Saturday, July 21, 2012

Holy Toledo

Botanical Garden glass flower
When you hear "Toledo, Ohio," what do you picture?  A Rust Belt city that has seen better days?  Well, okay, there might be some truth to that.  But Toledo, the Glass City, is much more than an industrial town.  While a number of giants of the glass industry -- Owens-Illinois, Owens Corning, Libbey Glass -- originated in Toledo, art glass is just as important.  The Toledo Museum of Art, with its cool, modern Glass Pavilion, houses one of the most comprehensive glass collections in the world.  Furthermore, it was in Toledo in 1962 that American studio art glass really began.  It was a happy coincidence of a glassblowing workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art led by Harvey Littleton, a ceramics instructor at the University of Wisconsin, and a glass engineer and innovator named Dominick Labino.

We were recently in Toledo for a couple of days and stopped by the Museum of Art.  My husband grew up in Toledo, so we have been to the Museum many times, but a special treat this time was "Color Ignited: Glass 1962-2012," an interesting exhibit.  It took us a while to work our way back to the Wolfe Gallery, where the exhibit was housed.  I mean, you can't just rush past the Impressionists, Rodin statues, and the Cloister!  I don't think I was supposed to take pictures in the Wolfe Gallery since it was a special exhibit, but I did snap this one before I remembered.

"Bowl: Citron Vanishing Gladiator" by Stephen Rolfe Powell

Glass and art also play a part at the Toledo Botanical Garden, still called Crosby Gardens by the locals.  The Botanical Garden was started when George P. Crosby, a businessman and realtor, donated 20 acres for a park in 1964.  The Garden now covers more than 60 acres.  And not all of the flowers are alive!  Check out these amazing larger-than-life glass poppies outside the artist demonstration buildings and shops.

In addition to the art outside in the gardens, there is also a Lithophane Museum on the grounds.  A lithophane is a delicate artform that reveals its three-dimensional beauty when back lit.  Plaster molds are made from beeswax carvings which are then cast, usually in porcelain.  The picture below is a lithophane lamp.  The lighter areas were more deeply carved to allow more light through.  Imagine the skill the carver would need to create all the detail.

Of course, the Botanical Garden also features some living things as well.

I believe this is a carpenter bee.  It was at least an inch long!
So there's just a little taste of Toledo.  And now, this fat lady doesn't sing, she doesn't even talk, but if she could, she might tell you to check out Toledo for yourself.
"Woman with the Birds" by Joe Ann Cousino


  1. I've never been to a glass museum before. In fact, the only one I'd heard of before now is the Museum of Glass in Washington state. Everything looks so lovely, down to the flowers! I hope you enjoyed your visit. :-)

  2. Beautiful glass museum. I have been to the one in Corning,NY, and it, too, is marvelous. Who knew Toledo had so much to offer? Thanks! xo Diana

  3. There is alot of beauty in Ohio. I don't think non-Ohioans know what all we have to offer. Beautiful pictures.
    Thanks for your comments. I am trying to move on today but not doing so well yet.

  4. Beautiful..... I've never been to Toledo --but would love to visit that museum and see that gorgeous glass art... WOW!!!!!

    When I first looked at the ducks, I wondered if they were glass also... Then I read that there were some living things there also.... Neat!!!!

    Have a great day.

  5. Thanks for sharing some of your journey with us! The glass is stunning. I enjoyed the outdoor shots as well, especially your close up captures.

  6. Never been to Ohio, it sounds really interesting! and those glass pieces are really something

  7. I think if we all took a good look round our own neighbourhoods we'd be surprised what there is to see. The glass bowl is stunning

  8. What a wonderful place! If I'm ever in that area, that will be on my "To Do" list. The lithopane is beautiful and I'll bet it's even more stunning in real life.

    Thanks for this great post, I really enjoyed it.

  9. What a wonderful post! I enjoyed learning something about Toledo, a place I've been to once or twice to visit friends. (They no longer live there.) I would love the glass pavilion. The Fat Lady is wonderful. You captured some great items and scenes!

  10. This place looks wonderful and I would love to visit it some day. Lovely pictures too!

  11. The garden seems like a great place to be. Beautiful green scenery.

  12. I have always loved glass artwork. So exquisite and delicate looking.

    Great photos! The Woman with the Birds reminds me of Mary Poppins' bird lady.

  13. What a wonderful post and such wonderful pictures! I hope you took time to go across the street to the regular museum - Don't forget about the VanGogh paintings that TMA has also. Such a small (and not so nice) city with one of the best art museums in the midwest! (I can say the "not so nice" part because I live in the Toledo are).

  14. Thanks so much for this. The only thing I knew from Toledo OH is that Katie Holmes grew up there...:S Also, did u know that there's a Toledo in Spain? XOXO

  15. Thanks so much for sharing this. I don't know whether you know but as well as my crafts and fabrics, I also sell antique and vintage glass. I love studio and art glass and occasionally come across American art glass. Hence I found your post very interesting and loved the photos especially the Powell bowl. Maggie xx

  16. I never knew that about Toledo - the glass industry I mean. That bowl you photographed is gorgeous!!! Sounds like y'all had a good time.

  17. Wow all those things are beautiful! What a great place to visit, thanks for taking us along!

  18. Love those glass ducks. :-P That's actually really cool that they have art outside too. I love the mix-in of the glass flowers.


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