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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!”

Toledo Farmers’ Market returns to Health Science Campus

It’s prime growing season, and fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables soon will be available for purchase on UT’s Health Science Campus.

Farmers Market SS RevisedThe first Toledo Farmer’s Market of the season will be Wednesday, July 27, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a new location this year where vendors will set up in the loop drive in front of the Block Health Science Building and the Center for Creative Education. The biweekly sale will be held through mid-October, weather permitting.

Wellness Coordinator Jocelyn Szymanski says hosting the market on Health Science Campus encourages healthy eating among students, staff and members of the community.

“The biweekly timing of the markets is perfect for keeping your home stocked with in-season produce,” she said. “Shoppers also can pick up fresh baked goods, and the crowd-favorite popcorn also will be back this year.”

Cash, credit cards and Ohio Direction/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards are accepted.

Dates for the market are subject to change. Shoppers are encouraged to visit click here for the most up-to-date information.

Ryan White Program to share local mother’s story during July 25 forum

The Ryan White Program at The University of Toledo Medical Center is encouraging families to openly discuss HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

The program’s support group, Young, Gay and Empowered, is sponsoring a free, public forum titled “A Mother’s Story” Monday, July 25, at 6 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1201 Madison Ave.

HIV July 25 forumAccording to the Lucas County Health Department, the number of HIV/AIDS infections among young people ages 15 to 24 has significantly and consistently increased during the last eight years. This age group accounted for 42 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases in 2014.

“The largest growing demographic for new HIV infections is young African-American men and men of all races and ethnicities who have sex with other men,” said Richard Meeker, manager of fundraising and special projects. “We need to encourage these young men to talk to their families and seek the care they need to live healthier lives.”

Kennyetta White, minority outreach coordinator, agreed saying many young people face social stigmas that keep them from seeking help.

“It is our goal to reach beyond these stigmas to encourage young men to get tested and if they are diagnosed with HIV, link them to support and health services and retain them in the support program long term,” she said.

Toledoan Toni Epperson will serve as keynote speaker. She will share the story of her son, David, who kept his HIV diagnosis a secret until it was too late.

“We had a close relationship, and I thought he would tell me anything,” she said. “What I later learned was he was too afraid to come forward. He thought he would be shamed for his diagnosis and wanted to protect me from that. My son’s secret killed him.”

Epperson said she wants to tell young men that their lives matter and they don’t need to die needlessly.

“There is help out there,” she said. “I want them to know they are not alone and that they do not have to go through what David went through. I want them to know I care.”

UT to host International Youth Academy July 24-Aug. 6

The UT Center for International Studies and Programs, in conjunction with Toledo Sister Cities, will welcome students from around the world for the 2016 International Youth Academy, which will take place from Sunday, July 24, through Saturday, Aug. 6, on Main Campus.

This summer’s program will host 32 students:16 from Pakistan, 10 from Japan and six from China.

Business Hlogo 1c Black“The high school students have the opportunity to experience campus life by residing in one of our residence halls and engaging with The University of Toledo students,” said Sara Clark, director of global initiatives in the UT Center for International Studies and Programs. “We have two full weeks planned; program highlights include targeted English second language instruction and development of cultural awareness through outings to Toledo Mud Hens games and the Toledo Art Museum, to name a few. 

“We are pleased to continue this partnership with Toledo Sister Cities International,” Clark said. “There is no better way to showcase what our city has to offer than allowing young people to experience it firsthand.”

A cultural program for high school-aged youth from around the world, the International Youth Academy allows participants to improve their conversational English while having fun, developing new understanding of teens from different cultures, and gaining lifetime friendships.

“The University of Toledo and Toledo Sister Cities International have a long-standing relationship; this relationship has evolved into a partnership to implement the International Youth Academy program,” said Dr. Sammy Spann, UT assistant vice provost for international studies and programs. “This program provides us the opportunity to showcase the city of Toledo, as well as The University of Toledo. The city of Toledo has a great wealth of opportunities to offer the international community, and this program allows us to gain exposure in the international arena.” 

