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Behind the scenes of Art on the Mall

In the pre-dawn hours of the last Sunday in July, the silence on UT’s Centennial Mall is broken: “Y’all ready for this?” rapper Ray Slijngaard of 2 Unlimited asks as the synthesizer-driven psych-up song “Get Ready For This” blares near the Student Union.

“We have a little playlist — Amanda Schwartz in our office puts together a mixture of ’80s jock jam-type/pump-you-up dance music,” Ansley Abrams-Frederick, director of alumni programming, said. “We’re in the bus loop and it’s pitch black, and we’re playing music and dancing and getting into the spirit of things. Everybody’s in a really good mood; we’re all looking forward to Art on the Mall.”

Ansley Abrams-Frederick, director of alumni programming, has helped with Art on the Mall since 2003 and directed the summer favorite since 2008.

Ansley Abrams-Frederick, director of alumni programming, has helped with Art on the Mall since 2003 and directed the summer favorite since 2008.

“Everybody jump, jump, jump, jump,” DJ Kool encourages in “Let Me Clear My Throat.”

“Since we get to campus at 5 a.m., I try to find some music that will wake us up,” Schwartz, associate director of alumni relations, said. “I also start that day with a Monster energy drink.”

C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat” is up next.

More than 100 artists will set up booths on Centennial Mall for this year's free art fair.

More than 100 artists will set up booths on Centennial Mall for this year’s free art fair.

“Oh boy, there have been some hot ones,” Abrams-Frederick recalled. “In fact, we were joking about it. Sometimes we bring a change of clothes to freshen up a bit and change.

“I’d take the heat over rain any day of the week; the rain is a killer. We always want to have a beautiful day.”

Here’s to a sun-filled forecast for this year’s event on Sunday, July 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Centennial Mall. The 2016 Art on the Mall is sponsored by The Blade, Huntington, 13 ABC, Buckeye Broadband, 101.5 The River and Homewood Press.

It all began more than two decades ago when participation in the UT Hole-in-One Tournament fell off. Mary Bell, former UT Alumni Association trustee, suggested replacing the golf event with an art fair that would bring graduates and community members to the University’s gorgeous grounds. She aced it.

UT's Centennial Mall is packed for Art on the Mall, which has become a summer tradition.

UT’s Centennial Mall is packed for Art on the Mall, which has become a summer tradition.

“We are very fortunate. Many alumni associations around the country are looking for a signature event that draws a large number of alumni and friends back to campus, and ours is now in its 24th year,” Dan Saevig, UT associate vice president of alumni relations, said. “Art on the Mall brings people onto our beautiful campus, in many cases, for the first time since graduation, and showcases the work of our artists, most of whom have ties to the University.”

More than 12,000 annually frequent the juried art fair, where an average of 110 artists set up booths.

“Centennial Mall is transformed for Art on the Mall: It’s got music floating in the air, the food smells great, you’ve got all these tents, and the people are excited, kids and families, older people — it’s a very welcoming atmosphere,” Abrams-Frederick said.

Art on the Mall Poster 2016“We invite everybody to come back. You don’t have to buy anything. Lay in the grass; people watch. It’s an awesome place to people watch, and I think event guests know that and they come back each year. They can park for free; plus, there is no admission fee, so they have more money to spend at the show if they want to — there are a lot of positives.”

And Abrams-Frederick would know: She has helped with The University of Toledo’s marquee event since 2003 and overseen it since 2008.

Each year, her work on the show begins in January. That’s when artist applications become available through April, and sponsorship development starts.

“Initially, it’s a two-person job,” Abrams-Frederick, a 1992 graduate of the UT College of Arts and Sciences, said. “I couldn’t do this without the assistance of Shirley Grzecki, events coordinator, who keeps all of the artist information organized.”

As the artful day draws near, co-workers in the Alumni Relations Office get in on the action, and more than 150 volunteers help make it all happen.

