In 1989, the Staley/Gretzinger household, comprised of parents, Meg and Jerry, boys, Hank, age 6, and Lucky, age 4, and Mary, the dog, escaped New York City to spend the first of many Augusts at our newly purchased farm in Maple City, MI. The farm had been a working family farm of 40 acres and included a white farmhouse, big red barn and many outbuildings: a granary, rabbit hutch, chicken coop, tractor barn and guest garage.
After a year or two of getting settled, I realized I needed an artistic outlet and was desperate for downtime from too much young testosterone. Many of the barns and houses in this area were partially built using local stone, but ours was a boring poured cement. LIGHTBULB! I’ll PAINT a stone foundation on it! That will look cool (and give me a ready excuse to exit the house with a cup of joe every morning for an hour or so for almost 3 summers!) This is the barn today, with granddaughter Penelope in the foreground. The blue and green panels above the milking floor door are blown-up images from Jerry’s map. After a year or two I rounded the front facade and started painting the side wall. Every day a stranger would pull off by the side of the road and stop to chat about the project, talking about how real it looked. “Thankyou,” I would reply politely, but to myself I’m thinking, “wait a minute. what about the joke part of this!” I tried to remedy that by painting the word FAKE in the stonework.
Nelle Gretzinger is the wonderful mother of my granddaughters, Penelope and Violet, pictured here with their Granpa Jerry.