Author Archives: Pamela J. Willits

The Silence of Sea and Space: Where Titanic Meets Apollo


Upon entering the Great Lakes Science Center’s TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition,  you assume the identity of one of the passengers, as you’re handed your boarding pass complete with family info, reason for travel and other passenger facts. You’re then drawn into darkened rooms filled with festive music, but soon you’re surrounded by the muted sound of an underwater world.

Viewed at an angle, the casing around the ship model above produces an eerie reflection of the wall photo, of some of the 10,000 workers who spent 3 years building the Titanic, creating the illusion of spirits drifting over the ship.

Below, the Grand Staircase, with it’s bronze cherubs, is juxtaposed with floor titles from the ship’s Third Class section. Among other luxuries on board was a gymnasium featuring a Turkish bath with Moroccan tiles and Egyptian lace, while 2 shared bathtubs sufficed for the 700 passengers in steerage.


Despite warnings from other ships in the area of large ice fields, vital information never reached the ship’s bridge. At 11:38p.m. on April 14, 1912, an iceberg would become an equalizer between classes: First, Second and Third (steerage). The air temperature was 1 degree Celsius, the water temp was -1 degree.  Visitors are encouraged to touch the ice display below, kept chilled to illustrate the night’s frigid conditions.


It would take over 2.5 hours for the ship to fully sink, but the orchestra played on…. The loss of the unsinkable ship would claim more than 1,500 lives. Among the more famous – Mining Magnet Benjamin Guggenheim and Industrialist John Astor IV.


Dinner menus  hang on the wall – ranging from filet mignon to boiled potatoes, depending on your class. Serving dishes, unearthed from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, are encased in glass.


The wall photo below shows au gratin dishes lined up like dominos, preserved in the sea bed. The same dishes are now housed in a display case.


A lone leather boot, with EWP stamped on the heel…perhaps the manufacturer or owner’s initials. Other cases contain U.S. bank notes, coins and  jewelry. Everything from the fine china to bathroom water fixtures was salvaged.


Heavy brass portals provided passengers with serene ocean views from their state rooms.


A towering wall of fire – a recreation of one of six boiler rooms that propelled the ship forward, consuming 5,900 tons of coal, as it journeyed towards a destination it would never reach.


Replicas of state rooms also appear throughout the exhibit.


Mannequin or actress dressed in period cloths?

Seated Woman

At daybreak, on April 15, 1912, the CARPATHIA would come to the rescue of some 705+ survivors.  The greatest losses were among those in steerage and among crew members.

For a journey into another realm, visit the Apollo exhibit in the new NASA Glenn Visitor Center. A look inside the actual 1973 Skylab 3 Apollo Command Module shows the austere living conditions of space travel.


Artifact from the Great Beyond – Moon Rock from Apollo 15 encased, not unlike the Titanic artifacts, to protect it from the earth’s atmosphere.


TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition runs through January 5, 2014.

Visit the Great Lakes Science Center’s website for details and hours.

Stay for the IMAX film:  Titanica: A journey below the Atlantic Ocean to the underwater resting place of the legendary Titanic explores the ruins of the great ship. CLICK HERE FOR SHOW TIMES.

For additional info about the recovery of the Titanic , visit RMS TITANIC.


Up and Down, Round and Around

We recently had a chance to travel back in time to Mansfield, Ohio – home of the Carousel Works, the world’s largest manufacturer of one-of-a-kind wooden carousels. Ornate horses seemed to hang in mid-air, like a scene from a child’s fairy tale.

Reminiscent of the Lion King, animals like this are carved out of bass wood from the deciduous linden tree. Its pale soft timber lends itself to the give and take needed to withstand fluctuating weather elements.

Steady hands are essential in this line of work.

Thinking of acquiring a single animal for your family room or study? Depending on size and detail, one animal can cost between 3-10K.

A talented team of artisans work to bring each figure to life. Craftsmanship and attention to the smallest details by each individual go into the overall group effort in producing one carousel. The carousel for the  Smithsonian National Zoo, currently in production, will take one year to complete.

Templates for each figure are first cut out of plywood.

After multiple sanding – electric and hand – and three coats of primer, colorful acrylic paints are applied, followed by a clear, protective coat.

The clear top coating not only gives them their shine, but also protects them from years of wear and sticky cotton candy coated hands!

Scenery panels and panoramic scenes are custom designed to compliment each carousel’s theme. Each one is then hand painted on a blank canvas.

Animal Parade: Finished animals await their final destination.

Designed, carved and painted by the Carousel Works, the Richland Carrousel in Mansfield, Ohio is a menagerie of 52 animals. The horse in front of each chariot swivels, allowing the chariot seat to flip up, to accommodate a wheelchair.

