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‘Queen Aliquippa’ returned to family of painter

Photo by Sylvester Washington

Link: http://www.timesonline.com/community/news/queen-aliquippa-returned-to-family-of-painter/article_4ae38868-578c-11e7-9e1c-8f990aed9f4d.html

By Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times

ALIQUIPPA — Alice Kirby never thought she would reunite with a particular painting her father created early in his life.

At 19 years old, Charles Williams, Kirby’s father, painted a portrait of Queen Aliquippa on a noncanvas pressboard and donated it to Aliquippa High School, his alma mater, in 1933.

The swirling painting depicts the eponymous Native American woman from the 18th century, who led a Seneca tribe in western Pennsylvania. Significant enough to have George Washington seek her company, Queen Aliquippa now primarily lives on through the town to which she gave her name.

Williams’ “Queen Aliquippa” remained on display in the school building’s entrance for the next 76 years.

During the painting’s extended exhibition, Williams worked at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, an art institution, during the Great Depression before returning to western Pennsylvania to work at J&L Steel Corp. as a roll grinder.

However, despite taking on a trade to support his family, he valued art and painting above all else, Kirby said.

Along with “Queen Aliquippa,” Williams created paintings of his daughter, his wife, also named Alice, and his father-in-law using charcoal, landscapes and still lifes. He partook in plein air, or outdoor, painting in scenic local spots, as well.

Williams died in 1972, with his paintings and sculptures going to his son and Kirby’s brother, Bill Williams, in Spokane, Wash.

Alice Kirby and her friend Rose John, whom she now travels here to visit from Atlanta, grew up in Center Township and attended Aliquippa High in the early 1960s, when they experienced the painting of the Native American leader firsthand each morning.

“As you walked in the main entrance, you could see it hanging on the wall. You were so used to seeing it that you almost didn’t notice it,” Kirby said.

Recently, Kirby traveled back to Pennsylvania and wanted to see if she could buy the painting from the school. She contacted the junior and high school building secretary, Kathleen Dulaney, to try to make an offer.

“She was trying to get a hold of it for years,” John said. “We didn’t know where it was.”

After the district razed the old high school building in 2009, it kept the painting in a storage room for eight years, Dulaney said. But after some searching, the painting resurfaced.

“She called up asking for the picture,” Dulaney said. “I asked the superintendent if she could buy it, and he said we could just donate it to her.”

After nearly 30 years of perseverance, Kirby finally gained ownership of her father’s painting from Aliquippa Principal Alvin B. Gipson on Tuesday.

“They were kind enough to donate it to us,” Kirby said. “Instead of throwing it away, they stored the picture for eight years, which is unusual since it was in bad shape. It’s really something.”

John, who will ship the painting to Georgia for Kirby, said it is in decent condition but is “rough around the edges with a couple of cracks.” Kirby said she plans to have it restored to recapture its former effect.

“I never thought I would get that painting back in my wildest dreams,” Kirby said. “I have a lot of paintings but none mean as much as this particular painting. It was my father’s past, and I just feel elated.”

In addition to Williams’ past, Kirby said the painting captures the cultural significance of its namesake town.

“To me, it resembles Aliquippa itself,” Kirby said. “It was the (school’s) mascot, and everybody knew the painting. It makes me proud, and it was a wonderful feeling to be given it.”

Shortly after the donation, “Queen Aliquippa” even drew immediate recognition from a former Aliquippa teacher.

“When I took the painting (to John’s house), (Rose LaSala), who was a music teacher at Aliquippa, came in and said, ‘That’s Queen Aliquippa. How’d you get that here?’” Kirby said.

Kirby said she plans to give the painting to her son, Chucky, so that it can pass down through a third and eventually a fourth generation in her family.

Couple arrives in Brighton Township to conclude 4,300-mile tandem bicycle trip

Link: http://www.timesonline.com/community/news/couple-arrives-in-brighton-township-to-conclude–mile-tandem/article_a1f5f9e0-7949-11e7-a31b-d771ee36cf21.html

Photo and story by Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times

BRIGHTON TWP. — Dutch Ridge Road hardly feels like a terminus to anything except maybe for a drive home.

But for two cross-country tandem bicyclists who covered 4,300 miles and 10 states over two months, a house near the three-way intersection before Bradys Run Park marked a destination.

Bob, 57, and Brenda Fletcher, 56, a husband and wife duo, pulled their red tandem bike and equipment trailer into the driveway of Bob’s parents’ home around 10:30 a.m. Friday.

The celebratory reunion with Bob’s parents, Patricia and Robert, completed the couple’s goal of tandem biking across the United States, which has taken them two years and two attempts to accomplish.

Prior to this summer’s trip, the couple had made an attempt to cross the country on a tandem bicycle the day after Bob retired from the Air Force last June. Brenda had already retired from her job as a math teacher in Fairfield, Calif.

