Toledo Takes the Mic (

Toledo Takes the Mic

By: Nathan Elias

Published: 08/17/2010

As far as poetry is concerned, the Midwest is responsible for some of the most influential movements in American literature and poetic style.

In the 50s and 60s, Cleveland was ripe with free verse and confessional poetries at the hand of d.a. levy, a rogue poet who printed his own works as well as the works of poets like Charles Bukowski and Ed Sanders using a mimeograph. Levy was a soldier in the early wars of free speech, and with his poetries he fought for an individual’s right to language.

In the mid 80s, Chicago was experimenting with free verse which led to slam poetry; a sensation of lyrical performance inspired a new wave of poetic expression. Poets like Marc Smith organized poetry readings at various venues where poets would compete with their ability to improvise verse.

Decades later, cities like Cleveland, Chicago, and Toledo are thriving with active venues for poetry readings and publishing. The community of poets, writers, and literary performers in the Toledo area are finding more venues of expression with the help of a few smaller local businesses opening their doors and providing microphones.

For the past few years, the poets Michael Grover and John Dorsey have humbly hosted their open poetry series at the Collingwood Arts Center on Tuesday nights with featured poets every second Tuesday. They have now decided to pass the torch onto another community activist and writer for but will continue hosting readings at The Ground Level coffee house. “Rebels Without Applause” will be held every third Thursday.

The Ground Level also hosts many other weekly events including open mic. Every Thursday is dedicated to celebrating the spoken word, including poetry, literary events, and theatrical readings.

“Originally we were focusing on poetry,” said Imani Lateef, co-owner of The Ground Level. “But poetry has recently blossomed into an overall arts scene. We try to support the poetry scene here and bring in more young people.”

The venue is very accessible, located near the corner of Douglas Road and Central Avenue. It is a big contributor in people becoming more comfortable with going out to events and finding the courage to read in front of a crowd. It is very friendly for first time readers and performers and welcoming for families.

“I think that Toledo has turned a corner so to speak,” Lateef said. “As far as contributing to the arts, I think it started with surge of downtown galleries. That community contributed to the overall reception for the arts. Events like the art walk and Artomatic 419. The visual art events increase the value of the arts in general, and that helps contribute to our success as a venue for poetry.”

Brooklyn’s Daily Grind, located on Airport Highway in Holland, is a newer café and a growing hub for local arts.  The venue also hosts music and poetry events weekly. They host “Simply Poetry” once a week, usually on Wednesday.

“I didn’t get into poetry until it started here,” said Larry Humphries, owner of Brooklyn’s Daily Grind. “I fell in love it. I’ve learned how important poetry, art, and music are.”

Before opening Brooklyn’s Daily Grind, Humphries came from manufacturing and aerospace technologies.

“My way of putting value on things was based on time and materials,” he said.  “I appreciate more, incredibly talented artists. Anything the artist creates with mind rather than paint what they see. I’ve learned that art is more than the canvas and the oil and mediums.”

With the efforts of Lorraine Cipriano, a writer for Toledo Poetry Examiner, poets and writers have been encouraged to share their work with the community. Cipriano has keeping a catalogue of the literary activity in Toledo and Northwest Ohio by interviewing local writers and community activists.

“Right now, the poetry scene in Toledo is vibrant,” Cipriano said. “There are a few different venues to read at, some of which have live stream poetry going on, and there is an energy flowing that is contagious. While there are not many places that host regular readings, most are at high quality locations such as the Original Sub Shop, the Ground Level Coffeehouse, and the Brooklyn Daily Grind. Of course, the Collingwood Arts Center is without rival when you think about the eclectic mix of wonderful poets and artists that reside there.”

According to Cipriano, the widespread of internet and blogging as well as the open venues in town allow for poets to have a larger audience. With cafes, coffee houses, and restaurants opening their doors for literary and theatrical events, the community has an affordable way to have a fun evening.

“Even though Toledo is not considered a big city, there are enough outlets available for Toledoans of any age, race, or gender to express themselves poetically,” she said. “I think what Toledo lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. As I mentioned above, the internet and live stream blogging has allowed local poets to reach a much broader audience and gain prominence without leaving the Toledo area. This is important because I think that is necessary to help sustain and improve Toledo’s poetic culture.”

To view schedules for poetry readings and open mic events in the Toledo area, visit:

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An Evening of Buddhist Empowerment (

An Evening of Buddhist Empowerment

By: Nathan Elias

Published: 08/13/2010

After arriving in Toledo on Tuesday evening, the monks of the Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation presented a ceremony of Chenzrezig empowerment at the Toledo Zen Center.

