muted tones

october 02

this entry is from october 02. click here for more information about the curator, and to hear the finished work.

the house on river road

august 05th, 2002


this last week was a doozy, eh? i can’t believe another one is upon us. i went to maumee, ohio on saturday for a family reunion. i found out my brother has my dad’s old hammer dulcimer (that i thought was gone forever) and an acoustic/electric mandolin that he’s trying to sell. i told him i’d gladly take them off his hands for free, since, after all, he IS looking for someone who would play them, and i AM family and really all i have to do is say DAD! I WANT THE INSTRUMENTS! and he’d tell my brother to pack them up and send them…but i don’t want to be a big baby about it. still, a mandolin could do me a lot of good.

late in the day, i suddenly found myself in my dad’s mini-van totally confused and missing the tofu-dog i had just started to eat. my dad had kidnapped me. oblivious to the increasingly loud growling from my stomach, my dad drove along the maumee river (thats MAW-mee, not MUH-mee, an important distinction when you’re a kid) and pointed out the abandoned railroad bridge.

yeah, dad, i’ve seen it.

he told the story about the time great aunt linda found herself on the bridge as the 4:15 was passing through town. there was nowhere for her to go, so she slid down between the tracks and hung under the bridge and waited for the train to go over. when it was gone she pulled herself up and continued on her walk. what a tough-cookie!

yeah, dad, i’ve heard that one. i remember that bridge. i’m hungry.

at this point i’m pretty sure he’s ignoring me for fun. so i still didn’t know where we were going. along the river are many giant houses, mostly old and beautiful, but many new and gaudy. my dad commented on the difference in opinion these days when it comes to riverfront property. in the old days, he said, it used to be that living by the river was something to be frowned upon. now, everybody’s looking for riverfront property.

yup, i said, as we pulled onto a random side street. my dad parked the van, and got out. i considered refusing to get out since i had been ripped from my tofu-dog, but i got out too and followed. we walked across the street to the riverfront, and stopped in front of a little gray house.

grandpa built this house. he designed it, and built it.

so, grandpa built a house. why didn’t anyone tell me? i had this sudden urge to run all around it and take pictures and ask for the blueprints so i could tattoo them on my arms and back so that there would be some lasting proof.

nana and dado (great grandma and grandpa) sold the house and moved to florida in the late sixties. and after that, it was just called “the house on river road.” not “the house grandpa built.”

maybe they just forgot to mention that part to the next generation. maybe it just seemed like superflouous information. but i’ll be damned if that wouldn’t have shaped some of my decisions as a young artist.

on my way home from ohio i decided that i’m going to make up for lost time. i’m not sure how yet, but i’ve got some ideas. do you have any? how do i transcribe/translate this architectural and familial history?

that’s all. gotta run. still thinking. hope you had a good weekend.



mike piontek

august 07th, 2002

a few months ago, i found these boxes of old photo albums hiding around my grandfather's house. beautiful photographs, and so well put together... it was fascinating trying to piece together the story from all these photos and even some old love letters. it made me realize how little i know about my grandparents, though. there was so much there, but there were so many holes... why doesn't anyone tell us this stuff?

i think the holes are what make it so fascinating to me though... being able to piece together just enough to realize how little i know. it's sad but it's beautiful. it makes me think of all the things that might have happened.... it makes me think of all the things that i might do someday.

start with the foundation, and build your own house. your grandfather will be there. he's in everything you do.


august 07th, 2002

you know, my grandfather was the one who got me started taking photographs, and that's what got me started making other stuff, and that's what made me understand that i can extend my vision to my music and that's what put me here.

kind of cool, no? nickname is Ray, and my great or uh, great great? grandfather's nickname was Ray. i like that.


august 26th, 2002

- your great grandfather, a.k.a. Dado, was Ray. But Nana called him Buddy. Why? She was scary.

- I have been working on getting info in "the river road house" for some time, but not easy (mom passing, new wife, etc.). However, I have written current owners and hope to set up tour. Will keep you posted. By the way, up-coming edition of the "Bertsch Globe and Mail" will have complete story of house. It was NOT a simple project.

- you NEEDED rescuing from tofu dogs, which, by the way, should be renamed tofu tubes- let's be honest, here.


august 27th, 2002

I'm hoping the story in the Bertsch Globe and Mail will include something about the island across the river from the house moving. Nobody believed that part. Are you sure it moved?

maternal parental unit

september 05th, 2002

don't feel so bad, I just found out (from this site)that your dad was working on getting a tour of the house. :-) imagine that!

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