Chance Encounter With Barry Gunderson

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!

A Walk Around Gambier, Ohio

The town of Gambier is quaint. Home to Kenyon College, it’s hard to tell where the downtown and the college begin and end because they’re so closely aligned.

The university buildings are largely stone and old, in some ways resembling backdrop for a Harry Potter film.

I’m dying to go stay at this cute bed and breakfast. The weird thing is that I really don’t enjoy a B&B as I typically prefer more privacy and personal space than they offer. But I have a burning desire to curl up here with a book and blanket on a cold winter day.

There are some cute shops and restaurants including some with sidewalk cafe space for these warm weather days during the age of Covid.

And there’s an overall sense of civic responsibility and human decency that you often find prominent in a liberal arts college town. Be kind to your neighbor, shop local, be a good citizen are common themes found on many of the posters and signs here. People are also very careful to wear their masks and keep a safe distance.

My brief walk around town left me wondering about real estate prices and wishing that I had gotten my education here. What a delight it would have been to study here!

But that ship has sailed and I can take solace in the knowledge that visiting is always an option!

Saturday Wanderings

Saturday was the last adventure day of vacation and it was spectacular. I set out to find a historic church and stumbled into lots of other treasures along the way.

There was a hike in the Hocking Hills, ice cream at Ye Olde Mill, a car show, a walk through tiny Gambier, Ohio, bookstore browsing, and lots of scenic locations along the way.

Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fall day and am grateful for every minute of this one.

Going back to work is a little easier with happy memories to keep you smiling.