“We love Toledo,” said Jangchub Chopel, a monk of the Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation. “We’ve been coming to Toledo for a long time. People have helped in bringing the monks here for more than ten years. The tour was originated in 1989. After winning the Nobel peace prize, the Dalai Lama wanted to share the Tibetan culture with the world at large. “

In an effort to establish a bridge between the community and the Buddhist deity, Chenrezig was introduced as a protector of beings with wisdom and compassion for all sentient beings. The empowerment ceremony commenced with a traditional cleansing to remove all bad auras from the area. After filling our cupped hands with nectar and rinsing our mouths with it, the monks recited a mantra to give us the strength to shine like a lotus.
Chopel commented on the purpose of the monks’ Sacred Earth and Healing Arts of Tibet Tour. According to Chopel, the monks are on a mission to benefit all sentient beings by helping teach and understand concepts of emptiness, enlightenment, and karma.

“A lot of people get confused about emptiness,” Chopel said. “They believe that when we’re saying that things are empty that they don’t exist. It causes a lot of confusion. When we’re saying something is empty we’re not saying it doesn’t exist, we’re saying it’s empty of existing independently from its own side.”

To better explain the idea of emptiness, Chopel used the example of people who are found to be irritating.
“We would say that person can’t be irritating. It’s impossible. They’re empty of being irritating. This person that seems irritating to you or me, someone else finds fascinating or charming wants to spend time with them. Those qualities of being liked or disliked don’t come from that person, they come from us. They’re empty of being annoying. Because of my karma and my karmic imprints, I fill in the sounds of the words that they’re saying as words that annoy me.

“We need to understand that things do exist but they’re empty of existing independently from their own side,” he said.  “The qualities that we place upon them don’t really exist if you really look for them. What makes a table a table? Is it the wood? The legs? If you take the legs off, when does it stop being a table? If I sit on it, is it a table?”

Chopel went on to explain the karmic imprints that people leave behind and the qualities that they unfold. He explained commonly known Buddhist concepts such as the four noble truths, and how people are often led to believe that desire is the root of all suffering.

“Let’s debunk that myth,” he said. “Desire is not the core of all of our problems. There are three root causes. The number one cause is ignorance. We see our selves exactly the way it is and that’s way we exist in the world.
Based on that ignorance we see ourselves as a certain identifiable independent ‘me’ which is different than ‘you’ and I start grasping and clinging to a sense of self that I have. And out of this sense of self, this ignorance, this image of ‘myself’ rises and then attachment and anger, or things I like and things I don’t like start to take shape. Based on my incorrect perception of self I form an identity and I attach to things I like and things I dislike.  Based on those three in conjunction, I create karma and remain trapped in samsara.”

Samsara, also known as the endless cycle of death and rebirth, is what many Buddhist thinkers strive to escape through cessation of ignorance and desire and an attainment of loving-kindness and wisdom. Other Buddhist thinkers, who wish to postpone their escape from samsara, or nirvana, in order to help others escape, are known as bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas try to generate positive potentials in the world through actions revolving around merit.

“When you understand this you’re going to interact with others differently,” Chopel said.  “The core root problem is because of our perception of self we create karma and we’re stuck here. We need to acquire two things. Those are merit and wisdom. This is really what the journey is about. A more accurate way to describe Merit is positive potentials.  People often relate this to ‘good karma’, which will create conditions.  Good actions and good attitude that provide with a place to acquire wisdom. The wisdom we acquire, the direct realization of emptiness. We acquire that wisdom. We have to purify a lot of karma and accumulate positive potentials and contemplate and learn about the emptiness of phenomena.”

The mission of the Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation is twofold: to benefit those they come into contact with, and to increase world peace, compassion, and tolerance through educational programs and interfaith activities. By visiting universities, colleges, and different cities, the monks are able to spread the knowledge of interconnectedness.

The Chenrezig Empowerment ceremony continued with blessings, mantras, and a recitation of the Buddhist mantra “om mani padme hum” 108times. With a gentile demonstration of a traditional Buddhist ceremony, the monks meditated on the passing of light and compassion.

“It’s to my benefit that you’re happy,” Chopel said. “We’re all interconnected and we’re all in this together. This day is only once, its never coming again. We need to use this day to have virtuous activities and be of benefit of the world. ”

The Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation will be in Toledo until Sunday, August 15. For more information and the schedule for the Sacred Earth and Healing Arts of Tibet Tour, visit

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“Hey Toledo, Are You Awake?” (

“Hey Toledo, Are You Awake?”

By: Nathan Elias

Published: 08/09/2010

Buddhism is often erroneously affiliated with the supernatural or an alternative monotheistic or
polytheistic religion. However, Buddhism is a religion-friendly way to understand loving-kindness and
compassion, which can help bring anyone closer to their faith. As the question in the title of this story
implies, the word “Buddha” can be loosely translated to “someone who is awake.” In theory, the average
person is awake for about 15 per day. So, yes, I am a Buddha for approximately 15 hours out of the day.

A lifestyle of Zen and Buddha dharma has become more attainable in Northwest Ohio with the availability
of the Toledo Zen Center and the Toledo Buddhist Sangha. From Aug. 10 – 15, Toledo will have the
opportunity to welcome the Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation, a group of Tibetan Monks from the Gaden
Shartse Monestary of India. The Monks will present various events for the community in honor of their
Sacred Earth and Healing Arts of Tibet Tour.

