Aug 15 – Northwest Ohio is a little more colorful thanks to the many murals that have popped up this summer.
Muralists were busy in Glass City splashing an octopus over an inside wall of Imagination Station, a towering teenage girl over a building on South Huron Street, and in one high profile example, a drizzle of sunflowers and sun throttles over 28 massive grain elevators along the Maumee River. It’s an artistic refresher in a city that has already had numerous large-format pieces.
The artist Leah Tumerman described such public art as particularly important because it is “accessible to all people”.
“Any background can come up and see a beautiful piece of art in a public space,” said Tumerman, a visiting artist at Young Artists at Work, a paid training program for local teenage artists to learn creative and professional skills.
Tumerman and her cohort of 14- to 18-year-old local artists spent weeks working on a mural commissioned by Imagination Station in late July. The teenagers worked with the senior artist to propose, design, and paint a hybrid space and ocean universe on the lower level of the museum that will be seen by business people and children alike.
The Imagination Station is located at Discovery Way 1 in Toledo.
According to Tumerman, the museum gave the group space for artistic interpretation and only required something that was scientifically themed and that would appeal to a large audience. Her ultimate “marriage” of science and art, she said, came from the young artists’ conviction that both art and science want to explore unknown worlds – a unifying factor.
Harmony Hudson, a student artist who’s been with YAAW for three years, called this mural “definitely different” from the more realistic drawing she’s used to.
“But now I’m more ready to go that route in my own work of art,” she said. “I love all the bright colors and crazy characters.”
The story goes on
When Michael Ansbach of Anspach Law, 25 S. Huron St., Toledo, contacted local artist Michael Osborne to paint a mural on the side of his building, he had few subjects to incorporate into the final design, which symbolizes new beginnings and rebirth.
So Osborne had a great deal of artistic freedom to create what he called an empowering tribute to his niece and other women, and to motivate people in a broader sense. “Through determination and perseverance we can do whatever we set out to do and bring more color to the earth and more positive influences,” he said.
The ultimate design, which he said wanted to “bring to life” what was previously “just a bare brick wall,” is a giant lion symbolizing strength next to a young girl. It is called the timeless empress and the central figures are surrounded by dandelions, butterflies, mountains and bright colors.
Although work began on July 7th, rain delays dragged the project into a multi-week endeavor. Osborne recently completed the building’s artwork. However, although Osborne was unable to work as many days as he wanted due to the weather, he described the reception as “overwhelmingly positive and encouraging”.
“Toledo needed that kind of cultural influx and focus on revitalizing the city,” he said, “and it needs artists and patrons to help make that happen.”
Last summer, plans began for a mural at the Toledo Artists’ Club, located in the Toledo Botanical Gardens, 5403 Elmer Drive, Toledo. Carol Sicha, a professional wall painter and member of the club, was selected to be the lead painter and designer.
Work on what Club President Joe Rudski called the “bizarre concept” of a vine with its leaves replaced by painting instruments didn’t begin until the end of June this year. Although it is finished in its current form, the vine continues to extend so club members can continue to add to the mural in the future.
“The idea is for guests to come into the park and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on over there?'” He added.
Sicha agreed, saying that she “hopes it will invite you to come in to inspire and encourage one another”.
Closer to downtown, Chris Rodriguez spent part of his summer painting a mural in the courtyard of the Zepf Center, a behavioral medicine center on Ashland Avenue in 2005. Rodriguez, who had previously painted a mural at the Zepf Center in 2016, this time for her runaway teenage accommodation at the same address, painted from personal experience – he is a recovering alcoholic.
“I was going through ideas in my head and one thing that struck me was, ‘You grow from what you go through,'” he said. “Everything in my childhood, traumatic experiences, made me what I am today. I wanted to build a design on that.”
Rodriguez decided to make this quote the centerpiece of the mural depicting the path of a tree growing out of darkness and skulls in brightness and color, ennobled with sunflowers and a dove. He completed it on July 4th.
The reception was “really great,” adding that the patients and staff were “blown away” by the mural.
Though ongoing, the Glass City River Wall mural project on Miami Street overlooking the Maumee River plans to prominently place sunflowers in Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s 28 grain elevators. It is probably the largest in the country.
Designed by Los Angeles artist Gabe Gault, the mural will recognize the Native Americans who lived on the banks of the Maumee River before European settlers colonized the area. A mother, a child and a grandmother can be seen on three of the silos. The others are adorned with sunflowers and sunflowers, a type of sunflower previously harvested by tribes in the area.
The completion of the mural is planned for the end of August, in time for the Solheim Cup golf tournament.
Another mural, completed just last month – but well further outside of Toledo – is located in Archbold and was designed by Cincinnati artist Dave Rickerd. The village of Fulton County planned to commission a mural five years ago after the demolition of an old drugstore left a large, blank wall along an intersection on 203 N. Defiance St.
“It looked just awful,” said Mayor Brad Grime.
When her first choice for a muralist was retiring, he recommended Rickerd, whom the mayor happened to know through his son’s marriage. “We invited him to come up and [the committee] was so impressed with him they said this is the guy we want. “
Rickerd, who stayed at a local Archbold Inn for over a month while working on the mural, opted for a landscape that told the story of the city as the story progressed by placing various artifacts in an antique printer’s tablet. The artifacts selected by the committee included a license plate, exercise equipment, a high school tape drum, and a water tower.
“The city was sensational,” said Rickerd of the reception. “You are very receptive to the entire wall area, and there is currently a positive rating of over 90 percent. Negativity cannot be heard.”
There is also a blank space for people to take a picture with the mural, which makes it an interactive piece of art. Mayor Grimes added that he hopes this mural, one of the largest in northwest Ohio at 136 feet long and 60 feet high, will attract more visitors to the area.
Rickerd agreed. “Personally, it’s definitely better,” he said. “The pictures don’t do it justice.”