As the spring air fills with fragrant lilacs and honeysuckle, like clockwork, new works of art dot the grounds of The University of Toledo.
Ready to share a secret, blooms adorn a bench wrapped by a twining vine and heart-shaped leaves near the north entrance of UT Medical Center. A figure leaps skyward toward a sphere on the west side of Savage Arena. And north of Libbey Hall, a silver flower sparkles as it pays tribute to an acclaimed American artist.Jim Gallucci’s “Listening Whisper Morning Glory Bench,” Mike Sohikian’s “Reaching for the Moon” and Douglas Gruizenga’s “Georgia on My Mind” are three of the new works featured in the 11th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.
Gallucci, and artist in Greensboro, N.C., said his benches are whimsical, playful pieces that invite the public to sit and talk. “Good art challenges us, can make us feel righteous, moves us, soothes us, and can bring us peace,” he said.A retired ironworker, Sohikian has a reputation for taking salvaged steel to new heights. The Genoa, Ohio, artist assembles and reworks industrial materials into riveting creations.
Paintings inspired Gruizenga of Interlochen, Mich. “I am impressed with Georgia O’Keeffe’s floral paintings as well as her lust for life,” he said. “This sculpture is a tribute to her.”
The trio are among more than 50 who submitted proposals for consideration to the Midwest Sculpture Initiative. The UT Campus Beautification Committee reviewed the entries and selected pieces that recently were installed.
“It’s an honor to have the chance to be part of this annual exhibition, which brings exciting pieces of art to the University,” said Dr. Steve LeBlanc, executive associate dean of fiscal affairs in the College of Engineering and chair of the Campus Beautification Committee. “I love this time of year when all the new pieces arrive.”
More than 100 sculptures have rotated through the display at the University since the exhibit began, and 11 have become part of UT’s art collection thanks to the generosity of campus benefactors, colleges and departments, according to LeBlanc.Other new works on campus this year:
• “Metropolis” is a 250-pound steel geometric piece featuring an eye-catching blue orb. Forged by the Nordin Brothers, the sculpture sits atop the hill west of University Hall.
• Todd Kime’s “The Joneses” offers some splashes of color in the center of Centennial Mall.
• “Ashes III,” Sam Soet’s intricate slice of ash wood, is located between University Hall and the Student Union.• The Nordin Brothers weigh in again with “Time Series Calendra,” a hot-rolled steel work located on the west side of the Health and Human Services Building.
In addition, three sculptures from last year’s exhibit remain: Virginia Kistler’s 500-pound piece of Extira and steel, “Ad Infinitum,” appears to rotate between Nitschke and Palmer halls; Ric Leichliter’s steel red buds,“Promise to Flower,” sprout on the east side of the Health and Human Services Building; and Tom Rudd’s 9-foot, 1,000-pound “Whitefish” still swims south of Carlson Library near the Ottawa River.
Artists receive stipends for the sculptures, which will be on display for the next year.
LeBlanc said gifts from donors make the annual exhibition possible.
“Those who enjoy the sculptures are asked to consider a donation to the Campus Beautification Committee through the UT Foundation,” he said.
Go to https://give2ut.utoledo.edu.