“Bringing the Tibetan Monks tour to Toledo gives us a unique opportunity to be exposed to ancient and
fascinating culture,” said Paula Massey, the Toledo tour coordinator. “All people can benefit from meeting
the Monks and attending the events.”

The Monks are on a mission to help preserve and share the ancient Tibetan traditions and culture. They
began their tour in Omaha and will go to Cleveland after their visit in Toledo. They will travel through
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Iowa, California, and Oklahoma. While they are in Toledo and
Northwest Ohio they will give meditation workshops, multi-faith programs, and informal demonstrations.

“The multi-faith events will show how major religions participating are based on compassion and loving
kindness for living beings,” Massey said. “Compassion and love for your brother. Peace and compassion for
all beings. That transcends all faith and religious boundaries.

“It coexists with other religions,” she said. “Buddha didn’t say he was a god. He said he was a man who had
fascinating realizations. He discovered what we believe is the truth to life, ways we can live our lives and be
truly happy.”

The purpose of the Sacred Earth and Healing Arts of Tibet Tour is to raise funds that will help provide
education, maintenance, housing, and medical needs of the monks at Gaden Shartse Monastery. The
monastery is located in the Tibetan Refugee Settlement at Mundgod, India. Gaden Shartse formed in 1969
with 85 refugees and has increased to over 1500 monks practicing in Tibet, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Mangolia,
Taiwan, Europe and U.S.A.

Their visit is rejuvenating and inspirational for the local spiritual community. The Gaden Shartse Cultural
Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation that began in 2006. Every few years
they are able to come to the States in an effort to spread peace and tolerance through cultural exchange and
Buddhist teachings. Trying to stay true to a belief can often make a person want to explode with rage, but the
message of loving kindness is capable of dispelling such passions. The Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation is
dedicated to the benefit of all sentient beings, and their visit is well awaited.

These Tibetan Monks will be holding a special CHENREZIG EMPOWERMENT ceremony at the Toledo
Zen Center, Tuesday August 10th @ 7pm.

For more information and tour schedule, visit

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Hidden Art Factory Down By the River (

Hidden Art Factory Down By the River

By: Nathan Elias
Published: 08/01/2010 7:00 am

Tholepin Press, formerly known as Summit Street Studios, is located along the Maumee River right between the Cherry Street Bridge and the High Level Bridge. It is a facility dedicated to crafting visual arts such as drawing and printmaking techniques. The studio itself is on the third story facing the river, an ideal location for creativity. Inside it feels like a version of Santa’s Workshop designed specifically for artists working hard to pursue their various mediums.

“With Tholepin, we have studios to rent, a life-drawing group that meets weekly, and workshops that are presented at the college level,” said Paul Geiger, owner of Tholepin Press. “They’re pretty intense. They’re geared toward getting students some work to put in the portfolios for applying to art school. We work on drawing fundamentals and developing finished work.”

There are three different types of presses used for fine art edition works as opposed to commercial printing. Their equipment is reserved for artistic merit and used primarily to help artists strengthen their skills and be creative in a comfortable and professional environment. Tholepin provides a way for budding artists and printers to continue working outside of the university, often the only exposure people have to hands-on printing.

“I have a relief press for woodcuts and two Litho presses,” Geiger said. “Mainly they are for fine art editions. For example, the University of Toledo has a print making department. Once those students graduate from school, there’s no way to continue printing outside of the school situation. They could continue to take class at UT, Owens or Bowling Green, but with Tholepin I want to give them another opportunity.”

According to Geiger, the work printed at Tholepin is aimed to function as artwork in the sense Rembrandt or Goya; works that take much time, precision, and finesse to complete.

“Our stuff is pretty much stand alone artwork,” Geiger said. “It’s all limited edition fine art as opposed to commercial printing.”

The works made at Tholepin first go through a very finite process. The art and labor of printmaking requires endurance and knowledge of the chemical and mechanical aspects of the machinery. It depends on the medium. Plates are done in metals like Zinc or copper. Engravings are cut directly by a tool called a burin. Grounds, acids, etchings, and ink processing is then applied to the work depending on the medium. Finally, the image is transferred to paper. Without the luxurious working space and facilities available at Tholepin, Geiger would not have been able to create a 70 foot mural which is currently on display at the Valentine Theatre.

“Lately I’ve been moving from one large painting to the next,” he said. “I’ve been putting the press together. And I started teaching our first printmaking class here. I also offer, apart from our summer portfolio workshop, classes such as drawing and beginning drawing. On a consistent basis we’ll be offering printmaking classes.”

With Tholepin, Geiger is on a mission to provide an area of professional artisanship for the community to invest in.

“With Tholepin, I have studios to rent here, 6,000 square feet,” Geiger said. “There is a life drawing group that meets once a week. We’ve been doing this for so long but, you know, we’re on the other side of downtown so we’ve got a pretty low profile. I don’t mind low profile; I want the Toledo community to know that we exist.”

