Sanctuary hosting weekend event series

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Five nationally-known Ohio open-air (“plein air”) artists will enjoy a pristine setting in the Appalachian foothills and offer the public a glimpse of their work processes during the second annual Artist-in-Residence program, June 6-26, at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, 7660 Cave Road, Bainbridge.

The five will live in a lodge within the sanctuary and paint nearly every day at the sanctuary or at nearby Fort Hill or Serpent Mound — all sites owned or operated by non-profit Arc of Appalachia. In addition to lodging, artists receive small stipends, and paintings produced during the residency will be on sale at a closing show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 26, at the Nature Sanctuary’s Appalachian Forest Museum.

Artists chosen for this year’s program are Fred Fochtman of Columbus, Jason Clary of Cincinnati, Jim Glover of Worthington, Cory Heichel of Columbus, and Karen LaValley of Springfield. This year’s group was recommended by last year’s participants, who were nominated by the Ohio Arts Council.

Charlotte Stiverson, an Arc of Appalachia land steward and an organizer of the artists’ residency, said the program reflects the organization’s mission of connecting people with the natural world. She said the idea of a focus on art at the sanctuary has been developing since Arc of Appalachia purchased the former Seven Caves tourist attraction in 2004 and began converting the Seven Caves’ former gift shop into the Appalachian Forest Museum, anchored by a series of hand-painted murals depicting the Great Eastern Forest.

Stiverson said the sanctuary’s quaint buildings and landscaping — especially the stone steps and bridges along trails leading into the Rocky Fork Gorge — make the setting itself a work of art.

A series of events during the residency will give visitors a chance to interact with the artists and to create their own artworks.

Thursday, June 9, 7 p.m.: An Evening with Plein Air Painters – Fochtman, an oil painter and art restorer, and Clary, an artist working in oils and pastels, will speak with visitors, answer questions, and demonstrate painting techniques at the Appalachian Forest Museum. If weather permits, the event will take place on the museum’s deck overlooking Rocky Fork Gorge. Light refreshments will be served. No reservation is needed.

Saturday, June 11, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Ohio Plein Air Society Paint-Out – Members of the Columbus-based Ohio Plein Air Society will paint all day along the trails of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. Other interested artists are welcome to join the paint-out. No reservation is needed.

Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. – Noon: Family Art Workshop – Watercolorist Heichel will lead a nature and art project for participants of all ages. Heichel will demonstrate and explain wax-resist techniques; participants will be invited to an inspirational nature hike; and all will return to the Appalachian Forest Museum to create their own watercolors to take home. A $10 donation for supplies is requested. Participants are asked to register in advance by sending names, childrens’ ages, and a phone number to [email protected]

Sunday, June 19, 1-3 p.m. ; An Artist at Work – Oil painter Glover will work on a canvas and talk with visitors at the Appalachian Forest Museum. Before entering a second career as an award-winning outdoor painter, Glover worked for 30 years as a wildlife illustrator and graphic designer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. No reservation is needed for the event.

Sunday, June 26, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Artist in Residence Show and Sale – Artists will be present and their work will be on sale at the Appalachian Forest Museum, in the culmination of their three-week residency at the Highland’s Nature Sanctuary. Light refreshments will be served. No reservation is needed.

The Highlands Nature Sanctuary, site of the Appalachian Forest Museum and three developed hiking trails, encompasses the former Seven Caves nature theme park and 2,140 additional wooded acres above the Rocky Fork Gorge near Bainbridge. The sanctuary is one of 15 preserves owned or operated by non-profit Arc of Appalachia. Arc of Appalachia aims to protect a chain of ecologically and archeologically important forested sites in the Appalachian foothills, including several significant Native American earthworks. Currently stewarding 5,134 acres, Arc of Appalachia now hopes to expand its preserves in 2016 by purchasing an additional 861 acres at six separate sites.

Submitted by Betty Rogers, Highlands Nature Sanctuary.

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