The Oliver House, the historic former hotel on Broadway that holds several restaurants, will soon be getting a bit more artsy.
Beginning next month, the building's south wing will house two small art galleries - M.J. Erard Fine Art and the Blue Heron Gallery - and will be the home of the North Coast Theatre.
Located in what was once the gentleman's lounge of the hotel, the high ceilings, old wooden floors, and large floor-to-ceiling windows in the south wing evoke an earlier era.
Mary Jane Erard, who will serve as the gallery director, said the building's large windows will provide great lighting for the artwork, in addition to the special ambience an older building provides.
Ms. Erard and others have spent several months restoring the floors, painting, and plastering.
Christine Child, artistic director for North Coast Theatre, said in a unique collaboration, the theater group will present plays that accompany the works of art in the galleries.
The Blue Heron Gallery will present works by a variety of local artists, with plans also for juried shows, said Ms. Erard.
M. J. Erard Fine Art will display a rotating exhibit of Ms. Erard's pastel landscape paintings.
The collaboration will officially kick off April 11, when the Blue Heron Gallery displays an exhibit of Ms. Erard's paintings titled "Ohio Fields."
To accompany her works, the North Coast Theatre will also perform Erie Invaders, a comedy about invasive species in the Great Lakes.
The story is told from the point of view of the zebra mussels and other invaders.
"It's sort of a celebration of the region," Ms. Child said. "And Mary Jane's landscapes are part of that."
Exploring regional themes and local artwork will be key to the galleries and the theater, Ms. Child said.
"We want to focus on the region and on the arts and the audience of this region," she said. "We want to bring in local artists, North Coast Theatre actors and celebrate life here."
Pat Appold, who along with her husband, Jim, has owned
the Oliver House since 1990, said she believes that the artistic uses will be a good fit for the building.
"The Oliver House itself has been an integral part of Toledo history," Ms. Appold said, adding that it is the oldest commercial building in the city that's still in use. It was built in 1859.
"We are pleased that it has a public function again. It has been a big project for us."
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