House advantage: Tiny homes raise cash for arts
Chris Kramer, president of the Clintonville Historical Society and a member of the Clintonville Arts Guild, is pictured outside her home with the zombie-themed house she created from cardboard and ceramics. Houses created by members of both organizations will be auctioned off to raise money for local schools' arts programs. Buy This Photo
Chris Kramer is pleased with the way her brains turned out.
It all started when Community Shelter Board officials asked Mary Rodgers to create the centerpieces for a fundraising event through Moxie's, her store on North High Street. Rodgers decided to order some papier-mache houses, in line with the board's theme of finding a home for all, but the supplier would sell them only in sets of three, so she wound up with a few more than was needed.
Actually, more than a few more.
"We found ourselves with 110 large-scale houses," Rodgers said last week.
The next link in the chain of events that led Kramer to have multiple brains, of which she is proud, involved Rodgers being invited to address the Clintonville Arts Guild in April as part of her capacity as president of the Clintonville Historical Society.
"She was just giving us a lot of information about Clintonville," Kramer said. "She was just a really fascinating speaker."
During the course of her presentation, the historical society president happened to mention the excess housing, so to speak, that she had at her disposal.
That sounded like a Presidents' Challenge to the guild's two leaders, the husband-and-wife team of Michael and Suzanne Pusecker.
Every spring, Mr. Pusecker said, the guild has a Presidents' Challenge, in which a specific subject is settled upon and members who wish to participate create a project relating to that theme. Last year, for example, the subject was "bird." Some members interpreted that literally, coming up with artwork featuring birds in flight, but others created projects relating to basketball great Larry Bird or jazz legend Charlie "Bird" Parker.
"We decided that's what our challenge would be," Mr. Pusecker said of the papier-mache houses.
"Because so many of our members work in different media, the approach is always unique," Mrs. Pusecker said. "It makes for an interesting group of items."
"If a person interested in ceramics had a house, they could do that," said Kramer, who has been making ceramics for a decade. "A painter could paint it. We were told we could disassemble them, if we wanted."
"Some of them may not look like houses anymore," Rodgers said. "The idea of the challenge is you take the item ... and using your skill set and your medium, you transport it into your piece of art. I'm going to be very interested in seeing what all they may have done."
"We haven't seen one, and that's always a lot of fun for our October challenge," Mr. Pusecker said. "Everyone's always surprised and delighted about what the members come up with. It's one of our most interesting meetings of the year."
Guild members and the leader of the historical society also decided the houses created as part of the Presidents' Challenge would be auctioned off to raise funds for the art programs at local schools.
The auction is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Oct. 27, with Clintonville Arts Guild members who created the houses on hand throughout the day. The winning bids will be announced at 4 p.m., Rodgers said.
The houses will be on display and the auction will take place at office of Dunigan Real Estate Group at 3500 N. High St.
Which brings the story back to Kramer and her brains.
A member of the arts guild for the past four years, Kramer took one of the houses when they were distributed at the May meeting without having a clear idea of what she wanted to do. As it happened, Kramer's 14-year-old son was reading World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, a post-apocalyptic horror novel of brain-eating undead that's being made into a movie starring Brad Pitt.
"I was sort of becoming aware of how popular zombies are right now," Kramer said.
So her house became a "zombie roadhouse," complete with ceramic brains lined up out front.
"Because it tickled me that zombies need a place to stay, too, when they get tired," Kramer said. "It just one of the most fun things I've ever worked on, I think, because it's silly.
"It's all for a good cause."