“The volunteers do a really nice job for us,” Abrams-Frederick said. “Pop sellers, shuttle drivers on golf carts, greeters who stand at each mall entrance and hand out programs and answer questions, artist relief — they walk around and talk to artists, pass out water, they’ll sit at their booth for them if they want to take a break, get something to eat, use the restroom or even get inside a little bit. In the children’s area, we have volunteers who will help the kids with activities, blow up balloons, face paint. We have event setup and teardown. And we have volunteers checking IDs and serving beer in the beer garden.”

Young artists can make their own creations in the children's area.

Young artists can make their own creations in the children’s area.

“I’ve been helping with Art on the Mall for 10 years,” Sally Berglund, administrative secretary with the UT Foundation and 1990 graduate of the former Community and Technical College, said. “I usually am a greeter or artist relief. It’s great to see all the things that people create.”

“The diversity of the artists and the attractiveness of UT’s beautiful campus are some of the things that make this event so special,” Marcus L. Sneed, associate director of alumni relations, said. This summer will be the eighth time the 2007 alumnus of the College of Business and Innovation will pitch in.

Overseeing the event has its perks.

Stacy Mosetti looked at works by Mr. Atomic at Art on the Mall last year.

Stacy Mosetti looked at works by Mr. Atomic at Art on the Mall last year.

“You get to see the latest, greatest creations that the artists came up with this year. In the jury process, you’ll see images come through and notice new techniques,” Abrams-Frederick said. “And they do change: The artists have a new process that they’re trying, or they have a new theme, different color scheme. It’s really cool to see the differences over the years.”

What has she learned from running the show?

“Events are fun because they change all the time. You can do the same event 10 times, and you will have different results, experiences and outcomes,” Abrams-Frederick said. “People make up a big part of that — different personalities, people’s ideas or expectations might not be the same, so there are always changes. And the one thing that it continually reminds me: You have to be able to roll with it. Everything is fluid.

Glass, jewelry, acrylic, watercolor, woodwork, photography, oil, mixed media and more will be featured at Art on the Mall.

Glass, jewelry, acrylic, watercolor, woodwork, photography, oil, mixed media and more will be featured at Art on the Mall.

“Centennial Mall is a living, breathing thing, and it changes — the location, the land, the shrubbery — it all changes from year to year,” she said, adding that construction projects also can pose challenges.

“The nice thing is: We work with great people on campus — Facilities, Grounds, Student Union staff — who are trying hard to put our best face forward. They all have this feeling that this is an important event, that we’re bringing in a lot of people from the community to campus, we all need to work together.”

“Without the efforts of our sponsors, volunteers and so many UT staffers, a major undertaking like this would not be possible,” Saevig said. “The way the Toledo community responds to Art on the Mall each year is truly special.”

“It’s just an adrenalin rush; it’s a long day, but it’s an awesome day. And after it’s all done, we’ve been known to actually dance in the office,” Abrams-Frederick said then laughed.

Cue up Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)”: “Party people!”

Events coordinator zooms in for Art on the Mall

It’s not unusual for Michele “Mickey” Ross to hop in her car, Canon XSi riding shotgun, and go for a drive. 

That’s how she found a small, dilapidated dwelling and gas pump one snowy day in Sylvania. And on a fall jaunt through Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in Whitehouse, she spotted horseback riders on a leaf-covered trail.

Michele “Mickey” Ross displayed some of her photography that she will have in frames, on coasters and notecards, and as prints at Art on the Mall Sunday, July 31.

Michele “Mickey” Ross displayed some of her photography that she will have in frames, on coasters and notecards, and as prints at Art on the Mall Sunday, July 31.

“I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time,” the events coordinator in the Special Events Office said. “A lot of photography is patience and sometimes luck. You have to be willing to just sit and observe — especially with nature. You can see so much more that way.”

Armed with her camera, Ross captures places many area residents are familiar with and frames them in a new way.

“You can go to the same park every day and see something different each time; it’s just how you’re looking at things, whether it’s a bird or a turtle or a frog or flowers,” she said. “Nature changes so rapidly that there’s always something different to look at — always.”

