Posts tagged ‘CLeveland Institute of Art’

Aug 3rd- The Lighthouse Shed- Chris Ritchey

chrisart collage

2002- You had just completed the 1st year of foundation courses at Cleveland Institute of Art. That Summer- a time of excitement in this family – getting ready for Nikki’s Christmas wedding. Once again I volunteered you for one of my community projects – your words still ring in my memory.

-” Mum if I was a mechanic would you volunteer me- Yes, I replied if you were a good mechanic”

MainstreetLorain( Now Lorain Growth Corp) had purchased a shed- it was going to sit on the ‘ mile long pier” welcoming the boaters, tourists and fisher folk, to be filled with welcoming information of what to do and where to do it in Lorain. John Houser, the MainstreetLorain Director, wanted a mural on both sides of he shed so it could be seen coming and going and a “free hand cursive “Welcome” .
Oh how you grumbled and I believe swore more than once at me – the surface was rough, hard to paint, there were grooves galore the heat didn’t help , the conditions lacking .

Mum this isn’t easy to paint this thing- why don’t you just stain it and put up a sign , I am sure there are plenty of photos of the lighthouse”

and so it went our back and forth.

The “Lighthouse Shed” eventually moved from the mile long pier to Black River Landing – It had weathered and a window added
sign 3
The shed sat there season after season , becoming even more weathered and worn

photo Mark Teleha

photo Mark Teleha

I would get photos from time to time – people standing by the shed at festivals – boats passing by

Source not known

Source not known

but you weren’t interested when I would send them to you –

” Not my best work mum!- I don’t know why I let you talk me into doing these things for you”

Graphics Chris Ritchey

Graphics Chris Ritchey

The shed faded from memory, especially when we received the dreaded “cancer” news.

It was just a few weeks after your death- I didn’t go anywhere , withdrew from the world, the grief too much to deal with , let alone meet up with “people”. However , I was expressly asked by a dear friend to attend a meeting at the Port Authority. I sat in back of the meeting looking everywhere but at those faces- so full of compassion for me- I dare not meet their eyes….. and there my gaze fell, as I looked out the window, on that damned shed – still there! The snow circled danced with her partner, the all prevailing wind,blurring the little painted lighthouse, and yet bringing those summer days to the fore.

– how is it possible ?I thought – the shed still there facing the elements but you – you were gone. Why???

I fled the meeting in tears , hopefully without causing alarm to others knowing I would not find any answer.

I stayed away – from festivals- from life and the shed went back into memory. Then, once more I had to attend an event at the “landings”. The poor old shed looked worn and dull but Gavin and Braedyn were impressed when they saw the lighthouse was painted by Uncle Chris. And so another opportunity for you to become tangible in their little lives, to share another story of Chris told to little bright faces. .
Braedyn Gavin Chris sign
Two years later a phone call-

Would Charleston Village Society like the donation of the “Lighthouse Shed ” for Settler’s Watch- great for keeping stuff in it?

I said yes, knowing I couldn’t bear to think of it ending up on a dump somewhere . And so the shed arrived to be placed behind the grapevines- my romantic notion – from a distance and if you squint your eyes this old weather-beaten shed looked eerily like an old settler’s cabin.

The shed certainly doesn’t look out-of-place. BUT the murals , well the rocks and lake were gone on the one side, the seagulls had lost their wings and the lighthouse itself faded into a mere shadow of itself all details gone -just an outline of what was once. –faded.
I knew I could call upon artists I know to redo the murals but I just couldn’t do that- I couldn’t bear your work and those memories to be painted over by anyone else. I had to do it but as my old art teacher informed me time and time again in school –

“Loraine you couldn’t even draw unemployment”

I decided I would “paint” not by numbers but by colours – fill in the lines, do what I could with your work to guide me . How bloody hard was that?

Tears streaming down my cheeks, blotting out the picture before me, trying to hold back the sobs that wanted to escape the confines of my heart. The wood had become even rougher in those 13 years of seasons, I would apply the paint only to have only half of each stroke adhere. I cursed the surface wondering if you were laughing at getting your own back. It took many mornings – it wasn’t the heat or the job itself which took so long it was the dealing with the raw emotions that attacked me as I worked. I could only stand up to that emotional maelstrom for so long.

