Book World, Chillicothe, OH

The lovely Robin and I made a whirlwind trip to her childhood hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio, last weekend with her parents. For part of the quick family outing, I slipped away to spend some time on the phone with my son and then duck into the locally owned Book World, at 16 W. Water Street in Chillicothe.
Book World is small unique shop in the historical district of downtown Chillicothe. It has an old fashioned flavor and thousands of used and new books to choose from.
While I could have wished for a little more organization, Book World is the kind of spot I love (if I lived nearby, I'd apply for a job there): Local. Independent. Books in every nook and cranny. They didn't have enough of my books (I only stumbled upon one), but otherwise it is a place I could spend the day--especially since there is a candy shop just two doors down.

Cincinnati Art Museum

Last Sunday after church, having finished a huge writing project at 2015's end and preparing to start an important rewrite this week, I took advantage of a rare lull in my schedule to pay a visit to Cincinnati's excellent art museum in Eden Park.
I got there in time for a free guided tour of the "Cincinnati" collection--that is, pieces that have a connection to Cincinnati. Among them was Hiram Powers's Eve Disconsolate, above, depicting her in the moment after she succumbed to temptation in the Garden of Eden. Powers lived, studied, and worked in the Cincinnati area from the age of fourteen to twenty-nine, I think.
I learned that Cincinnati was a center of furniture making and manufacture (among other things, such as Rookwood Pottery and Tiffany glass, of course). I put in a bid on the above piece, but I'm guessing it's out of my price range. 
The tour ended on the second floor, after which I took my time roaming through the galleries. There is, of course, far too much to see in a few hours. But I did my best. 
I am always drawn to biblical and religious art, and so spent some time pondering the above statue of David (with his foot on Goliath's head). 
But, as a Shakespeare nut (and since the book I just finished had me pondering Shakespeare daily for the last seven or eight months), the above scene from Hamlet, of Laertes and Ophelia before Claudius and Gertrude caught my attention. 
And, before you make a snide remark (you know you were about to), I followed the museum's easy-to-see signage indicating pieces that were not allowed to be photographed. So there. All these--like the Flight into Egypt by Henry Ossawa Tanner, above--are permissible pics. 

It was a wonderful afternoon, filled with so much beauty--including a visiting work of art that was not allowed to be photographed: Raphael's c. 1505 Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn. Wow. What a story. 

The Cincinnati Art Museum, which I remember visiting as a schoolboy, boasts a collection of more than 65,000 works spanning 6,000 years. I was blessed to see a fraction of those, including works by van Dyck, Picasso, Modigliani, Chagall, Van Gogh, Manet, Wood, Hopper, as well as a few of my favorites (Cole, Church, Duncanson, Wyeth). 

I love that admission to the museum is free (parking is only $4). I wish they had more evening hours, but do plan to take the lovely Robin back for one of their Friday evening events, held the last Friday of each month. 

Cincinnati Children's Museum

The lovely Robin and I sure had a blast taking our four oldest grandkids (two of whom were visiting from California) to the Cincinnati Museum Center for an afternoon last week.
They had a blast. And we had a blast watching them have a blast.
They spent most of their time running around in the enchanted forest space (whatever it's called), which doesn't really lend itself to photos. But Robin managed to get a picture of them in the delightful little aquarium tunnel thingy (below) where they could watch fish and turtles and other critters from an underwater vantage point.

There is always so much to do and see at the Children's Museum and never enough time to squeeze it all in. As it was, we closed down the joint.

The Art of the Brick

With our two oldest grandkids visiting from California, the lovely Robin and I took on the challenge of taking them and their two oldest cousins (one-year-old Avery stayed home with her Daddy) to "The Art of the Brick" display at Cincinnati Museum Center. We didn't tell them where we were going, so when we pulled into the museum center drive, they all recognized the spot and cheered! So fun.
The Art of the Brick is a unique art display made up entirely of LEGO® pieces and the artist Nathan Sawaya's imagination. It features over 100 works of art and millions of LEGO bricks.
The Art of the Brick is the first major museum exhibition to use LEGO bricks as the sole art medium. Numerous classic works such as the Mona Lisa, Starry Night, The Scream, and American Gothic are reproduced in LEGOs, along with a massive Easter Island head, life-size human figures, and a twenty-foot-long T-Rex skeleton.

I love the photo above because it not only gave the kids a chance to enter into a piece of art but it also captures their personalities pretty well.
The display route empties into an activity room, where the kids played with LEGO pieces and made their own works of art--and action. Though it wasn't cheap, even with our family museum membership discount, it was a joy to do with the grandkids.

Liberty Center

What a joy it has been for the last week to have all our children and grandchildren together again! We took advantage of having Miles and Mia for a double sleepover last weekend and made our first visit to Liberty Center, the new shopping and residential complex north of Cincinnati.
Many stores and businesses are already open and the place was busy on a Sunday afternoon. We watched a small model train display, visited a creche scene, and mostly just enjoyed being together.
 There is a play area in the main mall, so of course we spent a good deal of time there. The grandkids didn't seem overly impressed by the "flying pigs" theme, but I thought it was a nice touch.

We had a great time and will surely return often. My only disappointment was that the interfaith chapel was not open. I could've used some prayer after a costly visit with the lovely Robin to Chico's clothing store.

Eight Shakespeare Venues

I have been reading, watching, and writing a lot of Shakespeare this Fall, which has caused me to reflect with gratitude on the many places I have been privileged to see the Bard's plays acted. Here is a quick list:
Dating back to 1995 (yes, I can remember back that far), the Belgrade Studio in Coventry, England (above), was the venue for my first (I think, maybe?) live theater Shakespeare experience: Twelfth Night, with the lovely Robin, Aaron, Aubrey, and our dear friend Nigel.
The lovely Robin and I saw Twelfth Night again at the Atlantic Theater Festival (above) in Wolfville, Nova Scotia (where I was also booked to speak to several hundred youth-type people). Sadly, this theater closed after the 2007 season.
We have enjoyed many wonderful productions and adaptations at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company: oh, let's see, Richard II, Hamlet, Much Ado, As You Like It, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Macbeth, King John, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, and more. We were subscribers for many seasons, and hope to be so again, when the budget permits. 
It wasn't Shakespeare's script, but we had a blast seeing The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta, Georgia, a few years back. Hilarious. 
We've also seen Cincinnati Shakespeare Company productions in the outdoor amphitheater at Vinoklet Winery, in Colerain Township. The above was the 20014 production (I think) of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which we were thrilled to share with my brother and sister-in-law, Don and Arvilla. 
And an unbelievable joy and thrill was the Tony-winning Broadway production of Twelfth Night in New York City in 2014, with our brother Rick and brother-in-law Glenn. Incredible! 
Another venue for Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare-in-the-Park productions has been Eden Park's Seasongood Pavilion, which is a great spot. I think we've seen A Midsummer Night's DreamRomeo and Juliet, and Macbeth there. 
And just this past summer, I got to see my first Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare-in-the-Park production in Oxford at the Martin Luther King Jr. uptown park. Romeo and Juliet showed up too. 

So that's eight different Shakespeare venues. I would've guessed more, but I have high hopes of someday getting to the Globe in London (which we just missed on our 1995 England trip), the Blackfriars Theater of the American Shakespeare Center in Virginia, and the Stratford Festival in Toronto. Accepting donations now.