A Trailblazing Lebanon Educator
by John J. Zimkus, WCHS Historian and Education Director
Louisa Jurey Wright is known by many as the first and, as of this writing, the only female superintendent in the history of the Lebanon public schools. She is also known for having an elementary school in town named after her in 1960. (It has since been demolished.) For over 140 years, her name has appeared on the list of superintendents who have guided the tax supported schools of Lebanon, Ohio since the early 1850s.
During her lifetime Louisa Wright has been called "a woman of strong intellectual ability,” “a most excellent and highly educated lady,” and “a lady of superior culture and refinement and excellent Christian worth.” During the 1867-68 school year, however, when she was fulfilling the duties of the superintendent of schools in Lebanon, one thing she was never called was “superintendent.”
Louisa Jurey was born on July 18, 1842, in sparsely populated Tymochtee Township, Wyandot County, Ohio. It was in the same rustic farm house in which her mother, Anna Drake Jurey, was born in 1819, some 23 years earlier. It was also the same house in which her mother married a Virginia-born farmer named John Jurey.
Lou, as she was called by her family and friends, received her earliest education in a local country school. Like many successful students in the mid-1800s, once she reached the equivalent of an eighth grade education, she was hired to teach the younger children at her community school.
The young and attractive Lou Jurey was always said to be optimistic. “She could see the bright side in the development of the human race,” it was observed years later. This was, and still is, a desirable attribute for someone who aspires to be an educator. With that goal in mind, in 1861, she went off to receive a formal education in Lebanon, Ohio. The village was located about 130 miles southwest of her home.
The school she attended was the South-Western Normal School. It was founded only six years earlier in 1855 by Alfred Holbrook. In 1881, the school adopted the name by which it was best known, the National Normal University. By then it was the largest normal school, or teachers college, in Ohio.
Louisa graduated in 1863. The Eighth Annual Closing Exercises of the South-Western Normal School took place on Thursday, August 3, 1863. Although there were 304 pupils enrolled in the school that year, many of them in the preparatory department, only seven graduated — two men and five women. As part of that day’s program, each of the seven graduates delivered an oration before Alfred Holbrook conferred upon them their diplomas. Louisa’s topic was “The Utility of Mathematics.”
After graduation, she went off to teach in Paris, Illinois where her family had relocated. Paris is near the Indiana border, about 210 miles west of Lebanon, and about 12 miles north of the National Road, today’s US 40.
After one year of teaching in Illinois she returned to Ohio. Once here, she taught for two years at the one room school house in Genntown, about 2 1/2 miles northeast of the center of Lebanon on the Lebanon & Waynesville Pike.
In 1865, Louisa Jurey was hired to teach in the public schools of Lebanon Ohio. Besides her classroom duties, she was chosen to be the assistant to Lebanon School Superintendent Charles W. Kimball. She was paid $500 a year, which, adjusted for inflation, would be around $10,000 today.
It was at this time the Lebanon school board became concerned that the district had no “regular course” of study for the “advanced department,” those students in the higher grades, and the primary department. As The Western Star, Lebanon’s weekly newspaper, reported years later, “Miss Jurey was chosen by the board to prepare a course of study for every department. The system prepared by her was afterwards adopted, with some modifications.”
In the first decade of the 20th century, several letters from T. V. Blackman, from Pittsburg, Kansas, were published in The Western Star. He had worked at the newspaper almost 40 years earlier and was now a newspaperman in Kansas.
Blackman wrote about his fond recollections of growing up in Lebanon. In one he explained, "My parents named me Theodore and this they corrupted to the name of Thode. When my playmates and school fellows in the old days wanted to ‘start something,’ they called me ‘Toad.’”
In a letter published on May 7, 1908, he confessed that, while he was a student during the 1866-67 school year, he was one of a half dozen or so “young scoundrels [who] used to harass this good lady . . . Miss Lou Jurey.” In another letter published later that year, he exclaimed a “more mischievous gang never lived. I wonder if she has ever forgiven us for the many sorrows we caused her.”
