‘A Flair for Wine’ brings together county art, wine, food for Vevay Main Street


One may think you would never find a master blacksmith, a metalsmith, a retired elementary teacher, a toy designer and a lady that would take care bears to the ill in the same fund raising venue – unless, of course, you have been to Vevay and Switzerland County and are aware of the local pool of artists who reside here.

Vevay Main Street is fortunate to have those artists embracing its annual fundraiser, “A Flair for Wine”, slated for Friday, May 13th at the Ogle Haus Inn in Vevay. The event will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

They may be compared to the subjects in the nursery rhyme ‘The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker’. Now who might you think they are? Well as individual as their talents may be, and as many years that they have been in the community, some of their names are probably familiar to you, but as far as their artwork is considered there is no rhyme or reason to how they ended living in Switzerland County – unless you know who they are, what brought them here and how their talents correlate to that familiar nursery rhyme.

They each possess unique qualities that classify them individually yet what bundles all of them collectively is their talent as artists, their love of Switzerland County, the culmination of their talent and how their appreciation for history correlates to the artwork they are contributing. Technical ability, precision, exact measurement, technique, analytical approach and creativity are just a few traits the group have in common such as the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

At “A Flair for Wine” contributions from these fine artists will be available during the event’s art auction.

Here’s a look at this year’s contributors:


Donna Cole isn’t a Switzerland County native, but after her marriage and move to the county over 45 years ago she is well planted in and rooted to this community. She has made this home and the place she would spend her life bringing her love and studies of art, and a degree in social services to this county which has been well served by her presence.

She was an art teacher in the Switzerland County school system for many years. She has been a giver in more ways than through this charity event by bringing art through a self supported “care bear program” while taking bears to children and the elderly who were suffering from illnesses.

Donna Cole has also contributed numerous hours reading storybooks to Head Start classes and church daycare children. Her love of historic homes and buildings, the Switzerland County landscape and the beauty of the Ohio River has inspired many of her pen and ink sketches. Her goal to preserve the beauty and history of Switzerland County through her works will leave a legacy to this county and town.

Donna Cole has documented numerous landscapes, historic buildings and homes through her. She has offered a mantle size framed pen and ink print entitled Riverfront of Vevay depicting the Ohio River banks from the Ferry Street landing inclusive of historic Market Street homes for the event auction. Her works require exact measurement and technique which is wonderfully evident in sketches.


Retired elementary teacher with a minor in art education at University of Cincinnati, historian, Switzerland County Historical Museum director, gardener, business owner, community volunteer and board member.

With that said, Martha Bladen comes to mind.

She is a focused individual and to quote someone very close to her, “there is no end to her day”. When you combine perseverance with creativity the end result is a force either to pay attention to or get out of her way.

She is a transplant to this area - and I say that in a kind way, because any small town in America would be happy to pay the moving expenses to bring her there. Originally from Ohio, Martha Bladen settled quietly in an unassuming manner in the Switzerland County in 1976 while driving to Cincinnati carrying out her career responsibility as a school teacher there.

After her retirement she focused her talents which range from designing her own home, developing gardens anyone would be envious of and her determination to raise awareness in the historical society of Switzerland County as their director. While those are her day to day duties, she creates unique works of art in a tireless manner into wee hours of her “down time”.

One such work is her donation to Vevay Main Street of an original framed design entitled “Archiquilture”.

Martha Bladen has photographed numerous components of local architecture, pieced them together into multidimensional groupings that create a kaleidoscope effect. This forward manner of thinking has produced a work of art which offers a modern look into historic Vevay architecture.


From Kenner Toys to the U.S. Mint, Donna Weaver, Indiana Artisan Juried Member, is no stranger to art, history or design.

Graduating with a Fine Arts degree at the Art Academy of Cincinnati where she studied sculpting, painting and print making, Donna Weaver’s draw to Switzerland County included not only the rich history of the area, but the architecture of her historic home overlooking the Ohio River; and her interest in the restoration of ‘Musee de Venoge’ just on the outskirts of Vevay.

While you may recognize the names of some popular toys she sculpted at Kenner such as ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Batman’ or ‘Star Wars’ (second movie), you may not realize you are probably carrying around one of her designs in your purse or pocket.

At the United States Mint in Philadelphia she designed and modeled many of the state quarter series, commemorative coins and gold medals. Check your change for the 2002 Indiana quarter (race car); a 2001 Ohio; or a 2003 Illinois, just to name a few.

If you’re a collector, you may have the 2008 Bald Eagle Recovery, clad, which she designed. Most recently her design work included in the America the Beautiful State Park series quarters was the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Arkansas.

Donna Weaver also sculpted the forward facing Jefferson on the new nickel.

