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 1% 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.
Coming in 2017
In June of 2016, The Arts Commission sought proposals for highly interactive, community-driven, collaborative works of art that are accessible to the public and civic in scope. Out of 16 submissions, four projects have been selected. These projects involve the spectator in a variety of activities from contributing to a giant storybook to casting metal objects with a mobile foundry. The Arts Commission expects these projects to take place at the Third Thursday Art Loop in June of 2017 with locations to be announced at a later date. The winning artists / teams: Erin Peterson, Lindsay Williams, the team of Peter Koelsch, Cameron McLeod and J.C. Christy, and the team of Sam Sheffield and Barry Whittaker.
Houses in Motion by Mark Lere
This recently completed series of sculptures is sited along Collingwood Blvd., between Ashland and Central Ave., utilizing the islands that were built as part of the Collingwood re-surfacing project. “The Collingwood Ave Islands Project was conceived with the intent of creating a multi-part sculpture installation that represents the changing history of the people and architecture of the Old West End area of Toledo. This installation, as it combines different sculptural elements, provides an exciting and innovative reference to some of the architectural elements of the past, while alluding to the changes currently under way to the area.” - Mark Lere
Fort Industry by Molly Dilworth
To fulfill the vision of completing a large-scale mural project that is visible from the interstate, The Arts Commission identified the City of Toledo’s Park Maintenance building, located at 1615 Ketcham as a prime location. The building is visible from I-280, just north of the Veterans Glass City Skyway, and is viewed by over 57,000 cars every day as they travel through Toledo along the interstate. "The design for the I-280 Mural project is an updated version of dazzle camouflage, used to disguise ships in World War I. This irregular patterning, effective at integrating the irregularities and mixed materials of the building, is also flexible enough to incorporate visual references from a variety of sources." -Molly Dilworth
Inspiring a Vibrant Toledo
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 1% 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.