As a student, T. V. Blackman may well have had a crush on his young Lebanon Union School teacher, Miss Lou Jurey. She was only eight years older than her admiring pupil. His fond feelings for her may have lingered for several decades after leaving her classroom, for he mentioned her in several of his letters to The Western Star.
Also in a 1908 published letter, Blackman recalled December 31, 1866, the day the county infirmary on S. East Street caught on fire. “I ran away from school to help haul the old side brake fire engine from the Washington Hall building to the scene,” he remembered. “We backed the engine down upon the pond by the ‘mad house’ and pumped water on the flames. The next morning I had to explain my absence to Miss Lou Jurey, my teacher.”
He also told how, at a school “assembling,” late in the school year, it was announced, “Miss Jurey was to marry Captain Lot Wright.” Blackman went on, “After dinner [school lunch] all of us were in our seats demurely studying our lessons. On the blackboard on the east side of the room, was the admonition, ‘Remember Lot’s Wife,’ and when Miss Jurey saw it she was somewhat startled, as might be surmised. An attempt was made to find who had written it, but nothing was ever proven.”
“Lot’s wife” is in reference to a passage in Genesis 19 of the Old Testament in the Bible. In it, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back upon the destruction of the wicked city of Sodom after being warned by two angels not to do so. (The exact words, “Remember Lot’s wife” were spoken by Jesus in Luke 17:32 in the New Testament.)
Louisa Jurey, and her Lot, Captain Wright, were married in her mother’s home in Paris, Illinois on Wednesday evening, July 17, 1867.
Lot Wright was born on February 16, 1839, near the small town of New Garden, in Columbiana County, in eastern Ohio and was of Quaker heritage. He began his formal education in Alliance, Ohio. In 1860, he became a student in the South-Western Normal School. He helped pay his way through school by teaching two winters in neighboring counties, one year in Butler County, and the other in Clinton County. It was while attending school in Lebanon, that Lot Wright first met his future bride, the lovely and intelligent Lou Jurey.
In the summer of 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, 24-year-old Lot Wright enlisted as a private in Company I, 79th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. In December 1863 he was promoted to sergeant. On June 22, 1864, he was severely wounded in the right leg in the Battle of Kolb’s Farm near Atlanta, Georgia.
Six days later, on June 28, while still recovering in an Army hospital, he was promoted to the rank of captain and given the command of newly organized Company D, 100th Regiment, US Colored Troops. Because of his injuries, however, he was not able to join his unit until August.
He commanded his men in the Battle of Nashville, where, on December 16, 1864, he was wounded again. According to an August 20, 1868 newspaper article, “a considerable portion of his right hand was shot off." He was mustered out of the army in August 1865. For the rest of his life, even though he would hold many important positions, he was often referred to as “Captain Wright.”
During the summer of 1867, the public schools of Lebanon were showing some growing pains. A small article in the September 5, 1867 issue of The Western Star stated,
“BABIES TO BE KEPT AT HOME.
The primary department of the union school is so crowded that the board is compelled to refuse admission to all children under six years of age.”
Another problem was that the longest serving Lebanon superintendent of schools up to that point, Charles W. Kimball, was in poor health. He had held that position for nine of the last 13 years, but could no longer continue. The school board turned to his assistant, the newly married Mrs. Louisa Wright, to take up his duties.
She would be paid the identical amount per year that was given to Superintendent Kimball - $800. In today's money that would be about $16,000. She would now be in charge of the recently painted five-year-old Union School, located on what is now Pleasant Square Park; the separate school for Lebanon’s African American students, which was constructed in 1861 where New Street meets North Lane today; and all the students who attended the schools.
The one major issue facing Louisa Wright as the superintendent of the Lebanon Public Schools was that, in the fall of 1867, there was no such position in the district as superintendent!
How this was possible was explained in another brief article in that same September 5, 1867 issue of The Western Star. “Although the office of superintendent has been abolished Mrs. Lou Wright, principal of the high school, has general supervision over all the departments.”
The official reason for not calling her “the superintendent” is not known. It may very well be that the prevailing thought among the men who made up the school board was that a woman, in the mid-19th century, should not hold such a position of authority. It might be seen as unseemly. The solution then, to them, could have been to let her act as the superintendent; pay her as if she was the superintendent; but not actually call her “the superintendent.” That way the fact that she was a “female” superintendent of schools would not draw attention.
