Man Behind the Masks
Yacouba Bonde wears several hats — make that masks — in his native Burkina Faso, a West African country slightly larger than Colorado. He’s a master sculptor and mask maker who serves as the chief of one of the country’s 13 regions. He’s also the artistic director of Boni, a farming village inhabited by the Bwa people at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.
Bonde and his ensemble, Troupe des Masques de Boni, are spending this month in Cleveland to perform at the 21st annual Parade the Circle celebration, a daylong festival presented by the Cleveland Museum of Art
. The African artists and dancers will also present workshops and performances throughout northeast Ohio.
Teaching is something Bonde knows well. He oversees the initiation of Bwa teenagers into the masquerade tradition: Upon entering adolescence, boys don elaborate masks and engage in traditional dancing and singing with teen girls of the village.
“I was 13 years old when I began to learn this craft,” he reflects.
It’s a passion Bonde enjoys passing on. Over the past decade, he and other Bwa artists have traveled to France, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.
“I want to enhance the value of my culture and my sculpture throughout the world,” he explains.
Made of lightweight wood, Bwa masks are striking in their beauty and scale. And each carving and color also holds special significance. The graphic patterns that cover the plank-type masks serve as a road map of ancestral ways. The large crescent shapes at the top, for example, represent the quarter moon under which the coming-of-age celebration takes place.
Bonde’s visit to Ohio ties in perfectly with this year’s Parade the Circle theme — Zounou Younou Hèrè, Une Porte S’Ouvre, A Door Opens –– says the parade’s artistic director Robin VanLear.
“I wanted to celebrate the potential for growth and change that every interaction brings,” she says. “Quite literally, every time you open your door to leave or to welcome a friend or stranger, you never know how your life will change.”
Parade the Circle takes place June 12, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Visit clevelandart.org
for more information, including dates and times throughout the month to see Yacouba Bonde and the African artists. — Marie Catanese
This Old House
We expect celebrities to lie about their age, but most of us wouldn’t accuse buildings of the same self-serving time travel. Yet solving the mystery of a building’s age is something Greg Wiles, associate professor of geology at the College of Wooster
, and his team of students tackle in the school’s tree ring lab.
Funded through the college’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the group travels the state, using dendrochronology (the study of the annual growth rings in trees) to help historical societies and other organizations determine the ages of old structures in their communities.
“We look at log homes and buildings, drill small holes in them to recover tree cores and then calendar date them by matching cross patterns,” Wiles explains. The cross patterns, or rings, in the sample cores are then compared with the lab’s database of living tree chronologies — essentially samples collected from more than 500 living trees throughout northeastern Ohio. By matching cross patterns, Wiles says, the team can determine the exact year and season in which the tree used to make the structure was cut.
Although Wiles and his students don’t charge for this service, the process can be big business.
“Right now we’re also doing some work on Revolutionary War sites in Pennsylvania, which will determine [the sites’] funding and grant-writing eligibility,” he says, explaining that inaccurate or nonexistent record-keeping often leads to misdating.
“But unlike people,” Wiles laughs, “in these cases, they usually claim to be older.” — Jenny Pavlasek
Array of Clay
Jennifer L’Heureux’s approach to business is straightforward: When you see a void, fill it. That’s the reason she opened Nelsonville Pottery & Gifts
“Southeast Ohio is filled with potters,” L’Heureux says, “[yet] there was a need for ceramic supplies in the area. So, I decided to open a working studio where the artist could throw [make] pottery while waiting for shoppers to come in.”
What L’Heureux has created is a distinctly southeast Ohio shopping experience, where customers can pick up supplies, grab that one-of-a-kind gift for the friend who has everything, and even chat with potters about their creations.
And, since the works of more than 70 regional artists are showcased here, it’s an ideal destination for those wishing to support local talent.
“I always tout that it’s ‘family and friends,’” she says. “If a piece isn’t made by someone in Athens County, it’s
made by a friend of ours.”
An artist known for her functional pottery, L’Heureux attributes part of her success to the area’s artistic roots.
“Traditionally, there have always been quite a few artists in southeast Ohio,” she says. “It’s a very diverse community, where they’re able to try something they haven’t done before. [Southern Ohio] has a strong reputation for being a fun place to express yourself. There’s a very laid-back feel down here.”
And it’s this laid-back sense of self-expression customers enjoy when visiting L’Heureux’s store.
“There are several different things going on, on any given day,” she says. “Everyone will find something they like.”
For more information, visit nelsonvillepottery.com
. — Jennifer Rogers
It was the perfect double play when tourism officials from across the state gathered in Columbus recently to enjoy a day of baseball and Ohio travel.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland joined leaders of the Ohio Tourism Division
at Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers, to unveil several new programs that offer travelers multiple ways to book Ohio vacations and take advantage of value-driven offers. The programs include:
Too Much Fun For Just One Day Mobile Tour.
The Ohio Tourism Division’s branded vehicle, trailer and interactive booth are making stops at popular festivals, sporting events and shows. Mobile tour partners include Honda of America Manufacturing and Honda Marysville (Honda Element), Speedway (fuel) and Elmer’s Products (children’s craft area). In addition, 15 destination/attraction partners from around the state have joined in the effort to offer value-added experiences to the traveler. A full list of mobile tour stops is available at Ohio Tourism.
Twitter Flash Sales.
Consumers following the @DiscoverOhio Twitter handle can learn about special travel packages and offers. Consumers may also search the #OHDeals hashtag to see what offers other users are tweeting about.
Capitalizing on the popularity of social media networking and consumer-generated content, myOhio allows travelers to share their Ohio travel photos and videos at DiscoverOhio.com/MyOhio