Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Focus on the Arts 2019

Our favorite part of working on the Focus on the Arts issue is getting together with coworkers to discuss what local events we are most excited about. We compile a lengthy list that includes the upcoming theater season, music venue highlights, and art gallery exhibits, then we attempt to narrow down what we are dying to see/experience. It’s a daunting task that speaks to how much creativity we are surrounded by in Toledo!

In this issue, you’ll find a breakdown of Momentum (an epic event with art installations, music, theater, and more), performances that are good for a laugh when you are feeling a little too high-brow for your own good and, finally, we’ve put together a local guide to convincing your friends that you are a just a smidge more cultured than everyone else. Get out your highlighter and prepare to take notes— there’s a lot to discover in Toledo’s art scene.


Feel like an intellectual

Highbrow moments sure to impress your friends

Music is more than just harmony and melody, at least an insightful erudite like you. Sometimes, you even prefer arhythmic experiments, grinding drone and works by curious contemporary composers that plebeians refer to as “unlistenable.” Ignore them, you patrician, because even the most abrasive sonic pursuits receive the love they deserve during the 40th annual Bowling Green New Music Festival, held October 16-19.

As a scholarly sage, you’re used to pondering deep questions, and your formidable intellectual capacity allows you to tickle flights of existential philosophical fancy. Flex your esoteric muscle during Findlay-based artist and filmmaker Phil Sugden’s solo exhibit at Owens Community College’s Walter E. Terhune Art Gallery, Pages from the Manual on Dismantling God, on view October 18-November 30. The installation of 21 drawings explores the dichotomy between one’s self and the rest of the universe by finding inspiration in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bhagavad Gita, and a host of other spiritual texts (that you’ve definitely “at least heard of, but can’t quite place”).

Demonstrate how pensive and cerebral you are by strolling through the Toledo Museum of Art’s multisensory exhibition, Everything is Rhythm: Mid-Century Art & Music. Contemplate the increasingly-blurred lines between an “artist” and a “musician” in contemporary discourse. Then, consider the important role that inspiration plays during the exhibit’s close-out performance at 3pm on November 3rd, which pairs Julian Stanczak’s painting And Then There Were Three with a lush solo piano work by Phillip Glass, Metamorphosis III.

Your formidable intellectual capacity doesn’t stop you from laughing— if anything, you laugh harder, smarter and better than your less learned peers. Fortunately, the Toledo Opera will stage courtroom banter, historical humor, and witty farce to their academically-minded audiences during the weekend of April 17-19. The two one-act operas— Derrick Wang’s comic opera about the U.S. Supreme Court, Scalia/Ginsburg, and Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic Trial by Jury— are sure to provoke the season’s most sophisticated giggles.


Feel funny & laugh hard

Walk this way— No, this way— to the Valentine Theatre on October 11 for a screening of the Mel Brooks classic, Young Frankenstein. This Silver Screen Classic embraces the fact that yes, Frankenstein’s monster is funny as well as tragic, especially when you have an all-star cast like Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle and Cloris Leachman, whose imposing bustline and hilarious accent will have audiences rolling on the floor faster than you can say “Fire bad.”

Enjoy a late-night double-feature picture show full of double entendres and “Sweet Transvestite” moves from Dr. Frank-N-Furter in 3B Productions’ The Rocky Horror Show, the play that The Rocky Horror Picture Show film is based on. Much like the young couple who shows up on a dark and stormy night seeking refuge in the nefarious doctor’s mansion, you’ll stumble into The Maumee Indoor Theatre wide-eyed and ready for some off-color jokes and contagious dance moves on October 13 and November 9 and 10. Can’t make it on those dates? You’re in luck. Stone Productions is performing its 6th annual Rocky Horror Show on November 2! Stay tuned for their performance dates in 2020.

Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play is a dark comedy about a group of post-apocalypse survivors recounting an episode of The Simpsons called “Cape Feare.” Fast forward seven years and the survivors have formed an acting troupe totally devoted to performing various episodes of the show in a sequence that shows the ubiquitous nature of pop culture. When all else is lost, The Simpsons finds a way to survive and remain relevant. Head to Bowling Green State University’s Donnell Theatre, November 21-24, to get in on the fun, elbowing your friends and chuckling over the pop culture references you’ve come to love.

