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Toni Battle Gaines said she was so inspired by women in the region that she created "Celebration of Creative Women," where Toledo area women will display their artwork during an open house at the Scarlett Secor Mansion at 311 Bush St. in North Toledo from 3 to 6 p.m.
Several rooms on the first-floor of the 140-year-old mansion that is home to the Jamil Lewis Multicultural Center for the Arts have been turned into art galleries. The welcoming, grand, and gracious space is perfect to display about 15 artists' works in galleries that are bathed in natural light pouring in through tall, narrow windows that practically reach from the floor to the ceiling.
There are recognizable paintings of women in black-and-white acrylic: the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin; the mother of the modern civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, and the woman whose ageless face epitomizes the sultriest of looks, Marilyn Monroe.
Other art also will be on display, including some designed from fibers, and mixed media, art in the form of jewelry and quilting. Photographs will accompany the collection, as will documentaries -- including one on child abuse -- and puppets.
"Women in Toledo are phenomenal. In comparison to Los Angeles, in Toledo they are welcoming and embracing," said Gaines, who with her husband, Melvin Gaines, co-owns "Scarlett," as she refers to the building at Bush and Summit streets.
She grew up in Toledo, graduating from Scott High School in 1970 and Bowling Green State University in 1974 before moving to the West Coast.
"It's so cool. I have been back here six-and-a-half years, and I have some of the best friends," said Gaines, who spent some 30 years in L.A., where she was an advertising sales manager for the Los Angeles Times.
Her vibrancy and interests compel her and Audrey Johnson, the executive director of the Jamil Lewis center, to take advantage of the fact that March is Women's History Month to honor women who have otherwise made indelible marks in history and in their respective communities.
While pulling together the artists, Gaines and Johnson decided they had to honor other women.
"So many of us never get that pat on the back, that pat that says, 'You are doing a good job,' " Gaines said.
"I have a passion for recognizing people while they are at their strongest," she said, and not when they are dealing with some kind of adversity.
That's why this center for the arts and Scarlett Secor Mansion also will celebrate the 2011 Women of Distinction. Thirteen women on the local and national fronts, including several who will be honored posthumously, is another highlight of the open house.
The local honorees are:
● Beth Collins, creator of Elizabeth's House, a women's renewal center on Secor Road.
● Joyce Perrin, a local arts coordinator and host of Any Wednesday jams at her Old West End home.
● Joanne Mennefee, a reading specialist for Toledo Public Schools and manager for a jewelry company and an arts company.
● Linda Detrick-Jaegly, a community development champion who is economic development and marketing manager for United North.
● Jennifer Blakeman, an artist who is the owner of the Dragonfly Artisan Tea Cottage art gallery and restaurant in Sylvania.
● Jennifer Jarrett, deputy director of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.
Those to be noted posthumously are:
● Ella P. Stewart, one of the first African-American pharmacists and for whom a TPS elementary school is named.
● E. Genevieve Dale, community activist and funeral director of a mortuary that still carries her last name.
● Alice Mosiniak, founder of the Toledo Seagate Food Bank of Northwest Ohio.
● Dorothy I. Height, long-time president of the National Council of Negro Women, educator, and social activist.
● Zora Neale Hurston, author.
Other honorees are talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Contact Rose Russell at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6178.