Not long into the trip, however, they were forced to call it off in Sandpoint, Idaho, after a hernia hospitalized Bob for two weeks.

The couple owns seven tandem bicycles, with four built for mountainous terrain. Robert Fletcher was quick to say that Bob had custom-ordered the bike for the couple’s first attempt in 2016. The striking, red tandem finally fulfilled its purpose Friday after more than two months of pedaling.

Bob and Brenda started the redemption of their American odyssey June 1 from their home in Vacaville, Calif., and headed directly west to the Pacific Ocean. At the water, they took a northern route to continue their trip across the United States. They biked through Oregon and Idaho and spent two weeks crossing Montana.

The couple had been camping overnight through the western part of their journey, but after reaching Glacier National Park and its Going-to-the-Sun Road, they elected to switch to lodging.

“We stopped camping in Glacier,” Bob said. “It was 45 degrees one night, and the next day it was 105 degrees when we crossed into the desert part of Montana.”

The inspiration behind their attempt stemmed from seeing other people and couples biking cross-country, Brenda said.

“We just wanted to do it to do it,” Bob said.

The two have been biking since the 1980s and met in a California biking club. Brenda grew up in northern California while Bob graduated locally from Beaver High School in 1978 and moved to the Golden State, where he worked at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield as the chief engineer for Lockheed C-5’s for 38 years.

After leaving Big Sky Country, the couple wound through North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin before taking a ferry into Michigan. Bob said the couple averaged around 80 miles per day but had several days when they surpassed 100 miles.

Brenda joked that the biggest obstacle of the trip was “being nice to each other,” with two months and 4,300 miles creating a long period of togetherness.

“You just bike, eat and sleep,” Brenda said.

During the journey, the couple experienced problems with the back tire, Patricia Fletcher said. They reached a point where they bought a new, heavier back wheel and overnight shipped it from their hometown bike store.

Bob steered the way as the “captain” of the tandem while Brenda powered from the back as the “stoker.”

“When we got together, we had to get one,” Bob said about their tandem bikes. “We haven’t ridden a single bike since we’ve been married, so about 10 or 12 years.”

Bob said that climbing hills presented the most difficulty during the trip, to which any other biker could attest.

“The tandem doesn’t climb hills well, especially with a 130-pound trailer behind it,” Bob said.

After a brief period in Canada, the couple descended into New York and finally Pennsylvania in early August.

“We figured they would arrive more toward the end of the month,” Robert Fletcher said. “I didn’t see how they could make it before September.”

The pace of the couple also surprised Patricia, who said she started believing the couple would make the journey after the sixth week.

“We got a call from them, and they said they were only 15 miles from Pennsylvania in New York and I was like, ‘Oh no! We have to get ready,’” she said.

Bob’s parents had doubts about the couple’s trip, expressing worry about road rage and robbery, since the couple carried no weapons.

Despite creating a welcome-home banner and waiting for the couple’s arrival Friday, Robert still maintained a parental hesitance toward their trip.

“To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about them taking this trip,” he said, to which Bob swiftly quipped, “Nothing to it.”

Brenda said the people they met along the way were “really nice,” and some of them shared their ambitions to bike across the U.S.

“We met a single guy who was carrying more stuff than we were,” Bob said. “We also met a couple in Oregon who were 72 and 70 and also biking cross-country.”

Now that the trip has ended, Bob and Brenda will fly back to California, where they plan to embark on another bike trip in 2019 possibly covering every state in the lower 48.

“It’s bittersweet (it’s over),” Bob said. “We enjoyed every day of it.”

Multiple Brewing adds a hoppy new flavor to Nelsonville

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/11/multiple-brewing-beer-nelsonville

Photo courtesy of Emily Mathews

Craft beer locavores (or anyone who appreciates a hoppy beer) will be pleased to learn about a new brewery that recently opened in Nelsonville.

Multiple Brewing, named and logoed after its co-owners’ mutual love of math, opened to the public Nov. 5 after a soft opening the night before. The brewery offers a selection of home-brewed craft beer and cream soda unrivaled in the Appalachian city.

The brewery, located at 82 W. Washington St., is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

The husband-and-wife team of owners, Jason and Michelle Warren, splits the tasks of supplying, brewing and running the brewery. On the weekends, Jason often spends an entire day brewing, mashing and adding hops to batches on location before allowing them to ferment.

“He might start at 6 a.m. and be finished at 6 or 7 at night,” Michelle said. “The process is messy.”

Beers with a lower alcohol percentage, like the brewery’s 5 to 6 percent offerings, take four to five days to ferment, while higher percentage beers such as stouts might take several weeks, Michelle said.

“We wanted to bring an approachable beer to the area,” Jason said of the brewery’s selection.

