Ohio Statehouse to unveil painting that pays homage to state's astronauts
When it comes to space, Ohio eclipses most other states in terms of its astronauts—and a new painting will pay homage to that in the halls of the state legislature.
The starry piece of art, with portraits of just some of the 25 astronauts hailing from Ohio, will become a permanent fixture at the Statehouse starting in January. It will be unveiled Wednesday and then hung Thursday, and is the first large-scale painting commissioned for the building in 66 years.
Toledo-based artist Bill Hinsch—selected for the job in early 2023—remembers sitting in his childhood rocking chair, glued to the television as John Glenn launched to orbit the Earth during the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission.
“I was there,” Hinsch said in an interview. “We were let out of school, and I had a pad on my, you know, I was always drawing, and I had a pad on my lap.”
More than sixty years later, Hinsch is preparing to land his own milestone mission. Although his work is already hung in the Pentagon and at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, he said this one feels “amazing.”
“It’s almost like bookends to my life,” Hinsch said.
Sketches and drafts, a color study, and then another eight months of work—or roughly 1,000 hours—were poured into his painting Ohioans in Space. Charles Moses, chairman of the Capitol Square Foundation, said in July the painting would cost $150,000, but that the foundation was raising $500,000.
“We want to collect more money to have an art fund here at the Statehouse, so when pieces of art become available or there are other pieces of art we want to commission, we will have the ability to do that," Moses said.
The nine-foot by 12-foot oil piece features John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Judith Resnik, and it will hang just off the Statehouse rotunda across from a painting honoring the Wright brothers after it is unveiled Wednesday night.