Creativity of artists surrounds me every day

I’m surrounded every day by artists.

Granted, most of them aren’t “artists” in the sense that commonly comes to mind. Still, they produce and share creative works to be consumed and enjoyed by the masses each day.

So, yeah, by my definition, they are artists.

Take, for example, page designer Laura McDonough. She routinely turns out beautifully composed page designs like last week’s Sunday Life cover depicting Warren native Dave Grohl, the internationally acclaimed rocker who recently published a book, “The Storyteller.”

And then there are wordsmiths like features editor Burton Cole. He crafts stories and amusing columns that entertain us weekly. Also, freelance reporter Sean Barron’s words flow so well that when I read his work, I often get goosebumps. Sean’s series this summer about our nation’s civil rights journey that Sean relived in a trip to the Deep South with local Sojourners from the Valley is just one of many, many examples of his fine work.

Staff photographer Mike Semple every day turns out pictures that, in one glance, capture the true stories of our community.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how longtime editorial cartoonist Rick Muccio uses satire or dry humor to skillfully depict controversies and local issues with his pencil and paintbrush for our Sunday opinion page. After years of watching Rick draw, I still am amazed at how easy he makes it look.

I bring all this up today because it’s Arts and Humanities Month, celebrated each October by arts and cultural organizations nationwide. In Ohio, the nonprofit arts and culture sector generates $41 billion annually and supports nearly 290,000 jobs statewide. Indeed, the arts play a critical role in our economy, but its importance reaches far beyond that by enhancing and enriching the quality of our lives.

As for me, I’ve never been accused of being an artist. But I do love the arts. I enjoy visiting museums, like our Butler Museum of American Art in Youngstown, and I especially love a night at the theater.

Last month’s stage presentation by the Youngstown Playhouse and DeYor Performing Arts Center of The Color Purple was no less than incredible.

But I digress.

We also do have a few other more typical artists in our newsroom.

For instance, reporter / photographer Allie Vugrincic dabbles in the performing arts.

Allie starred this summer in a one-act play, “Hold That Thought,” at Trumbull New Theater. She’s also serving again this year as a character in Warren’s annual Ghost Walk. (It continues next weekend, and it’s well worth the trip!)

Finally, metro editor Tom Wills is an artist in the truest sense of the word. When he’s not in the newsroom, he’s probably drawing amazing portraits of celebrities like Linda Ronstadt, or pets (including his own), or buildings like the Trumbull County Courthouse.

Heck, he even painted my husband’s Christmas gift a few years back — a picture of our 1931 Model A coupe. The framed artwork now adorns my dining room wall.

And just last month, Tom generously gifted to our newsroom his 483rd piece, a watercolor depicting the rear entrance of our newspaper building appropriately titled, “The Word Factory (at Night).” It now hangs in our conference room.

The painting shows the gritty backside of our building. He points out in his accompanying blog that while factories generally put the beautiful landscaping out front, most often the real production work is going on in the back, away from public view.

The painting is set late at night, when much of the heavy lifting is occurring in our upstairs newsroom, as the staff sprints toward deadline for the morning newspaper while most readers are sound asleep. The painting shows fluorescent light spilling from the building’s second-floor newsroom into the darkness.

“In that room a small gang of friends builds two newspapers from scratch every day, in a span of 18 hours — from the first pot of coffee in the morning to the last truck out on the next morning,” Tom wrote in his blog.

Now, that’s the creative mind of a true artist.


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