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Theatre Faculty Member Translates Play to Online World for Interactive Learning Experience

Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor of theatre with The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film, wrote and directed a play that was originally intended to be performed live and taken on the road to elementary schools.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down performances, he translated the production to the online performance space and lesson plan to help learners at home. The play premiered online in April.

Cast members from “Faithful Friends” are, from left, Sarah West as Julia, Gabe Taurman as Valentine, Emily Hawkins as Silvia, and Crabbe.

Foss originally created the play, “Faithful Friends: An Adaptation of the ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona,’” in January and worked with the company’s staff and leadership to build the interactive modules and workshops that accompany it. The work was created for pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students and to tour elementary schools. It was developed in partnership with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, a theater he has worked with in the past, and its Montana Shakes! program, an elementary school outreach tour to make Shakespeare and other classic works accessible to young people.

“Working with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks was a foundational experience early in my career. They provide free and public art across the mountain west, and their mission relates closely to what I have found and seek to do here in Toledo” Foss said.

Four of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ teaching artists, who were safely quarantined together, filmed the play and created lesson plans through the interactive learning platform FlipGrid.

To convert the project to online, Foss enlisted the help of UToledo film student Jarrett Cunningham.

“I’ve been teaching myself to edit as fast as I can, but Jarrett was able to work remotely and close my learning and ability gap to help get the performance out to students and their families as quickly as possible,” Foss said.

The play and lessons are available on Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ YouTube channel.

UToledo Art Student’s Work Receives National Recognition

Alaina Coote, a sophomore studying graphic and interactive design at The University of Toledo Department of Art, has received national and local exposure for her work. Three of her color pencil drawings were chosen by a hospital for display, and one, which also appeared locally on digital billboards, has been selected to be published in a national calendar.

“Alaina is putting her work out there, just as we discussed in class,” Barry Whittaker, UToledo associate professor of graphic and interactive design, said. “I’m glad she is getting recognition for all her hard work.”

“Summer Daze,” color pencil drawing, by Alaina Coote

Coote’s “Summer Daze” appeared in the Art Department’s annual Toledo area digital billboard exhibition. The exhibit featured 21 pieces that were displayed on area digital billboards in January and February.

In addition, the drawing was chosen to be in the 2020 CURE calendar, a piece created by CURE magazine, a national cancer information publication serving nearly 1 million readers among cancer patients, cancer centers and advocacy groups.

The CURE webpage announcing the calendar winners stated, “Selected by a panel of judges, the artwork of the 12 winners exemplifies the beauty and creativity that can arise from the challenges of the cancer experience. Created using a variety of media, the pieces served as a therapeutic outlet for the artists and will inspire all those who view them.”

“Summer Daze” is from a collection of Coote’s drawings that feature women. The collection was inspired by her personal life; she witnessed the experiences of her mother and grandmother who both battled cancer.

“I saw how cancer had the ability to shape and change a woman’s self-esteem and femininity. Cancer shaped their ideas about themselves and gave me a mature perspective about the psychological impact of the disease,” Coote said.

“This work is to serve as an encouragement to the women as they are battling cancer, portraying the power, beauty, femininity and strength that each woman has within themselves.”

“Summer Daze” also is among three of Coote’s drawings that soon will hang in the Women’s Specialty Center of Wooster Community Hospital in Wooster, Ohio.

Focus on Nature: Winners of Lake Erie Photo Contest Announced

A total of 135 spectacular shots were submitted for the 10th annual Lake Erie Photo Contest.

Winners in three categories were announced recently during a ceremony at the Lake Erie Center.

The contest’s theme, “The Nature of Our Region: From Oak Openings to Maumee Bay,” invited photography enthusiasts to submit up to three shots featuring nature scenes throughout northwest Ohio.

First-place winners received a $25 prize, and the best of show honoree took home $100. Entries are on display in the lobby of the Lake Erie Center.

Listed by category, the winners are:

• Best of Show — Eric Crowther;

• Adult — Phil Cogar;

• Teen (13 to 18 years old) — Eric Crowther; and

• Youth (7 to 12 years old) — Jessica Watts.

“We look forward to seeing the amazing submissions for this contest every year,” said Rachel Lohner, education program manager for the Lake Erie Center. “Local photographers explore our wonderful region and capture cool aspects of nature to share.”

