EMPTY NEST - By Curt Swarm

Viking cruise patrons get special treatment

Last Ottumwa barber calls it quits


Famed international French artist Cecile Houel (pronounced “Well”) is honored, pleased and excited.  Tourists aboard a Viking River Cruise will be visiting her art studio on Thursday, September 8.  Originally Viking River Cruise was supposed to stop in July, but delays caused by river conditions, and the construction of a new river boat, the Viking Mississippi, a five-deck, nearly 400 passenger ship, has moved the first Burlington docking to September.  Cecile has her fingers crossed that the date doesn't move again. 
She has been busy preparing art prints and gussying up her studio.  Cecile is best known for her larger than life portraits of all the Nobel Peace Prize recipients.  Her current subject is Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2005.  Annan and the United Nations were co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.  Cecile will demonstrate the process of painting such a large portrait, the layers that go into the work, and the three studies she prepares before the final portrait is finished.
Cecile is also well known for her paintings of local subjects such as Burlington's Snake Alley in all four seasons, steamboats, river scenes, and sculptures made of driftwood.  She has prepared three different sizes of prints that her Viking Cruise guests can purchase. 
Following their visit to Cecile Houel's art studio, the tourists will go to Burlington's Art Center on Jefferson Street in downtown Burlington, no doubt seeing Snake Alley along the way.  At the Art Center they will view work by local artists, browse the gift shop, and participate in a little art project of their own that they can take with them. 
The “Art Around Burlington” tour is just one of several tours the passengers can choose from.  Examples of others are “Historic Burlington,” “Flavors of the Midwest,” “Historic Nauvoo,” “Old Ft. Madison,” and “Hinterland Dairy” in Donnellson. 
Other stops in Iowa while on the Mississippi River, which is called, “The Grand Canyon of the Midwest,” are Davenport and Dubuque.  The Viking Mississippi will be on a 15-day cruise from New Orleans to St. Paul.  Other shorter cruises are also available and will be stopping at the Port of Burlington. 
On another note, barber Rick McFarland of Ottumwa, is hanging up his clippers after 50 years of cutting hair, the last 43 years at his shop on Williams St.  And Rick's last customer was Alan Dolan, the man who went with 19-year old Rick to Des Moines, 50 years ago, so that Rick could take his State Board Exam.  Alan has been getting his hair cut by Rick all these years.  It's only fitting that Alan should be the one to get Rick's last clipping.
Rick's wife and daughter were in attendance for the infamous last haircut, along with Alan's wife.  There were two newspaper reporters present to get the story.  A siren was heard outside.  A deputy sheriff drove by with lights and siren in a fair-well salute to an Ottumwa icon.  Rick McFarland is the last barber in Ottumwa.  When he started out in 1972, there were 27 barbers in town.  Now there are none.
But Rick's business, “Hair's the Place” is not going to get clipped, it is in good hands.  Lesley Owens has purchased the business.  She has been working with Rick for a month.  She will take over the clippers on Tuesday, August 30.  (Barbers always take Monday off because they work on Saturday.)  Brenda, who worked for Rick, will work with Lesley.
Some of Rick's male customers don't know if they can allow a woman to cut their hair.  They may have to split hairs and re-evaluate their druthers. 
Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, find him on Facebook, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.

Empty Nest, Curt Swarm, editorial, column, Sunday, opinion, business, Cecile Houel, artist, Viking Cruises, tourists, Pen City Current


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