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CTY ART30p Visitors stroll among the exhibit tents. Art on the Mall drew 10,000 to 12,000 people Sunday to the University of Toledo, where most exhibitors were from Ohio and Michigan, but some were from Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
Visitors stroll among the exhibit tents. Art on the Mall drew 10,000 to 12,000 people Sunday to the University of Toledo, where most exhibitors were from Ohio and Michigan, but some were from Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
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Published: Monday, 7/30/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Creations on view at campus mall

105 artists display their wares at 20th annual festival at UT

BY MADELINE BUXTON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When Larry Mack graduated from the University of Toledo in 1973 with a degree in psychology, after which he spent 26 years as an alcohol and drug therapist, it seemed unlikely he would return to his alma mater for the reason he did Sunday: to sell mixed-media artwork -- creations that consist of blown glass combined with metal, wood, and stones -- at UT's Art on the Mall arts festival.

Jewelry by L. Sue Szabo was among the offerings at the juried art fair on Centennial Mall. Jewelry by L. Sue Szabo was among the offerings at the juried art fair on Centennial Mall.
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"Glass blowing was kind of like an expensive hobby," Mr. Mack said, speaking of the years before 1998 when he became a full-time artist. "When my job was eliminated and my wife died, I decided life's too short -- I'm going to start doing something I really enjoy."

Between 10,000 and 12,000 people came out to UT's Centennial Mall to see 105 artists, including Mr. Mack, display wares that ranged from jewelry crafted from silverware to handmade books at the 20th annual Art on the Mall.

The free and juried event, which was presented by the UT Alumni Association, predominantly featured artists from Ohio and Michigan, but also brought crafters from Tennessee and Pennsylvania, said Ansley Abrams-Frederick, UT's director of alumni programming.

Over the course of the sunny day, the sounds of jazz and steel drums floated from a central tent where individuals from the Toledo School for the Arts performed while families milled about the grounds with dogs, balloons, and shopping bags filled with purchased lawn ornaments and watercolor paintings.

Jewelry by L. Sue Szabo was among the offerings at the juried art fair on Centennial Mall. Jewelry by L. Sue Szabo was among the offerings at the juried art fair on Centennial Mall.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Ms. Abrams-Frederick emphasized that for many of the artists, visitors, and volunteers, the event was a reunion of sorts.

"Where it's located on the campus of UT is a huge factor -- it's a coming home," she said. "Alumni might have moved all over the U.S., but [Art on the Mall] is a nice opportunity and a good excuse to gather at their old home."

When Carol Connolly Pletz of Toledo first showed her acrylic paintings at the inaugural Art on the Mall 20 years ago, she was positioned next to a familiar face -- Tom Durnford, a Sylvania watercolor artist who taught Ms. Pletz lettering and layout while she was an undergraduate art major at UT. Mr. Durnford has been her neighbor at Art on the Mall every year since then.

"I didn't have anything to sell that year other than paintings," said Ms. Pletz, who has branched out to selling notecards -- which Mr. Durnford taught her how to create -- that feature local scenes. "[Tom's] been a mentor … he told me I've become his biggest competitor."

Miles Cole, 5, of Toledo doesn’t let the sights and sounds
distract him as he prepares to leap. Students from the Toledo
School for the Arts performed throughout the day. Miles Cole, 5, of Toledo doesn’t let the sights and sounds distract him as he prepares to leap. Students from the Toledo School for the Arts performed throughout the day.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Kellie Green of Toledo, who graduated from UT in 1991, volunteered at this year's Art on the Mall for the first time because she wanted the chance to meet people and also hoped to reintegrate herself in the community.

Her sentiment was seconded by Jerri Kaczmarek of Toledo, who graduated from UT in the 1970s and has been coming to the event every year since it started. Ms. Kacz- marek came to appreciate the variety of art and to support local artists at a festival which she said satisfied a perfect middle ground compared to other art fairs, which can "get too big and too pricey." At Art on the Mall, "I always run into professors and people I know," she said.

For Mr. Mack, the fair doesn't only provide him with an opportunity to reunite with UT alumni -- it's also a chance to reconnect with the art community he's come to know so well.

"This is kind of like the highlight of my art show season," he said. "It's a chance to see people I haven't seen in years -- not just people you graduated with, but a lot of different artists."

Toledo area residents won top honors. The UT Best of Show award, Art on the Mall's biggest prize of $500, was given to jewelry artist Amy Beeler. Two first-place awards, each valued at $300, were given to Aaron Bivins, a watercolor artist, and Michael Kersey, a painter who, with his twin brother, was once known only as Mr. Atomic.

Ms. Abrams-Frederick anticipated that this year's Art on the Mall would yield profits of $15,000 to $17,000 that will go toward alumni association operating budgets and outreach events.

The event was sponsored by Huntington and The Blade, with additional support provided by Buckeye CableSystem, 101.5 the River, 92.5 Kiss FM, Lesher Printers Inc., and WT05 Toledo.

Contact Madeline Buxton at: mbuxton@theblade.com or 419-724-6368.



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