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A touch of art

October 5, 2012

Locals team up for renovation

A local business partnered with local artists to spruce up their dining room.
Lucky Steer owner Stefanie Holtz recently renovated her restaurant and wanted to add a local, artistic touch, so she called Wapakoneta’s Riverside Art Center for their guidance.
“I like to do business with local merchants,” Holtz said.
So she talked to Riverside Arts Center Gallery Director Anna Fisher and presented her and her husband, Ron, with the idea of incorporating stained glass windows inside the restaurant to separate the staff from the dining area.
“I wanted a trellis, to add separation from the crew and costumers,” Holtz said. “I initially wanted to do stained glass, but we got to talking and ruled that out.”
The Fishers worked with Holtz on different ideas — and finally came up with a new technique that would fit
See ART, Page 11A
“Stefanie had an idea of what she wanted,” Ron Fisher said. “She wanted something the community could look at.”
Holtz wanted to tie in pieces of the community into her restaurant, so the Fishers came up with clay prints.
This art technique uses several clay tiles with handcrafted drawings arranged together. And what is special about this technique is that each title is different from one another.
The group used linoleum prints, which they pressed onto clay titles. This simple technique is quite simple, yet it can be complex, when it comes to the design on each tile — that was hand drawn by the artists from photos that Ron Fisher had taken of the local buildings.
The Lucky Steer building was built in 1967, and the restaurant has been in the family for 30 years so it has become a historical landmark to the city.
“I remember coming here as a kid,” Anna Fisher said.
So Holtz wanted to incorporate other historical buildings from Wapakoneta in the restaurant, and Anna and Ron Fisher, were able to design clay titles with sketches of the Auglaize County Courthouse, St. Joseph Catholic Church and Max’s Dairy Bar, along with many other landmarks, with the help from Robert Schnarre and Ralph Stuckman.
Ron Fisher took care of the business portion of the job, along with helping Anna Fisher and Stuckman design and form the titles and Schnarre created the wood frame for the finished titles.
“Anna called me about the opportunity,” Stuckman said. “I worked with pottery, and it’s been a passion since I was young.”
So, the crew put their heads together and came up with this idea, which took approximately four months to complete.
Stuckman noted that this technique of artwork was mysterious because he and Anna Fisher did not know how it would turn out.
“All pieces are one of a kind,” Stuckman said.
He said they came into some frustration when the clay would shrink as it was being fired in the kiln, and it would throw off the size placements of the entire piece as a whole.
The group worked well together, as each had a step in either designing the pieces, crafting the wood and piecing it together on the wood base.
Schnarre, who is a World War II veteran, built the wood at the woodworking shop at Otterbein St. Marys, while Stuckman, Anna and Ron Fisher positioned all of the tiles and nailed in the pieces, and made sure it had enough strength to hold.
Ron Fisher said they pieced everything together, and brought the entire slab to the restaurant in one piece to be installed.
“It was a group approach,” Stuckman said. “What one person didn’t think of the others would pick up.”
This was a difficult task, because there was no room for error, as they had constraints in which to place the artwork on the existing base in the restaurant.
“The color scheme fits in with the colors we’ve been working with,” Holtz said of the remodeling of the restaurant.
Holtz said it was a fun project and it was an example of two local businesses wanting to work together.
Holtz was excited as the idea was centered around landmarks and history in Wapakoneta, because it tied in a community feel.
“I wanted customers to get a glimpse of what’s in the city,” Holtz said.
With Wapakoneta being right off of two central highways, many travelers, along with locals, stop to eat here, and the clay titles show the city in a nutshell.
“When people come up to pay, the wife will say ‘Did you see this?’” Holtz said of her observations of some of the restaurant patrons admiring the artwork. “It’s something you can relate to.”

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