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Vibrant works update outdoor sculpture exhibition

A dancer gives a joyful performance near UT Medical Center. And a family stands on the west side of Centennial Mall.

Ray Katz’s “Domino,” Gregory Mendez’s “Ellie” and Todd Kime’s “Profiling” are three of the eight new pieces installed for the 12th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

Gregory Mendez’s “Ellie” dances near UT Medical Center.

It’s a springtime tradition: New artwork blooms at The University of Toledo.

“This is my favorite time of the year. I love when the new pieces arrive,” said Dr. Steve LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Engineering and chair of the Campus Beautification Committee. “They certainly add to the beauty of of the campus.”

Three of the new works are by Mike Sohikian: “Male Flamenco” steps it up near the sidewalk on the north side of University and Gillham halls; “Figure With Large Bowl” walks on the east side of the Health and Human Services Building; and “The Veteran” stands resolutely on the west side of the Health Education Building on Main Campus.

Sohikian, a retired ironworker, has a reputation for creating beauty from scraps of steel.

“I had a lifetime of love and appreciation for art, but I didn’t begin my art career until 1995,” the Genoa, Ohio, resident said. “I assemble industrial materials and rework them into fascinating forms.”

Sam Soet’s “Cedar Walker Variations II” is perched in Ravin Plaza on Centennial Mall.

Sam Soet’s artful twist titled “Cedar Walker Variations II” sits in Ravin Plaza on Centennial Mall.

“I am at home outdoors in the woods. This is where I draw my inspiration from — the lines, shapes and movements influence the forms of my sculptures,” said Soet, who lives in Farwell, Mich. “I pride myself in working with materials that are sustainably sourced, essentially giving new life to a fallen tree or limb, or saving a log from a burn pile.”

This year’s last new work, “Three Tenors” by Ric Leichliter, will be installed this week near the Root Bridge, where North Tower Boulevard meets Stadium Drive.

“Profiling” by Todd Kime stands on the west side of Centennial Mall.

In addition, Sohikian’s “Reaching for the Moon” from last year’s exhibit still sits on the west side of Savage Arena.

And thanks to donor contributions and a partnership between the Campus Beautification Committee and the President’s Commission on the River, Tom Rudd’s 9-foot, 1,000-pound “Whitefish” is becoming a permanent part of UT’s collection and will continue swimming south of Carlson Library near the Ottawa River.

Nearly 230 artists submitted proposals to the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, and the UT Campus Beautification Committee reviewed the entries and selected pieces for this year’s exhibition.

Artists receive stipends for the sculptures, which will be on display for the next year.

Nearly 120 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.

“Gifts from donors make the annual exhibition possible,” LeBlanc said. “If you like the sculptures, please consider a gift to the Campus Beautification Committee through the UT Foundation.”

Go to https://give2ut.utoledo.edu.