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Larger-than-life art invades Promenade Park

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    One of three inflatable art pieces making up the traveling installation Fantastic Planet by artist Amanda Parer is inflated for a trial run Tuesday in Promenade Park.

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    One of three inflatable art pieces making up the traveling installation Fantastic Planet by artist Amanda Parer is inflated for a trial run Tuesday in Promenade Park.

    THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
    Buy This Image

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    University of Toledo student Hope ElAasar helps to load sandbags into an inflatable sculpture before filling it with air during a trial run of the traveling installation Fantastic Planet.

    THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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    Exhibition technician Jedidiah Stuelpnagel, left, receives a sandbag from Kevin Merrill to help anchor one of the giant inflatable sculptures.

    THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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    University of Toledo student Hope ElAasar helps to inflate one of the three sculptures.

    THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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If you stumble across a prodigious, faceless figure crouching over Summit Street this weekend, embrace it.

No really, hug away. Take a selfie with it. A group shot. Or just enjoy the synergy.

The larger-than-life public inflatable called What’s That? is one of three public art installations that has invaded Promenade Park for the Momentum art and music festival on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Exhibition technician Jedidiah Stuelpnagel said with 1,000-plus pounds of sand holding each one down, they are here to stay.

Well, at least for three days.

VIDEO: Giant humanoids invade Promenade Park

“We want interaction, we want people to sort of come up and touch them. That inevitably means someone is going to bump into them so as long as nothing moves. When they get bumped and they are handled with care, everything will be all good,” he said during a trial installation run of the pieces Tuesday.

Joining What’s That? at the bottom of the park will be two other humanoid creations by Australian artist Amanda Parer as part of her Fantastic Planet series. 

Tuesday was a day of positioning the pieces on the ground and filling them with dozens of sandbags to hold them to the earth before they were inflated. Then deflate, reposition, and inflate again.

Once they are positioned correctly, they were to be tethered to the spot, deflated, and reinflated again for Thursday’s festival, Mr. Stuelpnagel said.

The pieces make a statement about humans and their place in the natural world. They are part of a bigger event called Momentum that brings visitors to the downtown riverfront to experience Fantastic Planet, interactive art installations by local artists, a glass exhibition, live music and performances, food and drink, and a Mini Maker Faire at the Imagination Station. The event is a partnership between the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

This is the second year for the event, and the humanoids became part of the Arts Commission’s vision for Momentum, so named for the concept of a repopulation of space along the Maumee River.

“They are visually stunning. They are a bit of a spectacle, but it really fits in with every other part of the festival,” said Crystal Phelps, Momentum coordinator for the arts commission. “It’s a nice visual metaphor for people coming back downtown and people coming back to the river.”

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