In general, communities have to dig to find an artistic atmosphere or culture in their places of residence. However, Geiger is aiming to encourage people to interact with what the community offers and become involved with artistic endeavors.

“The thing that a lot of people don’t understand is how many opportunities that exist in art,” Geiger said. “Especially with computers and digital animation there are so many avenues for people. Making art and expecting to find a gallery and sell it, that’s something else; that remains difficult and relatively unlikely.”

Many people also find it difficult to find the time to pursue art, which renders it as a fun hobby rather than something taken seriously. However, the fruits of art can be carried with a person in all aspects of life.

“Maybe there’s a belief that art is a nice hobby but it doesn’t work as a vocation,” Geiger said. “It doesn’t have to be that way.”

For more information visit

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Appreciating Local Literature (

Appreciating Local Literature

By: Nathan Elias
Published: 07/30/2010

The history of Toledo’s well known literary works is difficult to trace, unless you’re a fan of Nancy Drew novels, new journalism, or avant-garde theatre. Authors like Mildred Benson and P.J. O’Rourke helped establish a capacity for literary means in Toledo. With the naming of an official Poet Laureate for Lucas County, there has been a rise in appreciate for visual poetry and rare works of literature. The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library will be celebrating seven contemporary authors currently writing the Northwest Ohio area and parts of Michigan.

What used to be hailed as “A Midsummer Night Up on the Roof” at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library has this year incorporated local authors and taken the name “A Literary Bash on the Roof.”

“It is a chance to show off the beauty of the MainLibrary,” said Kathryn Fell, the foundation’s secretary-treasurer. “It’s to support the library, see friends,listen to great music, and be a part of the Main Library.”

Accompanied by jazz, music, cashbar, food, and raffle, the authors will be signing books and making themselves available to discuss their craft and passion for writing. The authors are Denise Fleming, John C. Moore, Jim Raven, Julie Rubini, Frank Stiles, Jan Wall, and Sally Wright.

Denise Fleming is a genius in herown right with works of literature and art for children. She works in papermaking and pulp painting, an art form used with cotton rag fiber andstencils. According to Denise, “The paper is the picture. The picture is the paper.” Flemming illustrates and write’s each book herself and has won many awards forher work.

John C. Moore’s work focuses more in the field of non-fiction, primarily with elements of self-improvement and how to balance stress. For example, his book, “A Positive Attitude is a Muscle: A Managed Stress Survivor’s Manual: A New Approach to Handling Stress,” is as devotional as its title seems. Moore offers methods of stress management that encompass attitude, outlook, and obligation.

James Ravin is an Ophthalmologist, art history, and writer who blends his three passions into one, resulting in books like “Artist’s Eyes” co-written with Michael Marmor. “Artist’s Eyes” inspects the styles of Seurat and Monet, revealing how poor eyesight can lead to blurry masterpieces.

“He looks at famous artists and their eyes,” Fell said. “He emphasizes on the diseases of eyes, such as how cataracts took over Monet’s eye sight. He saw blurry grey, deep, darker browns. His paintings reflect what he could see.”

Julie Rubini is a first time author of the children’s book “Hidden Ohio.” Rubini writes locally and is an avid reader. Her knowledge of the area inspired her to write “Hidden Ohio,” a book used to teach children about Ohio. Rubini is a strong advocate for children’s literacy and creativity

“Along with being outside and discovering the world around me, I loved books,” she writes on her Web Site “I couldn’t wait to ride my bike up to the bookmobile and get my hands on another Nancy Drew mystery.”

Frank Stiles is an author of true crime and focuses on the history of Toledo and its dark secrets. The plot of his books chronicle his time as a detective in the Toledo Police Department. Hisbook “Blind Trust” reveals the events of a callous murder that took place inOttawa Hills in 1975. His insight into the mind of a detective is both trivial and psychologically fluent.

“Interrogation is a science,” Stiles said in an interview with Toledo Free Press.

“He uses a lot of info from ourlocal history and genealogy books related to Toledo crime,” Fell said. “He points to so many little details in local institutions.”

Jan Wahl, born in Columbus, is awidely renowned author of children’s literature. Many of his works have been held in collection at Bowling Green State University. His works are favored fortheir fine quality. His books are considered to be rare works of literature.Wahl is known to be a lover of films, particularly of the silent era.

Sally Wright writes investigative mysteries that take place all over the world. She was awarded finalist in 2001 Edgar Allen Poe awards for her work, “Code of Silence,” based on her reoccurring character, Ben Reese, who endures the true lessons of the Soviet code.

“We will have the areas indifferent sections for book signings,” Fell said. “There will be book signings, raffles, andother features. Friends of the Library have donated books, really special books which are hand selected during the evening. All the guests can select a book.”

Enjoy a chance to meet these credible and creative authors. Supporting your library does much for the community. Thelibrary is more than a source for books, these days, but a venue for social events, a media center, and hub for business technologies.