Michele “Mickey” Ross took this photo titled “Ice Tree” at Olander Park in Sylvania.

Michele “Mickey” Ross took this photo titled “Ice Tree” at Olander Park in Sylvania.

Her favorite locales to wander and shoot include area parks, gardens and the Toledo Zoo.

At the zoo, she caught a cormorant careening its neck to preen with an orange autumnal sky reflected in the water, as well as a regal eagle perched by evergreen sprigs. After an ice storm, she ventured carefully to Olander Park in Sylvania and clicked in the cold; the result was a stunning image of a tree encased in a shimmering frozen glaze.

“It’s almost cathartic. I get lost when I go out and photograph. I can be out for hours and not even know it because there’s so much to look at and so much to see,” Ross said.

She’s had an artful eye for years.

“I’ve always loved taking photos,” Ross recalled. “But I think I was getting frustrated because it seemed like I was in a rut.”

So four years ago, she joined the Toledo Camera Club and the Photo Arts Club of Toledo. That’s when she got serious about her passion.

“The clubs have challenges and assignments, and it makes you get out there and think,” Ross said. “Members critique the shots each time, and I think that’s helped me grow and progress as a photographer because it’s given me things I never would have thought of to do.”

“Bald Eagle” was photographed by Michele “Mickey” Ross at the Toledo Zoo.

“Bald Eagle” was photographed by Michele “Mickey” Ross at the Toledo Zoo.

And she’s had the chance to work with some surreal subjects, including a fairy statue submerged in an aquarium filled with a carbonated drink — a sprite in Sprite.

“I won a few awards at the photo clubs, and I thought, you know, maybe I can try to sell the photos and see what happens,” she said. “And my family encouraged me, too.”

In 2013, the UT graduate who received a bachelor’s degree in 1976 returned to her alma mater and made her debut at Art on the Mall.

“It was cool because I actually did pretty well, and I was surprised,” she said. “I had never done an art show before, it was my first one.”

Last year, Ross introduced a new item to showcase her photography: coasters.

“I was trying to come up with something that was a little more cost-effective for the normal person to buy,” she said. “I got online, looked around, and I saw coasters.”

“A Day at the Park” was taken by Michele “Mickey” Ross at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in Whitehouse.

“A Day at the Park” was taken by Michele “Mickey” Ross at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in Whitehouse.

Pretty and practical, but finding a process to produce the coasters took some time.

“Through my own process, I finally found a way to get it to work so that it wouldn’t be tacky and it wouldn’t look tacky,” Ross said and laughed. “And it would be water-resistant so it could be used as a coaster.”

No surprise, her coasters featuring UT photos proved popular her second year at Art on the Mall and sold quickly.

Ross does take requests. Folks who stop by her booth have asked for shots of Toledo landmarks, including Tony Packo’s, the Rosary Cathedral, and Fifth Third Field and all things Mud Hens, as well as lighthouses, trains and various animals.

“There are a lot of things here in the area to focus on that people look at and say, ‘Oh yeah, I know where that is.’ In fact, when people come up at the art fairs and shows, they have fun looking at things and saying, ‘Now where’s that?’ ”

Ross will be at Art on the Mall Sunday, July 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free juried art show will be held on Centennial Mall.

“I know they try to have alumni or people affiliated with UT at the event, and I think that adds to the flavor of it,” she said.

In her office, Ross has a few photos that she has taken, as well as several shots that she is in alongside celebrities who appeared in Centennial Hall/Savage Arena, where she worked for 25 years. 

And there is quote from one of her favorite photographers, Ansel Adams: “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

“I don’t have a lot of equipment; it’s expensive. And like they say, it’s not the camera, it’s the shooter. You can make beautiful photographs with anything, even a point and shoot,” Ross said. “I’d like my photos to make people feel good, and I hope that they realize they are not random shots, that some thought was actually put into them.”

Art on the Mall juried show coming to Centennial Mall

The 24th annual Art on the Mall will take place Sunday, July 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Centennial Mall.

