the boxes were opened. If nobody came with a matching key, the lock was drilled out and opened. During the banking years, the main door to the big vault was set to timed release. Only at that time could two people with separate combinations go to the two separate dials simultaneously to open the big vault door. And there were only two people in the whole bank that had the combinations (one each). If something happened to one of those two people, you’d need to call Diebold in Canton, Ohio.

Gallery in the Vault offers an eclectic mix of handmade items from artists across the country. These are one-of-a-kind offerings. It features art glass, stained glass, pottery, wood, jewelry, original paintings and handmade Tiffany reproduction lamps. These incredible stained glass lamps are made by Cliff Lamborn in Massillon, Ohio. In addition, the gallery does custom picture framing and now has a separate room for its collection of antiques for sale. Gallery in the Vault is located at 105 East Liberty Street across from the Wooster Courthouse and iconic Everything Rubbermaid Store.


I mentioned a second place I had visited with a repurposed bank vault inside a former bank building. This was  Coldwater Cafe in Tipp City, Ohio. There, you can dine in the vault. Yes, that’s right, sit at the dining tables inside the vault as if you were anywhere else in the restaurant and enjoy the experience. And what a unique experience it is to walk through the huge vault door and be seated with a menu.

This vault was made by The Mosley Company and was originally the property of Citizens National Bank in Tipp City. The building later became a Fifth Third Bank. The original vault is in the basement but Citizens National added a new vault on the first floor. This is the vault that now serves as a dining room.

coldwater cafe bank vault

No fear, the vault door is locked open. Even back in the day, vaults like this and the one in Wooster have a warning system.

bank vault alarm“When the vaults were active, if someone had the unfortunate fate of getting locked inside of it, an emergency handle starts an aerator which brings in fresh air to breathe. It also sounds an alarm and triggers a red flashing warning light,” said Jenny Swiggart, General Manager at Coldwater Cafe and Catering, Inc.

Coldwater Café also has fireplaces adding to the cozy ambience. It opened in 1994 and offers a sophisticated menu with things such as ostrich being served. But it also has normal fare. The restaurant is located at 19 East Main Street in the quaint town of Tipp City, Ohio just a stone’s throw from Dayton.

Since visiting Wooster’s Gallery in the Vault and Tipp City’s Coldwater Café, I have learned of many other places around the state that have acquired old bank buildings and currently use the old vaults within in clever ways.

Maybe one of these are close to you:

  • Lou Holtz/Upper Valley Hall of Fame in East Liverpool, Ohio uses their old bank vault as an exhibit holding the gangster “Pretty Boy” Floyd in jail.
  • The Wine Vault in Vermilion, Ohio is a restaurant with a bank vault open for dining.
  • Selah Restaurant in Struthers, Ohio has vault seating for up to 12 people.
  • Starbucks in Bexley has a vault you can sit inside and sip your coffee
  • Penzey’s Spices in Upper Arlington, Ohio and also Ohio City. Both locations actually use old bank vaults inside old bank buildings.
  • P.J. Marley’s in Medina, Ohio has a bank vault open for dining.
  • J. Gumbo’s Restaurant in Baltimore, Ohio uses their old bank vault as restrooms.
  • PJs Deli in Toledo, Ohio
  • Caribou Coffee in North Olmsted
  • Tellers’ in Hyde Park (Cincinnati), Ohio uses their old vault as part of their dining room.
  • The Vault in downtown Columbus has a bar setup inside the vault.
  • And Cleveland, Ohio has old bank vaults being used at Vault Speak Easy Bar in downtown and Hyde Park Restaurant in downtown.
  • There are also vaults used at Dante Restaurant in Tremont, Crop Restaurant in Ohio City, and Rockefellers Restaurant in Cleveland Heights.

Look for us on Facebook to add more to the list.

By Frank R. Satullo, The OhioTraveler

Dirty Dancing


“Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage will play Playhouse Square in Cleveland March 3-22, 2015.  

“As I learned how many people watched the movie over and over and over,” said Eleanor Bergstein, screenwriter of the film Dirty Dancing and book writer for the musical, “I began to think that what they really wanted was to share more intensely in the event, to step through the screen and be there while the story was happening. And if that was true, then its natural form was the theatre – audiences watching live bodies dancing here and now in the present – on the log, on the bridge, on the dance floor and in the staff quarters at Kellerman’s. Writing it for the stage, I was also able to add more Baby and Johnny scenes, more about the family, more songs I couldn’t afford last time, and, most exciting of all – more dancing.”

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance and sensational dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this timeless love story features the hit songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the heart-stopping “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.” London’s Sunday Express says “This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot!”

It’s the summer of 1963, and 17-year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is on vacation in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents. Mesmerized by the racy dance moves and pounding rhythms she discovers in the resort’s staff quarters, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle, the resort’s sexy dance instructor. Passions ignite and Baby’s life changes forever when she is thrown in to the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady, both on-stage and off.

Dirty Dancing is one of our most beloved and timeless properties,” said Lionsgate Television COO Sandra Stern. “Its magic has enchanted audiences on film, television, DVD and digital platforms alike, and it remains a perennial best-seller in our film and television library. We’re delighted to participate in the latest stage incarnation that will introduce Dirty Dancing to a whole new generation of fans, and we expect the stage play to prove yet again that nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage began as an eight-week staged workshop in Manhattan in the fall of 2001. It was first performed at the Theatre Royal in Sydney, Australia in November 2004 before embarking upon a hugely successful tour of Australia and New Zealand. A new production opened at the Theater Neue Flora in Hamburg, Germany in March 2006 where it broke records for achieving the highest advance in European history.

