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Published: 4/27/2001

University of Toledo art exhibit is varied, energetic

BY SALLY VALLONGO
BLADE SENIOR WRITER

The Gallery at the University of Toledo Center for the Visual Arts has a monumental look this month, the result of two- and three-dimensional works by two bachelor of fine arts degree candidates: Miguel Romero and Jose Torres-Moguel.

The men met at UT as freshmen. For a long time, Mr. Torres-Moguel says, they talked about showing their works together.

It's a good idea. The dialogue between their works on paper, in bronze, wood, clay, and canvas, is fascinating. And thanks to strong skills, the works, while not huge in size, convey large-scale interest.

In fact, many of Mr. Romero's bronze sculptures are miniature in scale - small masks poised precariously atop slender, sharp shafts, for example. Yet they project a sense of inner tension through tormented surfaces and often anguished expressions that far exceeds any linear measurement.

Mr. Romero, 25, a native of Honduras who says he came to UT because of its affiliation with the Toledo Museum of Art next door, has a variety of works, most notably sculptures in bronze that are charged with the energy of Expressionist painter Franz Kline and sculptor Mark di Suvero.

Lumber scraps and foam extrusions are hammered into angular, monochromatic abstracts. Bronzes come in many sizes. There's a 6-inch tall Samothrace standing on a base cast from a foam cup. Bridging the Gap, a cast aluminum vertebra atop two limestone columns, and the four-sided mask-topped column, Delicate Balance, commissioned by UT for its Lake Erie Research and Education Center, are highlights.

While the works suggest weighty thoughts and self-scrutiny, Mr. Romero also shows a playful side with some large-scale frogs he has sculpted for Toledo's "It's Reigning Frogs," project. "I like to be involved helping others," says this winner of the Diamante Award from Image of Northwest Ohio for service to the Hispanic community. He will study sculpture next year at Montana State University.

Mr. Torres-Moguel, 25, a Mexico City native who started as a photographer and morphed into drawing and painting, has large untitled graphite and oil stick drawings. Each is a study of art basics such as volume, contour, light-dark, and texture, and all bear a presence at least twice their size.

The artist says he insists on finishing each in one session, typically about three hours long, and then leaves it alone. This process is inspired by work of artists Mr. Torres-Moguel encountered traveling through the Caribbean and South America.

Abstract and complex, they speak directly to the emotions, yet invite a more careful scrutiny as well for technique. These large works on paper make a wonderful foil for the sculpture.

But there's more. Mr. Torres-Moguel, who plans to study architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago school next year, also shows a more methodical approach in three oils on paper: Levedad (weightless) versions in red, white, and blue, are about concealment and contemplation, offering glimpses of another world through a dense screen.

The bachelor of fine arts exhibition of works by Miguel Romero and Jose Torres-Moguel at the University of Toledo Center for the Visual Arts Gallery, 620 Grove Pl., adjacent ot the Toledo Museum of Art, will continue through May 5. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.



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