New installations bring beauty and symbolism to renovated Promenade Park

. August 17, 2017.
The Toledo debut of the Unity Project at the Crosby Festival of the Arts in June. “I loved looking up at the canopy of intertwined yarn and thinking that each strand represented a uniquely beautiful person who is an important part of our diverse community,” Erin Peterson said.
The Toledo debut of the Unity Project at the Crosby Festival of the Arts in June. “I loved looking up at the canopy of intertwined yarn and thinking that each strand represented a uniquely beautiful person who is an important part of our diverse community,” Erin Peterson said.

As the resurrected Promenade Park celebrated its grand reopening last month, attendees were treated to some magnificent sights, in addition to the sounds of music.

Several stunning art installations have been added to Promenade, with more works to make their debut as part of the Momentum Art and Music Festival (September 15-17). From an illuminated tower, to pieces with symbolism for our city, the works provide meaningful visuals to complement the site’s inherent beauty and community importance.

Tower of Light

Erwin Redl works in the medium of light and space. Born in Austria and now residing in the United States, Redl has made a reputation for himself around the world with his installation art, using LED lights to create visuals to transform a location: here over 100 illuminated glass panels cover the east facade of the structure, create an ever-changing symphony of color.
“My framework is actually architecture, in that respect,” Redl said. “Because whatever I do has to happen in a certain architectural context.”

Redl, who has maintained a studio in Bowling Green for 10 years, was first approached 18 months ago about contributing a piece to the park.

The resulting work takes what would in other circumstances be an unremarkable structure and converts it into a soul-stirring feast for the senses. For Redl, catching visitors off-guard is all part of what makes his specific kind of art so intoxicating.

“If you go into the space of a parking garage, you actually have a completely blank state of mind, which is very advantageous. That’s why I like utilitarian structures. Because you go in there, get your car and get out as quickly as possible. But that offers the opportunity to kind of make an intervention. … They just look at a utilitarian or banal experience in a completely new way.”

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Testing the LED-illuminated panels which eventually would make up the Tower of Light. Redl constructed the components of the Tower completely at his studio in Bowling Green.

Unity

A year ago, Sylvania native Erin Peterson saw a short online video about a project created by Virginian artist Nancy Belmont— one which worked to emphasize the strength of finding common ground in a divisive time.

Belmont’s piece, “Unity,” made the threads which connect all of us into something literal. A circle of poles surround a center pole. Each one bears a sign: “I am a parent.” “I speak English as a second language.” In the video, attendees were encouraged to take a ball of yarn tied to the center pole and connect it to each of the poles which they identified with.
Slowly, surely, the strings that connect the poles became a canopy of commonality— symbolizing how, despite our differences, there is so much that makes us exactly the same.
“I immediately thought, ‘Let’s recreate that in Toledo,’” Peterson said. “Shortly thereafter, The Arts Commission posted a call for proposals. The timing was perfect!”

Peterson’s Glass City rendition of the Unity Project made its debut at the Crosby Festival of the Arts in June, and will be reassembled at Promenade Park in September.

“I hope the project will remind participants— that which makes us unique also makes us stronger, more vibrant, and, paradoxically, more unified.”

For more information on Erwin Redl, visit paramedia.net.
To learn more about the Unity Project, visit unityproject.net.