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Published: Thursday, 9/24/2009

Treasure Hunting In Toledo

Toledo is packed with treasures just waiting to be discovered, and a few hours spent exploring can lead you to a host of urban gems. No, you won't find sacks of diamonds, but thanks to the pioneering work of some foresighted civic leaders, you will enjoy one of the country's most magnificent collections of public art.

Toledo's elevated status in the art world is the result of a 1977 ordinance that set aside one percent of the capital improvement budget for public art. That groundbreaking legislation changed everything. It was the first such ordinance to be adopted by a city east of the Mississippi, and it has served as a model for other municipalities and the state of Ohio.

We asked Marc Folk, the Executive Director of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, how Toledo residents and visitors can find the many works of art on display in the city. He directed us to the commission's website at www.acgt.org. We found the site to be a great resource with much information, including detailed tour guides. These guides can be downloaded in PDF form, printed, and taken along on your urban treasure hunt.

For example, the downtown tour guide suggests taking four short tours. Each can be easily walked and parking is available in public lots and on the street. The Promenade Park- River Walk tour guide begins with a map that illustrates the exact location of parking and thirteen nearby works of art. Among our favorites on this tour are the brightly colored two story “City Candy” sculpture on Summit Street, the zigzagging “River Run” playground, and the brilliant rainbows of the 60-foot-tall “Sun Obelisk” in Promenade Park. But all adventurers are sure to find favorites of their own, as numerous tours await, and the treasures to be found are many.

Among the most recent additions to the Toledo art scene is the memorial to Art Tatum, the Toledo jazz legend. This magnificent sculpture honors the great musician with a 27-foot tower of eighty-eight piano keys. Located in the Superior Street pedestrian plaza of the Lucas County Multipurpose Arena, the spiraling tower's black and white keys are complemented by brilliant LED lighting that shines through glass plates. Words don't do it justice.

Of course neither words nor pictures can adequately portray larger than life works of art. These treasures are meant to be enjoyed one on one, up close and personal. So visit the website and plan your treasure hunt. You're sure to return home with a trove of priceless memories.

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