Some people travel to a new place and soon are consumed by wanderlust.
Sandusky native Kristen Vasques is among them.
Now Vasques, 59, is using her domestic and international travels as inspiration for artistic treasures.
Area residents might remember her father, Dr. Paul Vasques, a family doctor, anesthesiologist and director of the Ohio Veterans Home during his career before his death in 1996. While she wasn’t interested in the medical field, she has been an inquisitive person who enjoyed exploring and spiritual books at a young age.
A near-death experience at age nine sparked her interest in the afterlife, which continued into adulthood.
A member of Sandusky High School's graduating class of 1972, she ventured west, visiting Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California, living and working in each state. She later lived in Florence, Italy, for five months, before traveling across Europe and into Asia, with stops in Bangkok and Hong Kong. She also visited the Parthenon and the Himalayas.
Her travels haven't always been peaceful, though she hasn't felt threatened. Vasques chalks it up to supernatural occurrences.
A few days before she left Egypt, in 1997, she was in the vicinity when an Egyptian Islamic group killed 62 people in an event known as the “Luxor Massacre.” Several people, including her family, told Vasques to leave the area for safety, but she refused and later left unharmed.
Two years later while visiting Egypt for a second time, a plane crashed.
She admits she wondered if something else might happen, but Vasques wasn't afraid.
“I feel like guardians and people are always watching over me,” she said.
After returning to the United States in 1988, she decided to make her home in Toledo in 1989. There, she was taking art classes at the University of Toledo, earning her bachelor’s degree in art in 1992. She started making her own artwork and jewelry and opened a business, Gems and Beyond.
Her creations have spiritual meaning based on her experiences and travels across the globe. She also uses artifacts.
“I’ve always loved art and gems,” she said, adding that her favorites are purple, blue and green stones. She enjoys working in sculpture, oil and pastels.
Though she’s lived an interesting life, she cites her paintings and artwork as her greatest accomplishments.
Inspired by her perceived supernatural experiences, in 2010 she started writing a book, “The Hidden Truth,” published in 2011 under the name Kristen Ann.
Her work chronicles the “fascinating hidden truths about life that people should know," according to Vasques. “There’s more to life than what we see.”
Her next event will act as a homecoming of sorts. She'll be in Sandusky on July 26 for the Toast of Ohio Wine Festival at the Merry-Go-Round Museum at 301 Jackson Street. The event will run from noon to 8 p.m, according to the museum’s website, and feature an art show, food and entertainment.
“I want my classmates to come, I just want to see people,” she said.
She also plans to attend downtown Perrysburg’s First Fridays events coming up in August, hosted by Downtown Perrysburg, Inc.
In the future, Vasques would love to travel more and possibly write a second book. In the meantime, she gave advice for those also consumed by wanderlust.
“(People) have to be very careful,” she advised. “Don’t be too trusting of people.”
“Travel and explore — there are so many things people don’t see that are worth exploring,” she added.
Want to see more?
·Go to www.exploringsacredspace.com to learn more about Kristen Vasques’ artwork, jewelry and book. Her book can be purchased from her website.
·Go to the Toast of Ohio Wine Festival at the Merry-Go-Round Museum, 301 Jackson Street, Sandusky, July 26 from noon to 8 p.m. Kristen will display her artwork in and around Washington Park. The event will also provide food and live musical entertainment.