The mild weather of the coming months invites strolling and biking. And a free 40-page booklet provides a reason.
The beautifully produced, 8.5-inch-square publication details 83 sculptural works of art in the area, most outdoors. In Toledo Sculpture Tours, the pieces are pictured and grouped by location, accompanied by large, easy-to-read maps.
"I've shown it to several people and they say, 'Wow! We had no idea that Toledo has this kind of public art,'" said the ever-enthusiastic Susan Reams, arts consultant to Toledo Mayor Jack Ford.
There are cast-metal manhole covers by the ball field and action-figure-style firefighters at an East Toledo fire station; statues of children dancing, playing, and being comforted by protective adults, and giant 1970s- and 1980s-style abstractions.
The largest concentration, about three dozen pieces, are in downtown Toledo. Seven are installed at Toledo Botanical Garden, eight in the University of Toledo/Ottawa Park area, and 22 outdoor pieces graces the grounds of the Toledo Museum of Art.
The Fifth Third Field area includes four pieces that could easily be seen on the way to a ball game, and all can be viewed from outside the park. In the delightful bronze sculpture, Who's Up?, four kids on the sidewalk finagle to get a peek at the action inside. In I Got It!, a trio of boys leap for a fly ball. The sculpture is installed on a turntable; during games, it faces the field; at non-game times, it's turned to face the sidewalk.
Some sculptures are very much off the beaten track and frequently vandalized, but deserve a look for their historic or inspirational value. An especially evocative piece is at the site of the former Electric Auto-Lite factory at Champlain and Elm streets near the Greenbelt Parkway. Union Memorial Park depicts a scene from the darkest days of the Great Depression. A larger-than-life bronze woman and man carry picket signs amidst bricks and an entryway salvaged from the plant when it was demolished in 1999. It's a remembrance of the violent May, 1934, strike in which soldiers killed two and wounded 200.
And just south of downtown, in front of the Amtrak station, is Artifacts of Childhood, a cast-bronze obelisk inlaid with beloved childhood objects and a charming sitting area.
The art was paid for by a variety of sources: some county and state money; some from private and museum funds, said Ms. Reams. Much of the art in the city - almost $3 million worth - was paid for by Toledo taxpayers, said Dan Hiskey, city auditor for the city.
In 1977, Toledo was the first Ohio city to adopt a One Percent for Art Program, said Ms. Reams, who lobbied city council members almost 30 years ago to get the measure passed. She looked to the city of Seattle as a model, she said. In 1990, the state of Ohio adopted a similar program. "We're going to be known for our great public art sculptures," said Ms. Reams.
The booklet and a tri-fold pamphlet cost $16,132 to produce. A previous version, published about five years ago, listed 40 pieces.
Free copies of "Toledo Sculpture Tours" are available at the Toledo Museum of Art (at the information desk), the Main Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library (on the lower level near the gift shop), the Toledo Botanical Garden (in the main office), the 22nd floor of One Government Center (the mayor's office), and the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo at 1838 Parkwood Ave., Suite 120 across from the Toledo Museum of Art. For information, call 419-254-2787.
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