After her retirement in 2006, Donna Weaver has focused on uniting her love of history with her talent of sculpting miniature bas-relief wax portraiture, once time-honored in the United States between 1750 and 1840 prior to the popularization of photography. The dedication in her work contributed to the event is a miniature wax portrait of American Naval officer Stephen Decatur (popular for his heroism in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812) is evidence of her ability, analytical approach, precision, and meticulous technique.


The quality and refined work of historical tin-smithing that flows from Sandra Siens Wallin (metalsmith) is evidenced in her re-creation of Tole peinte (painted sheet metal) tin lamps that capture your eye upon entering the room with their historical fashion, quality of workmanship and eye for detail in the metal work and detailed painting.

Sandra Wallin has kindly donated one of her lamps for the art auction at the “A Flair for Wine” event. Painted tin lamps originated in Paris and England and were the fashion for the wealthy from the late 18th Century to early 19th Century. The combination of all the artwork along with the soft lighting for a room will soothe the senses in the same manner as candles symbolize celebration, romance and ceremony. They not only affect the senses, but accent our spaces and provide light for dark spaces.

After attending Kent State, Sandra Wallin remained in Ohio and went to work in the photography department in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University. While talented in the field of photography and enjoying working alongside the medical students photographing and filming for veterinary medical purposes, Sandra was still a young woman in the 1970’s and felt she would always be vying to keep her job in what may be considered a man’s world at the time. This could have been the turning point in her career and life changing moments as she entered Berea College and finalized her degree in philosophy.

Believing she would move to New England where family resided, college classmates encouraged her to seek work at Fort Boonesborough, as a boom in hiring crafts people of all trades was on the upswing. Although she wasn’t a craftswoman at the time, she met her soon-to-be husband, as he was employed by the state to set up a blacksmithing forge at Fort Boonesborough.


Enter Jerry Wallin, a master blacksmith, award winning designer-metalsmith who has been working full time in his arts since 1966. His creations and design in forged ironwork for individual clients, interior design firms and government agencies have led to his participation in numerous invitation only art exhibitions.

A Louisville, Kentucky native, Jerry (and wife Sandra Wallin) have been Vevay residents since 1990. You have heard the saying that something is “fit for a king”. It occurred to me last week that Vevay, Indiana’s own Jerry Wallin would have been the place to seek a royal wedding gift of his Windsor chairs or his “Stole draped Coffer of St. Dunstan”, a forged and cut steel piece with hand carved (by Jerry Wallin) faux ivory end panels (exhibited in national blacksmithing event at the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation in Louisville).

While you may know the Wallins as the couple that are riding their antique (1940’s or 1950’s restored Schwinn or English Drakes (World War II-era) bicycles around town; you may also see them walking hand in hand even on a rainy day to the grocery store. The completeness of this couple (married since 1974) allowed Sandra to achieve her training from Jerry in the craft of tin-smithing – a trade that was traditionally taught through family without the availability of books to educate someone in a field that required a lot of hands-on learning experience combined with the necessary hand tools to perform the execution of each individual piece.

As Jerry Wallin has continued to surprise fellow artists at exhibitions and events, his most recent work is his trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) artwork, which is hand forged steel with a burl finish replica of a ‘Paper Bag’.

“I enjoy the look of surprise when a viewer upon first seeing my work, touches it to confirm the reality of cold steel when the appearance says wood or fabric or paper”, Jerry Wallin says.

Jerry Wallin’s contribution of the ‘Paper Bag’ as you would have brought the groceries home numerous times will be one to “touch” at the art auction.

Jerry and Sandra Wallin are both former exhibiting members of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and Indiana Artisan juried members.


Along with the art auction, Vevay Main Street’s gala “A Flair for Wine” will include wine tasting presented by The Ridge Winery of Switzerland County; as well as Ertel Cellars Winery of Batesville; Powers Winery of Dillsboro; and Elk Creek Winery from Owenton, Kentucky.

Those in attendance will also be tempted by an array of food, compliments of: Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse; Mo’s Steakhouse; Java Bean Café and Confectionery; Roxano’s Restaurant; Los Bandidos Bar and Grill; Be Creative Catering; and Belterra Casino Resort and Spa.

Live entertainment with background jazz will be provided by Madison’s “Rob Houze Quartet”.

The food, wine tasting, entertainment and a chance to purchase an original piece of art is at a ticket price of $60 per person. Tickets will only be sold in advance at the Vevay Main Street office at 105 West Pike Street, 427-2003; and the Switzerland County Visitors Center at 124 West Main Street, 427-3237. Visa and MasterCard will be accepted only through the Switzerland County Visitors Center office.

Friendship State Bank is the key sponsor of the event; while Belterra Casino and Resort is donating the event venue; and the artists, food vendors and fine wineries are also providing sponsorship.

Participants must be 21 to attend.

There are a limited number of tickets available.

- Teresa Bovard Lyons