Whatever she was called, principal or superintendent, during the 1867-68 school year, Louisa Wright did have an achievement during her tenure in that role that no one had achieved before her. In 1868, under her guidance, Lebanon High School had its first three graduates, all female, - Ida Hardy, Ada Wood, and Minnie Van Harlingen. Lebanon High School would not have another graduate until 1872, four years later.
In a June 24, 1915 article in The Western Star entitled “Lebanon's School Past and Present,” the comment is made, “The fact that [Louisa Wright] was offered a reappointment by the Board for the second year [as principal/“superintendent”] speaks for her success, but ill health required her to decline.” This statement may not be totally accurate.
After going one year without technically having a superintendent, the Lebanon Board of Education decided it was time to have one once again. The Western Star on July 23, 1868 reported,
“SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
The school board last week elected to the position of superintendent of the Lebanon Union School, for the ensuing year, W. H. Pabodie, for seven years Principal of one of these Cincinnati Public schools and more recently superintendent of the public schools of Peru, Ind. Mr. Pabodie is a graduate of Brown University. He was highly recommended to the board as a scholar and teacher and has had much experience in the management of graded schools. We commend the action of the board and securing for this position a classical scholar, as the superintendent will have charge of the High School, and all the branches necessary to fit a pupil for college can be pursued in that department.”
William H. Pabodie was paid almost twice as much as Louisa Wright, $1,500 a year. He served as the Lebanon superintendent of schools until the summer of 1870.
At almost the exact time in 1868 that Lebanon High School had its first graduates under Louisa Wright, Captain Lot Wright finished his education, and received a BA degree from the South-Western Normal School.
Also in 1868, Lot Wright, a Republican, began his long political career when he was elected Warren County treasurer. He was reelected in 1870. In 1876, the voters of Warren County selected him to be their county clerk of courts, and then reelected him twice. In 1883, he was appointed United States Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio and served over two years in that capacity. Finally, in 1894, and in 1896, he was elected probate judge of Warren County.
In the meantime in 1868, Louisa Jurey Wright, who left teaching after only five years in the classroom, turned her attentions to raising a family and supporting her husband. In a brief biography of “Judge Lot Wright” in the book History of the Republican Party in Ohio, published in 1898, it was said of Louisa Wright, “She has been to her husband a most able companion and helpmeet [a helpful partner] on life's journey, both in times of prosperity and adversity.”
Lot and Lou had two sons, Willard Jurey Wright, born in 1875; and Raymond Garfield Wright, born in 1880. Raymond was named after Lot’s friend, and soon to be US President, James A. Garfield. Both boys attended Princeton University and became lawyers. Willard eventually was elected a Warren County common pleas court judge.
Willard’s son, Louisa's grandson, was the famed mid-20th century industrial designer Russel Wright. His American Modern dinnerware was in production for two decades in the mid-20th century and grossed over $200 million in sales, earning it the title of the best-selling mass-produced dinnerware ever manufactured.
For most of her adult life Louisa Wright was a devout and active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Lebanon. Beginning in the late 1880s, she was also was a member of the W. C. T. U., the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.
In 1882, after living on the east side of Cherry Street between Main and Mulberry in Lebanon for years, Lot and Louisa Wright bought a newly constructed house on the northwest corner of Orchard and East Street – 214 E. Orchard Ave. It was in this house, in the Floraville neighborhood on a hill south of downtown Lebanon, that Lot and Louisa raised their two boys.
It was also here where Lot Wright died a 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 22,1900.
The cause of his death was peritonitis brought on by a ruptured appendix. He had been confined to his home for only a few days. Judge Wright had retired from the probate court bench only two weeks prior to his death.
The Western Star reported, “The funeral services were held on Sunday afternoon [February 25] in the Presbyterian Church with which the deceased had been so prominently identified.” Captain Lot Wright died six days after his 61st birthday.
That was not the only tragedy to take place at the Wright home at 214 E. Orchard Avenue.
