Living On A Prayer: Decidated in loving memory of Phil Weldon


BY REQUEST: Livin’ on a Prayer



I was baptized at 3 months old in a tiny church located on a small peninsula called “Picnic Point”, Buckeye Lake, Ohio. That little church is long gone because the congregation grew and moved down the street close the KOA in Buckeye Lake Village. I really wished I’d gotten to see that little church while still standing. The pictures I’ve seen is as close as I will ever get. 


So I grew up staring at stained glass windows on Sundays. Of course I don’t remember the one in the church where I was baptized but The First Community Church ( The Picnic Point church congregation)  installed a beautiful one when they did at last build their new church home down the street. I marveled over that window. Maybe my first memorable exposure to art without realizing it. There were stories about it. The details are kinda scrambled in my head. Who made it, the company and all about the installation. That must have been a happy day. It was, and still is, beautiful as are my childhood memories of the First Community Church. 


I have since witnessed so many small town church stained glass windows while acting as music director, playing the piano/guitar or singing. In addition to the music lessons provided to me by my parents, much of my musical shaping came from a preacher’s wife named Alma Meacham. She played incredible stride piano on an old upright with a mirror on it so that she could look back at the choir behind her while playing. I can still see her face in that mirror. Perfectly quaffed hair, smiling and making a pretty incredible joyful noise. She decided I was “qualified” to play for the little kids choir when I was about 8 years old. And so it began. So to me, these colorful windows were the artistic backdrop of my first years at the piano. 


Later in life, I was the music director at the Hebron United Methodist Church. The old building eventually closed and they blended with the New Life Church. Upon blending, they made a very cool move. I was attending a funeral there and I noticed off to the side in the sanctuary that they had lovingly and quite tastefully placed a portion of the stained glass window from the old HMC. I asked one of the life long members from the congregation about it. They said that was a wish that was granted when the old church blended with the new one. They respectfully reserved a wealth of history. So, I guess, all these stained glass windows from years gone by have their own personal story. With any luck at all when the buildings no longer exist, somebody has the foresight to preserve at least some of them in a respectful way.


Just as the stained glass windows have a story, so do the prayers spoken in front of them.  We are still feeling the weight of the world with Pandemic terrors. The journalists aren’t terribly encouraging. Everybody’s prayers have their own story and burst with cries for healing from the way this year has touched or kicked them. Healing from the way it may have torn through their families, their jobs, their incomes and their hearts.  It really IS like we are literally livin’ on a prayer because it may be all we have left at the moment. Who do we trust? Who do we believe? Who do we turn to? These days I include the words “heal our planet” in my prayers because I don’t know how else to put it. 


Some camps would also see this tune as a cheesy piano bar song that people sing at the top of their lungs then they’ve hit the sweet spot of the night. Desmond Child co-wrote this song with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora in a borrowed New York apartment on a little piano. The story? Holding on to what you’ve got during adversity. Thanks Jon, Desmond and Richie. You weren’t even really famous yet when this was written. Your words still apply. How could you have known?


“Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear…….whoa oh- livin’ on a prayer”. 



Livin’ on a Prayer is painted on a 12 x 12 canvas panel. You know, like what a vinyl record would come in. If you haven’t seen one, ask your grandma. 

Watercolor and paint marker were used. 

I’d like to give a shout out to two of my friends who influenced some of it. 

Geoff-thanks for our conversations about your obsession for stained glass. I guess it made more of an impression on me than I realized. 

Molly-thank God you suggested polka dots. Life changing. You’ll see it again. And again. 



I’d like to dedicate this painting to Phil Weldon. A friend to all and wiser than a grounded owl. He shared his love for rock and roll and race cars with all of us. His friendship was rock solid and honest. Always content to stay home and just listen to the recordings, Phil was constantly dragging me out of my comfort zone to watch it all live. I would never have seen the legendary Eddie Van Halen, Rolling Stones, Sammy Hagar, Aerosmith, Styx, TSO or ANY of them live had it not been for Phil’s insistence that I did. He knew what he loved, stayed close to it and never seemed to need to wander the earth to find it. It was literally in his own backyard.  I can still see him up ahead of me walking home from school without knowing I was behind him. I can see him walking up the steps, entering the house and within minutes blasting James Gang on his stereo. I thought the windows would shatter from the volume. ;) That picture is still vividly in my mind. He has now ascended the Stairway to Heaven like a long awaited guest. We love you Phil. I ask God to kiss your forehead every night. You moved mountains with your brand of friendship. Rest in Rock and Roll Heaven. 



This painting will be part of a new series I am creating called “By Request”.  

Cuz, why not? I’ve been taking them on the band stand since I was 15. 

It is available in 12x12 and 8x8.  Here is the link.



This is my last blog of 2020. No matter what 2021 brings (cuz we’ve already put a great deal of pressure on it) take it one day at a time. 

Don’t try to eat the elephant all at once cuz you really shouldn’t eat elephants anyway. They’re too cute. 

And if you have to, take it one minute at a time. Don’t forget that you’re not the only one Livin’ on a Prayer. You’re in good company. 

Those are mine words of wisdom at the close of this year. 




Gayla Smith

Smith Girl Arts