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Published: Sunday, 6/6/2004

Museum's regional exhibit shows works of whimsy, charm

<i>Tool Series #10</i> by Michael Sheets is among the pieces in the art exhibition. <i>Tool Series #10</i> by Michael Sheets is among the pieces in the art exhibition.

Beautiful, intriguing, and whimsical, the 100 works on view Friday at the Toledo Museum of Art provide glimpses into the souls of 84 local artists.

It's the 86th year for the Toledo Area Artists' Exhibition, the biggest and most prestigious showing of regional work. It opens with a reception Friday evening and the announcement of winners who will share $8,000 in prize money.

The judges, two university-based artists, selected colorful, tasteful pieces that make for a pleasant eyeful in the Canaday Gallery.

There's a quilt fit for a juvenile robot, made of hammered copper squares by Stephen Mockensturm. Softer, quilt-inspired art by Marcia Derse and Connie Stark are the only fabric pieces selected.

Absent this year are jewelry, weird, hulking sculptures, and in general, the outrageous.

Among the handful of glass pieces is a tossed moment in a juggler's act: seven white plates and seven bright spheres are upward bound in Riley Werkman's Gravitational Diversion.

Another glass entry is a trio of wall-mounted yard-long teardrops in gleaming colors, by Matthew Paskiet.

Charming and disarming is an assemblage of 12 Frisbees flung across a wall, each painted in exquisite design. Some have quilt-like patterns, some are reminiscent of East India. Paul Dacey paints the discs with acrylics based on drawings he makes by hand or computer.

A large, three dimensional face, The Wide Eyed Wink III, is cast paper by Tom McGlauchlin, who has long found inspiration in the human face and is best known for his glass art.

A sweet dollhouse with terrific detail was crafted by Thomas O. McLaughlin, from wood, clay, copper, and plastic.

Michael Sheets' two paintings remind us of the beauty inherent in the mundane. He paints the most ordinary subjects realistically but larger than life with rich colors and shapes. Big tools - a saw, pliers, a screwdriver - glisten in the still-life, Tool Series #10. It would look great over a well-used workbench or at a hardware store. And Stones #95 is a study of river rocks.

One of the few surrealistic entries is a block of 10 colorful panels, The Mishima Suite, by Michael Arrigo.

Selecting 100 pieces (almost two-thirds are by men) from slide images of 724 entries were male judges Vincent Castagnacci, of the University of Michigan, and Tarrance Corbin, of the University of Cincinnati. Castagnacci called the body of work a "visual bounty."

"What became clear on viewing the actual work in the museum was the consistent presence of a craft tradition unique to the Toledo area. In the best work, respect for materials, pride in crafting skills, and formal rigor were clearly evident," he wrote.

Entries were original pieces in any media created in the past four years by artists who live or have resided in 15 Ohio and 2 Michigan counties.

The show is the main project of the Toledo Federation of Art Societies, which has 19 member groups, including the Toledo Museum of Art.

Opening ceremonies will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Great Gallery of the Toledo Museum of Art. The Toledo Area Artsts' Exhibition will continue through July 25. Admission is free. The TMA, at 2445 Monroe St., is open Tues., Weds., Thurs., and Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Info: 419-255-8000 and at www.toledomuseum.org.

Contact Tahree Lane at: tlane@theblade.com or 419-724-6075.

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