Andrew and I made our biggest mistake when we set our GPS.
At about 10 a.m., my roommate/cameraman Andrew Allison and I headed to Nelsonville for our first stop on the scenic Ohio Art Corridor that runs through Southeast Ohio. To our dismay, when we arrived at the address ready to ponder some art, all we found was a Kroger.
After this misstep, we decided not to be discouraged and went into the Kroger to purchase road snacks. We emerged with a large box of Goldfish crackers and an eight-pack of Orange Lavaburst Hi-C and set the GPS again once we were back in the car.
We then ventured to Glouster in hopes of seeing something. We did not.
It was at this point we noticed “coming soon” labeled next to the two points on the map of the Ohio Art Corridor.
Now, our story looked as if it was in jeopardy. We had already driven 25 miles and seen no art.
Regardless, we ventured on to McConnelsville.
As we drove, we saw flooded fields that will bring a bountiful harvest in the fall, a bus that had been fashioned into a traveling library and an alpaca farm. Or was it a llama farm? I don’t know.
Eventually, we arrived at our destination, where we were set to meet with Rebekah Griesmyer, the executive director of the corridor. We found a parking spot, walked into the Chatterbox Tavern and asked for three menus.
A few minutes after sitting down, we were approached by a man named David Griesmyer, brother-in-law to Rebekah. David is the artist behind most of the installations on the route and the artistic director of the Ohio Art Corridor.
It was David Griesmyer, brother-in-law to Rebekah. David is the artist behind most of the installations on the route and the artistic director of the Ohio Art Corridor.
As we sat with David, he told us stories about his life. Even though he was an Ohio native, he had lived in almost every part of the country, including Idaho, Utah and Florida. He was pulled back to Ohio after missing the feel of a small community.
David earned his start in crafting giant statues in 2013, when his daughter asked him to make her a dragonfly statue. He started mapping out the dimensions on the floor, and when he finished, he had drawn out wings that were 12 feet long.
Six months later, he smuggled the 20-foot-tall and 24-foot-wide dragonfly statue into a nearby park under the cover of night.
The next day, he got a call from the mayor, who didn’t appreciate the piece of art that David had, in his words, “gifted” to McConnelsville.
David told us that, sometimes, he has to use guerilla marketing — marketing without asking first — and go big.
As we finished our cheeseburgers and talked with Rebekah for a bit, we learned more about what the Ohio Art Corridor does.
Rebekah and David described standards for art installments along the route. An installment must be a statue at least 12 feet tall or three separate installments, easily accessible and free.
David looks to match the culture of the community into which the art is going and seeks to create art that fits in where it’s installed.
One of the biggest challenges the Griesmyers have faced is the price of stainless steel, their main building material, has skyrocketed since the pandemic. The Ohio Art Corridor is a nonprofit, so it is mostly funded through donations and grants.
Before we leave, David says one of his pieces, Locks of Love, was outside of the tavern. David, Andrew and I headed back outside in the brisk weather, and he told us about the two statues.
Two large hearts were made with an open design, so people can fit locks onto the bars. David saved a spot in the middle for a lock of his own with his six children’s names written on it, and the pink and red hearts were full of small, gold padlocks of love.
David then invited us to his shop, so we followed behind his silver Volkswagen Jetta across the Muskingum River and into the village of Malta.
As we reached town, we made a quick stop at Rebekah’s dance studio, where David had installed two ballerinas made from stainless steel in the front windows.
After, we returned to the car and headed to his shop. I knew we arrived when we made a right turn toward a building with a giant dragonfly in front of it.
The first thing we saw when we got into the office was five metal ducks with bills made of vaginal speculums. He also had a wall dedicated to his cat, who was listed as employee of the month.
One of the most impressive parts of the trip was when David casually dropped that he had “quite a large following on TikTok.” I whipped out my phone and followed him (@davidgriesmyer) to see he had just over 100,000 followers.
He was humble about it — much more than I would be if I had that many followers.
We entered the workshop area, and David showed us the next addition to the corridor: a stainless-steel buck that was set to be 20 feet tall once the antlers were installed.
Andrew and I marveled at what we saw before us. The buck was originally meant to be in McConnelsville, but the city built something else in the spot David had planned. Instead, he will have it installed in Malta, where the police will have to shut down a road to transport it.
David showed us a few more of his projects, both in person and on TikTok, before Andrew and I returned to the car.
As we pulled away from our last stop exactly three hours and 25 minutes after we embarked, I didn’t feel so bad about our mistake at 10 a.m. Instead, I sang Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and enjoyed the scenery of Southeast Ohio.