An interesting side note:  The inside animals on the carousel go 3.7 miles per hour, while the outside animals go 6.75 miles per hour. Any physics majors care to venture a guess as to why?

While the Carousel Works is not open for public tours, you can take a virtual tour of the factory, as well as find a listing of locations of all their public carousels at

For more info and visitor’s hours for the Mansfield Richland Carrousel Park, visit

In Columbus, Ohio, visit the Columbus Commons Carousel, located downtown on the former site of the City Center.  This 24-foot-diameter wooden carousel was also built by the Carousel Works.

Firework Designs: Form and Function

We see form and function in everything around us from luxury automobiles to elaborate lighting fixtures. But rarely do we think of both when viewing fireworks. The fireworks are launched, combustible chemicals ignite and the result is a spectacular explosion of colorful fallout. Function.

But on further inspection, that rainfall of color can take on a form not seen by the naked eye. Via in camera manipulation, those linear projections become intricate patterns of light and at rare times, almost 3D sculptures. Form.

We hope the following images leave you with a new way of thinking about light.

All photos © Larry Hamill Photography

Cleveland’s New Powerhouse Attraction

After reading a Columbus Dispatch review of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, we decided to test the waters ourselves.

Located in the FirstEnergy Powerhouse, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium has repurposed this national historic landmark in a way that takes architectural juxtaposition to a new height.

Designed by New Zealand based Marinescape, hard surfaces of exposed brick walls and steel girders contrast with flowing water and the constant movement of its inhabitants. A worm’s-eye view looking up through the massive overhead smokestacks provides a reminder of the building’s original purpose – generating electricity for the city’s 19th century streetcar system.

The main attraction, a walk-through shark tank, gives visitors a unique overhead view of sharks, rays and fish as you wind your way through a curved, acrylic tunnel surrounded by 500,000 gallons of saltwater.

The aforementioned review had sighted filtration problems, which had left the shark tank water cloudy. If you’ve ever set up a home aquarium, you know the adjustments involved to get it just right. Now imagine half a million gallons of water filled with sharks.

With the problem solved, divers like the one pictured above swim among the well fed sharks, constantly cleaning the tank’s surface to ensure a clear view.

Fresh water and salt water exhibits offer visitors an underwater view and education of various ecosystems. As you enter, you’re immersed in a history lesson of the Great Lakes region, which contains nearly one-fifth of the earth’s surface freshwater.

Additional exhibits explore the watery worlds of the Amazon, the Florida Everglades and Coral Reefs.  From brook trout to clownfish (Finding Nemo), the aquarium is a lure for anglers and children alike.

A Touch Tank encourages those of all ages to get an up close and personal view of stingrays, sandpaper-skinned sharks and horseshoe crabs, as employees in wet suits wade through the water displaying smaller ocean creatures on trays.

The Discovery Zone teaches the importance of protecting our environment – a part of  Marinescape’s philosophy of Environmental Education through Entertainment.

Nestled in the Cleveland Flats, the aquarium could be viewed as a phoenix risen from the ashes of Cleveland’s industrial past – a positive image for the crooked river that lays to rest Cuyahoga River’s former reputation of the river that once burned.

As a Cleveland native, who’s recently returned to the north shore, I can recall past ups and downs of a city now once again undergoing major revitalization. I’m hopeful that the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, coupled with the adjacent Jacobs Pavilion, a 5,000 seat amphitheater, will help breath new life into the Flats, an area that has experienced its own ebb and flow over the years.

Please visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium website for information on tickets, hours and school tours.  The facility also houses a catering venue on the second floor, with views of the water and downtown skyline.

Written by Pamela J. Willits

Photography by Larry Hamill

Green Technology for a Green Space

Egrets, like the one mirrored above, are just one of the species that can be seen at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center.  Perched on the Whittier Peninsula, the center is located within The Scioto Audubon Metro Park along the Scioto River, just south of downtown.

Outside, the Center features distinctive flora and fauna habitat areas, native plant demonstration gardens and a playground built from natural and recycled materials.

Inside, there’s a library with a view of the downtown skyline, a multipurpose room that seats 200, permanent and revolving exhibits and a nature store.

As a green facility, it was built with recycled construction materials, while its heating and cooling are fueled by alternative energy sources. The center hopes to increase environmental awareness through example and education.

An observation deck and terrace, complete with bird feeders, provide a panoramic view of the area’s reclaimed and restored 160 acres.

Once an industrial strip of land, the area is a major migratory bird flyaway, as well as home to lighter winged creatures like the dragonflies below.

When viewed from the air (note the red tower), this reclaimed green space may seem small and insignificant, but with the help of Grange Insurance, Audubon Ohio, Franklin County Metro Parks and the City of Columbus have preserved a key environmental pathway for future generations.

