bath twp.: Cindy Parish loves surrounding herself with art, and she loves surrounding herself with reminders of her family.
Often, they’re one and the same.
Parish has filled her home with artwork, much of it produced by members of her creative family. Four generations are represented in the paintings, photographs, quilts and other works displayed throughout her four-bedroom Colonial.
She’ll share that collection with visitors May 24, when her house is part of the Bath Volunteers for Service Annual Home Tour. Hers is one of six homes that will be featured on the tour, along with their gardens.
Every room in Parish’s house is a place to display art — even the bathrooms. Paintings by her grandmothers, Marie Ortmann and Florence Parish, hang in the downstairs powder room, while another Ortmann painting adorns the wall of a bathroom upstairs.
Parish’s grandparents and parents were instrumental in shaping her love of art. Her childhood bedroom was decorated with her grandmothers’ paintings, she said, and she started practicing her own form of artistic expression — photography — when she got her first camera at age 5 or 6. She passed that artistic gene to her adult daughters, Kendra and Elena Edwards, whose work is found throughout the house.
“Elena told me once, ‘Mom, you don’t have to put it all up,’ ” she said with a smile. But the last time her daughter visited, she was taking pictures of her artwork to put on her website, Parish said.
Family members’ work is prominent all through the house. Quilts stitched by her mother, Carol Parish, cover a couple of beds. A painting of hibiscus flowers by an uncle, Robert Duncan, hangs in a bedroom. Parish’s own photography captures subjects including her favorite travel destinations and the glass art of Dale Chihuly.
Works by local artists are also abundant. A Goddess of Entertainment light sculpture by Mark Soppeland stands in the front entry near metal pieces by Don and Leandra Drumm. An artist’s proof given to her by the late Kathleen “Boo” Whitmer hangs in her powder room. Other works on display include pieces by Maria Zanetta and Beacon Journal alumni Chip Bok and Dennis Balogh. (Parish’s ex-husband, Jim Crutchfield, is a former publisher of the newspaper.)
She also displays a self-portrait by Cuban artist Franklin Alvarez Fortun, whose oil painting Se Permuta (For Exchange) is part of the collection of the Akron Art Museum. Parish purchased the self-portrait during a trip to Cuba in 2003 that was arranged by the museum.
The artwork in Parish’s home runs the gamut from quiet landscapes to whimsical skulls. Often the pieces stand in unexpected contrast to the house’s traditional decor, such as the brightly whimsical painting by former Bath resident Jean Steiner Unger that hangs against floral stripe wallpaper in the dining room.
That’s just her style, she said. She likes mixing things up, such as bringing a pair of contemporary chairs into her otherwise traditional living room.
She’s also fond of decorating with objects that remind her of people and places she holds dear. Her kitchen walls are topped with colorful tiles depicting the 24 Spanish missions in California, her home state. Her breakfast room is decorated with framed citrus crate labels, a tribute to a great-grandmother who went to work packing oranges after she was widowed. Above the fireplace in that room is a copy of an Ansel Adams photograph of an oak, which reminds her of the trees in her hometown of Thousand Oaks.
Even the laundry room is a display space, dedicated to Parish’s interest in musical theater. Its walls and even a chest freezer are hung with posters from shows she’s seen in New York, Cleveland and London. “I stood out in the rain to get their autographs,” she recalled of her Man of La Mancha poster, one of several scrawled with cast members’ signatures.
The backyard bears Parish’s stamp, too. In her 12½ years in the house, she has expanded beds, edged them with 11 tons of rock and studded them with garden art, including a couple of playful metal sculptures by a high school friend.
“This is sort of my art, too,” she said of the yard. “I look out my window and I say, ‘OK, what do I need to move? What color needs to go there?’ ”
For her, it seems, every living space is a gallery.
Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @MBBreckenridge and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/mary-beth.