Weston Thompson of Van Wert jams with Toledo band Distant Cousinz at The Big Wassky.
Weston Thompson of Van Wert jams with Toledo band Distant Cousinz at The Big Wassky.

We wish to thank each and everyone of you who came out to The Big Wassky on Saint Valentines Day! The Big Wassky kicked off at 7:30 p.m. and did not wind down until midnight with dancers on the floor until then. Distant Cousinz rocked the house and were a bit hit and we can’t wait to have them back again soon. Another group we will have back is Polar Vortex Trio made up of Weston Thompson, alto sax, Dee Fisher, piano and Rod Sroufe on bass. Polar Vortex Trio opened for Distant Cousinz and Weston even joined in on some of their music.

Hors d’oeuvres were provided by Kevin Jerome of Wild Hare BBQ and the stunning Valentine desserts were provided by Van Wert Manor. Collins Find Foods once again served our refreshments in complete style and invented some roaring 20s style cocktails, one entitled the “Bees Knees.” The photo booth by Lucktech, was a popular and completely goofy activity as well. Almost everyone dressed up and it was great to see the creative solutions and outfits. Yes. We are working on the next go-round.

Speaking of activity and human interaction one afternoon while driving down the road the song by John Mellencamp called Jack and Diane came on the radio. Mellencamp, once known as John Cougar back in the day was a familiar voice, and I left it on, listening to the lyrics. One line: “life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone” made me briefly stare at the radio like John was actually in there. When is the thrill of living actually gone? I’m sure it’s different for everyone and everyone has experienced less than thrilling times.

The main thing that struck me was the thought of having to be young to experience the thrill of living, which seems quite limiting indeed. Another thought was someone needs to tell those students, who have not obviously heard the lyrics to this song that their life is supposed to be thrilling during these turbulent times. I have a feeling that the outcry to the contrary would be deafening.

For me the thrill of living becomes more important with each passing minute. We are here to laugh and make stuff and help create a place for the enjoyment of others whether they are family, our community or persons we don’t even know. So when I hear of those, especially young people whose thrill of living is gone it saddens me because there is just so much here to do.

Another iconic image pops in my head of a poster showing an orange kitten clinging by their front paws to a branch, legs dangling down and the words below, “Hang in There.” It will get better, distract, make something, make anything, get up and breathe. You still have that choice.

With our strong belief in the power of making stuff, we have announced our newest program ArtReach! Beginning on Thursday, March 6 we will launch this a weekly after school art program. Working with local Van Wert schools who will provide after-school bus service to the nearby Goedde Building our art instructor, Diane Bendele will then meet the students for the short walk to the Wassenberg Art Center. Art-Reach will last until 5 p.m. in which parents can then pick up their children. We will provide a snack. You may call us, sign up online or your child will be bringing a form and permission slip home from school.

Classic Watercolor class on Tuesday mornings starting at 10 a.m. is an ongoing Watercolor class taught by Pat Rayman. Persons are encouraged to jump in anytime and the class is sold in four-class increments.

Vine & Palette is yet another event we are thrilled to be able to offer. After being delayed by the renovation process we are ready to begin an evening painting class where no pressure is the first item of business. Participants are encouraged to bring a friend and a bottle of wine to share and we’ll take care of the rest. At the end of the evening even persons who “can’t draw stick figures” will take home a completed painting and will be surprised at how skillful with the brush everyone can be. Instructors Matt Temple and myself will be at the helm for this first of many fun evenings. Class time runs 6:30-9:30 p.m. We provide paints, canvas, brushes and your first glass of wine. You will need a paint shirt or apron to protect your clothes.

For information on exhibits, classes and programs listed on there as well. The Wassenberg Art Center is located at 214 South Washington Street (former Van Wert Armory). We can be reached by telephone at (419) 238-6837, email: info@wassenbergartcenter.org and our website is: wassenbergartcenter.org.