Pick up the paintbrush

Gary Birch’s Zero Worries paints new pathways at Yellow Springs Brewery

By Joyell Nevins

Can a woman brew beer? Can a man who’s never painted before create moving art? The answer to both is a resounding “Yes,” according to the Yellow Springs Brewery. Saturday, April 2, their Art & Ale series introduces a new brew and a new art show, Zero Worries.

The new brew is called Femme Ale, a German-style gose. According to Beer Advocate, gose is an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50-60 percent malted wheat, which creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang. It is a top fermented beer and normally has low hop bitterness and a little bit of sharpness to it from the added spices and salt.

This particular gose is a result of Big Boots Brew Day and the Pink Boots Society, a group focused on raising the profile of and empowering women in the craft beer industry. On Big Boots Brew Day, the Yellow Springs Pink Boots donned their own work boots and with the help of guest brewer Mary MacDonald, Executive Director of the Ohio Craft Brewers’ Association, started the brew process of Femme Ale.

The artist Gary Birch’s process started five years ago. His work includes both acrylic and oil paints, and can be found on canvas, cloth and wood.

Birch’s career field is conservation work in art and antiques, but he’s always been interested in making art himself. His family seems to have art in its veins: Birch’s daughter is a scriptwriter with Paramount Studios, and his son is a jazz drummer and composer in New York City. Birch’s wife works as an IT executive, but also dabbles in the art field.

Five years ago, the opportunity to paint full time presented itself and Birch grabbed it. The Milford man rented a studio at the schoolhouse in Yellow Springs and gathered his materials. The next question was what to paint. Although he had studied neurology at Miami University, Birch wanted to go beyond the neural pathways.

“I sat down in a silent room in front of a blank canvas and the first thing that comes to mind is ‘paint from memory,’” Birch recalls. “But I want to escape memory.”

So instead, Birch just began to put marks on paper. He uses acrylics and oils and often works in his studio for 10 hours a day, with as many as eight different works going at a time. He admits it can be messy at first, still, slowly but surely, those marks and colors began to emerge into a work of art.

“Novelists talk about their characters coming to life,” Birch says, explaining that he feels a similar connection to his paintings. “There becomes a connection between the painting and me that is a collaboration. I don’t want to dominate that.”

Birch loves exploring what that final result will be.

“My paintings surprise me,” he says. “That’s what keeps me going. I don’t want to be limited by plans!”

Similar to writers, Birch stresses the importance of just doing it when it comes to painting.

“Pick up the materials and just do something,” Birch says. “It’s not a matter of inspiration, it’s just doing it. I interact with [the painting] and immediately something starts happening.”

Even when it appears like drudgery, Birch loves it.

“Painting is the most fun thing I do,” he says.

Now, Birch is ready to share those paintings with the outside world. He has exhibited at the Emporium in Yellow Springs and with the Yellow Springs Arts Council, and received third place in the Members’ show at Springfield Art Museum. Birch was buoyed by the positive response the Brewery had to his paintings, and is continuing to enter his work into shows around the area.

“I paint every day,” he says. “My next big goal is to get my work out into the world.”

Zero Worries is on display from March 30-April 24 at Yellow Springs Brewery, 305 N. Walnut St. An opening reception will be held Saturday, April 2 from 2-4 p.m. For more information, please visit yellowspringsbrewery.com or call 937.767.0222.

Joyell Nevins believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com.

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Joyell Nevins
Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com

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