On Wednesday, February 2, 1902, Louisa Wright and her son Willard where enjoying their noonday meal, when neighbors came rushing into their house. Unbeknownst to the Wrights, “fierce flames” were breaking through the roof of their home.
The Western Star called it "the most disastrous fire which is visiting Lebanon for several years.” The origin of the blaze was in the attic and thought to be from the flue or pipes from the heater. It took over an hour to finally extinguish the blaze.
According to the newspaper, controlling the fire was hampered by the fact "The fire companies [had] been allowed to disband during the past year and were not in good shape to fight an ugly fire, although the volunteers worked heroically.” The "richly furnished” Wright home was gutted and practically a total loss. The estimated damage amounted to $2336, approximately $79,000 in today’s money.
Although the house at 214 E. Orchard Ave. was rebuilt, Louisa Wright is not believed to have lived there again. She instead made her home in a small house at 114 S. Cherry St. about two blocks away, near the Lebanon train station. She sold her Orchard Avenue house later in 1902.
On March 14, 1903, Louisa Wright’s oldest son, Willard, married Harryet Crigler of Springfield, Ohio. In April 1904 their son Russel was born, followed two years later, in 1906, by their daughter Lizabeth Louisa, who was called “Libby Lou.” Willard built a large beautiful three-story Colonial Revival house at 238 Broadway in 1905. It was about two blocks west of the old Wright family home on Orchard Avenue on the Floraville Hill. There is no evidence to show that Louisa Wright moved into her son’s mansion.
The local paper reported on Thursday, September 26, 1907, "Raymond Wright and mother left Monday for Seattle, Washington, where they will spend the winter in probably take up their future home.” Raymond, now a practicing attorney, would permanently settled in Seattle, over 2,300 miles away, and live there for over 60 years.
About 6 months later, on March 5, 1908, The Western Star stated, "Mrs. Louisa J. Wright writes from Seattle, Washington, and renewing her subscription, ‘We do enjoy the paper, it is improving all the time.’” Louisa was ever the optimist.
On February 11, 1909, the paper published one of the last letters sent from T. V. Blackman. He tells how he recently received a letter from Burwell Fox, one of the other “young scoundrels” who used to harass their teacher - Miss Jurey.
Blackman states that Fox sent him current “Kodak” (photograph) of Mrs Lot Wright. The former “Toad” Blackman observed, "Like the rest, Mrs. Wright has had time whiten her hair, and add age to the once vigorous body; but the same sweet face is there, which we all loved, although we rascals who attended her school often caused it to wear a worried look.”
On March 25, 1909, after spending a year and a half in Seattle, it was reported, “Mrs. Louisa J. Wright is expected home from Seattle, Washington next week.”
The 1910 US Census records 67-year-old Louisa Wright living alone, and being the owner of one half of a duplex at 114 S. Cherry Street.
A special gathering took place on Saturday, February 15, 1913, in Lebanon, Ohio. The group met in the “auditorium" of the five-year-old Lebanon National Bank building at 2 North Broadway. The occasion was the celebration of what would have been the 97th birthday of Alfred Holbrook, the beloved educator and founder of the National Normal University, the former South-Western Normal School.
One of the speakers after the celebratory dinner was Mrs. Louisa Jurey Wright. Not only was 1913 the 97th anniversary of Professor Holbrook's birth (he had died in 1909), it was also the 50th anniversary of Louisa Jurey Wright graduating from the South-Western Normal School.
The Western Star, in recording the event, said, “Mrs. Wright is a favorite with Normalites [students and graduates of the National Normal University], old and young, and can refer to the days gone by in a way that always adds merriment to the occasion.”
Later than year, on October 5, 1913, at the first reunion of pupils and teachers of the Genntown School, Louisa Wright was one of several teachers who gave short speeches.
Louisa Jurey Wright died on Monday, February 23, 1920, at the age of 77. She was living as a boarder at 217 W. Silver Street, between Water and Corwin streets. She died exactly 20 years and one day after the death of her beloved husband, Captain Lot Wright.
