Zanesville’s Vasehenge Exhibit Supports Southeast Ohio’s Art Community
In downtown Zanesville, just below the famous Y-Bridge which spans the confluence of the Licking and Muskingum Rivers, sits a circle of 18 vases, each decorated with its own distinct composition. From a painting of the Earth to floral designs, these towering pieces of pottery, which are taller than the average human, are an ode to the city’s history and its artistic community.
During the second half of the 19th century, the most important industry in Zanesville was pottery manufacturing. In 2005, Zanesville resident David Mitzel wanted to pay homage to the city’s legacy and raise money to support local artists.
Mitzel, founding executive director of the Muskingum County Community Foundation (MCCF), proposed selling larger-than-life vases to community members who would then commission and pay artists to paint them. The newly painted vases —replicas of the iconic Weller pottery style— were then auctioned off to support an art fund at the MCCF.
“David is a firm believer in the arts,” says Kelly Ashby, director of the Zanesville Muskingum County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “He absolutely loves the arts and loves pottery … and he wanted to see our community thrive with artists and galleries.”
That year, 100 vases were purchased and painted. The 18 displayed at what is now known as “Vasehenge” were the only pieces not auctioned off. Ashby credits this art display as the basis of the city’s now thriving artistic community.
“[In 2005], we were really promoting and talking about our artists,” she says. “Fast forward, we now have a wonderful artist community in Muskingum County. So at that time, that was kind of the start of building that [community] and trying to involve more artists and attract more artists in the area.”