2023: Our Year in Review

April 19, 2024

2023: Our Year in Review

2023: Our Year in Review


This year has been a huge one for Erin and me, and for our business, Cole's Aircraft. The business grew by exactly 50% over last year (2022), which is about exactly where we wanted to be - not too drastic, not too flat. We sold exactly 3,293 pieces of my art and grossed 1.28 million dollars. These figures certainly give me pause as an artist, reminding myself that while my days are filled with the necessary 'grunt work' of boxing orders, pairing labels, and ordering supplies - I'm still selling my own artwork to people who collect it. We're not investing in ever greater things based upon an inheritance, managing somebody else's invention, or outsourcing products to China. I create art, print it, sign it, and sell it. It's that simple, and that's pretty amazing to me. Anyone who is familiar with where I was thirty years ago, I'm frankly just happy to still be alive. In light of all of that, it's been a very good year. Our Cole's Aircraft Online Store



This year saw us commit to our largest project in the twelve-year history of our company. We purchased a 27,000-square foot commercial building in downtown Zanesville, Ohio. Built in 1926, this four-story historic structure was occupied by Montgomery Ward until 1974. We established a new 501(c)(3) non-profit company and donated the entire building to it, thus creating Cole Center Zanesville (CCZ) directly across from the Muskingum County Courthouse. While Cole's Aircraft will lease about 2000-square feet from the Center (which will in turn help its operating costs), the vast majority of CCZ will be renovated to support local education and increase tourism into our downtown through promoting the arts, history, aviation, aerospace, engineering and design. If I bordered upon the tacky by revealing our for-profit numbers for 2023, it's because we will soon be launching a massive capital funding campaign to help bring the Center to full fruition. Our own personal pledge will be significant, but the CCZ will ultimately cost 3.8 million dollars to complete. We donated the building, and the City of Zanesville has already approved a $23,000 grant. All of this within ninety days! We're off to a fabulous start, but this is only the beginning. 


For more information about Cole Center Zanesville:  Cole Center Zanesville: Executive Summery and Cole Center Zanesville, Our Vision

Within the local art scene, Erin and I committed to be officers in the Artist Colony of Zanesville (ArtCOZ), Erin as President and myself as Secretary. The Colony has enjoyed a very successful year, with a membership drive that took us past the 100-member mark for the first time since 2006. We led a great team that hosted the 2023 Y-Bridge Arts Festival, our region's largest outdoor annual event, and Holiday Arts Fest at our Welcome Center in December to end the year. We're both still on the hook as ArtCOZ officers through 2024.     

Our son, Ronnie Cole, graduated from Xavier University with degrees in Mathematics and Computer Engineering. This past July he started his career with Boeing in St. Louis, writing code for their military flight simulators - and other 'need to know' projects. So utterly proud of him!

Barnes & Noble is picking up Ron Cole's Warbirds of World War Two wall calendar for the nineth year in a row. Royalties are not life-changing, but it's a great way to get my art in front of new people. 


Our main Zanesville gallery, at 616 Main Street, has evolved a lot in 2023. We've had our original Japanese A6M2 Model 21 Zero Fighter (built in 1943 and recovered from the island of Ballalae in 2019) for eighteen months and has become essentially complete this year, with the addition of original components such as one Type 87 aircraft machine gun (inoperable), original Type 96 ku radio receiver (the world's only known example), and a pilot's seat that was built to exact specs (the original seats were made of a nickel/magnesium alloy that exfoliated very quickly). Thus, we almost have one of the rarest original warbirds in the world that you can sit in, right here in Zanesville, Ohio on public display. Cole's Downtown Gallery 


Erin and I hosted the WHIZ/Marquee Broadcasting Christmas Party again this year, then hosted what was supposed to have been a surprise retirement party a few days later for WHIZ General Manager Doug Pickrell (congrats, Doug and Star)!  We never designed our 616 Main Street space as an event center, but that so many people are drawn to the atmosphere of this place and regularly ask to join us there - it's rewarding to share a place with friends that we created with our own eccentricities in mind (we have a table made out of a real zebra, after all). 


I created an especially unique piece for this year's Festival of Trees, an annual tradition I've undertaken in support of the Zanesville Muskingum County Chamber of Commerce for seven years running. My painting depicts the USS Airship Shenandoah carrying Santa Clause to Zanesville over the Muskingum County Courthouse. It raised a record $2,700 for the Chamber at auction. Erin and I worked on the WHIZ submission this year; a Christmas event table with a nutcracker built into it, and a nutcracker theme. It raised in excess of $7000 for the cause and included a marketing package from the station. A terrific event overall, made all the more festive as it always takes place during the November First Friday Art Walk downtown, and our gallery is open the following day as well. Perhaps I'm confusing 'festive' with 'chaotic' - but it all came together in the end. 

In 2024 Cole's Aircraft will be expanding its product line into aerospace to include displays featuring Apollo and space shuttle programs, but we will not ignore new aviation subjects in the new year. We will be supercharging our collection of important artifacts and artwork for display in the new building. 

Above all, Erin and I wish to thank everyone, near and far, for their support of our projects, products, and of course friendship. 

Happy New Year!   

Ron & Erin Cole

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