Art on the Mall is a juried art show that will have more than 100 booths featuring mediums such as acrylic, glass, jewelry, watercolor, woodwork, photography, oil, mixed media and more. Each booth will have artwork available for sale by cash or credit.

Art on the Mall Poster 2016There will be free parking in Lot 1 South, Lot 1 North and Lot 13, as well as free admission and golf cart shuttles to and from Centennial Mall.

The artists’ work will be juried by representatives from the Dayton Art Institute. Prizes will be given to the top artists, and UT’s Best of Show award will be presented to an artist who is affiliated with the University.

“The quality of our artists’ work is outstanding, and there is something for everyone. We have a diverse and eclectic mix sure to excite art lovers of all kinds,” said Ansley Abrams-Frederick, director of alumni programming in the UT Office of Alumni Relations.

Food and beverages will be for sale from Karen Anne’s Kettle Corn, Opa! Gyros, Java Sensations, K & K Concessions, Jeanie’s Weenies and Let’s Go Nuts. There also will be a children’s area where young artists can make their own creations, as well as a beer garden for attendees 21 and older.

Music will be peformed by UT student groups, Minor Frett and The Cosmonauts throughout the day.

Art on The Mall is sponsored by The Blade, Huntington, 13ABC, Buckeye Broadband, 101.5 The River and Homewood Press.

For more information, contact Abrams-Frederick at 419.530.4316 or ansley.abrams@utoledo.edu.

Artist retracing explorer’s trek to give workshop, lecture July 7

Chris Olszewski will talk about his project, “You, Me and the DeVille Makes Three: Vision Quest 2016,” Thursday, July 7, at 10 a.m. in the UT Center for the Visual Arts Haigh Auditorium on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus. 

Olszewski is part Native-American and initiating a trek that will take him and his Cadillac from Detroit to Quebec City and back. Along the way, including pre- and post-trek stops in Toledo, the professor of art in the School of Foundation Studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design will work with groups of students as well as local communities on exorcising people’s demons. 

“Mobile Skin 2016,” acrylic paint, paint markers, Sharpie on Vinyl, by Chris Olszewski

“Mobile Skin 2016,” acrylic paint, paint markers, Sharpie on Vinyl, by Chris Olszewski

He will retrace the 1,500-mile trek of Antoine Cadillac by driving a pearl white 1998 Cadillac DeVille from Detroit to Quebec City and back. Antoine Cadillac was a French explorer, politician, adventurer, diplomat, trapper and trader in New France.

Olszewski explained why the white car is central to his travel project: “In Native-American tradition, the albino has healing powers and is considered sacred and magical. When my journey is complete, the vehicle will be ceremonially shot, skinned, ground down and used for medicinal purposes.

“I am designing an automobile skin that will act as a soft monument or a mobile message board to connect with the local populations I will encounter throughout my journey. The skin will be used to collect stories and develop a connection with events that happened 315 years ago. This vehicle skin is designed with an image of the Detroit municipal flag, the Cadillac coat of arms, regional Native-American iconography, Quebec City imagery and Detroit imagery. The color scheme for this project is red, blue and yellow — triadic color harmony — and is based on Detroit’s flag.”

Following the lecture, Olszewski will hold a workshop with the students of Young Artists at Work run by the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo in the CVA courtyard. 

During his visit to Toledo, the Cadillac will be on display all day until 7:30 p.m. outside the Center for the Visual Arts.

More information about Olszewski’s work and journey is available here.

‘Wearable Conditions’ event scheduled for April 28

There will be fashionable art and more at the “Wearable Conditions” exhibition Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion.  

The event will include lectures by Dr. Brian Kennedy, president, director an CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art, and Brian Carpenter, UT gallery director and lecturer in the Art Department.  

TemplateAnd there will be an original soundtrack featuring music played and created by Marc Folk, executive director of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.  

Ten student wearable works of art will be exhibited in a fashion show.

The concept of wearable art was developed last year, according to Carpenter.