“Toledo Sister Cities International is proud of its nationally acclaimed alliance with The University of Toledo’s Center for International Studies and Programs,” said James Hartung, vice president of the Toledo Sister City Board of Trustees. “In my mind, there is no greater pride than the pride I ascribe to our UT/Sister Cities co-sponsorship of the International Youth Academy. Our shared commitment to creatively foster the development of a corps of young citizen-of-the-world diplomats through the International Youth Academy exemplifies the synergy between UT and Sister Cities.”

The International Youth Academy is a cultural two-week program that enriches high school students’ global awareness and English language. The program is designed for students to share their thoughts and experiences with teenagers from other countries. American youth diplomats work side by side with students to assist them with English, learn about the students’ traditions and culture, and share interests. English classes, language games, cultural activities, field trips and hands-on team-building events all aid in improving students’ conversational English.

For the second year, The Blade is supporting the International Youth Academy. The Blade staff will provide education on the concept of free press and teach interviewing and reporting skills. 

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.”

Rocket football single-game, away tickets go on sale July 20

Single-game Toledo football tickets and away-game tickets will go on sale Wednesday, July 20, at the UT Athletic Ticket Office.

Rocket football logoTickets are available for all six away games, including the Rockets’ battle vs. Northern Illinois at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago Wednesday, Nov. 9.

To purchase season tickets, single-game tickets or away-game tickets, stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office, located in the Sullivan Athletic Complex at Savage Arena, click here, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653). Season tickets start at just $80.

football schedule for web

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.

Rockets offer $15 Community Night Tickets for football home opener

The University of Toledo is thanking area fans for their great support of the Rocket football team by offering $15 Community Night Tickets for the home opener vs. Maine Saturday, Sept. 10.

web community night tixKickoff will be at 7 p.m. in the Glass Bowl.

Tickets must be purchased prior to game day in order to receive the discount. Community Night Tickets may be purchased at the UT Athletic Ticket Office, online at UTRocketsTix.com or by phone at 419.530.4653. There is a minimum of 15 tickets per order.

The ticket office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For questions or more information, contact Kyle England at 419.530.5135 or kyle.england@utoledo.edu.

Football coach to throw out first pitch at Detroit game July 16

UT Head Football Coach Jason Candle will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Detroit Tigers game vs. the 2015 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park Saturday, July 16. Game time is 7:10 p.m.

Candle is entering his first full season as the Rockets’ head coach. He was an assistant coach at UT for seven years before taking the reins as head coach last December. He led the Rockets to a 32-17 victory over Temple in his debut as head coach in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl Dec. 22.

The Rockets will open their season Friday, Sept. 2, at Arkansas State. Their home opener is Saturday, Sept. 10, vs. Maine.

UT Football Coach Jason Candle will take the mound at Comerica Park to throw a baseball, not a football, Saturday, July 16, at the Detroit-Kansas City game.

UT Football Coach Jason Candle will take the mound at Comerica Park to throw a baseball, not a football, Saturday, July 16, at the Detroit-Kansas City game.

UT to teach community about composting July 16 at Stranahan Arboretum

There’s another option for items like coffee grounds, fruit peels, grass clippings and dryer lint besides the landfill.

composting flyerThe community is invited to learn the basics of home composting Saturday, July 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The University of Toledo Stranahan Arboretum, located at 4131 Tantara Road.

Children and adults are welcome to participate in the free educational event titled “Composting Cups.”

Participants will learn how to start a compost pile and create a starter kit to take home.

“Plants need nutritious food, just like people do,” said Pam Struffolino, event coordinator at the arboretum and research operations manager in the Department of Environmental Sciences. “Composting is an example of decomposition, the final stages of the food web. Decomposers, like worms, break down food scraps and grass clippings into new soil and return the nutrients locked inside back into the soil for plants to use. It’s a process that reduces the need to buy commercial fertilizers and creates a more sustainable environment.”