Greetings from “Flex” the “Fortune Frog”. This unique creation by James I. Van Epps stretches out as if to smile, welcome, and keep watch while ensuring good furtune. The artist makes each ceramic character in it’s one-of-a-kind imaginative role. Every one has a purpose and story behind it.

The huge wooden front doors to the Akron Zoo Third Annual Trunk Show opened and there to greet everyone were some friendly humans, and a collection of whimsical “Fortune Frogs” and James I. Van Epps, the artist. The creatures have names and stories. Besides “Flex”, I was introduced to “Paul E. Wogg” and ‘Snatch” and then mixed among the frog figures, I found fascinating decorative boxes. Some with frogs, and others ornate with butterflies, sea animals, or imaginative garden fairies.

James explained some of his own story.

When I was a child, my mother would tell me that we had fairies dancing in our garden. I could not see them. When I asked her why, she explained that I would have to be very still and quiet. I would sit quietly waiting for them to be revealed to me. I learned to become close to nature and meditative. Inspirations for the “Lock Boxes” are from those quiet, curious moments in the gardens where I grew up, in Strasburg Ohio. I hope that my lock boxes inspire you to enjoy quietness and nature.

Every lock box has a secret key within itself. The key is only known to the owner, and will open one , two, or maybe even three secret compartments.

Here are two lockbox photos to show you what it looks like closed, and then the same box open.

Lock Boxes

By James I. Van Epps

Dreaming of Wonderland

Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Exploring nature and the arts at the Akron Zoo Trunk show has been a pleasure. I discovered some unique gifts. I did not know that I would be  greeted by such whimsical creatures and secret lock boxes in which to store small valuables.

Enjoy other Trunk Show artists: Bob Barrett

Sunthing Special Cari Miller

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3 Responses to Imagination and Nature Inspires James I. Van Epps

  1. Linda J Chase says:

    Where do I find the stories about the lockboxes? Thank you

    • Mary says:

      Hi Linda, I’m glad you asked! Each figure James creates is given a name and a purpose with a story. I am not sure when in the process this happens, or even if it is before he begins the piece. But, He has story tags written and attached or in compartments.

  2. Michael says:

    Mary, what a great article and Bob this is some beautiful art work! Are these realtor lockboxes, or some other kind of lockboxes?

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