Jason’s family originally hails from Nelsonville, and his grandparents owned the city’s Dairy Queen, Michelle said.

Multiple Brewing focuses on American styles of ales and India pale ales, or IPAs. The Variable IPA is the house beer, Michelle said. It clocks in at 6.1 percent alcohol.

Other brews include Absolute Clementine pale ale and Obtuse IPA.

Jason said a Russian imperial stout ale ranging around 10 percent alcohol is on the horizon, possibly in collaboration with FullBrooks Cafe, which is also in Nelsonville. In addition, he plans to brew a Christmas porter soon.

During the weekdays, Michelle stays in Nelsonville to run the bar portion of the brewery, while Jason returns to Columbus, their city of primary residence. Michelle said Jason worked at several breweries in Columbus and has been brewing for 10 years.

“We felt like it was the right time, and we took a risk,” Jason said. “We knew we wanted to grow organically and start small.”

The two said other craft breweries in the area have been supportive and helpful, especially the people from Devil’s Kettle Brewing in Athens.

“It’s fantastic to bring more to the beer scene in a kind of neglected area,” Cameron Fuller, owner of Devil’s Kettle, said. “There’s no craft beer in Nelsonville, and to open an actual brewery there is a great addition to the square.”

Jason said local craft breweries like Multiple Brewing depend on each other rather than compete since breweries often see the same pool of customers.

“Making beer is a craft and an art,” Michelle said. “Bringing in business, bringing people in and bringing craft beer to Nelsonville is the most gratifying part.”

Stargazers escape the light pollution of Athens to peer into the heavens

http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2016/09/ohio-university-stargazing-star-party

After dark, Athens has many sights to see — and not all of them are within this solar system.

Using a telescope with the right amount of power, like the eight-inch model Ethan Gower brings to each of his “Star Party” events, one can peer into the sky to catch a glimpse of double stars, Neptune, nebulas and infinitely more celestial objects.

During the Star Party, Gower described his Dobsonian telescope as “basically a light bucket.” A Dobsonian telescope has a simple design that allows it to be affordable and available for amateur astronomers. Gower and sophomore Jack Deffet have hosted a series of stargazing events, the last of which took place Friday night. To combat the light pollution Athens radiates, the group convened on a hillside in the State Street Cemetery, beyond the neon glow of Court Street. The previous one had been held at the rugby field on South Green.

Dubbed “Star Party 5.2,” Gower, a junior studying astrophysics, said the event attracted more people than any of the previous four star parties. The “.2” in the title accounts for two weather-obstructed attempts. Only sparse clouds obscured Friday night’s view.

As bright as Athens might seem, the light pollution in Athens is not as bad as other areas, George Eberts, an assistant professor of astronomy and physics said.

“O’Bleness Hospital and the mall have (light) cut-offs at certain times because that’s what contractors are required now,” Eberts said.

He said lighting ordinances reduce the light pollution as well.

At the height of the evening, 12 to 15 stargazers trickled in and out. Each time Gower adjusted his large, cylindrical telescope to the next star, planet or star group, the attendees formed a line to to have an up-close view of an elusive sight.

The main event for the evening, Gower said, occurred at 11:44 p.m., when Algol, “the demon star,” would become eclipsed by a smaller star, causing it to flicker and dim.

“Algol is eclipsed every two and seven-eighths days, so you can’t exactly wait for it,” Eberts said.

Those in attendance showed their appreciation for the event.

“It’s cool that Ethan is taking the time do this,” Trevor Seymour, a college student studying in Columbus, said. “He’s really knowledgeable about everything. It’s a perfect spot and everyone is in good spirits.”

As an astrophysics major, Gower said his fascination with space started when he read a space-themed National Geographic magazine as a child. He aspires to work for NASA and holds a special interest in Pluto — he said he would like to lead a mission traveling there, although the long exposure of radiation to the human body would render it difficult.

“My friends say I know too much about space,” Gower said. “There’s so much to learn about in astronomy. Just two days ago I learned two new things.”

He had previously borrowed an 8 inch inch reflector telescopes used by professors in OU’s astronomy department. He now uses his own 8 inch Dobsonian telescope that is glossy blue, wide and cylindrical.

“Telescopes are measured by their aperture in inches,” Eberts said. “The wider the reflector mirror inside, the more surface area is exposed to starlight.”

Eberts said telescope apertures reach to sizes of two meters and larger.

One stargazer said she appreciated the event’s focus.

“We describe it as really pure — no drinking or drugs,” Alayna Coverly, a senior studying painting and drawing, said.

Gower pointed the telescope at star groups such as Pisces and Taurus until attention transferred to the fading of the demon star in the Perseus constellation.

The star dimmed, much like the evening, ending another stargazing expedition.

Gower, however, plans to host another Star Party on October 27 when Saturn, Venus and a star align.