Do you find yourself seeking out the worst movies of all time? If so, you are likely a longtime fan of Mystery Science Theater, and you won’t want to miss its Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour at the Valentine Theatre on November 12. Its host, Joel Hodgson, has chosen to make this his final tour along with his snarky robot friends (Tom Servo, Crow and Gypsy), gleefully tearing apart a series of terrifically terrible films. We’re in.


WATCH the breathtaking and mesmerizing talents of the Birds Eye View Circus acrobats during the spooky staged-show, Echoes They Left Behind, exploring stories of ghost encounters, paranormal experiences, campfire tales, ghost sightings and more, on Saturday, October 26.

WATCH a raw reading of the drama Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe, a no frills, sparse production with actors performing the play in all its base uncanniness, scripts in hand. The Ghost Light Theatre performance will keep you on edge and searching its dark corners for local ghosts and ghouls on October 12.

WATCH the fairytale stories you know and love gets turned on their heads with Disenchanted! A New Musical Comedy by the Perrysburg Musical Theatre Company on November 14-17. It’s easy to see how a troupe of princesses could get fed up with stories of being rescued by knights in shining armor, so they’ll be at the W.W. Knight Preserve to tell you what really went down.

WATCH favorites straight from Broadway at the Stranahan Theater during the Broadway in Toledo 2019-2020 season, which includes: Fiddler on the Roof (October 17-20), The Elf on the Shelf (December 21), Bandstand (January 9-12), Rent (February 4), Drum TAO – 2020 (March 7), Disney’s The Lion King (March 25-April 12), and Waitress (April 30-May 3).


SEE Toledo fashionistas flaunt it for a cause at the Flaunt Fashion Fundraiser on November 16 at Registry Bistro. All proceeds go toward Equality Toledo, and you get to see the hottest fashion trends parading down the runway. Sounds like the perfect way to spend a Saturday evening to us!

SEE Matilda The Musical, Roald Dahl’s story of a young girl who rises above her circumstances with a little help from her special powers, come to life in a crowd-pleaser for all ages. See it at The Croswell Opera House from September 20-29 or at The Perrysburg Musical Theater from June 25-28.


Feel refreshed

Find something new at these innovative contemporary art exhibits

The SculptureX 2019 Symposium will push beyond traditional boundaries and open the doors for budding contemporary artists with MATERIAL | IMMATERIAL, an exhibition of works from 25 BFA and MFA students from the Great Lakes Region. The exhibition, juried by Detroit-based artist Scott Hocking and curated by Brian Carpenter, Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Toledo School of Art, will be on view from September 10 to October 5 on the 7th floor of the Secor Building, with a reception from 5-8pm on Friday, October 4th.

Anila Quayyum Agha, a Pakistani-American cross-disciplinary artist, will transform three Toledo Museum of Art galleries into stunning and thought-provoking installations during Between Light and Shadow, opening October 19 and running through February 9, 2020. Agha, who won two top prizes at ArtPrize in 2014, uses intricate patterns of light and shadow as a metaphor for feelings of exclusion and belonging to explore global politics, social and gender roles, and current cultural concepts of identity. Expect an immersive, sensory exhibit that offers a unique -experience with each visit.

River House Arts, the area’s premier contemporary space, will celebrate ten years of boundary-pushing, innovative and exciting artists and exhibits with Cake, a group show featuring artists and friends of the downtown Toledo gallery. The group exhibit will open during the November Art Loop, on Thursday, November 19, and will run through January 17, 2020. Prior to this exhibit, stop by River House Arts to see glass and 2D works from Jane and John Brekke during Constructs: The thing about space is that it goes on and on, on view October 4 through November 19.

Aaron S. Bivins, a Toledo-based painter, has spent decades making a name for himself as the area’s most passionate and prolific impressionist watercolor paintings. That hard-earned reputation will take a backseat in spring during a solo exhibition his bold and expressive large-scale abstract paintings at 20 North Gallery, running April 9 through June 27, 2020.

Dan Hernandez, an acclaimed Toledo painter-digital collagist, seems to wow art lovers every time he shows his work, and we expect nothing less from his upcoming solo exhibition at 20 North Gallery. See new works by Hernandez, who uses new and old art techniques to explore the relationship between religious, mythological and pop culture aesthetics, on view July 10 through September 26, 2020.


LISTEN to Ben Folds perform live with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra for the first time ever on Saturday, February 2. The modern piano rockstar and multi-platinum selling artist will perform some of his hit songs— including “Luckiest,” “Capable of Anything,” and “Landed”— with the orchestra during a very special spotlight performance.