Then came the bigger problem- the lake and rocks which had disappeared totally from the one side. How the hell was I going to paint rocks, waves , spray and the changing colours of the lake? I am not an artist, as I said . I went to the internet, pulled up “how to paint rocks and water”. I took a deep breath and began terrified I would mess the whole thing up. It doesn’t look too bad although I am sure you would be shaking your head at my endeavours .
The shed had turned for the most part a deep grey, rather than trying to power wash and bring it back we have decided to stain. And so two little boys were drafted to help stain “Uncle Chris’ Lighthouse Shed”
It became a “family affair” with your dad staining the “higher up” sections.
shed collage
We ran out of paint- the old wood soaked up the stain- more was going to have to be applied, another day-
A trip over to Nog’s, where Nana had some chocolates and a chance to feed your fish. We love you Chris – not forgotten as life continues to weather us.

feeding fish

August 3, 2015 at 12:31 pm 2 comments

June 3rd- the comfort -the questions- Chris Ritchey

chrisart collage Your drawings, sketches, photographs, product design, glass design, ad campaigns- for the most part your class work from your years studying at Cleveland Institute of Art has comforted me. I am surrounded by your raw talent in this house you called home for 28 years.

Not long after that dreadful December day, when I was in such despair my breathing was “forced”, the will to continue absent, trying to bear the unbearable -I would sit in your room, hour after hour looking out at the sky you looked at, drinking in the essence of you that lingered- waiting – for my breath to stop and release me from the agony.

Your father, wandering around the rest of the house , he too , looking for answers as to the cruel and terrible place we found ourselves. One such day, he struggled up the stairs with this life-sized self- portrait you had done in your “foundation years” at CIA he had found in a pile of your “paintings” . I had seen the preliminary sketches , small and the large, but I never knew the painting existed. You had done “just enough” to get it passed for the class- you weren’t a great success when it came to painting- that was not your forte.
The portrait , amateurish, insignificant to the rest of the world was and is worth more than any “old master” to us. The portrait hangs in pride of place and although a likeness of you at 22 , the perspective- a little needy. However, in the evening, softened by a night-light, the “mistakes” fade and blend until I see you as you were.

My comfort, I was reminded by your portrait there was more to you than the emptiness left to us. And so, I was able to find the strength to write about you and to write the truth.

I thought I was done receiving your gifts of comfort- and there have been many – some surprising. But once again, this last week, your father came in from the garage with another object. This time apparently with one of your “tries” with “glass”. I treasure “failures” just as reverently as I treasure the successes.
glass collage
World Cup Trophy – Breath of Life- Tiny Blue/ Gold Vase – Chris Ritchey
There are times, looking at some of your work, I wonder what you were thinking – did you have a premonition as to what the future may hold? But this latest gift did take me aback somewhat. I know of your wicked sense of humour. Was it used for a drinking vessel, as it is hollow inside and is a little strangely shaped an elongated smooth edge or was it designed to hold a light, as others of your pieces did?

You liked to work with light in glass- I have experienced that in the “Breath of Life”- a certain time of the day when the sun hits its just right the piece glows and the Celtic design in the body of the glass glow with fire. But “this” latest addition is very heavy but is surprisingly tactile in nature, the feel of it in your hands adds another dimension I wouldn’t have believed possible- there is a sense of movement in the texture of the glass – planned or by accident – it is a “puzzlement “ What can I say Chris once again you made me laugh, made me cry and ask the question ‘WHY????”

June 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm 3 comments

June 3rd- A “World” away- Chris Ritchey

chrismeresglow1 Another June has arrived and today – the day – is like my life -brief spots of sunshine interspersed with rain, or in my case brief periods of (if not exactly happiness ) smiles breaking through the clouds of tears.