“We have huge public computer access,” Fell said. “The library is really here for people during an economic downturn. A long time ago people subscribed to magazines, now they don’t have to. People say, ‘I can come to the library and use these resources, check out books and movies and audio.’ They rely on their library.”

Tickets to A Literary Bash are $75 each, with free parking. This important fundraiser supports Youth Services and books at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

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The Echo of Drums Bring a Military Celebration (

The Echo of Drums Bring a Military Celebration

By: Nathan Elias

The sounds of gunshots were often written into the overtures of drum lines during war times in the 1800s. Brass drums accompanied by bugles were often used to help signal soldiers to hasten, retreat, or attack with certain vantage points on the field of battle. The War of 1812 is only one of the many historical battles represented with the sounds of drums in this year’s Drums Along the Maumee. On July 24 and 25 the spirit of drums focusing on military music will be celebrated at Fort Meigs.

Drums Along the Maumee has been organized once a year for nearly a decade; it’s an event that reminds us of the importance of music and helps develop an appreciation for the history of the Midwest. Multiple drum corps gather from the tri-state area and perform throughout the weekend.

“Music was a pivotal part of military life and communication systems of its day,” said Dan Woodward, Programs Manager of Fort Meigs. “Using bugles during World War I was a way to communicate the troops. Small numbers of fifers and drummers came to Fort Meigs from various regiments and combined their efforts into field music. They would regulate the day.”

The drummers in the event will be dressed according to the time period their corps represents. Each corps varies in size, ranging from approximately six to 55 members.

The music never stops at Drums Along the Maumee; there will always be someone drumming. In honor of military history, Fort Meigs will also conduct musket and artillery demonstrations during the showcase.

“It’s really just a showcase,” Woodward said. “A different aspect of what would have been happening at Fort Meigs.”

Each corps plays at different times. However, the final performance of the afternoon is a finale not to be missed. The drummers get together and play one cohesive ensemble.

“The mass core turns into kind of a jam session,” Woodward said. “It can be quite impressive when all the drum corps go out there at once. Some drums are kids 10-12 years old some are grown adults. They all come together music is their binding feature.”

Members of the drum corps are dedicated to their craft. They spend so much of their time rehearsing that drumming becomes a type of lifestyle. Many of the corps tour around the country to perform in historical reenactments

“They rehearse on their own time,” Woodward said. “By the time they get here they’re in performance mode. They’ve been doing it for so many years; it’s kind of like the army. They commit for several years at a time. They invest a lot of hours into practicing. ”

Plymouth Fife and Drum Core, for example, have been a collaborative effort since 1971. They played 34 dates since March 2010. With a dedication to music played during the Revolutionary War, PFDC and other drum corps try to spread an appreciation for U.S. history. Seeing fife and drum corps playing out on the field, often in front of historical monuments, can be inspiring and refreshing.

Drums Along the Maumee takes place July 24 and 25, 2010 at Fort Meigs in Perrysburg. For operational hours and admission information, visit

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UT Gears Up for Art On The Mall (

UT Gears Up for Art On The Mall

By: Nathan Elias

The 18th annual Art on the Mall at the University of Toledo’s Centennial Mall couldn’t have come at a better time—this summer of art marks the 10th of a new millennium, many of these art events rooting back into the 90s and some into the first decade of the 20th century.

Art on the Mall will decorate UT’s campus with diverse artwork from over 105 artists. The display is a coeval of contemporary artwork and true representation of what artistic capacity dehisces in Toledo’s artistic community. The work is collected from recent graduates as well as artists from all over the country.

“Some folks are coming out for the first time,” said Ansley Abrams-Frederick, Director of Alumni Programming. “It’s a good way to get their feet wet and do shows.”

This is one of UT’s more highly respected art events considering the locale and accessibility. It’s a great way to merge the community within the University and the community surrounding it.

“You can do it for many reasons. It’s a nice return to campus,” Abrams-Frederick said. “It’s nice to see the changes. I know some folks personally who come back every year. It’s a great opportunity to look at art work, buy or shop, and browse.”

People can come to Art on the Mall and appreciate watercolors, jewelry, ceramics, glass, metal, photography, textiles, and mixed-media artwork.

One of the mixed media artists is Elyse Osborne. Osborne is currently getting her masters in education, and dabbles in abstract charcoal and pencil work.

Her work reflects the natural and the sublime. For example, she has a series of works that focus on elephants based on time spent at the Toledo Zoo studying them. Her work also shows the opaque features in natural objects, such as “Field of Poppies,” which will be shown at the Mall.

Another artist, Aaron Bivens, has been accepted into the gallery with several mediums, such as acrylic, water color, and oil. He’s the only artist with oil works on display at the gallery. His paintings have a gentle quality to them. There is a central focus of realism in his work, and it seems that reality is blurred by the oil of his brush.

Art on the Mall is free and open to the public. Food is available for purchase, as well as art. There will be featured musical performances from the Toledo School for the Arts, including strings, jazz, pop and steel drums. There are also activities for kids to enjoy and participate in, such as a young artists area where kids and adults can work together to create their own pieces.