Her funeral was held at the residence of her son, Judge Willard Wright, at 238 S. Broadway, at 2 o'clock on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 25, 1920.
In the March 4, 1920 issue of The Western Star, the editor-in-chief, John Marshall Mulford, wrote an editorial entitled “Mrs. Louisa Wright.” It said in part:
“Mrs. Wright and her husband were friends of the writer since his early boyhood, and many kind acts and helpful suggestions come to mind as we think of them. In their passing, two sincere friends are lost - rather, their familiar forms have passed from view, for friendship never dies, is never lost. . . .”
Being a “Normalite" and a teacher, our earliest recollections, of Mrs. Wright is as an educator, and an ardent supporter of Dr. Holbrook's school of which she and her husband were graduates. . .
As a teacher, and later as a patron of education, her voice always favored thoroughness in those branches of study she considered the formation of education, . . .
“ . . . with her passing comes a recollection of her optimism, her faith, . . . and we but mourn her absence, realizing another good woman has entered Heaven.”
Excerpt taken from:
The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter VIII. The Distinguished Dead
This distinguished member of the bar was born at Lebanon December 17, 1807. His father, Enos Williams, was an early teacher of Warren County, and held several important civil offices, and among others, that of County Recorder for a period of fourteen years. John Milton received a good English education. In his boyhood, he assisted his father in the Recorder's office, and also wrote in the office of the Clerk of Court. His handwriting was legible, bold and rapid, and the training he received as a copyist at the court house was of benefit to him in his future profession. He studied law with Judge George J. Smith, and, before he had reached the age of twenty-four years, on the 7th of June, 1831, was admitted to the bar at a term of the Supreme Court held at Lebanon, with Judges Peter Hitchcock and Charles R. Sherman on the bench. Gen. Robert C. Schenck, who had completed his legal studies under Thomas Corwin, was admitted at the same time and place.
Young Williams was poor, and was compelled to rely wholly on his own exertions. In after years, he wrote: "When I went out into the wide, wide world in business, on my own hook, I had two dilapidated shirts and a poor suit of clothes to match them. I opened my office in a cellar, with three musty old Ohio statutes, given me by my old father, which he had held as a public officer. This was my entire stock in trade." He soon acquired distinction at the bar. Not long after he began practice, he became Prosecuting Attorney —a position he held for twelve consecutive years. He was candid with his clients, and never misrepresented a case in consultation to encourage litigation. He charged lower fees for his services than other lawyers of the same rank. His popularity and personal influence with the masses were very great. For several years, he had a larger number of cases on the dockets of the courts than any other lawyer of the county, and was the attorney on one side of almost every important case. He could readily sway the minds of jurymen, and in the examination of witnesses he exhibited consummate skill. In 1850, he was elected a member of the convention which framed the second constitution of Ohio, and in 1857 he was elected Representative in the General Assembly of Ohio as an independent candidate over the regular Republican nominee. He was Major of the militia, and was uniformly known as Maj. Williams. In politics, he was a Whig, and afterward a Republican.
The last years of the life of Maj. Williams are a sad history, over the details of which it is best that the mantle of oblivion should be drawn. Habits of intemperance separated him from his wife and family, and brought him to misery and want before he was yet old. He saw the extremes of life. He rose from poverty and obscurity to wealth and distinction; he sank again to obscurity and poverty. When possessed of considerable means, accumulated by his own energy and ability, he erected for his residence one of the finest mansions which had, up to that time, been constructed in the county; he died without a home. When the legal proceedings were commenced which took from him the ownership and control of his property, he wrote and read in the court in which he had practiced with eminent success: "God help me! I am a miserable and ruined man! Let the curtains of oblivion rest over the whole affair until that great day when all things shall be brought into judgment." He died July 21, 1871, aged sixty-four years, and was buried in the Lebanon Cemetery.
Through her enterprise Historical Connections she shares her passion for history with audiences who may not have known how intriguing it is. She presents the programs in period style clothing to match each subject, including programs that are not in first person. In addition to her program about Martha Washington, she has presented programs about different patterns in the life of George Washington. She has also presented several programs about gripping stories from the Civil War, including ones about divided families, unsung women, couples of the War, and daring escapes from slavery.
