Springtucky

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untitled, Ariel Michelson

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I had a blog about my life as an intern at the Springfield Times. Every week I would hop on the EMX and head across the river to cover high school dodge ball games (beaned in the head), Springfield’s recycling day (beaned in the head… with garbage) or the perpetual struggles of Springfield’s downtown (beaned in the head with garbage… by a pimp*).

*Okay, that last one’s a lie.

The accompanying blog was so boring that only my mother read the thing. Years later when I was starting the blog you’re reading right now, I found a very helpful article that would have saved me a lot of time. Its basic advice was, “Never blog about writing. It’s redundant.”

Anyway, the very first post on that blog sported a picture of a Birkenstock and an old brown boot. Guess which one represented Eugene and which stood for Springfield.

When I started out at the Times, my only real experience with Springfield had been going to the Splash! wave pool and looking with fearful amazement at the industrial wasteland that lines I-105. Though it was often eerily empty, Main Street showed me an entirely different side of Springfield. Here was a place filled with plucky small businesses and sweet, feisty people.

My cold Eugenean heart was slowly melting in the hot Springtucky sun, and a lot of it had to with Springfield’s art scene. Surprise, surprise.

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untitled, Danyelle Hintz

Springfield’s small but fierce arts community could be mapped like a zipper along Main Street.  First there’s the Academy of Arts and Academics, an alternative high school filled with creative (and sometimes pierced) kiddies who routinely cover every window of their building with art. AAA has a new contract with the Wildish Theater across the street, a pretty little venue that routinely produces very fine plays. Then there’s the Springfield Museum, which shows local art in its front room and has a history display upstairs.

When my sister Sarah and I attended a birthday party in Springfield yesterday, I couldn’t resist swinging through the museum. That’s how I found this wonderful exhibition by students of the Springfield School District.

Take another look at the moody psychological portrait in the first photo. Its pensive subject peers into the sun but is simultaneously being swallowed by a starry infinity. Observe the eerie, powerful gaze of the creature in the second portrait. It reminded me of some of the cover artwork for Eva Ibbotson’s novels.

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untitled, Christina Bergman

This was my favorite piece. The landscape is painted on a humble square of cardboard, but the artist has a confidence with color and shading that belies her years. The composition is equally as brilliant. A steep bump in the slope balances the weight of the dark shrub.

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After our artventure we headed up the windy staircase and tried to take in the history exhibit. It’s as good a display as anyone could make about the history of Springfield, but is unfortunately overshadowed by that Simpsons prop the town scored during the battle of the Springfields. I gathered very few facts about Springfield, but I did discover how goofy my sister gets when she hangs out with Homer and the gang.

In the end, I suppose I’d still call Springfield a boot next to Eugene’s Birkenstock. But really, there’s not much difference there. Both are made of comfy old leather.

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