Eric Crowther won Best of Show for this photo of a great blue heron.

Phil Cogar took top honors in the adult category with this shot.

Eric Crowther also won first place in the teen category with this photo of a muskrat.

Jessica Watts placed first in the youth category with this photo taken at Maumee Bay State Park.

Reception for Health Science Campus Artist Showcase Set for Feb. 21

The 15th annual Health Science Campus Artist Showcase will take place from Monday, Feb. 17, through Wednesday, April 8, on the fourth floor of Mulford Library.

This year’s exhibit features work from more than 30 artists who are students, faculty and staff in the health sciences from Health Science and Main campuses, as well as The University of Toledo Medical Center.


On display will be a variety of 2-D and 3-D artwork, including paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and mixed media.

An artist reception will be held Friday, Feb. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m. on the fourth floor of Mulford Library. Dr. Donna Woodson, professor emerita of medicine, will give a talk, “Art is Good for Your Health,” at 4:30 p.m.

Woodson teaches the elective course Art and Medicine: Using Visual Literacy to Improve Diagnostic Skills in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She is a longstanding participant in the Health Science Campus Artist Showcase; three of her pieces will be featured in this year’s exhibit.

Light refreshments will be served at the reception, where attendees will have the chance to win books on art and medicine.

Visitors can view the artwork during regular library hours: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

For more information on the free, public exhibit and reception, visit the University Libraries’ website or contact Jodi Jameson, assistant professor and nursing librarian at Mulford Library, and member of the artist showcase committee, at 419.383.5152 or jodi.jameson@utoledo.edu.

Pianist to Play Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship Concert Feb. 19

The University of Toledo Department of Music will welcome jazz pianist Ellen Rowe as the guest artist for the 2020 Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship Concert Wednesday, Feb. 19.

She will take the stage at 7 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.


Her program will feature selections by Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Irene Himmelhoch, Bronislaw Kaper and Ned Washington, and Nacio Herb Brown and Gus Kahn, as well as three original compositions.

Rowe is the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan. She is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Rayburn Wright and Bill Dobbins. Prior to her appointment at Michigan, Rowe served as director of jazz studies at the University of Connecticut.

She has performed at jazz clubs and on concert series throughout the United States and has toured in Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, South Africa and Australia. Also active as a clinician, Rowe has given workshops and master classes at the Melbourne Conservatory in Australia; Hochshule fur Musik in Cologne, Germany; Grieg Academy in Bergen, Norway; and the Royal Academy of Music in London. In addition, she has appeared as a guest artist at festivals and Universities around the country.

CDs out under her name include “Sylvan Way,” “Wishing Well,” “Denali Pass” and “Courage Music.” Her 2019 project, “Momentum — Portraits of Women in Motion,” features Ingrid Jensen, Tia Fuller, Marion Hayden and Allison Miller.

Rowe’s compositions and arrangements have been performed and recorded by jazz ensembles and orchestras around the world; these include the Village Vanguard Orchestra, BBC Jazz Orchestra, U.S. Navy Commodores, Berlin and NDR Radio Jazz Orchestras, London Symphony, DIVA and the Perth Jazz Orchestra. Many of these works can be heard on recordings, including “Leave It to DIVA,” “The Perth Jazz Orchestra,” “Bingo” by The Bird of Paradise Orchestra, and “I Believe In You” by DIVA. She recently was a composer-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

When not leading her own trio, quartet or quintet, Rowe is in demand as a sideman, having performed with a wide variety of jazz artists, including Kenny Wheeler, Tim Ries, Tom Harrell, John Clayton and Steve Turre. She also was a guest on two installments of Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” on National Public Radio.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the UToledo Art Tatum Memorial Scholarship program.

Tickets — $15 for general admission, and $5 for students, children and seniors — will be available at the door, but purchasing them in advance is recommended. Go to the School of Visual and Performing Arts’ website or call the Center for Performing Arts Box Office at 419.530.ARTS (2787).

UToledo Student Artwork on Area Digital Billboards in February

In collaboration with Lamar Outdoor Advertising, University of Toledo Department of art students are displaying their work on digital billboards in the area through the end of February.

Barry Whittaker, associate professor of graphic and interactive design, who coordinated the project, said this is the sixth year UToledo art students have been invited to have their work displayed.