The Face of Art

© Larry Hamill

Columbus: Inside Out Project – a community art event – was part of the worldwide art initiative, Inside Out.  As the brain child of artist/photographer JR, the recipient of the 2011 TED prize, the event called on participants to  express themselves through a global art project.

© Larry Hamill

In the spirit of JR’s work – as a French street artist, he uses a camera to show the world its true face by pasting photos of faces on massive canvases – portraits of volunteers at TEDx Columbus, held at COSI, were digitally captured by seven Columbus-based photographers.  TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a series of global conferences started by the Sapling Foundation to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.”

© Larry Hamill

TEDx events were created to further TED‘s mission, by offering local communities the opportunity to share dialogue in a setting similar to the larger conferences.

Images in Franklinton © Larry Hamill

Poster-sized portraits are displayed on community buildings in the Franklinton area and at COSI. Images at COSI will be in place for the next year.

© Larry Hamill

© Larry Hamill

© Larry Hamill

© Larry Hamill

More info can be found  @

Finding Form in Farming

Last month marked the 49th OSU Farm Science Review, held at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.  While grain storage structures, livestock handling equipment and the latest in agricultural technology may not sound like fertile ground when it comes to visual elements, the show yielded many colorful, graphic images.

More than 600 exhibitors displayed their products and services to help farmers improve their on-farm efficiency and profitability. This year’s theme, Where Farmers Go to Dream, emphasized agricultural innovation and helped seed new ideas and long-term vision for the farming industry.

The event attracts more than 140,000 visitors from all over the country and Canada, who spend three days perusing 4,000 product lines, while learning the latest in agricultural research, conservation, nutrition, gardening and landscape development.

More @ Farm Science Review

Mirror Images Reflect New Views

Looking Eastward on Reinhard

Symmetry implies a sense of balance.  The images in this post deal with symmetry found in spatial relationships and reflections or what Wikipedia calls patterned self-similarity.

Looking Eastward on Frankfort

These images present a unique view of German Village.  Reinhard Avenue forms the northern border of Schiller Park, while Deshler Avenue forms the southern border of the park.

Looking Southward on City Park

The repetition of a hat in many of the images harkens back to days when everyone, male or female, wouldn’t be fully dressed without a stylish hat to bring a sense of symmetry to their ensemble.

Looking Westward on Reinhard

Other various anomalies are incorporated into some of the images to encourage the viewer to explore the work in depth and experience a new understanding of visual contrasts.

Looking Westward on Deshler

Looking Eastward on Deshler

Sixteen Eyes – Eight Different Visions

As They See Us: Eight Ohio Artists – an exhibit at the Mansfield Art Center open this past Sunday. The show features eight approaches to portrait and figure rendering and includes work by 7 Ohio painters and Larry’s Colorful Camera photo series.

Each of the eight images in the Colorful Camera series are 20 x 30 and are printed on canvas stretched over a wooden frame. All images are on display from June 19 – July 24.

And no, the guy towering over Columbus with the Green Camera is not Paul Shaffer of THE LATE SHOW with David Letterman.  However, the image below is Roger Williams, a Columbus based artist who is also featured in the exhibit.

More on the Colorful Camera Series can be found on our blog @ Colorful Interpretations

LOCATION: The Mansfield Art Center, 700 Marion Ave. Mansfield, OH
Hours: Tue – Sat 11am – 5pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm, Closed Mon
Phone: 419.756.1700

Holland: Panos and Details

More Than Wooden Shoes, Tulips and Windmills

Even though only 3% of the Dutch population works in the agriculture sector, Holland is the third largest exporter of agricultural products, trailing behind only the U.S. and France.  Moving goods is not a problem, as the city of Rotterdam is the second largest port in the world.

One quarter of Holland is below sea level, with its lowest point being 6.7 meters below sea level.  Its highest point – 323 meters above sea level – is referred to as a mountain. With more than 4,400 kilometers of navigable rivers, canals and lakes, sights like the ones below are not uncommon.

The city of Amsterdam is built entirely on piles and has 1,281 bridges.  With water almost everywhere you look, bridges are as ubiquitous as windmills. Holland still has nearly a thousand old-fashioned working windmills.

The Dutch connection to land, water and environment is a way of life. There are twice as many bikes as cars and over 15,000 kilometers of bike paths. Everyone owns a bike – finding it is another issue.

The Dutch are equally serious about art, having the highest concentration of museums in the world – 42 in Amsterdam alone. The Van Gogh and Kroller-Muller Museums house the largest Van Gogh collections in the world.

And yes, The Netherlands and Holland are the same place.