"Turkey Vulture" by Amy Casey (left) and "Troops" by Leslie Sims (right) (photo courtesy of the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio)

‘It’s an Honor to Be Here’ at Decorative Arts Center of Ohio

This exhibition in Lancaster features work by more than 40 artists and features pieces that reflect the biodiversity and beauty of our state.

You’ve probably never seen the art of Leslie Sims. After all, the retired Columbus science teacher’s work has never been shown in a gallery before. She kept her knack for painting quiet while she devoted her talents to teaching kids about the natural world. Now, her detailed paintings make their gallery debut in “It’s an Honor to Be Here” at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster.

The exhibition, running Sept. 30 through Dec. 31, features nature-driven art from over 40 Ohio artists. Works range from painting and ceramics to taxidermy and wooden duck decoys. It includes pieces by experienced gallery artists as well as those with hidden talents and a passion for nature like Sims. The backstories, which come to life in video interviews with the artists, are as important as the art itself, says Maria Burke, who co-curated the show with Madeline Beaumier.

“We want to inspire the next generation of creators and nature stewards,” Burke says. “Part of that is sharing the stories of these individuals and what inspires them and what motivates them, specifically within nature and the arts.”

Other pieces include watercolors of eastern bluebirds by Washington County resident Julie Zickefoose and photography by Cleveland-based science educator Anthony Rodgers, who focuses on close-ups of salamanders and rare Ohio orchids.

"Hungry Monarch on Milkweed" by Marty Kotter (photo courtesy of the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio)
Taxidermy, including a piece by Burke, and duck decoys by Mark Costilow, the mayor of the northeast Ohio city of Amherst, are art forms not often seen in an art exhibition.

“Duck decoy artists are making hunting aids, but they are so realistic and beautiful,” Burke says. “The time they put into these representations of different duck species is just incredible.”

The variety of artists and mediums in the exhibition reflect the state’s vast diversity of natural wonders from the foothills of the Appalachians to the shores of Lake Erie.

“We want people to see just how beautiful Ohio is,” Beaumier says. “To look more closely at the biodiversity of our state and also the different backgrounds that you can appreciate that from.”

145 E. Main St., Lancaster 43130, 740/681-1423, decartsohio.org