She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a Master’s Degree from Kent State University. She was a professional librarian for 25 years and is an avid lifelong student of history, spending months researching each presentation.
She has presented at historical societies, Civil War Round Tables, historical reenactments, an adult education organization, historical sites, libraries, and special events, including U.S. Grant Days in Georgetown, OH and Heritage Village Civil War Days in Cincinnati, OH. She has also presented at many retirement communities In her enterprise Historical Connections presentations about the 18th and 19th Centuries she tries to humanize events and allow the audience to feel connected with people who came before. Millie agrees with Ken Burns when he says that the most engaging way to learn history is through stories. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a Master’s Degree from Kent State University. She was a professional librarian for 25 years and is an avid lifelong student of history, spending months researching each presentation. Millie has presented several programs about gripping stories from the Civil War, including ones about divided families, unsung women, couples of the War, and daring escapes from slavery. She has also presented programs about different patterns in the life of George Washington. She has presented at historical societies, Civil War Round Tables, historical reenactments, an adult education organization, historical sites, libraries, and special events, including U.S. Grant Days in Georgetown, OH and Heritage Village Civil War Days in Cincinnati, OH. She has also presented at many retirement communities. (bio curtsey of Historical Connections)
Millie Henley will portray Martha Washington at the Frontier Fair!
Chip carved from walnut cigar boxes, with two drawers and lid. The pedestal box form was primarily found in upstate New York and created in the 1930s. Our example still has the New York cigar makers imprint on the inside of the boxes. Tramp Art wasn't produced only by itinerants but by the working man and is considered Folk Art. These pieces can be simple such as picture frames and small items, or complicated such as boxes with secret compartments and furniture. A generous donation by K. Richard B. Niehoff.
Born in England in 1822 he came to Cincinnati in the mid 1850's. He was a teacher at the Cincinnati Art Academy teaching decorative art and wood carving. One. of the premier Cincinnati Carvers, his work can be seen on furniture, woodwork, staircases, and small decorative items. His second wife was Adelaide Nourse, twin sister of painter Elizabeth Nourse. He was the founder of phonetic shorthand in America and one of the first shorthand reporters employed by the US Government. His most famous recorded case was the trial of the Lincoln conspirators.
- Sylvia Outland, Art Curator
Plaster maquette (model for a larger sculpture) of elegant standing female by Wayne Green. Carlysle Wayne Green lived in the old schoolhouse on Utica Road just north of Old St. Rt. 122. (This is why we named her Utica as she didn't come to us with a name.) Green was an accomplished sculptor, and artist-in-residence and instructor of sculpture at Wilmington College. Educated at the Dayton Art Institute, his works can be found in public private collections including Wilmington College.
- Sylvia Outland, Art Curator
"The paintings and drawings I create are intended to build bridges between the past, present, and future for both individuals and ALL groups of people, through stylistic ideas and expressions that crossover into many genres. Historically, my interest in art draws from cubism at the beginning of the 20th century. In contemporary terms, I have been noted to create images that relate to elements of urban architecture, highlighting areas of the city in which I lived and worked.
My intention was to create a kind of architectonic lyricism. Much of my work still combines elements of cubism and deconstructionism, thus combining my interests in the musical composition and its relationship to my visual world. A change in rhythm can be compared to a change in line, weight, brushstroke, value, and pitch. Though my work has characteristics of abstract art, I encourage my viewers to reexamine material culture through my art; therefore, my abstraction is not totally non-objective. It is semi-abstraction. In recent years my work has increasingly transitioned into bolder, brighter color, as a shift in mood and tempo create drawings that originate as studies and become important to my process. The forms seem to grow like plants and flowers interweaving together in my vivid pictorial arena. While incorporating shapes that reference biomorphic forms in nature and internal human anatomy, I combine recognizable imagery placed in natural and man-made environments to create paintings that celebrate the enduring positive spirit of humanity through passionate color.
