LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge
It is The Year of the Sculpture at the annual Toledo Area Artists exhibition.
The year's biggest local art show is also the biggest year for large-scale 3-D in a long, long time. Dominating the usual pictures and pots are heavyweights of stone, steel, wood, clay, and bronze. The exhibit opens Friday evening at the Toledo Museum of Art's Canaday Gallery, and will continue through July. Admission is free.
Mike Sohikian, Genoa's Man of Steel, fields El Guerrero, a ferrous fellow with a rock where his head should be.
Before the boss jokes start, consider Thomas Kuebler's creepy silicone Cletus and Shorty Play Checkers. This dummy has two heads. He - or they - is so lifelike he frightens the museum guards.
Beyond the human form is Duane Bastian's Artifacts, six ceramic pedestals studded with “burnt offerings” likewise formed of clay, but looking like antlers and burnt tin cans, stark against hot poppy-red walls.
Scott Horn is in the show twice, with a haunted bedsheet called Looks Like Rain, and a big burnt-black carload of skulls and weeds called Feed The Flame of Fame.
Split Decision, a solid mass of stone and brass by Calvin Babich, is hands-on art. “Go ahead and touch it,” says exhibits coordinator Claude Fixler. “You can't hurt it. And it's not going to move.”
Biggest of all, and maybe the best, is a three-part Sputnik Phantasmagoria by Dario Arcamone. It's wood, it's stone, it's steel - Maybe it's a mill wheel, maybe it's an oil rig. Peek in the little spy-hole at one end, and you'll see the moon.
All the big, heavy pieces are made by men. Only one, a series of six tusks mounted on a wall, is made by a woman. Kristin Kowalski made Vertical Repetition to look like wood, but it's really paper and clay, baked in a pit.
For 85 years, Toledo artists have adored and abhorred one another's work at this springtime exhibition. This year it's 119 pieces by 113 artists. The usual cast of characters are represented, but plenty of newcomers are here, too. The judges change each year - that's what keeps the quality high and the mix fresh, Fixler said. More than $8,000 in prizes are awarded, and several area organizations sponsor prizes in different media.
Many of the works are for sale. Most are excellent.
What's remarkable is what's not here: There's almost no glass, jewelry, photography, or fiber work in the show, and the paintings are scaled smaller than usual. That's not a bad thing: some of the watercolors are wonderful. Don't miss Lori Langenhop's super-realistic fruity still life, or Human Sundials by Stephanie Gau.
Tom McGlauchlin's glass-and-colored pencil portraits are striking, as his work usually is. John Leyland's Disk Series 1, a bizarre slotted loaf of acid-green ceramic, is another show highlight.
Opening night is the event of the Toledo art season, and the museum is open late for It's Friday! activities as well. The Griswolds play blues in the Peristyle lobby, Jean Holden sings in the cloister, and North Coast Theater presents a musical mystery in the Green Room. Art show awards will be announced at 8 p.m. in the Great Gallery, and doors will open to t he exhibit afterward. It will remain open until July 27.