C. Carey Cloud

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Reception for Wells-Born Artist-Author Carey Cloud
       Jim Barbieri
       Bluffton News-Banner

Thursday 2-4 P.M. Reception for Wells-Born
Artist-Author Carey Cloud Great Chance to
Meet Down-to-Earth Personality, Talent Here

C. Carey Cloud, Brown County artist and author of a popular autobiography "On Cloud Nine." is a Wells County native of great success but far from a typical success story.

When he comes to Wells County Thursday for the formal presentation to the Wells County Historical Museum of the original pencil drawing for his outstanding art work, "The Blacksmith Shop," it would be great if a good number here could meet him.

He is 85 years old and full of zest and vigor — a lot of fun to talk with. There is no pretense. You will think he is much younger. He shoots down a lot of sacred cows in the establishment without disrespect or rancor.

A public reception is slated in the Historical Museum at 420 West Market St. from 2p.m. to 4p.m. Thursday.

Superb, enjoyable and meaningful as his art and writing surely are to many ordinary people, Cloud's special mark of distinction is over the fact that he designed and implemented the making and supply of those countless Crackerjack box toys enjoyed by so many for a stretch from 1937 through retirement in 1964.

He was and is a man of the real commercial world as well as the ivory tower.

Sketcher, painter (oils and acrylics), writer, poet, inventor, designer, innovating genius, businessman — Carey Cloud was and is all of these.

The fact that he did art forms that would sell made him a bit suspect when first part of the Brown County art colony.

Good spirit and talent won others over.

At 85 he has a lot of boy in him and a disdain for ceremony.

It may be enlightening to know that Carey Cloud recalls being something of a slow learner in the Jackson Center School of Wells County, where he was supposed to be absorbing the "basics" but wanted to draw all the time.

The fortunate thing, as he now recalls, is that he found teachers who could extract the best from this without kicking him out of school for dragging down any SAT standing. They really encouraged his art, while pushing him along in other subjects sufficiently to graduate.

"I graduated at the Bluffton Opera House," he recalled to the News-Banner in an interview published last summer.

All rural school classes used to come there for commencement.

That facility was the ultimate home of the Grand and Holiday Theatres before giving way to the wrecking ball and the parking lot fever a few years ago.

"Through his sister, Dollie Smith, in Bluffton, Cloud has' kept abreast of things here via News-Banner clippings over the years. He also has made many visits here and to the Warren area. Math apparently never became Cloud's top subject, nor did he seem to catch on to the computer or calculator age.

When this writer bought books from him last summer, he used longhand pencil computation to figure that the 5 percent sales tax on an exact $20 purchase would be $1. His early years included trying his lot at labor and other tasks in the Southwest oil fields, a Cleveland steel mill and the booming Bluffton piano industry.

At Bluffton's Bay Piano factory where 60 pianos a day then were being produced, Carey Cloud did h4s work but he didn't neglect his art.

If you should have one of those old pianos and if ever it should be dismantle, you might find "doodles" by the famed Carey Cloud within.

He often did them on the fine maple wood — the interior part where the art talent would be hidden. His light was not "under a bushel" but below a keyboard. Cloud recalls much early history here, including the oil boom, the interurban and the career of Dr. Charles Deam, whom he met years ago and admired.

Cloud has a great and lively wit, along with a lot of persistence. He also has possessed a kind of commercial knack that may not be teachable in schools, although it can be encouraged.

The launching of the designing task on which he became the toy supplier for the Crackerjack firm included the requirement to come up continually with new ideas and novelties ‘— taking much imagination.

But it also required sensing and solving the production problems and implementing that output in a commercially successful way.

It is a long path from the drawing board to (he cash register and Carey Cloud had a knack of making that trip.

Hard work in boyhood on farms of Wells, Huntington and Grant Counties made him appreciate the rigors and values of rural Hoosier life and also fueled his desire to pursue his own talents.

There were many setbacks and other hard work to do before he could get untracked in his proper field.

A deep sense of patriotism can be grasped from his composition "Praise to the Flag" — as published in the News-Banner for Independence Day of 1982.

His acrylic of the first Hook Drug Store is an Indiana art and history classic.

Cloud has been interviewed from coast-to-coast, with such features appearing in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the Cincinnati Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Indianapolis Star, the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

In Brown County he has overcome the early suspicion about his being a commercial success and has won acclaim from a pure art standpoint along with friendships for his genuine good humor. When a critical article appeared on an art review, he took it right in stride, reflecting no offense.

‘Every knock is a boost," Cloud told the News-Banner.

He is seemingly uncrushable — a solid family man and individual, at home with people of all walks of life and still adhering to his Wells County rural roots.

He had some of his greatest fun in Brown County when he confounded the new editors who came from another location to take over the weekly newspaper at Nashville some years ago. He sent them fictitious items about fictitious people in the fictitious village of Newton's Ridge, later confessing and being forgiven over the episode.

His paintings, sketches and writings largely center on his vivid picture and images of old barns and landmarks plus the wonders of nature.

"On Cloud Nine" is a fitting title for his book in more ways than one.

You'll feel as though you're "on cloud nine" if you get to meet with him Thursday and grasp his hardy Hoosier spirit - a quality rooted in Wells County.

C. Carey Cloud - Reception for Artist Carey Cloud

C. Carey Cloud