Serendipity strikes again

Posted on June 29, 2011

By Jason McGrann

Serendipity is defined as the phenomenon or instance of finding something valuable when not searching for it.

Serendipity struck a second time for Dr. Mike Barton, M.D. and world-renowned international artist Richard Ozanne, who were reunited this week in Centerville after being out of touch for four years.

Barton, who has lived in Centerville for approximately one year, came to know Ozanne after a chance meeting in a coffee shop in Tempe, Ariz.

“I was in the coffee shop and there was no place to sit except next to Richard,” said Barton. “I asked him if I could sit down. We started talking and didn’t stop talking until I moved away a few years later. We talked everyday. It was a great place.”

Barton and Ozanne quickly found a subject they had in common. Ozanne’s parents are concert pianists while Barton also has a musical background.

“We struck up a conversation about music and it was awhile before I found out Richard was an artist because we always talked about music,” Barton said.

The coffee shop, Charlie’s, soon became a hang-out for eclectic musicians.

“They had world-class music there and it became a magnet for culture,” said Ozanne.

The two met nearly every day for two years at Charlie’s before parting ways.

Years later, Barton sent a message via the internet to Ozanne after finding an e-mail address.

“I typed in, ‘Richard, are you still out there?’,” recalled Barton.

“I went to my hotmail address and I never go there because it’s always filled with spam mail. I saw Mike Barton’s name. That day will live in my mind forever,” Ozanne said. “It’s amazing – serendipity. I believe the universe works in this harmony.”

Ozanne is a world-renowned artist who has lived in Prague, Czech Republic, and Italy. Ozanne recently moved back to the United States and made a special trip to Centerville to visit Barton before traveling to Houston, Texas to meet with friends and family. Ozanne is in the process of trying to find a suitable location for his art studio. After spending a few days in the area, Ozanne may end up in Centerville.

“It’s a very peaceful town, I like it,” said Ozanne, referring to Centerville. “I lived in New York for about 4 1/2 years, it was wonderful, except for the peace of mind whenever I walked outside of my studio. I had a very nice apartment studio, even when I left my dwelling, there was no fresh air to be had.”

“Richard’s art is well-known, so he can be virtually anywhere. So I said, ‘why not Centerville? Why not try to bring art and culture to Centerville?’,” remarked Barton.

After spending a majority of his life living in metropolitan areas, Barton was skeptical about Centerville when he first arrived. But it wasn’t long before he was sold on the area.

“Coming from big cities, I didn’t really give Centerville a chance at first. But where else can you walk out in your backyard and see deer or turkey walking across your yard or trees changing colors,” commented Barton.

Barton and Ozanne also have been brainstorming about the possibility of opening a coffee shop similar to Charlie’s on the Square in Centerville.

“We were thinking about a cyber cafe/coffee shop/art studio – we’ve been tossing ideas around. I’ve done a couple demographics on the area and we have a number of artists here,” Barton said. “I always wanted to open a place that would emulate a place like Charlie’s because it was such a great place. We started walking around the Centerville square and I said, ‘Here it is – Rich and Mike’s Coffee Shop with all of your art on the wall’. We’ve been in the planning and “what if” stage.”

Ozanne has exhibited his artwork in New York City and across the United States, Europe, New Zealand and parts of Asia.

In 2006, Ozanne was awarded the “Oscar Del Arte” (Oscar of Arts), sponsored by the Order of Michelangelo Buonarroti, in Torino, Italy. Ozanne was also the recipient of the first prize award for modern religious art at Santa Maria della Arte exhibition in Torino.

One of Ozanne’s unique pieces of work is titled the “Columbine Cross”. Ozanne created the piece after the tragedy in Columbine, Colo.

“The pastor of the Christian church that is right across the street from the high school, I had worked with before in Arizona. I had heard about the incident and the pastor wrote to me about what had happened. So I did the cross. I was searching for something that would serve as a memorial for what happened,” said Ozanne.

Information taken from Ozanne’s website:

The piece was created in 1999 and made of carved native wood, uncut gemstones (lapis,aquamarine, garnet, ruby, sapphire, goldleaf) and hand painted with special oil.  It is a multiple cross superimposing several “crosses” in a unique configuration. At the bottom stands the cross of Malta in a special relief made of special clay material.

The cross was a gift from Ozanne to the Disciples of Christ Columbine Church in memory of the children who died in the Columbine High School tragedy and is on display right across from the school in Colorado.

The cross has a very special story. The artist said he was on tour in the Czech Republic when he heard of the disaster of Columbine High School. In a small town in the Czech Republic he was approached by an old man who had a small bag of gems which were uncut, which he gave to the artist acknowledging that they must be used in a special way in regard to the tragedy. Ozanne traveled to Cheesy Krumlov (Czech Republic) where he commenced work on the details of the project, a cross in memory of the children lost at the tragedy of Columbine High School. After two months of painstaking work the cross, its unfinished condition traveled with him twice across the Czech frontier getting many remarks from people who saw it. After its completion a month later, the Columbine Cross returned with him to the United States and was sent to the disciples of Christ Church in Columbine, Colo.


It’s a possibility that sometime in the near future, Barton and Ozanne could find themselves reminiscing about Charlie’s and solving all the world’s problems while absorbing the culture in their own coffee shop/art studio. The serendipitous road might lead to Centerville.

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