LISTEN to violinist Itzhak Perlman play famous movie scores composed by John Williams, a nostalgic experience with the unmistakable sounds of Jaws, Star Wars, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and many others. This is a one-night-only performance to hear Perlman play with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra on November 12.

LISTEN to seven bands play at the Bandapaloosa Toledo Club Party in the Parking Lot! This epic party features local favorites like The Amelia Airharts, The Chris Shutters Band, Liberty Beach, and many other bands that will have you partying the night away on September 13.

LISTEN to folk-rock, singer-songwriter legend Arlo Guthrie on November 15 at Marathon Center for the Performing Arts in Findlay. He’ll regale you with stories between performing his extensive catalog of Americana music peppered with references to political activism. Guthrie’s loyal followers describe him as always having memories to share during his shows, which are always filled with crowd favorites like “City of New Orleans” and “Motorcycle Song.”


DISCUSS the thought-provoking themes of identity, justice, friendship, and more, during the Actors Collaborative Toledo’s 2019-2020 season, featuring: Escaped Alone (September 28-29), St. Nicholas (October 19-20), The Mountaintop (February 15-16), Red Speedo (April 3-5), A Steady Rain (May 8-16), Rocket Man (June 12-20), and F2M (June 13-21).

DISCUSS water issues as The Bowling Green State University Fine Arts Center Galleries presents “Lake Erie: On the Edge,” a photographic journey by internationally-known, prize-winning fine-arts photographer Linda Butler, on view September 20 through November 24. A variety of water-related events will be held in conjunction with the exhibit. For full details, visit


Feel the Momentum

Momentum— a full sensory experience filled with art installations, live performances, and a chance to interact with the world around us in unexpected ways— brings back the pure joys of childhood, providing a multilayered lineup when it comes to the arts. This year is no exception, thanks to The Arts Commission of Toledo and the many sponsors who make Momentum happen.

The three nights of hobnobbing with creative types begins with a performance by the Queen of Funk herself, Chaka Khan, who is being featured as part of ProMedica’s Summer Concert Series. After the concert, immerse yourselves in the incredible installations on display, from The Herd— Kelley Bell’s 200 luminous inflatables that call attention to maintaining the health of our waterways— to Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovksy’s Sunset Carryout, a surreal corner store populated by 2,000 lanterns representing everyday products. The works on display light up the night with their thought-provoking and engaging themes.

Other events to look forward to at Momentum include Dancin’ in the Streets Art Loop, featuring a collection of diverse performances by the Mawtini Dabkeh Troupe, T.H.E. Modern Dance Co., The Aegela Center for Middle Eastern Dance, and more. Saturday has performances from noon until 11pm, including gospel/blues group Nikki D and The Sisters of Thunder and Detroit headliner Siena Liggins, who won LGBTQ artist of the year.
Basically, it’s impossible to list all of the goings-on at Momentum, as there are 30 performances at the Promenade Park Stage and six at Festival Park. Whether it’s music, dance, theater or interactive art exhibits you’re after, Momentum has it all. September 19-21. To see the full schedule, visit


EXPERIENCE what the HeART Gallery has in store from the quilt exhibit Sacred Threads opening on September 19 to Pieces and Poetry on March 19. Other events the Gallery, located at the historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, are offering in the upcoming year include Foodie Fiction on October 17, Apron Strings: Ties to the Past, an exhibit featuring aprons with stories of their origins, on February 20, and a murder mystery— “Pasta, Prosecca, Pistols” on February 14.

EXPERIENCE the classic holiday ballet, The Nutcracker, a tale of a toy that comes to life, fights a rat king, and finally takes the protagonist to a magical, doll-filled kingdom. The Ballet Theatre of Toledo’s production is at the Valentine Theatre from November 29 to December 1, and the Toledo Ballet performs its 79th annual show December 14-15 at the Stranahan Theater.

EXPERIENCE Second City with Colin Mochrie joins forces with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra on June 6th at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. In this production by improv giants, The Second City, two seemingly different worlds blend together for a satirical but loving look at the symphony orchestra. Colin Mochrie from Whose Line Is It Anyway? Takes the stage for this uniquely fun show featuring original orchestra songs, sketch comedy, and more.

Related Articles