Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Robert Cothran works with members of McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory to install his final mural in a four-part series.
It’s taken four years, but artist Robert Cothran is finally finished with “The Journey in Search of Curious Herbs and Spices.”
The final piece of the huge three-panel collection was installed last Thursday outside Kendal at Oberlin’s main kitchen where it covers the walls at the entrance to The Fox and Fell dining rooms.
“It feels fabulous,” Cothran said of the achievement. “The work has gone well and I’m comfortable and pleased with the way the thing has come out in terms of painting and narrative.”
“The Journey” depicts people searching the wilderness just outside a quaint seaside village.
“You get this fabulous idea and start working on it and then the big issue is, is it possible for me to make this come off as good as I envision it to come off?” Cothran said. “It’s just irresistible to see if you can do it.”
One part of the series that Cothran has enjoyed is making his murals look like they belong outside the kitchen.
“They have already, the first two panels, transformed the space,” Cothran said.
Thirty residents waited outside the kitchen to watch as workers from McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory helped Cothran install his final painting.
Cothran said the residents have enjoyed watching him work on the pieces in his studio as much as they appreciate the final product.
“It’s so popular that it’s surprising to me and of course wonderfully rewarding,” he said. “It’s wonderful that I can do something for the residents that they enjoy so much.”
This past year, Cothran said it was hard to avoid thinking about what would happen if he were to pass away before his work was complete or become too ill to continue.
“I’m really delighted none of those things happened and I finished,” said the 85-year-old.
This series could be Cothran’s final project but that’s not his plan. He vowed not to let his age stop him from moving forward and starting his next vision.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.