It began with three BGSU students, their instructor and an idea.
Two years later, that idea has become “The People: A Portrait of the Community,” greeting visitors entering Bowling Green, and BGSU, at the corner of Poe Road and North College Drive.
The new gateway to the campus and community will be dedicated Friday (May 4) during a brief 4 p.m. ceremony, which is open to the public. Among those scheduled to attend are BGSU President Sidney Ribeau, Bowling Green Mayor John Quinn, the Wood County Commissioners and other project supporters.
Quinn was among the judges who chose “The People” as the winner of a contest to find the best design for a piece of public art that would represent an appropriate gateway.
Designed by undergraduate art majors Jason Karas, Megan Small and Stephen Williams, along with their instructor and lead artist, Greg Mueller, "The People" is a fence that depicts various campus and community figures involved in their usual activities as teachers, laborers, students, athletes and even dog walkers. It also includes a center piece that shows the landscape of the Black Swamp area, with windmills, corn, and other natural and manmade features.
Unique to the project are the 100 handprints at the bottom of the gateway, representing individual donors. Several of those donors are also expected to attend the event, which comes a day before Small, from Shreve, graduates summa cum laude with a bachelor of fine arts degree. Williams, a senior from Gibsonburg, and Karas, a junior from Akron, are pursuing the same degree.
Located on the site of the Wood County Garage, the project has been a collaboration between the University, the city and the county. The artists worked extensively with city and county agencies during the construction period and received considerable support from the county commissioners and other offices.
The Ohio Arts Council and the Bowling Green Community Foundation contributed grants, and other donors included Defiance Metal Products, the BGSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, Bostdorff Greenhouse, the Buehrer Design Group, DeWitt Rebar, Dig-in-Design, Fastenal Industrial Supply, JKKreations, Kuhlman Corp., North Branch Nursery, Pahl Concrete and the John Zachrich family.
"Every item and every dollar we received was wonderful,” said Mueller, art. “We needed the encouragement to keep going over the long haul, and luckily we got it."
"The ribbon-cutting represents two years of hard work—both artistically and logistically—for the entire group,” added Dr. Katerina Ruedi Ray, director of the School of Art. “They have done fund raising, met with the commissioners and had countless visits with engineers, construction people and others to realize their vision."