- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2016

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - Love is a word the world needs to hear more often, according to Paducah artist and author Bill Ford.

His love for this city and its community fueled his new book, “Bill Ford, From Paducah With Love,” featuring Ford’s sketches of local landmarks paired with personal reflections written by community members.

“Love, it’s one of the best words we can use,” he said. “This book is love from me and from the people who wrote in it. The title really reflects the love from everybody involved.”

An opening reception and book signing is set to held from 1 to 8 p.m. on May 14 at the Ruth Baggett Gallery on Jefferson Street. Ford and contributing community members will be present to sign books.

Ford’s original artwork used for the book will be displayed in the gallery through June 12.

The book is emotional rather than historical, sharing sketches and memories of Paducah’s many iconic landmarks such as the Market House Theatre, the River Discovery Center, the Hotel Metropolitan, Etcetera Coffeehouse and the Grand Lodge.

“It shows an inner feeling that people have for Paducah,” Ford said. “It’s the writings, these long reflections that make the book. Every time I read it, I start tearing up. I wanted to touch people’s hearts, and the people that come to Paducah, I want them to know how much we love our town and how much they could love their town.”

Opening a copy of the book for the first time, Betty Dobson, book contributor and director of the Hotel Metropolitan Museum, marveled at seeing her personal story next to Ford’s drawing of the hotel.

“Oh, it came out wonderful,” she whispered. “The picture is beautiful. He captured the hotel’s spirit so, so right. It just makes it look like you’d be welcome, and I think Maggie (the hotel’s matriarch) would be proud of that.”

From the informative stories to the sketches drawn with care, Dobson said you can’t read the book and not feel loved.

“That’s the first word that pops in your mind is love,” she said. “The book represents love and makes me feel loved, included, honored and connected to all the great things in Paducah. And I love Paducah.”

Julie Harris, executive director of the River Discovery Center in downtown Paducah, said the project allowed her to express the “sense of place” she derived from the river that cements Paducah as her own hometown.

“I think it’s so important that we know where we came from,” Harris said. “The river gives us a sense of place because Paducah would not exist if it wasn’t for the river. So I think everybody has their own story that connects them to the river and Paducah. Whether it be fishing or a grandparent bringing them down here growing up, we all have a different connection to it.”

The book, she said, will be a keepsake for newcomers and natives alike, urging them to reflect and recognize what it is about Paducah that makes it their own unique home.

“It’ll connect them to Paducah’s history,” she said.

With so many voices and perspectives bound between the covers, Ford said that the book belongs not just to him, but to those very voices and the entire community.

“I call it our book, not my book. It belongs to all of us,” he said. “These are wonderful memories people have written, touching, written from the heart. It’s just a feel good book, and I’m just lucky to be here.”


Information from: The Paducah Sun, https://www.paducahsun.com

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