The event is very family oriented and geared toward creating a friendly social gathering for artists and the community to meet and greet.

Art on the Mall is presented by the UT Alumni Association and sponsored by The Blade and The University of Toledo Medical Center. Additional support is provided by Buckeye CableSystem.

Art on the Mall takes place Sunday, July 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the school’s Centennial Mall. For more information, visit

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Art de Concrete Exhibition Presented by Kuhlman (

Art de Concrete Exhibition Presented by Kuhlman

By Nathan Elias

In Phillips, Wisconsin, concrete sculpting is a highly appreciated form of art; the Wisconsin Concrete Park is an outdoor museum comprised of over 200 works of art made by a retired lumberjack named Fred Smith. Smith began working with concrete as an alternative material for sculpting and stayed dedicated to his craft throughout his lifetime.

“Nobody knows why I made them, not even me. This work just came to me naturally. I started one day in 1948 and have been doing a few a year ever since,” as quoted by Smith.

A similar spirit and appreciation for concrete art will be displayed in Maumee starting mid-July. One concrete company in the area has inspired artists to show their work and help interest the community in this everlasting art form. The Kuhlman Corp. has been supplying the concrete and masonry needs of Toledo since 1901 and is presenting Art de Concrete,  a solid collection of sculptures.

The space includes art from Indiana, Oregon, Michigan, and Ohio. The Kuhlman Corp. will also be conducting a series of workshops for professional and student artists interested in concrete art. The seminar will be led by Lynn Olson, popularly known as the founder of concrete art. He will be teaching from his book, “Sculpting With Cement” and will invite the community to help finish a sculpture he has been working on.

“What we are finding is that the sculptors are using concrete as an alternative material because the metals have gotten so incredibly expensive to cast,” Sally Goligoski said.

According to president of Kuhlman Corp., Tim Goligoski, “Concrete is a versatile, long-lasting and exciting medium in which to work. We often have sculptors seek our help because of our long experience working with custom concrete.”

Last year on a trip to San Francisco, members of Kuhlman Corp. were exposed to the veracity of concrete used in artworks.

“There were artists and craftsman there, we went to get some jewelry,” Sally Goligoski said. “[One artist] had really neat concrete bowls that she made by casting them with large leafs from a garden. We didn’t think of [concrete] as an art form.”

These small bowls enlightened Kuhlman Corp. to the idea of concrete used on a much larger scale.
A large number of artists are becoming more attracted to concrete as a medium of sculpture not only because it is more cost efficient but also because of its resilience. Artists often desire to create an immortal or legendary work of art that will withstand the tests of time and weather. Concrete is one substance that is capable of holding its ground due to its high erosion resistance. With the knowledge that concrete was used in the construction of Egyptian pyramids, concrete has a higher appeal in the world of contemporary fine art.

“That’s the beauty of concrete; it does stay forever,” Sally Goligoski said. “You’re creating something that really lasts. We’re big believers in concrete. If it’s made right, structurally right, it should last; we want to show people how to do it.”

Mike Sohikian is from the Genoa area and has been working with concrete sculptures since the 70s. Sohikian’s paintings and sculptures have been exhibited and displayed throughout the Ohio area. Many of his works will be shown in “Art de Concrete” and he will assist with some of the workshops.

Sohikian started experimenting with concrete mainly because it was a more affordable alternative to metals. According to him, there are enough innovations that could virtually do anything with concrete that they could with metals.

According to Sohikian, the whole process usually begins with a form developed with clay. From there, the piece can take a life of its one, especially after being put in the hands of other artists.

“There are sometimes 40 other pairs of hands involved with your sculpture,” Sohikian said.

Concrete art is a method of capturing time in a way that words or photographs could never amend.

“Art used to be what photo journalism is today,” Sohikian said. “It was a visual of history being made. We don’t need that anymore because we’ve got cameras. Art, to me, is my last freedom. I think art is more of a freedom than freedom of speech is. You can sculpt things and paint things that you can’t say.”

Opening Reception & Demonstration by Lynn Olson, internationally acclaimed sculptor & author Friday, July 16th 5 – 8pm
Kuhlman Corp. Headquarters
1845 Indian Wood Circle
Arrowhead Business Park
Maumee, OH 43537

Includes sculptures by:
Beau Belinki
George Carruth
Lynn Olson
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Coffee klatsch with Nathan Elias and Luis Chaluisan (Toledo Poetry Examiner)

Coffee klatsch with Nathan Elias and Luis Chaluisan

Published: June 29, 8:39 AM

By Toledo Poetry ExaminerLorraine Cipriano

Nathan Elias

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with two prominent published poets. One was a local poet, Nathan Elias,and the other was self-described “Nuyorican”, Luis Chaluisan. We met at the Ground Level Coffeehouse and discussed not only what is going on with Mr. Elias these days but we also talked about the local poetry scene in general. What follows are excerpts from our conversation.

