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Published: Saturday, 12/9/2000

Frog sculpture takes whimsy to high art

So, frogs. Or maybe mud hens.

Hey, why not?

Prediction: Sculptures of swamp creatures could be a b-i-g hit around here.

Update for those who missed the news: The latest scheme for large-scale municipal art could feature frogs and/or mud hens.

Another prediction: The word most used to describe either plan in the coming months will be “whimsical.”

And whimsy goes over big around here. Give us a heaping plate of whimsy instead of serious “art” any old time.

Just think about how many people still can't quite get behind that Frank Gehry-designed addition to the Toledo Museum of Art. A word often used to describe this is probably “carbuncle.”

And many Toledoans are having an equally rough time coping with the TMA's recent purchase of a Calder mobile. A word often used to describe this is probably “huh?”

So, yeah. Frogs. Mud hens. They're gonna be BIG.

Think of them as the citywide equivalent of those concrete geese people put out on their front porches - very, very popular around these parts - and then dress up in festive seasonal costumes.

Not that a city featuring large, whimsical animal sculptures could be considered kitsch. Anything but! Municipal animals are tres cosmopolitan.

Think Chicago and New York with their cows. Or Providence, R.I., with its Mr. Potato Heads. Or Toronto with its moose.

But enough about other cities. Let's get back to Toledo.

Mud hens, of course, tie in with the ball team. And frogs could work for us because of our swampland heritage. Before we drained the place, after all, it was mucky enough to be called Frogtown.

Yeah, it's not quite The City of Lights, but hey, we are what we are, you know?

Besides, frogs and mud hens are in keeping with the rest of the region's quirkiness. I'm thinking here of the recent sausage announcement by the lovely village of Elmore.

Oh, you know - at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, Elmore officials will drop a 10-foot-long sausage in the center of the Elmore Community Center. This is rather like Port Clinton's much-heralded New Year Walleye Drop, except, of course, it relies upon sausage instead of fish.

Of course, out in Pemberville they have their New Year's Eve fun with tomatoes. And Tiffin does the same with a giant potato chip.

I suppose if Toledo wanted to drop something locally produced for New Year's fun, we'd be shoving Jeeps off the roof of the O-I building at midnight, but my guess is we're sticking with plain old frogs/mud hens for everyday use.

Probably it makes little to no difference which animal we pick, although the political sparring over this looks to be a lighthearted source of diversion, and that's certainly something for which to be profoundly grateful.

Personally, though, my vote goes for the frog option.

It isn't that I think they'll necessarily look better, or be wittier, or even more (here it is again!) whimsical.

I just like the idea that every time we kiss one of those frogs, it'll turn into Carty.

Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays,

and Saturdays. Email her at roberta@theblade.com or call 1-419-724-6086.



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