The digital billboard locations are at the Anthony Wayne Trail at City Park, Alexis Road at Lewis Avenue, Monroe Street at Laskey Road, Byrne Road at Airport Highway, Monroe Street at Douglas Road, Erie Street at Monroe Street, Erie Street at the Anthony Wayne Trail, I-75 at Monroe Street, I-75 at I-280, and Reynolds Road at Glendale Avenue.

Works on billboards were created by Austin Baker, Donna Beauregard, Tenayah Bowmer, Jason Chappuies, Alaina Coote, Justin Fisher, Lindsay Haynes, Emilie Mitchell, Jazele Rabbani, Jane Sullivan, Lydia Yant and Tara Yarzand.

To see the images in this year’s exhibition, visit the online photos on the Art Department’s Facebook page.

Trio of ‘Scoundrels’ to Perform for Piano Series Feb. 16

The Bezonian Trio will perform for the 2019-20 University Dorothy MacKenzie Price Piano Series Sunday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Bezonian is Latin for “scoundrel.” The trio of “scoundrels” — Merwin Siu, violinist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra; Dr. Michael Boyd, UToledo professor of piano; and Damon Coleman, cellist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra — are longtime musical friends.

They will present a free, public concert featuring works by Kodaly, Ravel and Bright Sheng.

For more information, contact Boyd at michael.boyd@utoledo.edu or 419.530.2183.

The Bezonian Trio is, from left, Merwin Siu, violinist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra; Dr. Michael Boyd, UToledo professor of piano; and Damon Coleman, cellist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Art Professor’s Work Selected for Prestigious International Exhibition

“Remembering Uncle Philip 2,” from the series “Elusive Memory” by Deborah Orloff, will be on display in the Royal Photographic Society’s 162nd International Photography Exhibition.

The UToledo professor of art’s image was selected from nearly 1,400 entries from 62 countries for the exhibition, which will open Saturday, Feb. 15, in Bristol, England.


Orloff is one of 43 photographers to have work included in the world’s longest running juried photography exhibition, which over the next year will travel to a number of United Kingdom venues, including the Royal Albert Hall in London.

“I’m truly honored to have my new work chosen for this exhibition,” she said. “Competing with that many people from all over the world and then presenting with such talented colleagues is really humbling.”

The honor means even more to the artist because it features a photo from her family archive.

“Although the title ‘Remembering Uncle Philip 2’ suggests nostalgia for a lost relative, I don’t actually recognize the man in the photo; the title is ironic and speaks to the fallibility of memory.”

“Remembering Uncle Philip 2” from “Elusive Memory,” color photograph on rag paper, by Deborah Orloff

She began reflecting on the photographic past following the death of her father in 2007.

“Several years ago, I inherited thousands of neglected prints and slides that had been in my father’s basement, where they were damaged by flooding. I started photographing them in the studio, not knowing what I would do with the images, but hoping to salvage some of the family pictures for posterity,” Orloff said. “It wasn’t until I saw them enlarged on a computer screen that I recognized their poignancy and greater relevance: I saw metaphors for loss and the fragmentary, ephemeral nature of memory.”

“Elusive Memory” focuses on those severely damaged photos.

“Family photographs provide glimpses of the past and elicit memories, shaping narratives of personal history and identity,” Orloff said. “Pictures reinforce recollections, but do we really remember our past, or have we simply absorbed personal photographs into fabricated memories and shaped our perspective accordingly?

“The connection between photography and memory is enigmatic, and ‘Elusive Memory’ is a meditation on this dubious relationship.”

In 2019, Orloff received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council for “Elusive Memory.”

To see more of Orloff’s work, visit her website at deborahorloff.com.

For more information on the exhibition, go to the Royal Photographic Society’s website.

UToledo Theatre Student to Direct Production of ‘The Flick’

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film will present Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, “The Flick.” It will be directed by theatre student Justin Petty, a senior who will graduate in May.

Performances will take place Friday through Sunday, Feb. 7-9 and 14-16, in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.

“The Flick” follows three underpaid employees in a run-down movie theater who attend to one of the last 35mm film projections in the state — a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.