This is part one:

Lorraine: Are you originally from Toledo?

Nathan: Yes, I was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio.

Lorraine: What do you usually write poetry about?

Nathan: Well, what do I usually write poetry about? That’s a good question. I write about things that concern me in life. The easiest way to answer that question is not what I write about but what I have written about, which is the Glass City. “Glass City Blues” is my magnum opus for me. It is an ongoing work in progress that I would like to leave behind so people can know how I lived in this city.

A lot of what I write is inspired by Buddhism because I try my hardest to practice Buddhism. I try to relate it to everyday life. For example, there is a part of my poem, Glass City Blues #8, that goes “a bone thug Dalai Lama waiting to beg for change”. I try to write about how we are all interconnected in some way.

The manuscript for Glass City Blues is divided into sections. The first section of it is all numbered poetry which I wrote to emulate Jack Kerouac. . I had taken a hitchhiking trip before I had even heard of Jack Kerouac and it told me in a sense that I should pursue poetry in my life.

It was when my mother had passed away that I had taken the hitchhiking trip. At that point, I was never really involved with poetry. A woman picked us up and she said to my friend and me, “You guys remind me of Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac from the book, On the Road”. I said, “Okay, I’ll have to read that when I get back.” So when I read it, it seemed like maybe there was some kind of reincarnation. I am not saying that I am the reincarnation but I think energy does travel. People get possessed with certain energies for certain lengths of time.

So, the first section is “Glass City Blues” and it emulates Mexico City blues, destination blues, and Jack Kerouac verses. All of his verses were numbered and these are numbered verses and choruses.

The second section of the Glass City Blues is called “Touchless Automatic” which is inspired by autonomous poetry because I am very much inspired by surrealist artists like Andre Breton and Salvador Dali. They did everything pretty much autonomously where you just don’t even think, you just let it happen.

Another section is called “My Mother’s Ghost”. That’s me trying to come to terms with my mother’s death. Those are all confessional poems which are not in the spirit of Touchless Automatic in the Glass City Blues.

Another one is called Under a Yellow Light and that section of the poetry is about the holiness that lives in everyday life. For example, the other day I was downtown and I saw someone almost get hit by a car, I don’t know why they were not hit but by some mere stroke of luck the car just dodged out of the way. I just thought to myself, “Why would that happen?” if there was not some inherent truth, some inherent being, controlling the things that we do. That is what “Under the Yellow Light” is about.

Also, I am writing a poem titled “October 15th” that will be included in it. It is about the historic event that happened out here on October 15, 2005 involving the racist uproar over the Neo-Nazis visiting Toledo. That is me trying to say I do not want to write about myself always. Sometimes you have to write about things that do not involve yourself.

Another part of the Glass City Blues manuscript is called Reading Soul. It is about the amount of paper and ink that there is in the world and how you choose what to read. It is about the gentleman at the Collingwood Arts Center printing the books by hand. It is not bound because that defeats the total perception of what a book is. You read it because you’re reading the soul of the writer. I have a ton of poems that are going to be broken up into those categories. That is what I am writing about and flowers.

Lorraine: Do you think poets should be socially active?

Nathan: This morning I led a workshop for four young gifted girls, whose ages ranged between eight and twelve years old, at the University of Toledo. I can’t exactly tell them, “Hey, a poet needs to be socially active.” Instead, I taught them about haiku and free verse and we spent the morning writing poetry together and then we made collage pieces that I plan to print into a book this evening. I plan to make it into a chapbook so that they have it to keep forever.

It’s kind of like D.A. Levy’s poetry. It is collage poetry. So that they are being poets but that is not necessarily them being engaged in society. I am going to give them something that they can give to other people. Poetry marks time.

I totally think that a poet should try to be socially active because you can change the world with words. You can write for yourself but I have trouble in life when you’re only doing things that revolve around yourself. If you are only writing poetry with and for yourself I think it becomes incestuous eventually and your mind is going to become wrapped in this world of ego.

So, unless you’re getting out and letting people tear your work up, then it might help you heal, but I think you’re going to trap yourself into something that will wind up taking your mind down the wrong road. So, it is not only about trying to change society, but it is also about forcing yourself into society which is forcing you to grow.

It brings to my mind the saying that is in the Dhammapada, which is Buddhist scripture, under a chapter called Thousands that goes “Better than a thousand useless words, is a single useful sentence, hearing which one is pacified.” In other words, delivering one thoughtful word to the world is much more beneficial to everyone’s existence versus writing a thousand words to your own self.

Luis: If I may interject now, this is from Federico Garcia Lorca’s perspective. He completely downplayed the part of getting published. His thing was to go out there and to put his work out as a performer. He would stand up and recite. The reason I was attracted to Nathan and his work is because of the project he proposed to me about filming poets. Yes, it is good to have things on paper but to capture the emotion of the poet and their message, that is what is important. Especially, since we have the technology now to capture those poems, it is important that it is done for any community.

