For Miami Valley Today
PIQUA — CSX won’t be the only trains traveling through Piqua from May 10-24 as the Piqua Arts Council hosts its Model Trains and Train Artwork Exhibit. The exhibit will open in conjunction with Mainstreet Piqua’s Taste of the Arts event on May 10 from 5-9 p.m. at 509 N. Main St., and will feature model trains in various scales along with scale models of area landmarks by individuals from the area. The exhibit will run weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with evening presentations.
“I got a train for Christmas and thought we should some something with trains for Taste of the Arts,” said Piqua Arts Council Executive Director Jordan Knepper. “I thought model trains hobbiest were probably in the same boat as many of the art communities with young people being more difficult to attract these days and I wanted to see if we couldn’t do something to help encourage young people to take an interest in the hobby.”
Knepper’s original plan was to have Ohio Watercolor Society President Tom Sorrell display some of his watercolor on yupo paper paintings along with some model trains, but the idea quickly developed into something much larger.
“Originally, I thought we’d contact some of the people that display at the Miami Valley Centre Mall around Christmas and ask them to display their trains and just have one artists. But as more artists found out about the exhibit, they all jumped at the chance to create something for the exhibit. We now have artists from across the state participating, with Tom still being the featured artist,” continued Knepper.
While searching for model train enthusiasts to display their work, Knepper has met many local individuals that have large layouts in their basements, but few that had something portable.
“It was a real challenge. I’ve met so many great train enthusiasts, but their layouts aren’t really portable and some people didn’t want to leave their layout for two weeks. But Clint Myers, the DJ for Troy Community Radio has been a big help there,” Knepper said. “Clint has a wonderful O gauge layout in his basement but also several smaller portable layouts of smaller train scales. With his help and some help from Dayton N Track member Don Kriegbaum, we should have some fun layouts.”
Knepper didn’t stop there. When presented with the opportunity to reassemble a layout for the exhibit, he and his father, Dan, jumped at the opportunity.
“Beth Cooper sent me an email about her father John Grill passing away and leaving her with a lot of O scale model train merchandise,” Knepper said. “She included some videos and my father and I were blown away by John’s layout. It was really impressive. Beth mentioned that it was all in boxes in her basement but it was hard to visualize what that looked like in terms of size and ability to transport it. So we went down to meet her and see what we were getting ourselves into.”
The boxes themselves occupied about a 5-foot-by-5-foot section of Beth’s basement stacked 6 feet high. Along with Jared and Justin Younce, Knepper transported all of it back to the Schmidlapp Free School Library and started reconstructing the layout. All together Knepper estimates that more then $25,000 in Lionel and MTH Electric Train merchandise has was included in that donation with the plan being that after the exhibit the layout would be relocated to a museum. In addition to the donation from Dave & Beth Cooper, Knepper has also secured donations from the Lionel Corporation.
“They donated a lot of their Fastrack system for us and a few transformers for us to help power everything that we’ll have going on,” Knepper said.
Besides the help with setting up the layout, Clint Myers along with several others will be giving presentations during the exhibition. Mike Reedy will be giving a presentation on both Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24. Mike will be talking about his hobby/obsession that he’s been involved with since he was 2 months and 24 days old. Also speaking will be the Bradford Railroad Museum. The museum will be presenting on the history of the railroad in Bradford and on their upcoming Railroad Days on Friday, May 17. Jim Marks will also be presenting on the history of trains in his home town of Hammond, Ind., on Tuesday, May 21. All presentations will be in the evening and the schedule can be found on the Piqua Arts Council’s webpage.
Along with the model trains, and many presentations, the exhibit will feature artwork from Tom Sorrell the president of the Ohio Watercolor Society. Tom is a signature member of the Ohio Watercolor Society and was previously a professor at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill after obtaining a PhD from Stanford University. Tom’s passion for watercolors was rekindled when he studied with watercolorist Charlotte Wilson in Havertown, Pa. Since then he has taken more than two-dozen workshops with prominent watercolorists.
In addition to Sorrell as the featured artists, Libby Rudolf, Charles Wright, Meghan Hager, Chuck Clevenger, John Rausch, Judy Belvo, Marsha Elliott, Dan Knepper and Christopher Leeper will all be providing paintings for the exhibition.
More information about the Model Train and Train Art Exhibition can be found on the Piqua Arts Council’s webpage at www.PiquaArtsCouncil.org/train-exhibition.html or by calling the Piqua Arts Council at 773-9630.