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Published: Wednesday, 5/9/2001

Art panelists scout options to beautify Hens' stadium

It is a glimpse of Americana: three young boys straining upward with their baseball gloves as their eyes follow a foul ball - and it could be added to the new ballpark for the Toledo Mud Hens.

The concept for the life-sized, bronze sculpture is one of a number of pieces of art being considered for the downtown stadium.

About 1,500 packets seeking artwork were sent to artists in the Toledo area and other parts of Ohio. Those proposals, and others that have been received from as far away as Peru, Amsterdam, and New York City, are being reviewed.

Patrick Zohn, of the Gateway Consulting Group of Cleveland, which is overseeing much of the project, said his organization hopes as many as five works of art can be purchased, and a way might be found to get corporate sponsorship for one or two more.

Those involved in construction of the ballpark have met with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo to consider designs that can stand alone or be incorporated into the structure.

In addition to sculptures and murals, the group has considered sidewalk treatments, designs for fences and gates, light poles, and benches with artistic treatment.

Sandy Isenberg, president of the Lucas County commissioners, said at a meeting yesterday that she wants traditional art work with a baseball theme to enhance the overall appeal of the field.

“I feel we need at least one signature piece, a very special piece that designates it as the home of the Mud Hens. It should be a showpiece within a showpiece,” she said.

The commissioners are paying for the majority of the $37 million to $39 million stadium project.

Mr. Zohn was attracted to a design of youngsters straining for a peek through a knothole in a fence trying to catch some of the action of a baseball game.

He said the design reminded him of references to “the knothole gang,” youngsters who were identified with the former Swayne Field in Toledo.

How much money can be spent on art has not been determined. Susan Reams, who chairs the arts commission, said the Mud Hens intend to split proceeds from a pre-opening day celebration at the ballpark with the arts commission to pay for the art.

No date has been set for that occasion at the ballpark, which is being built in an area bounded by Monroe, St. Clair, Huron, and Washington streets.



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