A recent trip to the Mount Vernon area led me to go looking for some old train paraphernalia in Gambier. As I turned into the park where the trains were located, I noticed a large sculpture at the side of the road.
It was so striking that I made a mental note to pull over on the way out.
I will be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t know what it was or what it meant but I found it striking and wanted to know more. So I pulled over on the way out and went bounding up to the sculpture just as a man stepped into view.
He had a hoe and wore a straw hat to protect against the sun. He smiled and waved and asked “what do you think?”
I called it extraordinary and he beamed.
“I’m so glad you used that word. Extraordinary. I’m not just the gardener, I’m the artist,” he said.
And thus began a long chat with artist Barry Gunderson.
The piece is called “Understorms.”
It’s painted aluminum to represent clouds, rain and butterflies. It was commissioned for the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus thanks to the State of Ohio, Percent For Art Program. It remained there from 1992-2008 when it was removed from that site and relocated to its current location.
Gunderson lives there in Gambier and has taught sculpture at Kenyon College since 1974. It was dumb luck or good fortune perhaps that he was there doing some work that day. He takes care of the weeding and the upkeep around his sculpture. It’s clear he takes great pride in his work and meeting him was a highlight of my day.
It reminded me of something I have been missing this last year. Some of the best travel memories I have are of interactions like this one. I didn’t have an appointment, I just had a chance encounter that was enriching and fascinating.
This is one of the reasons we adventure!
If you’re in the Gambier area, be sure to swing by 302 Duff Street and see this unusual piece of art!! While you’re there, go see the train caboose and locomotive too!