OTTAWA — Ottawa artist and resident Bruce Stowe is using his love and passion for the arts to create a mural that will be displayed on the east side of the Putnam County Community Thrift Store’s building.
Stowe was an artist in Denver for 15 years, and he has been owner of Stowe’s Art and Antiques Museum, 934 N. Defiance St., Ottawa, for the past 30 years. He also is a member of Putnam County Historical Society and has donated various historical pieces to the society’s museum in Kalida.
“I was approached by the thrift store to do the mural. I previously did a mural 10 years ago with artist Oscar Velasquez on the west side of Heringhaus Furniture that is next to the thrift store,” Stowe said.
The previous mural celebrated the 175th anniversary of Ottawa.
“Through the new mural, I want people to learn about the history and what used to be here,” Stowe said. The thrift store is at 107 W. Main St., Ottawa.
Stowe has made sketches for the new mural, which will recreate the block of businesses in Ottawa that were torn down three years ago due to flooding issues. The block was bought out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The mural will be near Rex Center Park.
There were syndicated films at Rex Theaters across the United States, and Ottawa had a Rex Theater located on Main Street that will be painted. The mural also will feature businesses that go back to the 1890s, such as Rappaport General Store, which was bought out by Paul’s Five and Ten, Croy’s Restaurant and Wards Store, where televisions were sold.
Bruce, 67, said he was 8 years old when the Rex Theater closed in 1959.
“So many people grew up going the to the Rex Theater. It was 90 feet deep and 20 feet wide next to the railroad tracks and would actually shake when steam locomotives came by. When the whistle on the trains blew, it muffled the sound of the film,” Stowe said.
He has a 1939 movie poster displayed at his museum that lists the movies that played at the theater such as “The Sun Never Sets” and “Only Angels Have Wings.”
Ottawa resident Bill Croy Sr.’s mother, Kathryn, was owner of Croy’s Restaurant, and he started the Putnam County Community Thrift Store in 1976.
Work on the 13 foot tall by 66 foot long mural will begin in June, and he plans to have it completed before this winter.
“This is the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. His mural of the Last Supper took him eight years to draw, and that wasn’t nearly as big as what this will be,” Stowe said.
Donations are being accepted for Stowe to purchase paint, and people can donate the funds at the Putnam County Thrift Store. He said he plans to purchase paint for the mural locally.
Stowe said he has been a lifelong artist and has a masters degree in fine arts from the University of Denver and taught art in Denver.
He was instrumental in starting the Blanchard River Art Guild more than 10 years ago to bring artists together between Findlay and Defiance and those who live along the river.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.