4th annual ‘A Flair for Wine’ event set for Friday, May 10th at Ogle Haus


Vevay Main Street will host its fourth annual “A Flair for Wine” fundraising event at the Ogle Haus Inn on Friday evening, May 10th. The event will be held from 7:30-9:30 p.m., and proceeds from the event will go to benefit Vevay Main Street’s Facade and Signage grant program.

The event will again feature “The Doctors” band, and again there will be a live art auction featuring the work of local artists.

Tickets are $60 each, and may be purchased by contacting Vevay Main Street President Dick Yanikoski at 427-9663 or at the Vevay Main Street office on West Pike Street across from the Post Office. The office may be contacted at 427-9406.

Featured in the live auction will be five area artists:

Key West, Florida has for years attracted artists from across the country. Native Hoosier, Steve Bickis, hometown Ft. Wayne knew around his fourth grade in school he wanted to be an artist and even 50 years ago Bickis said his teachers encouraged it. When asked what his family thought of his desire to follow his dream to be an artist, Bickis said “Mom was real supportive. She did a lot of sewing and I had a Great Grandma that made hook rugs.”

The talent that spills from the end of his paintbrush bristles may not have been passed down from his Great Grandma’s ability to hook rugs, but what is evidenced in his watercolors in the Impressionist style which are his favorite and most challenging, are a picture to behold.

After studying art at the Ft. Wayne Art Institute, Indiana Purdue (IUPU) at Ft. Wayne and I.U. Bloomington, he decided to visit his sister in Florida. When he stopped to have breakfast in Bloomington, he ran into a pal that wanted to head to Florida also so the twosome headed south, visited Bickis’ sister in Daytona and then headed to Key West.

After starting out lettering private boats in the Keys, he soon became noticed and was asked to letter charter boats, dock signs and create signs for businesses, he eventually opened a shop. After marrying and starting a family, (three sons), Bickis decided it would be best for his children to grow up in a rural area. He sold their home in Florida and they moved to Eastern Jefferson County, Indiana where he built the family cabin.

Knowing that sign lettering and watercolors wouldn’t provide for the family, he and a friend started a contracting business working on historical renovations and building cabins.

While the contracting business did help support the family, the sign lettering business grew and this allowed him to concentrate on painting, but not necessarily his love of the challenge of watercolors, his favorite medium which are vibrant with lots of color and capture the image as if the artist just caught a glimpse of the subject – Impressionist style.

The work he is most proud of are the murals at the ‘Life on the Ohio’ River History Museum in Vevay, which depict life on the Ohio River and include an historic steam boat, flat and keel boats and dock scenes, including the ‘U.P. Schenck’ and the ‘Robert T. Graham’.

Bickis is contributing a framed rural landscape scene in watercolor for the 2013 ‘A Flair For Wine’ art auction which is certain to confirm his ability and eye for Impressionist Art.

– Teresa Lyons

Brian Christman, born and raised in Switzerland County, began chainsaw carving in 2007 after a chance Internet article caught his attention.

He sold a base amplifier to buy his first saw and immediately began sculpting bears from river driftwood. After a dozen of them filled his garage, his wife suggested putting them by the street for sale. Brian was dubious but sold nearly all of them within two weeks.

At this point his hobby became a passion and his skills developed quickly. He demonstrated his artistry at a carving festival in Knox, Indiana, in 2009 and the next year at the world’s largest chainsaw carving event in Ridgway, Pennsylvania.

In 2012 he was one of 20 national and international chainsaw carvers invited to carve on site at Gray, Georgia. All of this is in addition to his regular work as a Veterans Administration nurse in Florence, Kentucky.

Brian’s attitude speaks to all of us: “If you have an interest, you can do it. Face your obstacles and overcome them.”

Brian strives to create carvings that are a cut above the ordinary and especially enjoys working on benches and pieces with a Native American theme. He adds detail and texture to his chainsaw carvings with burr grinders, carving knives, power sanders, and hand-made tools (used, for instance, to carve eyes and grapes).

For the 2013 Flair for Wine auction he is creating a custom seven-foot high wine rack from a cedar log and branches, featuring hand-carved grape clusters and other special touches.

Existing work may be seen at homes throughout the area and at his outdoor workshop on East Main Street in Vevay. Public commissions include a 23-foot-high nature totem at Ryland Lakes County Club and the Veterans Memorial Eagle at the Switzerland County Courthouse.

– Dick Yanikoski

Megan Reis was born in New York and raised in New Jersey, where she studied French Literature and Art History at Rutgers University.

While studying at the Sorbonne for a year, she became enchanted by the “incredible windows” of the Cathedral at Chartres. She said recently, however, that her interest in becoming an artist in glass began in Cincinnati when on lunch breaks from her office work she would visit a nearby glass studio. In time she approached the owner and asked for employment, settling at first for a cleaning position.

That led to “messing around,” then to making jewelry and restoring church windows; and later to designing her own creations at home with discarded glass fragments. She eventually worked at a half-dozen glass studios in Cincinnati before moving to Switzerland County in 1991 and opening her own design studio.

Her creations in stained glass now grace residences and public buildings from New York City to Seattle, including Chicago, Raleigh, and Naples; as well as Switzerland, Jefferson, and Ohio counties. Local examples of her work include Heritage Hall in Rising Sun and the glass mosaic at Most Sorrowful Mother of God Church in Vevay.