England, is heading to Brazil to play for the World Cup of – football/ soccer. We shared so much when you caught the football ( soccer) fever. I have so memories that make me smile-


The game at Columbia Station – you had just returned from England – your senior year trip where you had been playing with the “big boys of football” . There you were playing in your senior year for Lorain Catholic High School – frustrated at the level of play- when across the pitch ( field) as you ran down the touch line positioning yourself to cross the ball came your dulcet tones

Pass the fucking ball-

OH No! – thought I – the red card will be thrown for that one-

Luckily play continued- how could the ref not have heard that as we in the stands heard it quite plainly- you always did have a voice that “carried”?

LCHS went on to win- however the ref did say as he walked past me leaving the stadium –

Tell Chris to watch the language as next time I will be sure of what I heard

. – He was English, maybe that helped with understanding the passion.

You didn’t like to watch games – preferring to play- but the World Cup was different . We would watch for the draw-and watch and tape the games you had to miss. I had watched when England beat Germany in 1966 – it was a very special feeling of camaraderie – one that I felt with you during those times of the World when all was good, even if England never took the trophy home again.
wcchris 001

Soccer became your presentation for your BFA at Cleveland Institute of Art and in the centre of the presentation your version of the Jules Rimet Trophy crafted in opaque glass – lit from the bottom in a golden hue. wcchrisres

The trophy sits still ( without its golden glow) in my room – reminding me of another world – lost. I probably will glance at the standings, I no longer care who wins the World Cup- who the players are that get red carded- the game changers – because you have been red carded out of the game of life and with that – any hope for a great result.


I love you Chris – Ole! Ole! Ole!

June 3, 2014 at 10:43 am 3 comments

November 3rd- “take my breath away” -Chris Ritchey

Once again, my recent life has been “preparing for the suffocation” that is my grief. These past few weeks have been especially hard – I knew I would have to be laced in a corset of control – keeping me upright – bound tightly, each breath measured, so I could get through .


The art show in Cleveland was the first hurdle
, but I knew with your dad’s and sister’s support I could manage the getting together of your work and the pre show. We three, are like three different poles bound together, lashed to one another by our love of you , supporting each other as a “whole”- but knowing it would take just a moment of weakness from any one of us and the knot of strength would come undone causing all to topple in a fragmented and broken heap.

This event was followed by the meet the young people who were awarded your scholarships both at Cleveland Institute of Art

and then days later at Lorain County Community College.

You would think walking through the halls, even the parking lot, would get easier- it doesn’t! I still see you there, memories flood back but I have managed to control the intense emotions that stir knowing they would be with me and gearing up for their onslaught. I have the armour of knowing!

Yes, I have managed even when little fingers once again mimic those days of your childhood- I prepare for those flash back memories as they burst in and out of this reality.

And then, thinking myself safe in the mundane, some thing as insignificant as looking for a recipe for a friend, causes me to let down my guard on grief.I feel protected here in my home where I know all too well where the emotional mine fields are. – mumbling to oneself ,

why do I not “put things away “- why can’t I remember where I put something I just had a couple of months ago?

and then I become the victim of your death once again as my eyes focus on your face and photos I didn’t know were there or had even been taken as they appeared amongst the papers and folders piled willy-nilly in a box marked recipes!

I am undone, the corset tightens, no longer a tool for getting through, it becomes murderous turning upon me, squeezing all breath from my lungs, the pit of my stomach recoils , my heart feels like it is stopping, I shake, my teeth clench and my jaw locks so hard as to send a searing pain through my temples – I try to carry on- to push aside and down the agony that wells up from within but I am no longer in control……. the rawness of your loss , the life you should have had , the weeks, months and now years since you died are for nought, they were not lived- I am back in that damned room watching your life drain from your face……… I am crippled by a smile………

November 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm 3 comments

June 3rd- no change but you- Chris Ritchey

The days, the weeks, the months go by- my emotional state ebbs and flows sometimes softly and sometimes raging torrents crash upon me. I manage to gear myself for meetings and known triggers. I try avoid the ones I know will reduce me to emotional incontinence. Those times, when I can’t function with the loss of you , when I have no control -see me turned inside out.

