BELLBROOK — An accidently overheard conversation earlier this summer forged a creative partnership with a young Xenia artist and a volunteer at Greene County Parks & Trails’ (GCP&T) Spring Lakes Park.
“I was in the Xenia Area Community Theatre (XACT) office one day when a gentleman called asking for information on artists who did murals in the area. The XACT building has one and he thought they might know of someone. When I heard the telephone conversation, it seemed a perfect fit. I had been looking for an opportunity to create a mural,” said artist Elizabeth Patterson of Xenia.
GCP&T volunteer Fred Lageman volunteers in the Spring Lakes Bait House with Jim Kahlo, Bob DeLong, Shawn Brady, Joe Stieger, Bob Neick, and Mike Jenkins with friends of the bait house, Dave Dalhamer and Dutch Camden. The team decided they wanted to look into adding a mural to the side of the building.
This dedicated band of volunteers — known within the park agency as the Fabulous Bait House Boys — have gone far beyond merely staffing the park’s bait house. The team has created window boxes, planted flowers, built benches, a duck box on the water and even hitching posts for the equestrians who come to enjoy the trails. Within the bait house, a treasure trove of memorabilia, photographs and memories greet park patrons.
Spring Lakes Park offers 23 acres with three ponds for fishing that requires a park permit but not a state fishing license.
Patterson met with the GCP&T volunteer group and provided several sketches. A final sketch of a man fishing with a young boy on a bench was selected and the work began.
The mural took approximately 12 hours to complete during the course of several weeks this summer.
Patterson, a graduate of Xenia Christian School and Cedarville University, has a history degree but art has always been part of her life.
“I was working at Reynolds and Reynolds but knew I wanted to be a full-time artist with a flexible schedule,” she said.
She now works part-time at Starbucks in Fairborn and pursues her art as well.
In July, she presented a series at XACT that focused on social justice — stereotypes and negative impacts — using oil painting and charcoal paintings.
She hopes to organize a group exhibition this fall that will feature several female artists from across the country. She is also developing the “make believe” series that features female creatives who have impacted her life. Women already highlighted in the series include Greer Garson, JK Rowling and Carrie Fisher. The series will also incorporate her writing.
Patterson strives to use art beyond just an initial impression.
“All art can reach people at all levels. Art can be therapeutic and cathartic as people work through life’s challenges,” she said. “It can help communicate a message that may be difficult to articulate in traditional ways.”
Patterson hopes the mural at GCP&T Spring Lakes Park will bring warm memories to those who view it and encourage others to create lifelong connections with friends and families through shared experiences.
“Art has made me a better person,” she added. “I hope my mural at Spring Lakes Park brings enjoyment to everyone who views it.”