Marketing and Communications

Osborn Legacy is rich source for learning

View a photogallery of Osborn's work 

Guardians, FloraFemmes, Warrior Brides and Night Jungles are among the visual themes that will greet visitors to the Glenn Osborn Retrospective opening April 21 in the Fine Arts Center. Osborn used the thousands of photographs he took of flowers to create layered photo collages that conjure fantastical images rich in color and sensual form.

The opening reception will be held from 7-9 p.m. April 20 in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery; the exhibit will remain on display until May 30.

Osborn had solo shows at Toledo’s Paula Brown Gallery and Hudson Gallery and in 2007 won Best of Show at the Toledo Area Artist Show for one of his “appropriated works,” a digital photo recreation of a Dutch still life.

In addition to being a celebration of the work of the late Perrysburg artist, the show is the culmination of a semester-long project by students in the Professional Practices in Art History class taught by Ruthy Light. Light was a close friend of Osborn’s and has access to his entire oeuvre. The experience has provided deep learning, both aesthetically and practically, the class agreed.

Taking Osborn’s vast and somewhat unorganized opus as their material, the students learned the myriad aspects of mounting a show, from selecting the pieces to budgeting to writing and producing the catalogue and organizing the opening reception. To gain practice with the educational aspect of an exhibit, several class members served as docents for the recent Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibit in the gallery.

The class is a mix of graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of majors. Some are visual artists and others art history majors. The coursework offered all an in-depth look from all perspectives.

“The students have done a tremendous amount of work in a short time,” Light said, although a weary Meg Gamm, a sophomore from Mason, Ohio, majoring in art history, commented humorously that it seemed like “forever ago” that they had begun.

In fact, art consultant Davira Taragin encouraged the class to wait and mount the exhibition at a later date, fearing it was too big an undertaking. “It was a challenge, but we’re starting to see it come together,” said graduate student Jacob Pierzchala.

Although they served on different organizing committees, every student played a part in writing the catalogue. Each chose a work of Osborn’s and wrote the description, sifting though the many images to find the strongest and best of each genre.

Art history master’s student Emilie Hobert chose a piece from Osborn’s Mandala series. The repeating patterns of the flowers in the mandalas represent mortality and the circle of life as well as his interest in botany, she said.

Some students chose committees based on their own interests, while others chose an area they in which they felt they needed more experience. Chaz O’Neil, a graduate student majoring in 2-D art, works summers mounting art exhibits for the Ohio State Fair, “but I don’t get to deal with the budget, so this gave me the chance to learn that part of it,” he said.

Lizzy Bolze, a senior majoring in art history with a minor in arts management, said the project gave her a better understanding of the services art galleries perform. She has been chosen by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for a highly selective summer internship.

Junior Ben Janszen, a graphic design major from Lewis Center, was involved in the design for the show’s poster, postcards and other publicity materials. Janszen hopes to begin his own clothing design firm shortly and said he benefited from working in the business aspects of organizing an exhibit.

The class involved learning outside the traditional classroom, from field trips and visits with professionals in related fields, several of whom had known Osborn. Toledo attorney Larry Meyer, Hudson Gallery owners Scott and Barbara Hudson, representatives of the Toledo Arts Commission, Toledo Museum of Art Associate Director Amy Gilman and artist Leslie Adams, whose portraits of Ashel and Dorothy Bryan hang in the gallery, were among those who met with the class.

It was Gilman’s story of her own professional career path that glass major Jill Allan found most instructive. The graduate student from Vancouver Island, Canada, said, “She was quite candid and it was interesting to hear about her experiences, especially about how working in a smaller town can actually provide more opportunities.”
Allan has recently been awarded the highly selective, $5,000 Dr. Alice E. Wilson Fellowship from the Canadian Federation of University Women.

Like Light and many of the professionals who shared their expertise with the class, nontraditional student Kate Blake, an art history major from Maumee, had a personal connection with Osborn. She is the previous marketing director for Midwest Tape, who succeeded Osborn as creative director there. “I’m really excited to be doing this,” she said.