This use of vibrant color adds a dreamy and playful quality to my work. As a child, I possessed the passion to put my interpretation of the world around me on paper, later forging those images into paintings. I want the child I once was to be represented in my paintings on a visceral level, and at the same time express the refinement of a maturing culmination. The personal becomes the universal. Art is an important way for me to communicate and subsequently build relationships with others. My work is a spiritual testimony to the visual experiences that arouse my senses. As I examine and interpret the world around me, I seek to share an exquisite interplay of subtle and bold."
Cedric Michael Cox is best known for his paintings and drawings that merge surrealism and representational abstraction. As a student at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), Cox was awarded a fellowship to study at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. After receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting in 1999, he began to exhibit regionally and nationally.
Cox’s paintings catapult color into rhythmic action with abstract and recognizable images that create compositions inspired by themes in music and the natural world. His work remains true to sharing Cox’s innermost self as his passion radiates from the canvas. Working under several influences which include architecture and art history, Cox’s work ranges from the geometric, to the curvilinear, to floral-like forms, all dancing within surrealistic shapes. In addition to his work being in corporate collections, Cox has executed several large-scale public murals, as well as murals in various public and private schools in The Cincinnati Region.
Cox’s past exhibitions include: The Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati, The Weston Art Gallery, The Columbus Art Museum, Dayton Art Institute, Five Myles Gallery in Brooklyn, Museum of Science and Industry and Gallery Guichard in Chicago, and The Taft Museum of Art. In 2019, Cox’s work was on exhibit at 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati, and in 2020, he had a solo exhibition at James Ratliff Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. A 20-year retrospective exhibition at Caza Sikes Gallery and a commissioned body of work was created for the New Kinley Hotel Cincinnati in 2020 and in 2021, a series of 64 paintings for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital was installed.
Throughout his career, Cox’s work has been featured in books, magazines, and in the media.
Be sure to visit Cox's Art Exhibition, opening May 13th. with a free reception at 6:30p.
Rodney Veil's Artist Statement for Beautiful Remains
What is a magazine? The process of making a magazine is art. Magazines are carefully choreographed and crafted windows onto a world of ideas, images, and flights of fantasy that act as guides to worlds beyond our imaginations.
What if I took pieces of magazine paper and wove them into shapes and forms? I began this process of weaving paper over two years ago, rooted in childhood memories of weaving sweetgrass with family and caretakers. Gentle reminders of southern traditions handed down for generations, of the common practice of people of color in “making do” and employing the alchemist feat of turning something so easily disposable into works of art.
This particular exhibition is all about slowing down and seeing the familiar in the abstract. Taking common everyday materials that I have rearranged to speak in new ways, a language of desire, a swirl of color, and patterns redefined.
Taking the used, and discarded and crafting something that can remain beautiful inherently, is my way of challenging us all to see the beauty surrounding us.
Rodney Veal is an independent choreographer and multi-disciplinary artist. He is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a B.S in Political Science and Visual Arts. In 2010, he received an M.F.A in Choreography from The Ohio State University. Rodney is an adjunct faculty in dance at Sinclair College in addition to serving as a Completion Coordinator for the Creative Arts Career Community. Rodney currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Ohio Dance, as President, and on the boards of Levitt Pavilion Dayton, HomeFull, Dayton Live!, as well as the Community Advisory board of WYSO.
Mr. Veal is the recipient of several Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District grants and fellowships, including a MCACD Individual Artist Fellowship in 2010-2011. He was one of five artists chosen nationwide to participate in the Blue Sky Dayton Project Artist in Residency Program held in collaboration with the University of Dayton in the summer of 2009. Mr. Veal has choreographed and presented performance installations all over the Miami Valley; recent notable projects are: Reveal: Five Zones of Beauty presented at the Springfield Museum of Art in 2011 and the GHETTO installation at the University of Dayton’s ArtStreet in 2015. Rodney can currently be seen as the Host of the Emmy© Award winning Television series THE ART SHOW on Think TV Channel 16, which is currently in production for its 12th season.
Beautiful Remains: the work of Rodney Veal opens March 18 with a free opening reception at Harmon Museum. The exhibition closes May 7.
