Applying creativity to sheets of steel (he buys three tons worth a year), Chris Seeman makes riotous two-dimensional wall structures sure to attract an audience.
He starts by drawing on a large, flat piece of metal with a magic marker, then using a hand-held torch to cut out the design. On the remaining positive spaces, he adds enamel, gold, copper, ball bearings, and other materials.
"I use some jewelry tricks," says Seeman, who graduated from Start High School in 1977. "I'm totally overtrained as a jeweler. I'm totally untrained as a welder."
Seeman, 45, will be among 113 artists at the Art on the Mall at the University of Toledo, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
It's the 13th year for the popular annual fair, which has become a homecoming for the university's arts community, especially with several artists coming in from out of town, says Eric Slough, of UT's Alumni Association, producer of the event. Participating artists were selected by a jury from 157 applicants who have some affiliation with UT.
Seeman attended UT for two years and the Cleveland Institute of Art for three years. He supports his wife, painter Diane Seeman, and preschoolers Calvin and Cody, by selling his work at 24 retail art shows a year. That puts him on the road for 80 to 90 days annually, he says. The UT show is a small one for him, but a chance to visit his parents, Don and Carolyn Seeman.
"It's terrific making a living doing what you want," says Seeman, who lives in Cincinnati. Pieces range from 6-by-18 inches to 3-by-4 feet. "People really key into my work for whatever reason."
His art has been purchased by restaurants, law firms, hospitals, funeral homes, and individuals.
One of the attractive characteristics of Art on the Mall is the lovely setting, said Slough, director of alumni programming. The mall was transformed 25 years ago from a parking lot and World War II barracks, said Slough.
For children, there will be a young artists' area with jewelry making, stamping, picture-frame and greeting-card making, friendship pins, and face painting.
Jazzy entertainment begins at 12:30 p.m. with the Toledo School for the Arts Jazz Ensemble, followed at 1:45 p.m. by UT's Faculty Jazz Ensemble, and at 3 p.m. by Kelly Broadway.
Refreshments will be available for purchase. Golf-cart shuttles will offer free rides to the mall from campus parking lots.
A kick-off gala will be Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium. Tickets are $50, which includes delectables from area restaurants, jazz by the Dan Seemann Quartet, and a silent auction of art donated by participating artists. About 400 to 500 people are expected to attend the gala, he said.
Last year, the weekend's events raised about $15,000 for the alumni association, said Slough.
Art on the Mall is Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the University of Toledo's Centennial Mall. Admission is free. Parking in university lots is free. Information: 419-530-2586.
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