The Muhlhauser Barn in West Chester Township will host a statewide exhibit of historic Ohio barn paintings, “A Tribute to Historic Barns of Ohio: 88 Counties, 88 Paintings, 88 Essays,” on Sept. 29, 2021 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. CONTRIBUTED
It was tilted about 10 degrees, the porch was missing, and the roof was sagging. He said, “The farmhouse was circa 1830s, so it was an old place.”
“It was like a thunderbolt. This message came right between my eyes, ‘You’re going to take this barn, you’re going to write about it, and you’re going to preserve Ohio history.’ I talked with my wife about it at dinner that night, and the next morning, I knocked on the farmhouse door,” Kroeger said.
He said the owner then shared the history of the barn, which became the stimulus for the Ohio Barn Project. Prior to that, he said his interest in art was put on the back burner for a career and a family, and it surfaced again with the newfound inspiration.
“It was like something inside a jack-in-the-box that popped out and wanted attention. It’s gotten plenty of attention now, believe me,” Kroeger said.
He said, “My goal is about 5,000 barn paintings. I’m about 20% there. I have over 1,000 done. There are so many barns, and so little time, but I’m trying.”
Kroeger has been involved in several fundraising projects, including one in Indiana, and the Round Barn Project, but his primary focus is on Ohio.
“My heart is in Ohio. I’m from Ohio, so I will continue to paint old barns in Ohio as long as I can, as long as they’re still standing,” Kroeger said.
Kroeger authored “Historic Barns of Ohio,” from Arcadia Publishing/The History Press, which was published in March of 2021. The book features a collection of all 88 of Kroeger’s Ohio barn paintings and essays.
“When I do a barn tour with a barn scout, who is a local person from whichever county I’m in, we’re doing this for a reason, and most always, we do it for a nonprofit such as an historical society. His/her goals are the same as mine, to preserve history, which is why I do this. It’s not a commercial project, even though I do get a small percentage of the funds raised, which sometimes covers my travel expenses, and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s okay,” Kroeger said.
On a barn tour, Kroeger goes from one barn to another with a barn scout, and that’s how he selects which barns he will paint. Once he’s finished with the paintings, they go on to fundraisers, mostly for historical societies.
“I get a lot of joy when my paintings find happy homes, and when I do events which I’ve done throughout the state, and I’ll continue to do throughout the state, which consists of doing a demonstration painting of a barn, telling barn stories for about an hour, and doing book signings of my book, ‘Historic Barns of Ohio.’ I talk to this audience of people who love barns,” said Kroeger.
A framed barn painting with an essay from each of the state’s 88 counties will be on display and available for purchase at the event. Plus, there will be eight more paintings on-site, including four of West Chester Twp.
Other organizations benefitting from the sales of the paintings include Anthony Muñoz Foundation; Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty; Caring Like Angels & Heroes; Companions on a Journey Grief Support; EDGE Teen Center; GIVEHOPE Pancreatic Cancer Research & Awareness; National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting; Reach Out Lakota; and Safe Haven Farm.
Muhlhauser Barn is a restored 1880′s timber frame barn with connections to the Cincinnati beer barons’ history and Butler County’s agricultural roots.
How to go
What: A Tribute to Historic Barns of Ohio: 88 Counties, 88 Paintings, 88 Essays by artist Robert Kroeger.
When: Sept. 29, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Muhlhauser Barn, 8558 Beckett Road in West Chester.
Cost: Free. Paintings and other items will be available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds from the paintings will benefit local nonprofits. Beer, wine, and food will be available for purchase, and there will be a variety of food trucks on-site throughout the day. The refreshment sales will help to support UCBMA.
More info: www.WestChesterOH.org and at https://barnart.weebly.com/barn-tribute-exhibit.html. On Facebook, go to www.facebook.com/historicbarnproject. Also, check out www.robertkroeger.com.