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epi'logue (ep'a-log) n. to say in addition, add: 1 a closing section added to a novel, play, etc., providing further comment, interpretation or information...

Epilogue: Emerson Burkhart as described by and remembered by the people who knew him and loved him...

Three of Burkhart's friends pause on the set of the 1985 production of I, Emerson Burkhart. The one-man show featured Don Moffat as Burkhart. The production was staged in the ballroom of the Southern Hotel. Left to right: Don Weaver, publisher of Columbus Citizen-Journal; Tibbi Sterner Johnson, curator, International School of America, owner of Burkhart Estate; and Doral Chenoweth, playwrite. (Photo Jenifer Campbell, for Columbus Art League.)

See: Burkhart: Final Curtain, end of epilogue, for images of the 1985 production of the play.

Don Weaver, the Inspiration

Don Weaver, publisher of The Columbus Citizen, later to be the Citizen-Journal, should be credited as the original inspiration for Emerson Burkhart's unique Open House soirees. Where it happened, Marzetti's at Broad and High or in the Ringside, an alley joint behind Marzetti's, is up for debate.

Weaver and Burkhart were kindred spirits when it came to the subject of world over-population. Thomas Robert Malthus was their hero. Both had solutions for the issue, but herein is not the place for such discussion. Weaver was known to visit Burkhart's studio manse on Woodland. In one of the settings, a restaurant or the manse, Burkhart raked over plans for the city's museum to conduct a George Bellows show. To do so the museum would have to do a vast amount of planning. For Burkhart, Weaver reasoned, should merely open his front door. Burkhart later said he could do that. "Hell, I thought I could serve Ritz crackers and coffee." That would be going formal for Burkhart. Always, he had a coffee pot perking in his messy kitchen.

Two writers, Ben Hayes and Tom Thomson, wrote about the Burkhart Open House. The result was overwhelming. Burkhart's soiree, meaning a party in the evening, extended into midnight then to welcome the daylight of that first Saturday. Crowds stretched that long Woodland block from the manse to Broad street. Police arrived uncalled for around midnight to find out what was happening. They quickly brought some order to the traffic. The Museum's Bellows show didn't have such a problem.

An American original:
Writer Tom Thomson
knew EB better than
anyone in city; was
there final hours...
Dialogue for a movie?

Short North Gazette:
Tom Thomson posted
select Burkhart images
to show mood ranges
of his career; "Annex"
includes portrait of his
wife Mary Ann...

Saving Burkhart's WPA Mural:
Credit the FDR New Deal
for creating a program to
keep Depression-era
artists working; Best of
Burkhart's almost lost,
now restored for masses.

Karl Jaeger, the Patron

Karl Jaeger is the founder of the International School of America. He is a native of Columbus and the scion of one of the city's most prominent industrial families. For decades he has resided in Bath, England. His professional career has been devoted to education by providing the means for young people to travel the world over extended months and savor the natural beauty of our planet. One of the world's masterful artists to be saved: Emerson Burkhart.

Karl Jaeger saved the material Emerson Burkhart. Initially he exposed EB to the world by inviting him to be the resident artist with students on year-long tours, something like a mobile classroom. When EB passed away in 1969, having no immediate family, in his will he asked that Jaeger be responsible for the hundreds of paintings left in his Woodland Avenue mansion. Burkharts provide a colorful countryside of Columbus and Delaware County. But the private collectors and art galleries around the nation may credit Jaeger, in part, for all the works depicting scenes in all the Free World...that is, except Russia. Jaeger's school found welcome settings around the world... except Russia, then the USSR.

tom thomson
A bit of Burkhart whimsy...even in death: Many times EB told Tom Thomson, right with ashes in a box, that he wanted them spread in a Hoover Dam cove. "That's part of the city water supply and half the people of Columbus will have a tiny bit of me in them. Ain't that something!"

Tom Thomson, the Historian

Tom Thomson, a poet, a writer, publisher of the Short North Gazette, that last living biographer of James Thurber, and for this presentation of the life and loves of Emerson Burkhart, the friend who carried out the last wishes of Emerson Burkhart.

EB to Thomson and close ones: "I've traveled all over the world ... and there are parts of Delaware County just as beautiful as anyplace else. So scatter my ashes in some cove along the shores of Hoover Reservoir..."

NOTE: Thomson has been advised over the years to publish his Burkhart columns as a book. Pending that, enjoy his website: www.shortnorth.com/. For one extended sample of Thomson writings, see the Hyperlink to the left of this column: An American Original. .

Ben Hayes, the Publicist

Ben Hayes: The long-tenured columnist and Downtown bon vivant, wrote more columns about Emerson Burkhart than all others collectively. His chronicles covered decades of lunches, visits to art exhibits, the Ohio State Fair, walks in the Blacklick woods, and mid-afternoon desserts of Floating Islands at The Maramor Restaurant. The cream of the Hayes Burkhart columns were written for the morning Columbus Citizen before that Scripps-Howard newspaper entered into a joint operating agreement with Dispatch Printing Co. to become the Columbus Citizen-Journal. Both Hayes and Burkhart gathered frequently in the Hayes residence to solve world problems over jounces (that's a jigger and an ounce) of Jack Daniel's Black Label.

