Medici fosters fellowship

Museum hosts Philmont Staff Association reunion

HOWLAND — As a teenager, Shelley Taylor enjoyed getting high — and is still feeling the effects.

“It was the best thing I ever did,” Taylor, of Warren, recalled. “You come out there as one person and go home a different person.”

Taylor, who works for Warren-based Paige & Byrnes Insurance, was referring to the high adventures she experienced during summers of her youth at Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico, the country’s largest high-adventure Boy Scout base that is nestled in the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains.

Specifically, Taylor worked five summers at Philmont beginning at age 14, taught crafts to budding Scouts, worked as a ranger and handled rock climbing adventures at a few camps in the sprawling and undulating landscape. When she was 18, Taylor spent 12 days teaching wilderness survival, she said.

Later, she became part of the Philmont Staff Association, a nonprofit organization that Ned C. Gold Jr., a longtime attorney, co-founded in 1973 to unite and bring fellowship to past, current and future Philmont staff members.

An estimated 57 of them received plenty of fellowship and camaraderie when they attended a Northeast Ohio Reunion of the PSA on Saturday at the Medici Museum of Art, 9350 E. Market St.

“This venue seemed like a cool thing for our yearly get-togethers,” said Russell “Bucko” Cowden of Westerville, the PSA’s northeast regional director and event organizer.

Prominently displayed as backdrops were 65 Norman Rockwell oil paintings, as well as others by artist Joseph Csatari, all of which depict slices of bucolic Americana as they relate to Scouting. The works are part of a collection of more than 400 such paintings housed at the 10,000-square-foot museum.

The exhibition, which was installed in January 2020, also marks the first time all of the paintings have been shown together.

Rockwell was perhaps most famous for his illustrations that appeared for decades on the covers of The Saturday Evening Post showing ordinary American life. In addition, he won the appeal of many for capturing a version of the country’s culture borne of an iconic innocence and idealization — an approach also prominently displayed in his paintings of Boy Scouts for “Boys Life” magazine covers as well as the Boy Scouts of America’s annual calendars.

Gold, for whom Philmont has been a major part of his life, said his favorite Rockwell piece in the Scout series is the 1957 oil-on-canvas “High Adventure” painting that shows Boy Scouts in heavy gear ascending Philmont’s “Tooth of Time,” a geological formation and popular landmark about 9,000 feet in elevation in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains. The painting, about 480 square inches, is the artist’s largest work in the series, he noted.

For Gold, the “Tooth of Time” also symbolizes the adventures of thousands of Scouts, along with their annual experiences, he said.

In 1983, Gold took his son, Greg, and about 30 other Scouts on an expedition at Philmont near Baldy Mountain, then seven years later, he took his daughter, Marianne, of Durango, Colorado, on a similar trip.

Other oil-on-canvas Rockwell pieces in the exhibit include his 1949 “Friend in Need,” which shows two Boy Scouts nursing a dog with an injured paw; the 1946 “A Guiding Hand” with two Scouts collaborating to tie a string; and “On to Washington,” a 1935 painting that displays a jubilant Scout, with a large eagle behind him, on his way to the Boy Scouts of America’s National Jamboree in the nation’s capital.

Other paintings that capture Scouting were from Csatari, 95, a realist artist who worked closely with Rockwell and was commissioned as the BSA’s official artist.

Gold said he’s proud of the thousands of service hours PSA volunteers have donated to the 220-square-mile Philmont Scout Ranch, along with the millions of dollars raised on behalf of the Boy Scouts.

The organization has about 5,000 members worldwide, he added.

Philmont Scout Ranch, established in 1938 near Cimarron, New Mexico, covers more than 140,000 acres of mostly wilderness and operates 35 staff camps and 55 trail camps throughout an area that ranges in elevation from 6,500 to 12,440 feet.

The Boy Scout ranch, which lists positively impacting and changing lives as its primary objective, offers programs that include backpacking, burro packing, gold mining, horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking and sport shooting, according to its website.

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