Samuel Robert Bailey (1847-1906) Around 145 years ago, Bailey was the first African-American teacher and principal in the public schools of Lebanon, Ohio. Born a slave in northern Alabama, in 1863 during of the Civil War, he left the war torn South as a teenager and went to Sandusky, Ohio. Although illiterate, he saved enough money working to enter Wilberforce University. Seven years later he graduated. In 1876, He was hired to teach in the “colored” school, or African Union School, as it was sometimes called, in Lebanon. Paid as much or more than most of the district’s 9 teachers, around 1879, he was designated “principal of the colored school” and overlooked a staff of one other Black teacher. In 1883, he became the principal of the Lincoln “colored” School in Kansas City, Missouri. When he left Lebanon, The Western Star newspaper proclaimed, “Mr. Bailey is an intelligent colored gentleman, fully competent, to discharge the duties to the high position to which he has ascended. He was a good citizen and we wish him success in his home in the West.”
Written by John Zimkus
1800 Palampore, highlight of Genius of the Needle, Women's Creations in the Victorian Era (1830-1900)
Our extensive textile collection is normally packed away, in many hiding places, and only seen by its curators. However, the group decided the collection should have an art exhibition all its own, Genius of the Needle. The Palampore was voted unanimously as the star of the show!
From around 1800, this exquisite cloth was made in India, for the European Market, in the bed sizes of Europe. Woven from expensive India Cotton, these large and light bed clothes or wall hangings were decorated with exotic trees, curious flora and strange fauna, with elements of the orient in bright, vibrant colors. These cloths were dyed with a Mordant or dye fixative. Usually made from an acid or an alkaline chemical, the mordant helps the dye bite or fix to the fiber being used. This is why the colors are still so beautiful.
This particular cloth comes to us from a Ship’s captain, Captain Starbuck, in 1805. He more than likely brought it back to the United States as a present and it made its way to Ohio. It found its way to us when WCHS member, May Heary, picked it out of her mother’s trash! In 2009, an expert at the Dayton Art Institute verified its authenticity.
We hope you'll get a chance to view this amazing work of fabric art, as well as the rest of the amazing textile works currently on display in Harmon Museum. Genius of the Needle opens January 28 with a free Opening Reception and runs until March 12.
- Jeanne Doan, Assistant Director
Today marks the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter and the day of the year with the shortest amount daylight. This is due to the Earth's axis and the Northern Hemisphere being the furthest from the sun it will be all year.
Since pre-historic times, the Winter Solstice has been celebrated by cultures across the world. It's even speculated the day was important to the Fort Ancient people due to the fact that the Serpent Mound's tail perfectly aligns with the sunrise. (The head aligns with the sunset of the Summer Solstice.)
Timothy Ryan grew up in Warren County exploring the streams, fields, and woods of the area. At the time of his youth, his home town of Springboro was a quaint one stoplight village nestled in the countryside surrounded by many opportunities for the curious to get outdoors and explore nature. The beauty of the area continues to entice Tim and has greatly influenced his art.
Tim has exhibited art work throughout the states of Ohio and Kentucky including shows in Yellow Springs, Dayton, Loveland, Lancaster, Springfield, and Berea. In his studio, Tim explores the interaction of color and rhythm that he sees in nature. The exploration manifests itself in representational and abstract imagery. Through his work, he hopes to share remote places of the Ohio Valley with the viewer.
Tim received his BFA from Berea College in Kentucky, working extensively in painting, sculpture, and printmaking and his M.A. from Marygrove College. He returned to the Miami Valley to teach fine art in the area public schools for 30 years. During those years he was always proud of the students’ accomplishments and enjoyed watching them grow into successful adults. Due to considerable hearing loss, Tim retired from public education in 2015. Tim continues to enjoy spending time hiking, biking, and kayaking as well as learning about the past of this great area.
To learn more, visit SouthRiverStudio.fineart on Facebook and don't miss Ryan's show, Colors and Rhythms in Nature: Landscapes and Abstracts on display from December 10, 2021 to January 21, 2021, at Harmon Museum.
- bio supplied by the artist
Nathaniel Grauwelman as well as various staff and volunteer writers.