The production began performances on London’s West End in October 2006 with an £11 million advance and went on to become the longest running show in the history of the Aldwych Theatre. It closed in July 2011 in advance of a two-year UK national tour and then returned to London for a strictly limited season at the Piccadilly Theatre.

The show has gone on to perform across the world in markets as diverse as Utrecht, Holland, Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Most recently, it has been represented by a new UK tour (which launched March 2014 in Bristol), a German tour (which launched April 2014 in Berlin) and an Italian production (which launched October 2014 in Milan). The show returned to Australia with a new tour that premiered in late 2014 in honor of the stage production’s 10th anniversary.

The production’s book is written by Eleanor Bergstein and the North American tour will be directed by James Powell with choreography by Michele Lynch based on the original choreography by Kate Champion. The Cleveland premiere of the staged musical of this worldwide smash-hit film is on sale now. The North American tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage is produced by Amber Jacobsen, NETworks Presentations LLC, Grove Entertainment and Col Joye in association with Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), the premier next generation global content leader, and Magic Hour Productions.

Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage will play March 3-22 at the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. Performances will be Tuesdays – Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at just $10, and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Playhouse Square Ticket Office (1519 Euclid Ave in downtown Cleveland), online at www.playhousesquare.org or by calling 216-241-6000. Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage is part of the KeyBank Broadway Series at Playhouse Square. Group orders of 15 or more may be placed by calling 216-640-8600.     

The Laughs are on Columbus


When The Second City Hits Home April 10 & 11 

Chicago’s legendary sketch and improv comedy theatre returns to the Lincoln Theatre with The Second City Hits Home, a new show featuring hilarious sketches, songs, and improvisation about Columbus as well as material from the famed Second City archives. This must-see night of comedy features some of Chicago’s brightest comedy stars in a special two-night engagement. 

CAPA presents The Second City Hits Home at the Lincoln Theatre (769 E. Long St.) on Friday, April 10, and Sunday, April11, at 8 pm. Tickets are $31 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.  

Doing what they do best, The Second City finds laughs in everything from Columbus’ history, events, and hot button issues and mixes them with a generous portion of classic, Chicago-style sketch and improv created by some of Second City’s most lauded alumni including Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, and more. 

The Second City celebrates 54 years of cutting edge satiric revues and continues to deliver the leading voices in comedy while touring the globe.  


Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure

Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure

The annual Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) will take on the northwestern quadrant of Ohio June 20-27, 2015.

The expected 2,500 riders will start gathering for the tour on Saturday, June 20, at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds in Van Wert.  They will begin cycling on Sunday, June 20, covering an average of 50 miles per day, and will overnight in Bluffton on Sunday, Defiance on Monday and Tuesday, Bowling Green on Wednesday and Thursday, Ottawa on Friday, and will return to Van Wert on Saturday, June 27.

Some of the many attractions featured on this tour include the Van Wert Antique Fire Equipment Museum, Delphos Canal Museum, Defiance Canal Park, Auglaize Village, Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center, factory tours, Independence Dam, Grand Rapids, Providence Metro Park with a working mill, canal boat rides, Snook’s Dream Cars, Putnam County Fair, Slippery Elm Trail, and other historic sites, covered bridges, and nature areas.

The fun-filled week will include the traditional bicycle parade and the gala opening ceremonies in Van Wert; family-oriented entertainment each night; two layover days offering bicycle loops of 50- or 100-miles to Sauder Village, Port Clinton, Elmore Historic Train Depot and Schedel Gardens; swimming; optional excursions to Put-in-Bay, with a fast ride on Lake Erie aboard the Jet Express to the island delights, including Perry’s Monument, Crystal Cave, trolley rides, and Heinemans Winery, or a visit to Sauder Village and the Dum Dum Sucker factory; and the ever-popular GOBA Song Contest.

The 2015 GOBA tour will feature educational elements along with the fun activities.  Since there are overnight stays in three of Ohio’s college towns, the theme is GOBA U, Where You Can Get Your Cycology Major.

Held annually in June, GOBA features bicycle touring at a leisurely pace, for approximately 50 miles per day for one week.  This will be the 27th year for GOBA.  The tour is owned and organized by Columbus Outdoor Pursuits, a non-profit organization, for the benefit of bicycle-related projects in Ohio.  In 2014, 2,000 people from 38 states; the District of Columbia; Japan; Taiwan; and Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, Canada, took part in the tour.  Included in this number were many families: Nearly 20% of the participants are children traveling with their parents, making GOBA the largest family-oriented bicycle tour in the world.

Over the past twenty-six years GOBA has been instrumental in generating nearly $10 million in tourism revenues in the towns along the route, as well as in providing access to Ohio’s rural treasures to people from all over the country. “The people of the host towns of GOBA 2015 are eagerly awaiting the riders’ arrival.  Many of them have had the GOBA experience in previous years and have enjoyed showing the best their towns had to offer.  And the terrain in northwest Ohio is equally hospitable, making this event a real draw for families wanting a memorable vacation together.

Those interested in receiving registration information and tour details can request a brochure by calling 614-273-0811, or by visiting the website at www.goba.com.  Brochures will also be available by February in many Ohio bicycle shops.  Advance registration is required with a deadline of May 20, 2015.