Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016
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Sculpture exhibit in Gibsonburg brings artist's vision to fruition

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Joel Lopez of Gibsonburg, in background, stops near 'Pardo Desnudo II,' a sculpture in Williams Park by Mike Sohikian.

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GIBSONBURG, Ohio - During a visit last summer to Loveland, Colo., Jim Havens strolled through the city's Benson Park, admiring more than 70 bronze and stone sculptures of various birds, mammals, and fish displayed around a lake.

As he studied the works of art and the gardens around them, Mr. Havens began picturing how such a display might look in Gibsonburg's Williams Park, just blocks from his sculpture studio.

"I started thinking ... it would work," Mr. Havens said. "I was walking around saying, 'This lake is nice, but it's no nicer than the lake we have in Gibsonburg.' "

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Gary Olson of Perrysburg and his son, Zach, 6, enjoy Williams Park near Hair Streak, a sculpture by John Parker.

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Ten months later, Mr. Havens' vision has materialized in the Sandusky County village's downtown park. "Sculpture in the Village" features 28 works fashioned by Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania artists arrayed along a 1,700-foot walking path that rings the park's lake.

The sculptures, which are for sale, will be displayed in the park for the next year. Mr. Havens, a sculptor from Woodville who has a studio in Gibsonburg, hopes the exhibit will become an annual event.

Response to the display, which opened last week, has been overwhelmingly positive, he said.

"So far, people like it, and they're impressed that Gibsonburg can do some thing like this," he said.

Sculptures range from the curvaceous marble and granite work "Moonlight Blossom," by Bowling Green artist Emmanuel Enriquez, to "Iron Pride," an eagle crafted of welded steel by Marie Brown, of Toledo.

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James Havens with 'Moonlit Blossom,' by Emmanuel Enriquez, is the force behind the Williams Park exhibition.

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Donnel Doblinger, of Monclova Township, contributed three works to the display - a tyrannosaurus rex and a brontosaurus, both crafted from recycled farm equipment parts, and another dinosaur of welded steel.

Mr. Havens said he wanted the display to reflect the agricultural and industrial heritage of Gibsonburg and its neighbors. "If I had abstract art, I think that would leave them pretty cold," he said. "I'm very fortunate here. We have a lot of good artists."

Mr. Doblinger, a retired operating engineer, said the only prior display of his work has been "in my own front yard." He said he was pleased that Mr. Havens asked him to be part of the Gibsonburg display.

"That's what it's all about, showing your work," he said. "If you hide everything in your own backyard, nobody sees it."

The village's business and government leaders have rallied around the sculpture display as a way of burnishing the community's image.

Mr. Havens said volunteers put in hundreds of hours of work to prepare the park for the display and unload and set up the sculptures. About $8,000 has been raised to finance the show, including $1,500 contributions from the Toledo Area Sculptors Guild and the Gibsonburg Community Corp.

Jeff Holcomb, treasurer of the community corporation, said the project is the latest step forward for the town of 2,500.

In the last few years, Gibsonburg has opened a new school complex and dedicated its first veterans memorial, a brick, octagonal structure designed by Mr. Havens. Two new housing subdivisions are under construction, and a third is planned.

"The whole idea is to let people know that Gibsonburg has something going on," Mr. Holcomb said. "We're proud of our community."

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.

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