“We’re committed to our students having the experiences that prepare them for entering the professional community once they graduate. We try to bring student designers, technicians and performers to positions of leadership and responsibility inside our departmental season pretty quick during their time here at the University,” said Dr. Matt Foss, UToledo assistant professor of theatre and an advisor on the project. “The opportunity for Justin to be an artist leader on this collaboration was one we were excited to make happen for him and the team involved on the project.”

“The University has helped me foster a new outlook on theatre-making. It has helped me become more precise and helped me understand how to make and find stories that not only represent but highlight the struggles of being a minority,” Petty said.

When choosing “The Flick,” Petty said, “I’m glad I came about this play when I did. It really speaks truthfully on being a youth in our society today, while also highlighting the microaggressions that happen on a scale that everyone can relate to.”

He added he is glad that UToledo allowed him to take a risk with the play and really trust and challenge him with this production.

Petty has directed a number of smaller shows, but this is his first time leading a project of this scale. He served as the assistant director on “Proof” at The University of Toledo and as the assistant director of “Northern Aggression” for Tipping Point Theatre, a professional company in Northville, Mich.

He has several UToledo theatre credits, including “The Pillowman,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Arcadia,” “The Internationalist” and “The King and the Clown.”

Petty also has studied abroad at the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia with The University of Toledo and Wayne State University.

“The Flick” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc., a Concord Theatricals Company.

The cast features Gillian Martin, senior majoring in media communication with a theatre minor; Jackson Howard, anthropology major with a minor in theatre; Carlos Washington Jr., junior majoring in theatre; and Seth Mansu, sophomore majoring in media communication with a theatre minor.

Members of the design team are Dr. Edmund Lingan, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre and Film, producer; Frankie Teuber, adjunct professor of theatre and 2011 UToledo alumna, scenic designer/props master; Faith Pegus, junior majoring in visual arts, assistant scenic designer; Kelly McBane, lecturer in theatre, costume designer and costume shop manager; Stephen Sakowski, assistant professor of theatre, lighting designer and sound designer; Morgan Cunningham, sophomore majoring in theatre, assistant lighting designer; Mekayla Shellenbarger, senior majoring in music and communication, assistant sound designer; Nathaniel White, assistant lecturer in theatre, technical director and scene shop manager; Grace Mulinix, freshman majoring in theatre, wardrobe head; Natalie Rice, sophomore majoring in media communication and theatre, stage manager; Jacob Prokup, freshman majoring in theatre, assistant stage manager; and Christopher M. Montpetit, lecturer in theatre, theatre/production manager.

Tickets are $10 for students; $12 for UToledo faculty, staff and alumni, and military members and seniors; and $18 for the general public. Call 419.530.ARTS (2787) or go to the School of Visual and Performing Arts’ website. Tickets also will be available at the door.

Alumna to Discuss Mixed-Media Work Feb. 5

Sheree Hovsepian will return to her alma mater to discuss her mixed-media artwork Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 10 a.m. in the Center for the Visual Arts Haigh Auditorium on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

Born in Iran and raised in Toledo, Hovsepian is a visual artist who works with photography, collage, sculpture and drawing in her studio in New York City.


“I have this idea of repurposing and taking from what’s around me,” Hovsepian said in an interview with Vice. “I think it’s this very feminine sort of thing. It also helps me make decisions. It’s like, OK, I’ve got to make something. Everything I need is in my studio. Now, go.”

And go she does. Hovsepian’s one-of-a-kind pieces are exhibited internationally and are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She also was featured in the exhibition and book, “Photography is Magic,” which was published by Aperture and chronicles experimental approaches to photographic art.

“Being recognized by Aperture is quite an accomplishment,” Deborah Orloff, UToledo professor and associate chair of art, said. “It’s incredibly gratifying to see our students flourish, and I’m thrilled to see how successful Sheree has been. Ever since she was a student here, Sheree’s talent has been obvious. She’s always had a sophisticated sense of pulling together disparate media to create artwork that’s both beautiful and thought-provoking.”

Hovsepian received a bachelor of fine arts degree from UToledo in 1999 and continued her education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she graduated with a master of fine arts degree in 2002.

She is represented by Higher Pictures in New York and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.

For more information on the free, public visiting artist lecture, contact the UToledo Department of Art at 419.530.8300.

“Keeper,” mixed media (silver gelatin photograph, photogram, nylon) by Sheree Hovsepian