A veteran with combat experience seldom talks about it.
He, or she, suffers or reflects in silence. One such Iraq War veteran wakes up in the dead of night when his post traumatic disorder kicks in and paints to calm himself. He told his story to fellow veteran David Ridenour, a commissioner on the Wood County Veterans Commission, and that gave Ridenour the idea to organize an art show for veterans.
He took that idea to PRIZM Creative Community, a non-profit artists’ group. Annette Jensen, founder and director, liked the idea and, what followed is usually what happens in small groups--she made Ridenour the chairman and gave him the reins.
|Dave Ridenour stands alongside his photograph of the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial. (Photo courtesy of Annette
The two worked together to organize a show entitled A Salute to Freedom: The Veterans Art Show of Northwest Ohio. It opened earlier this month and runs until January 4 at the Way Public Library in Perrysburg.
The show features 26 artists from as far away as Pennsylvania and Southern Ohio and about 150 pieces. Local veterans are well-represented. They include: Ridenour, a Bowling Green resident who worked 24 years at Envirosafe Services of Ohio located in Oregon; David Meyer of Elmore; and Emanuel Enriquez, a Pemberville native and Bowling Green resident.
The exhibit includes charcoal drawings, digital photography, watercolors and oil paintings, sculptures and poetry. Some, but not all, are about war-time experiences. The goal was a broader one. “There are a lot of talented veterans. Some of it is therapy, some of it is hobby, some of it is avocation…This is a way to recognize veterans’ talents. This gives them a venue to express themselves.”
Jensen, whose group includes a number of veterans among its 125 or so members, thought the exhibit would be well-received by the community. “At Veterans’ Day, people think about freedom and the sacrifices and service people here have given to our country. This gives people in our community a place to come and reflect about that.”
In addition to the artwork, there are also memorabilia exhibits and photos honoring local, men and women who have served.
For Ridenour, the project has also provided his family with an outlet for expression. His mother, Louella Ridenour lost her first husband, Marvin Maier, when he went missing in action when his sub was sunk in World War II. Some years ago she wrote a poem entitled War! which is on display. Next to it is a charcoal drawing of Maier and his sub by her grandson, David’s son, Thomas Ridenour. The piece is entitled Never Forgotten.
David Ridenour has included a few of his photos. One, entitled The Wall at Dawn is of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. It is framed with a copy of the poem Elmore veteran David Meyer read last August when the Village of Elmore hosted The Moving Wall.
Ridenour also has a photo of the Marble Mountain Sanctuary, which once served as a hospital for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Ridenour toured Vietnam earlier this year, returning to the area where he served in 1971-72 with the U.S. Army at Long Binh. The sanctuary features statuary depicting religious scenes.
The exhibit also features a painting by one of the area’s most well-known artist—Emanuel Enriquez. Enriquez, a Pemberville native and Bowling Green resident, is known for the bronze sculpture of young fans looking through the knot-hole at a baseball game at Fifth Third Field as well as for his marble sculptures on display at Schedel Gardens.
Enriquez’s painting entitled Starry, Starry Night over Vietnam shows Green Berets covered in rain ponchos watching the John Wayne movie The Green Berets while a firefight breaks out overhead.
There are also historical photos of scenes in Vietnam taken by soldiers who served there.
The Way Library is open on Veterans Day from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The exhibit, which is located on the lower level, continues until Jan.4