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Art imitating life

Alex Green • Jun 7, 2014 at 4:00 PM



Local artists' relationship with the Lake Erie Shores and Islands Visitors Bureau is a two way street.

They help one another.

Local attractions — from Perry's Monument to Waterworks Park — are vibrantly portrayed in a myriad of paintings hanging in the Visitors Bureau's conference room, as of this past week.

Some of the artwork depicting Ottawa County icons makes its away around the state, promoting these very attractions the artists depict.

Artist Jim Siemer of Columbus fell in love with Ottawa County, particularly the Lake Erie Islands, when his father built a cottage on Middle Bass Island in the 1980s.

He spent a summer on Put-in-Bay as a young adult and an obsession was born.

"It's one of the most beautiful places in the world," Siemer said.

He has since painted hundreds, perhaps thousands, of canvases with local imagery to further admire the esthetic natural features of the area.

In addition to the dozens of paintings hanging at the Visitors Bureau, Siemer also has an exhibit at the James A. Rhodes State Office Tower in Columbus.

"Many people walk through it daily and see his artwork," said Larry Fletcher, executive director of Lake Erie Shores and Islands Visitors Bureau.

A large portion of Siemer's admirers have never been to Ottawa County, or even experienced Lake Erie, so he tries to entice them.

The exhibit down in Columbus is essentially free advertising for the area, Fletcher said.

"How can you live in Ohio and never experience Lake Erie?" Siemer asked. "I try to show the beauty of the area through my artwork."

In addition to Siemer's work, the exhibit tastefully displays the work of four other local artists, including Catawba resident Rosemary Schramm.

Her claim to fame is her treasure painting.

She takes natural objects that are abundant in the area — birds, state parks — and blends them into an eye-appealing masterpiece.

Similar to the feeling singing gives her, painting is a relaxing escape for Schramm.

"There is nothing like sitting down to a blank canvas and bringing something out," she said.

Schramm's unique creations are available for sale at the Visitors Bureau and at her Sixth Street studio in Port Clinton.

Siemer's work can be found at various gift shops throughout Put-in-Bay and Middle Bass Island. It can also be purchased at lakeerieart.com.

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