“Students select and research a disease, virus or disorder, and then conceptualize and create a wearable work of art inspired by it,” he said. “This allows for individual student works to join together and present as a cohesive body of work and ultimately a performance.  

“The act of conceptualizing an internal virus, disease or disorder by externalizing that focus into new forms reinforces student recognition of fundamental art-making processes. Art is essentially an internal concept manifested into an external object or performance.”

Students also benefit from the research experience.

“Through research, students are exposed to characteristics of a virus, disease or disorder they may never have considered,” Carpenter said. “This exposure brings about an awareness of not only the physical structure of these conditions, but also the treatments, policies, social constructs and politics that surround them as well.”

For more information on the free, public event, contact Carpenter at brian.carpenter@utoledo.edu.

2016 Student Filmmakers Showcase set for March 19

The UT Department of Theatre and Film will host its annual Student Filmmakers Showcase Saturday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre.

This event will publicly present competitively selected works by student filmmakers within the Department of Theatre and Film.

This still is from Josh Lowry's “Droplets,” which will be shown in the 2016 Student Filmmakers Showcase.

This still is from Josh Lowry’s “Droplets,” which will be shown in the 2016 Student Filmmakers Showcase.

The Student Filmmakers Showcase will feature a broad range of stories that have been created by UT students. The screenings will include comedies, dramas, documentaries, alternative cinema and animations. Not all film content is appropriate for young children.

Following the movies, there will be an after party with music, free food, door prizes and music open to all showcase goers.

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Theatre and Film and The University of Toledo Film Video Society.

This still is from James Aponte's “Pursuit,” which also will be shown during the 2016 Student Filmmakers Showcase.

This still is from James Aponte’s “Pursuit,” which also will be shown during the 2016 Student Filmmakers Showcase.

“It’s exciting to see everyone come together to celebrate their hard work,” Crista Constantine, student showcase organizer, said. “This year, we’ve gathered a number of judges from alumni to people in the community. We received donations from places in the community as door prizes and food for the after party.”

“This is the film and video majors’ night to shine. The old adage, ‘work is love made visible’ is all about this night,” Holly Hey, associate professor of film and faculty adviser for the showcase, said. “Putting the showcase together is no easy task, but the amount of work and resolve that these students put into their own projects and into each other’s projects is beyond comprehension sometimes. Our annual gala celebrates the love they have for filmmaking, their classmates, and the film and video program at The University of Toledo.”

The screening typically lasts until around 10 p.m. and includes a 10- to 15-minute intermission. The after party usually ends around midnight.

Ticket prices are $10 general admission and $5 for all UT employees and students, members of the military, children and seniors 60 and older. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the UT Center for Performing Arts Box Office by calling 419.530.ARTS (2787) or by visiting utoledo.tix.com.

Science of saving artwork subject of lectures March 18, 19

The science of saving works of art will be the subject of two free lectures to be given by Gregory Smith, the Otto N. Frenzel III Senior Conservation Scientist at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The lectures are sponsored by The University of Toledo’s College of Communication and the Arts and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the Toledo Museum of Art.

Friday, March 18, Smith will give a talk titled “Disappearing Ink! Unraveling the Fading of a Modern Design Object” at 6 p.m. in the Toledo Museum of Art Little Theater.

He will examine a contemporary vase from the design collection that faded badly during its first year after entering the Indianapolis Museum of Art collection. This led to Smith’s exploration of its continuing lightfastness issues, an interview with the artist, and a scientific analysis of the materials of its creation.

In addition, he will talk about Untitled #1176, a contemporary work by artist Petah Coyne in the Toledo Museum of Art’s collection.

"Undergrowth With Two Figures" by Vincent van Gogh

“Undergrowth With Two Figures” by Vincent van Gogh

Saturday, March 19, Smith’s talk is titled “Goghing, Goghing, Gone! The Analysis of Color Fading in Masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh.” The lecture will take place at 9:30 a.m. in Wolfe Hall Room 1205 on UT’s Main Campus.

