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UT professor a semifinalist to create Edison sculpture for hall in U.S. Capitol


University of Toledo professor Tom Lingeman stands beside his sculptures from the Juvenile Justice Center in Toledo. He is a semifinalist to create a sculpture of Thomas Edison for the U.S. Capitol.

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Tom Lingeman was up until 3 a.m. in his Perrysburg home April 20 working on his ideas and application for a Thomas Edison sculpture, he then slept a few hours and drove his application to Cincinnati to be submitted.

Recently, he learned he’s a semifinalist in the competition to create a sculpture of Mr. Edison to represent Ohio in the national statuary hall in the U.S. Capitol. The Ohio Statuary Hall Commission is considering six artists from around the state to build it.

“It is like having a lottery ticket,” Mr. Lingeman said. “The dream goes on until someone wins the lottery.”

The University of Toledo sculpture professor has several sculptures in the Toledo area, including three bronze pieces at the Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Toledo. His work includes Olander Park’s bronze statue of marathon runner Thian “Sy” Mah and a statue of a marine in Perrysburg.

“Just reviewing the proposals from these incredible artists has generated a lot of excitement amongst commission members,” said former Ohio Sen. Mark Wagoner, an Ohio Statuary Hall Commission board member.

If Mr. Lingeman gets the job, his creation will be one of Ohio’s two statues in the hall. The statue of Mr. Edison will replace one of former Ohio Gov. William Allen.

The other Ohio statue is of President James A. Garfield. Both the President Garfield statue and the Governor Allen statue were created by artist Charles Niehaus.

“It could be my little piece of the Capitol and in the same proximity of all the other great sculptures,” Mr. Lingeman said.

Mr. Lingeman has extensively studied Mr. Edison’s physiognomy so that he can examine the different angles of the inventor’s face. Mr. Lingeman said he wants to capture Mr. Edison’s “rock-star” status when he invented the light bulb at 31.

“I want to show a young vigorous Edison, like a Steve Jobs type,” he said. “In the 1890s he was the Steve Jobs.”

Officials plan to unveil the new statue Oct. 21, 2015. The Ohio Statuary Hall Commission is hoping to choose finalists and begin the sculpture in the next few months.

One other local semifinalist is Emanuel Enriquez of Bowling Green.

Contact Matt Thompson at:, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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