NORTH JACKSON, Ohio – Don’t take pictures of it yet, pleaded Scott Hagan. The runs from the rainstorm need to be touched up.
Like any artist, he’s particular about his craft. Unlike other artists, however, his billboard-size work is emblazoned on the sides of barns and buildings where mistakes are magnified.
You are going to come back and take a picture when it’s done, aren’t you, he asks.
Farm and Dairy’s own barn. Hagan’s name is synonymous with the Ohio Bicentennial. His five-year stint as the painter of the bicentennial barn logos will long be remembered.
When Farm and Dairy considered creating a barn sign in celebration of its 90th year, there was no question who we would call.
Hagan finished the final strokes on the Farm and Dairy barn May 4.
You can see his handiwork on the barn owned by Marvin and Judy Moore, 461 S. Salem-Warren Road, North Jackson, Ohio. It’s on state Route 45 just south of Mahoning Avenue.
Heart of it all. The Belmont County native was thrust into the limelight in 1998 after an Ohio Bicentennial coordinator saw a photograph of his family’s barn, which Hagan had painted with an Ohio State Buckeyes logo. Organizers seized the idea and Hagan’s brush with fame began.
He was commissioned to paint the red, white and blue bicentennial logo on at least one barn in each Ohio county to mark the state’s bicentennial in 2003.
He completed the 88th logo on Sandusky County’s chosen barn Sept. 19, 2002, after working his way through the state and 100 paintbrushes.
On his odyssey, he endured 55,000 miles on the road, persistent wind gusts, hordes of journalists repeating the same questions and well-meaning groupies.
“The crowds kept getting bigger,” he said. “They were just there to watch the paint dry, I guess.”
Never fails, there was always one old codger who wisecracked, “You spelled it wrong.”
The first time he heard that, a worried Hagan scrambled down from his scaffold to double check his work.
Many ‘favorites.’ He’s always asked about his favorite barn, but the diplomatic response is that they’re all special.
After a pause, however, he says he likes Monroe County’s barn a lot, a red barn near Woodsfield. And he enjoyed working and staying with the Kirker family that owns the Adams County barn near West Union. It had a lot of history, Hagan said, and remains in the family of Thomas Kirker, an Ohio political pioneer and acting Ohio governor in 1807-08.
And he repainted the barn in his home county. The Belmont County site was his first barn.
“I didn’t like how it looked and I drove by it all the time,” the barn artist said, “so I redid it on my own.”
Belmont legacy. When Hagan was approached to tackle the 88-barn project, he talked it over with another Belmont County resident, master painter Harley Warrick, who painted more than 20,000 Mail Pouch Tobacco signs in his lifetime.
Warrick helped Hagan rig up his platform, a rope-and-pulley contraption that Hagan used until his second year into the project when he bought the scaffolding he currently uses.
Warrick died in 2000.
Hagan still uses the boards, or stage, he stands on to paint, that Warrick used. They’re flecked with black and yellow paint, Mail Pouch signature colors, as well as red, white and blue drops.
“I wish he was still around,” Hagan said softly. “There’s no one else to talk to who really understands what I do.”
All freehand. Like the bicentennial logo, the Farm and Dairy logo was sketched onto a grid Hagan pencils onto the barn side. Then, the paint is applied freehand. No stencils. No airbrushes. Just a paint can in his left hand and a paintbrush in his right.
Soft rock music plays in the background from his gray pickup truck’s satellite radio. He works quickly, carefully. The sign takes shape.
It’s the longest he’s taken, Hagan says. It rained after he started Farm and Dairy’s barn, and the sign has 87 characters, more than he’s had to paint before. There’s a lot going on on this barn, he added.
Life after bicentennial. Hagan hasn’t had any trouble finding new projects.
He painted a huge 40-year anniversary logo at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Companies like Farm and Dairy and Kiko Auctioneers have commissioned his work.
And he’s getting ready to start a project with a New York county that wants to have its bicentennial logo on a barn in each of its townships.
Closer to home, the Monroe County Tourism Office has commissioned Hagan to paint quilt squares on at least 20 barns in the county.
Another day. As he ends his work, Hagan carefully wraps his paintbrush in a piece of tin foil, folding tight creases around his lifeline so no air can dry out the bristles.
He doesn’t clean the brush.
It’s ready for the next job.
* * *
Get the details
* See the Farm and Dairy barn
Owned by Marvin and Judy Moore
461 S. Salem-Warren Road (Rt. 45)
North Jackson, Ohio
* Scott Hagan
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!