The professional: During those decades of association, Hayes seldom if ever took notes during their conversations. But the flavor of free-style columnese remains evident today in fading ink-on-pulp clip files kept securily by his daughter, Christine Hayes.

burkhart horse
Horse, in fine detail, Burkhart's gift to Christine Hayes as a child, remains in her collection.

Christine Hayes, the Chronicler

Christine Hayes: Columnist for Short North Gazette and chronicler of her father's writings, a preserver of memories when Burkhart supped at the Hayes home in Blacklick, and later in Worthington, published the works of her father with many Burkhart columns: The Ben Hayes Scrapbook, circa 1991.

Christine Hayes story: "Emerson spent his birthdays sitting by the fire in my house. He and my father were friends in mischief and schemes. Emerson was fond of my mother's meat loaf and pound cake. The conversation rose to fever pitch as the night rolled on. Emerson spouting poetry and giving off theories for improving the city of Columbus and the state of art. We often went to Bun's (downtown Delaware) with him, too. The annual Open House at the Burkhart manse was the highlight of our year. We explored every nook and cranny and admired the wild painting and notes on the walls. I was fond of horses as a child and Emerson gave me a horse painting which I still have, among many others. I also treasure a letter he wrote to me while I was in Morocco, giving me his galloping advice on how to live life to the fullest. He approved of my wanderlust. I never thought of Columbus as a small town because Burkhart was in it."

Dick Garrett, the Photographer

Dick Garrett was one of America's finest news/feature photographers in the post-World War II years, particularly through the 1960s into the 1980s. To his friends and associates, he was a street shooter for the next-day editions of his ink-on-pulp newspaper, The Columbus Citizen. EB was a favorite shoot. It was Citizen publisher Don Weaver who asked that Garrett be assigned to the first EB Open House gallery-like tour. The assignment was for Garrett to get there early on that Friday eve, shoot, and return Downtown for his picture to make first editions.

Dick Garrett met his deadline. He returned to the Open House. He stayed the night, mixing with the crowd, talking Burkhart stories, tending a communal coffee pot. He departed the show around daylight. He did the same the second year. Garrett's professional liason with Betty Garrett Deeds evolved into a marriage when they met in the newsroom at The Columbus Citizen-Journal. His images illustrated her feature stories. The marriage lasted more than a decade. Their friendship lasted until his death.

NOTE: See Garrett's images for the original playbill for the first production. He matched the play's leading character with that of Burkhart's visage.

Geoff Hetrick, the Collector

Geoff Hetrick is one of the most serious collectors of Burkharts. He collects the few tapes that exist of Burkhart's voice. He collects fading copies of the many feature stories relating to the artist, the painter. Burkhart has been an influence on Hetrick since his teen years. But, let him relate the story: "One pleasant day while fishing on Hoover Reservoir I saw this crazy guy on shore with wind-blown hair, with an easel and canvas..." Later, relating the story to his mother, Diana Hetrick, herself deeply interested in the arts, she replied, "Oh, that's Emerson Burkhart." She knew Burkhart. That may account for today...Hetrick owns one of the two sail boat paintings he believes to have been painted that day.

NOTE: In his own words, see Hetrick's first person story on the second page of this epilogue.

burkhart watercolor
Burkhart's 'Consolation Prize' Watercolor

His "Town and Mound" was a copy of a companion oil painting. When he gave it to Sue Chenoweth, he had it rolled up with a rubber band.

Sue Chenoweth, his Raconteur

Sue Chenoweth: In their associations, Burkhart became her favorite raconteur when it came to spirited discussions involving art, art masters, modernists, gods and politics, religions, writing, the future of humankind and their mutual dislike for McCarthyism and all other political evils of that era. Were they to meet today, EB would be having a field day with the likes of...well, shall we pass...? Oh, and their gab sessions were greased when she fried batches of bony chicken wings. Today her EB memory is displayed prominently in her living room. It is unique in EB lore. In one of his on-going disputes with art groups, he was asked to enter a water color in a competition sponsored by the now defunct Ohio Watercolor Society. Big problem: Burkhart detested water colors, much less do one. To soothe the beast he pulled out a painting of a falling-apart house in the near downtown. He called it Town and Mound, forgetting the two streets ran parallel. For the quick water color treatment, it was done on a thick paper of what could be a good grade butcher paper.

The prize: $150. EB called that a "compromise prize." When he gave it to Ms. Chenoweth over a platter of wings, his inscription on the back read: "To Susie from EB 1965. Good cheers, no gloomy art, all old Burkhart junk - The new, the enhansing, lyrical aspects of life are better - this is in between." Today is framed under protective glass both sides, the back side to display the inscription. It has been appraised and insured as Excessive.

NOTE: Others with personal memories of their associations with Burkhart have been invited to have them posted on this website.

PROTECTION: As with the original manuscript for this play, all copy within the epilogue has been refiled as a typescript with the Writers Guild of America, West.

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