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Published: Monday, 8/6/2007

Rain fails to dampen spirit of art show

BY MAGGIE REID
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Anthony Whiting, left, and his wife, Minnie Whiting, center, talk with local artist Aaron Bivins about his paintings while he takes cover from the rain in his exhibition booth at the Toledo Botanical Garden. Anthony Whiting, left, and his wife, Minnie Whiting, center, talk with local artist Aaron Bivins about his paintings while he takes cover from the rain in his exhibition booth at the Toledo Botanical Garden.
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Holding a paintbrush in the air and squinting through a veil of raindrops, Hunter Wolf explained that he always paints outside, even on a dreary day.

It s called plein air painting, Mr. Wolf said yesterday at Open Art Days and Arts in the Garden at Toledo Botanical Garden.

Mr. Wolf, a painter for 10 years, took great care to set up his art under the shelter of a small awning, working on his latest painting in one of the only dry spots he could find during the constant spattering of rain that dampened the outdoor art show.

He was not the only artist yesterday who had to simply grin and bear the unpleasant weather.

Local artists set up tents at Toledo Botanical Garden to protect their artwork from the rain yesterday during Arts in the Garden, but despite their efforts, everyone and everything ended up getting a little damp.

Mike McWilliams, sits under an umbrella outside a booth of artwork created by his wife, local artist Celia McWilliams, during Open Art Days. Mike McWilliams, sits under an umbrella outside a booth of artwork created by his wife, local artist Celia McWilliams, during Open Art Days.
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Paintings, pottery, glass, and much more were put on display throughout the gardens, while inside each of the buildings and studios, artists provided a variety of creative demonstrations and activities.

The Toledo Botanical Garden opened its studio doors for Open Art Days, a free event held each month from May to August for visitors to peruse art as well as try their hands at painting, drawing, stained glass, and other arts. Visitors learned how to turn a lump of clay into a bowl or how to blow glass to make their very own glass ornament.

Toledo resident Linda Pratt had a wide variety of art on display in her tent, ranging from jewelry and photography to medicinal herbal salves.

Helping customers try on jewelry, Ms. Pratt explained that each accessory is custom-made for the customer, for both size and color. She admitted that she sometimes has to make new pieces for customers because she wears the display pieces so often herself.

This one here has a dangling string, she said, pointing out a large purple bracelet. I wear it so much, I lost a bead or something.

Although a steady trickle of people walked in and out of the tents, many of the artists said they were disappointed because the weather certainly kept a lot of people indoors.

Diane Toffler and her grandsons Chad Robertson, center, and Tyler Robertson, watch Toledo Potters Guild member Deb Malinovsky make a piece of pottery. Diane Toffler and her grandsons Chad Robertson, center, and Tyler Robertson, watch Toledo Potters Guild member Deb Malinovsky make a piece of pottery.
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Celia McWilliams, who has been bringing her paintings to shows at Toledo Botanical Garden for years, said she was surprised that anybody even showed up.

She normally takes her art, which she paints in a studio in her Adrian home, to coffee shops and other venues, but usually gets a bigger crowd for the garden fairs.

This rain really put a damper on things, she said. But this was definitely more people than I thought I was going to see when I woke up this morning.

Visitors who did make it out in the rain did not seem to mind the drizzle.

Jennifer Witkowski, who took up gardening recently at home in Detroit, came to the show on a garden tour with the Master Gardener Society of Oakland County. This was the bus tour s second stop of the day.

Ms. Witkowski said the rain was not stopping the group from enjoying the gardens or the art. In fact, she was delighted as a gardener that the flowers were getting the shower.

We really needed this, so I m actually just happy to see it, she said. And, raining or not, this whole place is impressive.

Contact Maggie Reid at:mreid@theblade.com or419-724-6050.



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