On October 5, 2015, it was a beautiful fall day befitting “A Celebration of The Journey Mural by Robert Cothran”. The Heiser Lounge at Kendal at Oberlin was filled to capacity with residents, staff and friends, come to honor and show appreciation for the magnificent work of this Kendal resident.
The program began, with a welcome by Nina Love, Chair of the Kendal Art Committee. Barbara Thomas, Kendal at Oberlin CEO, followed with words of gratitude for Bob’s spirit of generosity and Kendal resident, Arn Lewis, offered a tribute to the artist. After a standing ovation and enthusiastic applause from the audience, Bob spoke about his work and took a number of questions, with residents sharing their individual interpretation of the elements of the mural, and asking questions about technique, text, and some of the unique and humorous elements of the work. This prompted Bob to note that this is indeed the way this mural is meant to evolve. He commented, “This is where my work ends and the life of this piece begins.”
Bob Cothran spent the past 4 ½ years conjuring up the idea, developing the storyline, sketching and painting this whimsical, magical three panel mural titled, “The Journey in Search of Curious Herbs and Spices.” Inspired early in his career by the work of Rex Whistler, Bob gave thought to Whistler’s, “The Journey in Search of Rare Meats,” an extensive mural painted for the Tate Museum in London. It became enormously popular because of the humor and wit of the work.
A twist on this idea brought Bob to his own tongue in cheek version, which is so detailed that it draws the viewer back again and again. The euphemism of herbs and spices worked perfectly. As Bob Cothran has said, “searching for flavor is a bottomless analogy to life.” It’s interesting to note that Bob’s career has paralleled that of Rex Whistler, as they both had careers as painters and set designers.
At age 85, Bob continues his journey, as we watch in awe and wonder as to where it will take him.