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Published: 2/16/2002

Artists, art lovers benefit from wealth of local galleries

Artist Steve Bennett takes a playful approach to his exhibit of paintings. They were on view at 20 North Gallery downtown. Artist Steve Bennett takes a playful approach to his exhibit of paintings. They were on view at 20 North Gallery downtown.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

On the down-to-earth end of the scale are display opportunities at coffee shops in Toledo and Bowling Green, a Sylvania beauty shop called Reve, and the restaurant walls at Ragtime Rick's and Diva. At the new Utopia Arts Center in the Old West End, performers can step up to the mic in a “small stage” atmosphere hung with artworks. In Fostoria, a church entryway has converted to the Wesley Memorial Gallery, a showplace for local art and photography.

The Paula Brown Gallery on Jefferson Street downtown shows and sells limited-edition decorator prints, furniture, and jewelry from all over.

Other local galleries are also sales floors. Check out the new Orobs Fine Art gallery on Reynolds Road; American Gallery and Chapman Gallery in Sylvania; SeaGate Gallery downtown, and the scattering of artists' club display spaces at Toledo Botanical Garden.

Downtown on North Michigan Street, Space 237 is a gathering place for the city's hip, young painters and potters, with an ever-changing schedule of group shows of artworks from all over the country and sometimes the world.

This year should see the opening of its 5,000-square-foot Informal Gallery, on the fourth floor of this former office building. It will house installations, video, and multimedia shows. Another 5,000 feet will be dedicated to a ceramics studio.

Outside her doors, the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo's Art in Public Places committee has been hard at work commissioning outdoor artworks for the stadium. Iron gates, manhole covers, ball-playing bronze boys, and a 40-foot mural of historic Superior Street market will soon appear in the neighborhood.

Up the street is the studio of Shawn Messenger and Jack Schmidt, two of Toledo's noted glass artists. They sometimes open their doors for a show and sale. Gallery B, another clutch of sculptors and glassblowers who once labored on Huron Street, made room for the stadium by relocating to 13th Street and Jefferson - their sales gallery is a work-in-progress.

Art happens - and hangs - at Collingwood Arts Center, Summit Street Studios, and For the Love of Art. The old elementary school building at 1700 North Reynolds Road is home to the Arts Council Lake Erie West, as well as several well-known local artists and their sales and display spaces. Antiques shops, picture framers, and decorators' stores frequently carry artists' prints and original paintings and drawings.

And where there are students, there is frequently art. The University of Toledo houses its art department - and two galleries - in the Center for the Visual Arts, a $10 million building designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Its ground-level gallery houses faculty, student, and visiting artists' shows, while the downstairs Clement Gallery specializes in photography.

Bowling Green State University boasts a flashy pair of galleries too, and an innovative lineup of shows keep both filled throughout the year. At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, art abounds in the campus art museum, as well as student art and sculpture studios, and the architecture and design schools. This college town boasts several commercial galleries.

While in Michigan, gallery-goers can check out Gallery 129 and Sienna Heights University's Klemm Gallery, both in Adrian; and a plethora of glass and sculpture galleries in Royal Oak and Pontiac. In Jackson, the Ella Sharp Museum combines art shows with historic and cultural displays.

Come summer, arts festivals pop up at parks, colleges, and neighborhoods: Ohioans are, according to a recent study, the second-most festival-attending people in the United States.



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