Dr. Robert Kroeger, Cincinnati artist and author who visited and painted several Highland County Barns from 2015-17, will exhibit 36 paintings of historic barns from Ohio, Idaho and other states as part of a one-man show from Aug. 5-29 at the historic Pump House Art Center in Chillicothe.
He will also do book signings of “Historic Barns of Ohio,” recently published by The History Press/Arcadia. The 206-page volume features old barns in paintings and essays in each of Ohio’s 88 counties, including Highland County.
The artist’s reception and book signing will take place at the Pump House, 1 Enderlin Circle, Chillicothe from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5.
Kroeger met his Highland County “barn scout,” Hillsboro’s Sandy Shoemaker, in 2015. Over the next several months Kroeger and Shoemaker traveled all over Highland County visiting old barns, many of them past the point of repair. Kroeger dug into the history of the barns, painted them, and sometimes framed the pictures with wood from the barn that was depicted. He also wrote stories about the barns’ history to be preserved with the pictures.
The Times-Gazette printed Kroeger’s Highland County barn stories from 2016 to 2017.
Kroeger also auctioned off several of his paintings to raise money for the Highland County Historical Society and the local 4-H program.
Kroeger paints in oil with palette knives, producing a thick texture, called impasto. The paintings are framed in old barn siding, sometimes from the barn painted, which adds a touch of nostalgia. The rustic frames, often oak, yellow poplar, beech, or walnut, are made by the artist.
On Aug. 29, Kroeger will return for a free painting demonstration, followed by him telling stories behind these old barns and a book signing. That will take place at the Pump House from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the art center, located in a charming Victorian historical building. The Pump House Center for the Arts, housed in the former pumping station of the Chillicothe Water and Sewer Company, was constructed in 1883 for the distribution of water from deep wells to a reservoir situated on Carlisle Hill. In 1977, the Pump House was placed on the Ohio History Inventory and on Nov. 15, 1979, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Slated for demolition, it was rescued by a group of artists, preservationists and an attorney, who formed a coalition to restore and preserve the building, one of the most impressive restorations in the state.