I manage to get through the scheduled meetings like a fighter in training I focus on the event, knowing the cost of control will cause a meltdown of me when I finally let go of the damming process.

This past couple of weeks has found the need of people coming together to once again to try to take back a quality of life in this old neighborhood, your old neighborhood. I managed to attend, I purposely geared my mind not think of you, for to have done so would have seen me once again a puddle.

Block Watches even “those” trigger – once again you were there . I opened the flyer sent by the Lorain Neighborhood Watch Council announcing a meeting and yes on the letter head was the logo you designed. I stopped breathing for just a second, I hadn’t expected it you see, although I should have . I was pleased that your work was still being utilized by this place you called home and I am grateful they still think your work worthy. lnwc
I remember so vividly your response when you came home that weekend from Cleveland Institute of Art. –

Chris the Police Chief is wanting to form a Block Watch Council of all the block watches and they need a logo- will do “some” for me? –

your response:

” Mum am I ever going to get paid for any of these things you have me do?”

No! put it down to community service

“If I was a mechanic would you have me fixing cars for free ?”

Yes! of course if you were a “good” mechanic!

You came up with 4 or 5 logos – a couple I could tell, were a bit hard-hitting and controversial and you said:

don’t worry they won’t choose those – they will choose the generic one

and they did .

As I opened the flyer announcing the latest BW meeting for this old neighborhood how I wished I could call you and say :

Chris I need ……

But instead the one thing I need is you and you are denied me ……………

June 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm 2 comments

A Novel- idea- the words with in – a secret unwritten SHHHHHH

cow cove book
They say that everyone has at least one book within us to set to paper and print. My son Chris, even managed in his short life to produce one.

During the course of Chris’s education (Cleveland Institute of Art) he wrote a book- yes! a book!

The brief as I understood it – limited the number of words to be used ( under 30 ? ) – using different fonts to emphasize each word – texture of the paper / colours etc also to give visual emphasis to the reader. Subject (of one’s choice) telling the story with a beginning , middle and end- evoking at least two emotions from the reader.

and as
Frank Warren of Post Secret stated:

Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart. If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world.”

keely  sagert
I know my friend and neighbor Kelly Boyer Sagert has published more than one book.
Oh! to have her talent and ability to start upon the journey she undertakes every time she starts another book. I can start but then ………….

In past years my thoughts , words, observations and conclusions have been published in magazines and periodicals but I can’t seem to get my plethora of thoughts together in a beginning – middle – and end– no matter the writing technique used- to actually write a nonfictional or even a fictional novel.

I did start a category on this blog on my family and my son . I have “saved” the categories and downloaded them as I wrote them in order that Gavin and now Braedyn will “know” their family, especially Chris, and the history of the events as they happened to us.

( Cover by Chris Ritchey)

My mother wrote her book ( selectively published) MY Book about her youth, the war years (WW2 Britain) and her life . I know the sons, daughters and grandchildren of my mum’s extended family were pleased and I hope in years to come her own great-grandchildren will enjoy her memories

One of my previous publishers has offered to take my writings about my journey and publish BUT I have to clean up the grammar, the run on sentences and edit my writing in order that a copy editor can take a further look- SIGH- easier said than done. It is asking a lot because I would have to edit my thoughts and sort them into some sort of order- the story is jumbled as is my life and my brain is fragmented . Where do I begin ?

I suppose I could start by telling my “secret“. Is there a book in that? Yes! I would say most definitely – but I hesitate –

there is the burning question does the world really want to know my secret…

Am I not being a hypocrite when I say I am all about truth when I am holding back a truth ( even if it a truth as I see it – my truth). And for whose sake am I holding back – mine or the readers?
alchemist PHOTO SOURCE

For instance, remember that old conspiracy theory about having a magic pill or process that would turn water into gasoline?

Ask yourselves IF you really had the knowledge of turning water into fuel simply and without a great deal of cost- Would you share that secret IF – it would mean the world’s economy would crumble- institutions would dissolve stock markets crash – the haves would definitely lose out , countries would fall( middle east in particular) would you share that knowledge? Would it mean the world’s water supply would face further annihilation what would be the trade-off?

