Flocking to the Library
August 2013 Issue
August 2013 Digest
A nest for readers, cookies for social good, livestock portrayals and knitted presidents.
Two small wrens perch on a tree branch that partially hangs over the “Reading Nest,” an outdoor art installation in the Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Reading Garden. The birds peer curiously down into the 30-foot-wide, 12-foot-high wooden nest. If you could understand their lingo, you’d probably hear something like, “I’d like to meet the bird who made this!”
The creator isn’t an avian member, of course, but New York artist Mark Reigelman. At 29 years of age, he has already earned a national reputation for public art that is thought-provoking, yet humorous. Reigelman is a graduate of Brookside High School in Sheffield Village and the Cleveland Institute of Art.
The nest is part of the library’s and LAND Studio’s “See Also” Series that focuses on “big ideas in small spaces.”
Reigelman designed his nest to show a sense of community and to reflect the fact that the library is for everyone. The 10,000 wooden boards strategically nailed together come from a local recycling company that collects discarded and reclaimed planks from around Ohio. They were commercially used multiple times, a fact that fascinated Reigelman.
The subdued gold paint the artist used on some of the boards is a nod to the mythical winged griffin, “the king of beasts,” who is depicted as being part lion and part eagle. The beast’s nest was said to be made of pure gold and guarded ferociously. Legend calls the griffin the protector of priceless objects.
“The library has four architectural griffins on its exterior. It was common to include griffins on some civic buildings,” says Reigelman. “They served as protectors.”
It took about nine days and five workers (including the artist) to create the nest. Library patrons watched the nest being constructed one board at a time. Reigelman is hoping they don’t have to watch it be deconstructed.
“It is possible to move the nest in one piece,” says Reigelman. “It would be wonderful to have someone who really loves it get the piece. I’m not interested in selling, but I would hate to chop it all up. The goal is to find a local park or organization that would just pay for the move.”
In the meantime, patrons can sit on black metal garden chairs inside the nest and read. Children can wander in and out and imagine that the nest belongs to Big Bird. The artwork will be on display until October, or whenever the snow flies in Cleveland. In this case, it’s not only the birds that will leave for a warmer climate, but a huge nest as well. —
For more information, call 216/623-2800 or visit cpl.org.
Sweet and Savory
Peggy Shannon, founder and owner of Queen City Cookies, never expected that a trip to the mailbox would change her life.
“On the top of the stack [of mail] was the Christmas issue of Martha Stewart Living,” she says. “It had the most amazing cookies I’d ever seen in my entire life.”
Shannon spotted an intricately designed cookie mold that matched the ones in the magazine at a grocery store and scooped it up. Although the mold was pricey, she was inspired to continue building her collection, and now owns more than 500.
“I was really intrigued by these cookies. I started baking all the time, and giving them away,” she says.
Family and friends urged her to open a bakery and in 2010, Shannon, formerly the marketing director of Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center, founded Queen City Cookies. She dedicated her work to animal rights by providing funding to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which fosters baby elephants left orphaned by poachers, and donating 100 percent of profits from sales of dog- and cat-themed cookies to the Animal Adoption Foundation, a no-kill animal shelter in Hamilton.
Besides its mission to give back, what sets Queen City Cookies apart is its unique flavors. The company’s Pachyderm Packs, for example, come in Chocolate Chipotle, Blueberry Maple, Rosemary Sesame and Pure Shortbread.
“Most of the flavors are a combination of my entire life experiences, married with what’s happening in the specialty food world,” says Shannon, who spent time in New Mexico and learned to love chipotle, a smoky jalapeno pepper.
“We did the blueberry maple because I just love blueberry pancakes,” she adds.
Queen City Cookies’ Rosemary Sesame was a Specialty Food Association 2012 Silver sofi award finalist for Outstanding Cookie, and the company’s Bacon Schnecken was a 2012 Silver sofi award finalist for Outstanding New Product.
Shannon’s commitment to making a difference continues as the company expands into new markets. “The world does not need another bakery, but the world does need businesses dedicated to social good,” she says.
“That to me is the reason [for] being in business — to give back. I’m hoping we can inspire other people to create opportunities for giving within their organizations.” —
For more information, visit
It’s summer in Ohio and many of us have one thing on our mind: the Ohio State Fair. The two-week celebration is one of the largest in the country, and, with thousands of dollars in prize money up for grabs, the livestock exhibits are among the most popular. Discriminating farmers have always taken pride in raising animals with impressive physicality, but in the 19th century one notable itinerant artist took his animal admiration to a new level.
While other artists traveled the countryside, offering to paint portraits of heads of household and their beloved wives and children, Henry Dousa preferred to paint prize steers, horses and homesteads. French-born, Dousa settled in Indiana, but roamed throughout Ohio (particularly central Ohio) and memorialized some of the most impressive livestock our state had to offer. His peculiarly stiff style does
incorporate a naiveté that appeals to collectors of early American folk art, and his attention to detail has secured his significance across many generations.
Many of the works by Dousa that have been offered for sale have come directly from the families whose ancestors hired him more than 100 years ago. Dousa’s paintings command prices ranging from a few thousand to nearly $100,000.
“Ohio Finds” features fascinating objects brought to the attention of Amelia and Jeff Jeffers, co-owners of Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers, an international firm outside Columbus.
All the U.S. presidents have gathered at Sauder Village in Archbold in a unique way. “Knitted Presidents,” an exhibit of three-dimensional representations of the chief executives wearing period clothing, is being shown through Oct. 27.
Created by the Knotty Knitters Club of Auburn, California, the figures, which won a first prize at the California State Fair, are the brainchild of Linda Pietz, who teaches knitting to the club’s members. The idea came to her as she searched for a project for intermediate and advanced students.
Each pupil selected a president or two and conducted research about his work, hobbies and social life to bring creative and individual elements to the figures, which stand about 12 inches tall.
“The knitters incorporated quirky, unique facts into their designs,” says Kim Krieger, Sauder Village public relations and media specialist. “[Things] you might not learn [about] in the history books.”
For example, Teddy Roosevelt has a snake at his feet because he owned so many pets, most of which could be found at his summer home in New York, Krieger explains. President Lyndon B. Johnson had gall bladder surgery in 1965 and is depicted as “holding up his shirt, because he was always showing off his scar,” she adds.
It took nine months for the knitters to create all the men. The display was completed in May 2012. Following the presidential project, Pietz and her sister Nola Heidbreder turned to rug hooking that incorporates images of the presidents. A display of their work can be seen Aug. 14–17 during Sauder Village’s 17th Annual Rug Hooking Week exhibition. — Michelle DiFrangia
For more information, visit saudervillage.org.