The lecture will highlight a recent collaborative project investigating color fading in Vincent van Gogh’s 1890 masterpiece, “Undergrowth With Two Figures.” The artist’s use of a modern fugitive dye, present as the pigment Geranium Lake, has resulted in significant color change in the picture and a shift in the aesthetics of the artwork. A brief history of the synthesis of eosin and of its importance in artworks of the late 1800s will be given.

Smith will show how a virtual restoration of the painting using realistic colored layers determined by micro-colorimetry of cross-sections of the painting gives a better “impression” of this post-Impressionist’s artistic efforts.

Part of the Saturday Morning Science program, this talk is presented by the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Vocal performances scheduled this week

The University of Toledo Department of Music will present two student vocal performances. One will spotlight several UT choirs, and the other will feature the UT Opera Ensemble.

The UT Concert Chorale will take the stage of Doermann Theater Thursday, March 17.

The UT Concert Chorale will take the stage of Doermann Theater Thursday, March 17.

On Thursday, March 17, the UT Concert Chorale, the Women’s Chamber Ensemble and the University Chorus will perform a program titled “The Drumsound Rises” at 7 p.m. in Doermann Theater. The concert will showcase works by composers Daniel Elder, Sydney Guillaume, Moira Smiley and Arturs Maskats.

On Sunday, March 20, the UT Opera Ensemble will perform a variety of selections from favorite operas at 3 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall. From Mozart to Bernstein, the program will include an eclectic mix of scenes from popular Italian, French and German operas, as well as selections from operettas.

Members of the UT Opera Ensemble, shown here in “The Magic Flute” last fall, will perform Sunday, March 20, in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Members of the UT Opera Ensemble, shown here in “The Magic Flute” last fall, will perform Sunday, March 20, in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Both concerts require tickets that can be purchased through the UT Center for Performing Arts Box Office by calling 419.530.ARTS (2787) or by visiting utoledo.tix.com.

Ticket prices for “The Drumsound Rises” are $8 general admission and $4 for students and seniors 60 and older.

For the UT Opera Ensemble, tickets are $12 general admission; $10 for faculty, staff, alumni and seniors 60 and older; and $7 for students.

Juried Student Exhibition reception to take place March 17

Check out artwork on display this month in the 2016 Juried Student Exhibition in the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

A reception and awards ceremony will take place Thursday, March 17, from 6 to 8 p.m.

See the best creations in the 2016 Juried Student Exhibition in the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery through Wednesday, March 23.

See the best creations in the 2016 Juried Student Exhibition in the Center for the Visual Arts Gallery through Wednesday, March 23.

UT students of all ages and areas of study were permitted to submit up to three pieces of original artwork for the annual competitive event.

This year’s juror is Paula Baldoni, gallery director and owner of River House Arts Gallery in Perrysburg, Ohio.

The awards ceremony will coincide with the Arts Commission 3rd Thursday Loop as the Center for the Visual Arts is one of the galleries on the route.

The free, public exhibit can be seen through Wednesday, March 23. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

UT pianist teams up with baritone for afternoon of art songs

The Toledo Museum of Art Great Performances in the Great Gallery Series will include a concert featuring a University of Toledo faculty member and an internationally acclaimed baritone this weekend.

Boyd

Boyd

Dr. Michael Boyd, UT professor of music, and Ryan De Ryke will perform a free, public program of art song Sunday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m.

Highlights will include Schumann’s “Dichterliebe” and a cycle of songs by The Smiths arranged by De Ryke.

Boyd received his undergraduate degree from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Eastman School of Music. Over the years, the pianist has given solo recitals around the globe.

De Ryke

De Ryke

De Ryke has studied at the Peabody Conservatory, the Royal Academy of Music and the National Conservatory of Luxembourg. Aside from his recital career, De Ryke also is a regularly traveling soloist in various oratorios. He has sung numerous operatic roles and has worked with several groups, including the Haymarket Opera, El Paso Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber of Chicago.