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Published: Saturday, 8/16/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

Tree sculptures to adorn Toledo library

Area artists build pieces inspired by children’s books

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Above, Jeremy Link, left, and Doug Kampfer are the co-sculptors of four large pieces that are headed to the renovated West Toledo Branch library. Above, Jeremy Link, left, and Doug Kampfer are the co-sculptors of four large pieces that are headed to the renovated West Toledo Branch library.
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A close inspection of the details in the tree sculptures shows the inspiration behind the work of artists Doug Kampfer and Jeremy Link.

There’s a clock that could have come from Alice In Wonderland, a crowned frog that hints of the Grimm’s fairy tale The Frog Prince, and a mustached face resembling Mark Twain.

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The 8-foot sculptures created by Mr. Kampfer and Mr. Link in their Huron Street studio in the Toledo Warehouse District will be the focal point of the new children’s section in the West Toledo Branch, 1320 Sylvania Ave.

In addition to art, the four, large-scale Styrofoam and Fiberglas pieces will surround and conceal concrete support pillars in the 21,000-square-foot addition to the 84-year-old library.

At left, a worm comes out of an apple on one of the tree sculptures created for the branch’s new children’s section. At left, a worm comes out of an apple on one of the tree sculptures created for the branch’s new children’s section.
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Mr. Link and Mr. Kampfer, who are the owners of Graphite Design and Build, are being paid $39,000 for the sculptures, as well for painting wall murals and other pieces in the children’s area.

The artists said they try to design and build pieces that are rich in details and expressions, and solidly constructed to withstand the abuse of their users.

Mr. Kampfer said the pieces begin with large Styrofoam blocks that are cut and carved with a heated-wire tool, and then covered with a Fiberglas resin product used in boat manufacturing, and then detailed with putty and painted.

“Our main thing in designing it is to think about things when we were kids. We try to make products that kids will remember for the rest of their lives,” he said.

The tail of a dinosaur curls around the top of one of the sculptures, disappearing into leaves that will be suspended from the ceiling, and will continue into the mural that will be painted on the wall of the library.

“As kids, Doug and I were both big fans of dinosaurs,” Mr. Link said.

The four, large-scale tree sculptures are made of Styrofoam and Fiberglas. The four, large-scale tree sculptures are made of Styrofoam and Fiberglas.
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The $3.1 million renovation and expansion of the Tudor-style building, one of the oldest in the library system, began last September after it was closed to patrons.

Charles Oswanski, superintendent of facilities and operations for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, said the main work to the existing building focused on gutting the core of the building where two stairs and a second-floor staff breakroom had been before.

“We opened up the lines of sight and made the building more flexible for the future,” he said.

The reopening of the branch is scheduled for early October. The sculptures should be delivered and moved into the building this week through an unfinished window, contingent on the contractor’s timetable.

“I am very excited to get their art pieces into the building. They came to us at a great value. If we had gone to other companies, the cost would have been double, at least,” Mr. Oswanski said.

Mr. Link, a native of Cleveland, and Mr. Kampfer, who grew up near Waterville and attended Anthony Wayne High School, both attended Bowling Green State University.

They met after college when they were working for a design and build company that made similar products. They started their own firm about three years ago.

The artists’ work can be found in the Toledo Area Metroparks, and include children playscapes and sculptures at Secor, Farnsworth, and Pearson parks. They also have designs and builds at the Toledo Zoo, Toledo Museum of Art, Indianapolis Zoo, and Lincoln (Neb.) Children’s Museum.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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