She is a member of the Hoosier Salon.

Megan says of her artistry: “It’s all about creating beauty, transforming space with a new perspective, almost like giving people rose-colored glasses to see the beauty all around them.”

She especially likes working with glass because “it’s made of trace elements, just like we are, and it reflects several of our most important characteristics. Glass is beautiful and fragile, but it has inherent strength and can withstand fierce weather and time.”

She loves how the play of color and light, “invite you to look and see something you’ve never noticed before.”

The framed 26″ x 22″ stained glass piece she is creating for the 2013 Flair for Wine auction is entitled “Swiss Spring.”

Inspired by the quiet beauty of her rural home, she says that spring is her favorite season. “I’ve always thought that there’s no place in the world that’s prettier than Switzerland County in the spring.”

– Dick Yanikoski

Wayne Springer was the kid that would pick up his Mom’s camera and “finish the pictures Mom didn’t take on the roll.”

He always liked taking pictures with whatever camera he had, but this was back in the day of the Polaroids or later on whatever camera the family happened to have. After marrying wife Vicki and spending time with his father-in-law, Jim Brockman, a renowned photographer famous for his bubbles photographs, Springer knew that if he wanted an education in photography, no better way to get it than from a professional he spent a lot of time with.

“While Jim would shoot school photographs, swim meets, weddings or any big shoots, I would go assist him and started learning the ropes. I tried to absorb anything I could and along the way I picked up bits and pieces,” Wayne Springer said.

While apprenticing under Jim, Springer worked behind the scenes as the loader – the guy that kept the film loaded because at the time his father-in-law was shooting with medium format cameras and there were only 12 pictures on a roll.

While not in the forefront all those years, his assistant position paid off because not only did he have a close relationship with his father-in-law, but the education went beyond loading film.

“We would take trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains and on the drives I would absorb all I could to learn the ropes.”

Springer has mastered the processes for traditional film photography, but has embraced the digital revolution that has changed the face of the profession. After opening his own photography studio, Fairview Studio in Switzerland County, his work has won multiple awards and this recognition has enabled him to obtain numerous photography jobs for high profile entertainers, concerts and major events.

An example of Springer’s keen eye is exemplified in his ‘River Fog’ photography that is transformed into a mural on the wall of the old Grisard building in Vevay which is now the Art Center of Switzerland County.

“Shooting scenes may be my favorite, but the people that pay me for their sittings are what allow me to do the scenes,” stated Springer.

Vevay Main Street appreciates Springer’s contribution of two of his fine photographic works for the 2013 ‘A Flair for Wine’ art auction; Double matted and framed (17′ x 29′) Babcock State Park Mill in West Virginia; and double matted and framed (17″ x 29″) Otway covered bridge in Scioto County, Ohio.

– Teresa Lyons

Rick Starker knew around age 15 he wanted to be a designer. He didn’t know for certain what he wanted to design, whether cars, homes, clothes or jewelry, but Starker just wanted to “create things.”

After spending part of his youth in Switzerland County and part of it out of the county, that desire didn’t subside. Joe Ricketts call him a “natural” if he would study horology (watch, jewelry making), but Starkers’ ability to afford the that education at the time wasn’t going to pan out.

Starker’s idea of “creating things” didn’t end though, because with some assistance and drive to learn, he attended Ivy Tech in Indianapolis where he studied auto body. After marrying wife Lisa, who had attended school for accounting, his ability to create led him to the corporate world where he would soon be building custom furnishings and was a natural for his position as finisher for Rising Star Casino.

When he wasn’t at work, he completed numerous wood working projects such as his wife’s custom woodwork for their home over 20 years ago. The couple kept talking about someday starting a local design/wood working and crafting business and he would think about it on his drive to and from work.

While a name for the business didn’t seem to come as readily as one might think, while driving home from work one day a slogan for the anticipated business popped into his head. “It just hit me while driving that ‘You Dream It, We Build It’ was catchy, so the business name Dream Woodworks was only a natural.”

Not only did he have the dream, but has realized it with a business he literally built from the ground up, from re-constructing and re-utillizing spaces in an old tobacco barn on Cheapside Street in Vevay.

The barn’s integrity and character was left untouched, but the space is transformed into his wood working shop complete with hidden stairs wife Lisa wanted, storage, a loft for dreaming up creations, and a showroom.

When he is in the shop, he doesn’t hesitate to stop to say to “How Ya Doin?” or explain to an onlooker the history of his pieces.

Rick Starker has created several custom commissioned pieces – aside from his wife Lisa’s cherry furniture – including kitchen cabinets designed for a log home in Tennessee; a custom cabinet for a commercial pilot that collects model planes; and a ship’s galley wine rack he designed and built for a customer in Kentucky.

The project he is most proud of is Kip Meyerhoff’s cherry bookcase. He deems it “a work of art.”

This 15 year-old young man’s dream has become reality. Starker said it was never about the money, “I don’t even touch the money, that’s Lisa’s job.”

Starker has contributed for the “A Flair For Wine” art auction a solid walnut floor wine rack similar to the one he built for a ship’s galley. It is a floor unit that stands 46 inches tall, is 26 inches wide and 13 inches in depth. The wine rack holds 30 bottles of wine and is complete with rails for several wine glasses. This fine piece will work in any home.

– Teresa Lyons