There is a dire responsibility in secrets……

Generally, says Von Reiche, “secrets do create a lot of separation from other people, and they also prevent you from feeling truly authentic.”

“If the world were ready to be accepting of everyone, it would be a better place,” McDonald said. “In an ideal society, we would have no secrets. Do I think that’s likely in your lifetime or my lifetime? No.”

Will my “novel” idea become fact or fiction? That remains to be seen………….but I can tell you whose artwork will be on the cover 🙂

February 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm 7 comments

Sad???? – Run’d away – Hide – NOG – Chris Ritchey – CIA Scholarship


Gavin’s advice – as we “sit floor- Nog”– (Gavin’s new shortened version of my “monika”) watching the Car’s movie ( over and over and over again) and there is a sad part we must run’d away– is Gavin’s order of the moment- until the happy part comes on. Should a scary part happen, Gavin will change the disc or turn it off.I have yet to find out ( after watching the movie at least 10 times) what happens to Tinkerbell at the Troll bridge, but mostly we have to “hide” under the cushions until the nice happy part returns to the screen.

The other day as I was holding Braedyn in one arm and Gavin was cuddled up under the other watching “Cars” yet again, I felt the softness of a baby’s cheek and the silkiness of Gavin’s tousled hair. I was taken back and reminded once more of another little boy’s cheek and hair as soft as silk .

Try as I might , despite shaking my head to get the picture from my mind, swallowing hard and holding my breath. fat tears splashed from my eyes onto Gavin’s little hand ,so like his Uncle Chris’s . I bit my lip and forced a smile as Gavin turned his concerned little face to mine .

Sad???? – run’d away- hide – Nog

There are so many times I would like to run’d away and hide but there isn’t a sanctuary where one can escape- the sad part is always with me .

Friday, May 4th, we were invited to Cleveland Institute of Art’s Honors Awards and Scholarship Announcements.

Since Chris died we have remembered him with two scholarships Cleveland Institute of Art and Lorain County Community College

The recipient of Chris’ scholarship for this year would be announced. I knew it was going to be hard- I put on my “armour” and my sunglasses. Nikki went with me , we took Braedyn – Gavin spent the day with Poo Bah.

I had been to the Aiken auditorium twice during Chris’s time at CIA- the day of his orientation and then the day he graduated. The day of his graduation the large screen – a backdrop on the stage, as his name was announced to the audience, showed two slides the example of a project of which he was most proud

I sat, during the awards announcement on Friday, not daring to move incase what ever thin thread that was holding me together broke. I could see Chris once more on his graduation day happy, smiling, full of excitement , giving the thumbs up as he crossed the stage with his work behind him, ready to take on the “design world” with an air of confidence. We were so proud and happy at that moment- looking forward to accomplishment.

Then the reality of Christopher’s name being read once more and on the large screen another slide.

I daren’t look at Nikki, I knew her eyes were filling with tears, I could see peripherally her fingers stroking Braedyn’s warm soft cheek, drawing comfort from his presence. I so wanted to “run’d away- hide”- I didn’t want to face the trolls of the bridge of death and the price they claimed. But there is nowhere to run.

As the announcement of the recipient was read I scanned the audience filled with youth , talent, excitement, their eagerness, joy adding to the ambience of life in that auditorium and just being young written on those faces and I drew a margin of comfort that once more my son’s name was included in a “happy part” . And hopefully a gift in his name would, in a small way, help another to make a difference through their talent.

Thank you so much to those of you that help make this gift in Christopher’s name possible.

This year’s $1,500 scholarship recipient follows
Year One – Jessica Obando
Year Two – Andrew Frank
Year Three- Emily Good.

If you would like to contribute to the Christopher Ritchey Memorial Scholarship at CIA please do so by sending the check to :

Attn M. Kinsella
Cleveland Institute of Art,
11141 East Boulevard,
Cleveland, OH 44106
mark Chris Ritchey Memorial Scholarship

May 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm 5 comments



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