A lot of the drawings local artist Bob Eisnaugle creates, like this charcoal piece entitled “Dad, Can I Help You?” are created for specific people. Though several of his works will be for sale during his upcoming exhibit at the Markay, he says personalized drawings will not. (Photo Courtesy of Bob Eisnaugle)
A lot of the drawings local artist Bob Eisnaugle creates, like this charcoal piece entitled “Dad, Can I Help You?” are created for specific people. Though several of his works will be for sale during his upcoming exhibit at the Markay, he says personalized drawings will not. (Photo Courtesy of Bob Eisnaugle)

An exhibit featuring the works of local artist Bob Eisnaugle is set to begin Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Markay Cultural Arts Center in downtown Jackson. The exhibit will run through the end of October and will feature roughly 65 of Eisnaugle’s pieces, which he created using various mediums.

Eisnaugle has spent his life in Jackson, graduating from Jackson High School (JHS), receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Art Education from Ohio University, and his master’s degree in classroom teaching with an emphasis on multiple intelligences from the University of Rio Grande. He likely is best known locally for his roughly quarter century of teaching in Jackson City Schools, as well as his business, Eisnaugle Custom Picture Framing, which he still owns and operates on Huron Street in Jackson.

The career in art education began for Eisnaugle in Piketon, where he ultimately met his wife, Sara, who was a special-needs teacher in the district. He and his wife have two children – Chad Eisnaugle and Kari Coyan – as well as three grandchildren.

“I was blessed with the opportunity to come back to Jackson to teach elementary and middle school art before I began my last 23 years of my career teaching art at JHS,” Eisnaugle explained. “I was also fortunate to be an advisor for the Hi-Y Club, which, among many things, was involved with Youth-in-Government. Teaching art was my passion, and I feel blessed to have spent a total of 33 years with my students.”

In addition to teaching, Eisnaugle was also an active member on the Board of Trustees for the Southern Hills Arts Council for over 25 years. He continues to serve on that group’s Visual Art Committee, lending a hand in setting up art shows at the Markay and for the annual Foothills Arts Festival. For many years, Eisnaugle taught free art classes during the summer months for young students and provided instruction at the summer art camps that were also offered through the Markay.

Eisnaugle says he was hopeful upon his retirement in 2014 to have more time for his own artistic aspirations, something that had always taken a back seat despite having taught in that field for over three decades. Though being the full-time caretaker for his wife Sara, who is disabled, is his main priority, he was able to build a studio and focus on his craft a bit more roughly three years after his retirement.

“I love so many mediums that it has been a challenge for me to find my niche,” Eisnaugle says. “I have tried to find my place artistically, but the challenge of different mediums has made this difficult. So, in this show, you will see paintings, pencil, pastel, charcoal and colored-pencil drawings, sculptures, ceramics, molded paper and scratchboards.”

Scratchboard work, Eisnaugle explained, is not a common medium. It is a form of direct engraving where the artist scratches off dark ink to reveal a white layer beneath. Eisnaugle says he utilizes a piece of ink-covered Masonite and scratches out an image with an X-Acto knife. This tedious process is a good overall representation of his self-described emotional connection to his works.

“For me, art is very personal,” he stated. “It reflects the things that are important to me. My faith and my family are common themes. I also do some things, such as animals, to learn technique and sharpen my skills. I seldom can do art just for art’s sake; if I don’t have an emotional connection, a statement or just some inspiration, it is difficult for me to stay focused.”

A least a portion of Eisnaugle’s art exhibit at the Markay will coincide with the 39th Annual Foothills Arts Festival, which is also poised to be held in October, this time at a new location, the ParksEdge Event Center at 601 East Main Street in Jackson. He told The Telegram that he would be taking several of his works to that event as well, returning them to the Markay exhibit afterwards.

Aside from the opportunity to finally display a collection of his art, and to even offer some of those pieces to interested buyers, Eisnaugle says a major reason for the upcoming event is to reconnect with the hundreds of students he has crossed paths with during his 33-year teaching career. He is encouraging these individuals to stop by, say hello, and maybe even learn a bit more from their former art instructor, as Eisnaugle’s show will also involve him discussing some of his pieces in greater detail inside the Markay’s auditorium.

“It will be a thrill for me to finally share a collection of my work at the Markay,” he said in closing. “I will consider myself beyond blessed and thankful if people take the time to share this experience with me.”