Toledo has an impressive collection of public art, with large-scale sculptures, murals, and functional structures by noted artists from across the country.
About Public Art
Toledo, Ohio has an impressive collection of public art, with large-scale sculptures, murals, and functional structures by noted artists from across the country. Many of these pieces were acquired through the pioneering 1977 ordinance that set aside one percent of Toledo's Capital Improvement Budget for the purchase, conservation, and public education of art.
The program is administered by The Arts Commission through its Art in Public Places Program, which acquires, conserves and restores the collection. This administration also includes the education of the community related to the understanding and enjoyment of public art.
Toledo was the first city in Ohio to adopt a One Percent for Art program. The 1977 ordinance served as a model for Ohio's Percent for Art program, administered by the Ohio Arts Council, which began in 1990.
Founded in 1959 as the City Culture Commission, The Arts Commission compiled the city’s first comprehensive local arts calendar beginning in 1960. By the end of the decade, the organization was brought under the City’s Division of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry to aid in public art investments at Crosby Gardens (now Toledo Botanical Gardens).
In 1977 significant legislation passed that cemented The Arts Commission’s role in the community with the founding of the City of Toledo’s 1% for Art program. Overseen by The Arts Commission’s Art in Public Places Committee, the program allocates a portion of City funds for public art. Toledo’s One Percent for Art program was the first in Ohio, among the first in the nation, and has since served as the adopted model for other regional agencies. It continues to this day and features an impressive collection of public art with work from more than 40 local, national, and international artists installed in nearly every neighborhood in the city.
Inspiring a Vibrant Toledo
Artists: Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan
Toledo Rise is a gateway into Toledo that captures the sense of motion inherent to the roadway site, its previous history as railroad hub, and Toledo’s spirit of innovation. Completed in October of 2018, this large sculpture and surrounding landscape was commissioned as part of the Anthony Wayne Trail / Erie / Lafayette road reconfiguration construction project. The art is a cohesive system of landforms, walls, plantings, and sculpture, the layout of which is derived from the radiating, spiraling layout of cut glass patterns and bicycle spokes. Twelve “spokes” made from train rails and textured concrete walls act as an organizing device for the landscape. The spokes transition from the horizontal plane into twelve angled steel columns forming the base of a sculptural focal point that serves as a city greeter.
Perched on top of 12 angled columns is a matrix of stainless steel tubes that form a conical shape. Inspired by the image of glassblowing wands, cast glass objects made by local artist Jack Schmidt are fastened to the ends of the tubes. These pieces depict items significant to Toledo’s manufacturing history – bottles, spark plugs, jeeps, and scales – and their yellow, orange and red colors reference “amberina” glass coloration. At night amber and red LEDs illuminate the matrix, producing a flame-like presence.
New Public Art Commission: Close, Closer, Closest
Through an effort to further distribute Toledo’s public works of art more evenly by district, Close Park in District 5 was identified as a site for a new public art project for 2019. Nestled in a densely populated West Toledo neighborhood and across the street from Blessed Sacrament School, this site has been identified as a perfect location for a new public art project. A request for qualifications was sent out on January 4, 2018, which resulted in responses from over 60 artists from all over the United States. Through an extensive review process, including community meetings with neighborhood stakeholders, the Design Review Board has selected Minneapolis artist, Randy Walker’s, proposal entitled “Close, Closer, Closest.” The installation includes approximately 400 colorfully painted steel poles representing each house in the immediate neighborhood. The poles will stand in a small garden shaped to mimic Close Park’s shape. The poles will vary in height and color determined by members of the community. Like the park, the Close, Closer Closest will be an interactive life-filled space that changes as it is experienced from different vantage points and as one moves through and around it from season to season. Installation of the work is planned for spring of 2019.
Public Art Collection
Conservation and Maintenance
The City of Toledo has charged The Arts Commission with the oversight of its 1% for Art collection. The Arts Commission through its Art in Public Places (APP) Program maintains and conserves this group of more than 80 original public art works. The APP program utilizes highly skilled maintenance technicians and qualified fine art conservators to complete projects that range from routine washing and waxing to major conservation overhauls. The Arts Commission is proud to serve the City of Toledo in this way and works diligently to ensure the collection remains in the best possible condition.
Public Art Education
The ABCs of Public Art
The ABC’s of Public Art is an alphabet book that features the City of Toledo’s rich public art collection. This beautifully produced publication has been created as a service of the educational component of the City of Toledo’s One Percent for Art Program and is available for free to interested parents, teachers and/or mentors of young children. Anyone who is interested in receiving a copy should contact The Arts Commission for more information. The publication has been distributed through a number of literacy and outreach programs including Reach out and Read, Read for Literacy, Toledo Museum of Art Family Center and Early Intervention MRDD.
City of Toledo
Inspiring vibrant spaces - together.
The Arts Commission is proud to partner with the City of Toledo to inspire a vibrant sense of place and community. Since 1977, The Arts Commission has managed the One Percent for Art public art program on behalf of the City of Toledo. The program is the first public art program of its kind in Ohio and served as the model for the state's own program.
The following language is that which appears in the Toledo Municipal Code defining the process for which public murals are to be approved by the City of Toledo. This process was put in place not to hinder the growth of public art in the community, but to protect the artwork and to help ensure the investment of artists and businesses owners who wish to create public mural projects so that they may be preserved and enjoyed for years to come.
Murals are an integral part of the cultural expression in the City of Toledo. Murals will be created by artists of diverse cultural traditions and backgrounds. The intent is to aid artists and others in understanding issues surrounding the creation of a mural and to apprise parties involved in mural projects of the permit process. All conservation and restoration will be the responsibility of the property owner.
All murals which are on public property or visible from a public thoroughfare within the City of Toledo must receive prior permit approval from the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. Artists or community groups who want to paint murals must obtain permission from the property owner. Murals on public or private property without permission of the property owner will be illegal and punishable by law. The conservation and the maintenance of the murals will be the responsibility of the property owner. This ordinance will not permit any type of illegal sign, irrespective of artistic content. The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo will be responsible for administering the Murals Program.