That is why I have been busy setting up a platform, on a much bigger scale, so that the poet does not have to continuously perform out there. It is like let’s capture this person and let’s edit him so it is not just him standing there doing it but maybe mixing up mediums so that it gets it back to the spirit of what Lorca was all about.

Lorca, to me, was a complete radical. He just treated his work that way. He couldn’t suffer fools quietly. He just went out and did his thing and he kept on moving. He moved into war and got blasted away. But that was his mission, to put his statement out there by any means necessary.

I have been out there filming poets and I have been looking for that fire that is in a lot of places. It is looking for that thing that is popping.

Nathan: I think that is what I have been doing with the documentary. Not necessarily “capture the fire”. But let people know, if they are in the documentary, they have the fire so show me it. I saw Luis shooting people for the longest time and I didn’t know what he was doing, but I was given the opportunity to do a summer film project with U.T. My majors are Film, Philosophy, and Creative Writing at U.T.

One thing I am working on is making a film called, “My Blue Midnights“. So I adapted “My Blue Midnights” which I have the rights to from Rane Arroyo. It is has been hard to find Latino actors in Toledo who are willing to act homosexual. So my fall-back project is the documentary.

The documentary project is real, it’s live, I do it everyday. Like Luis said, when you just film someone reading it can be boring so you have to insert the fire.

Luis: In general, the poetry scene reflects what is going on with the city. The city is isolated in different sections, there are cliques. You have the black poetry scene, the academic poetry scene, the Collingwood Arts Center scene, the VOCAL INKorporated scene, and poets doing different events at the public library. A poets mission is not to be accepting of the establishment but to be anti-establishment and to be an artist. An artist is always anti-establishment. I have been on the outside for so long just being Latino and being an artist.

Nathan: I think a poet is a prophet, but he has not been spoken to by God and he acknowledges that.

Luis: I disagree about that, I believe in a God and it is not me but something is speaking to me. I am hearing voices and that is why I take medication.

Back to being a poet, it is about lighting up the spot. Some of the readings in Toledo are just dead. At the Ground Level Coffeehouse, they have lit up the spot.

Nathan: Luis, at the same time I have been at the Collingwood and it has been packed and sometimes it is just the same few people and it rotates. With film making, if you want people to see your movie you’ve got to advertise it. It is the same with poetry. If you want people to hear you read, you have to advertise it. You have to advocate poetry and get people to go out.

Luis: It’s not really about getting people together to read, I think it is also interaction with the other artists, musicians, film makers, etc. I don’t see a lot of that going on.

Nathan: I feel like we are all brothers, but not everyone else feels that way. Like myself, I don’t consider myself to be a film maker but I consider myself a poet. However, film is my poetry. I think you can show real life poetically using images.

Luis: I’ll give you an example, in Albany, New York there are poets that share the stage with rock bands. I hear that is happening in Bowling Green. That is why I am moving down there to see what is going on. As far as here, there seems to be a split maybe because of the cultural things that have been happening here.

Nathan: I think it is because of the money. Nobody has the money to leave their house anymore.

Luis: I think it is a challenge for the artists in this city to confront each other, like we did in January at the Ground Level. We had black, white, and Latino poets being filmed at the same time. It was pretty happening. I think people are afraid of each other.

Lorraine: I noticed on your facebook page that you are the Director, Producer, Writer, and Editor of Cinema Musica Productions. What is Cinema Musica Productions about?

Nathan: There has been a whole history with that. I have been doing it for four years. It took me about two and a half years to shoot. I bought myself an XL1, which is a pretty nice video camera, and I contacted as many bands, hip-hop artists, etc. as possible. I went to Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron, and Athens to film the performances and the interviews. I ended up with about 48 hours of footage.

At the time I was editing on Adobe Premiere, which isn’t as good as Final Cut Pro 7. The footage didn’t come out that great and I didn’t really know what I was doing with editing. At U.T., I received the tools to edit better because they have Final Cut Pro 7. So after my computer crashed, I had an outline of the film but the files were badly compressed so I had to re-edit it from scratch again.

I have been doing that since the beginning of May, basically every day, and I am just about finished with it. It is full-length and about 40 minutes long. It has about 24 musicians in it. In recent years, these musicians have gone on to not only be local smoking bands but they have had coverage in the alternative press. I would like to believe that the movie is giving them a hand in it.

I have also tried to fuel the buzz and I guess you could say my own buzz. With the Independent Collegian, I would give bands coverage that I had in the documentary because those are the bands that are doing stuff.

In my grand scheme of things, I am attempting to do a documentary on local music,Toledo poetry, and a narrative film on Rane Arroyo. I am also currently printing up an anthology of Toledo poets which will have in it John Dorsey, Michael Grover, Leslie Chambers, Kathleen Hale, Jesse Lipman and possibly Luis, Michael Kocinski, and Michael Hackney. I want to have a grand event that will be the book release, the documentary release and a reading. I want it to be like a travelling circus.

I am trying to reincarnate the idea of movement. It is like the Beats and the Surrealists that are about the idea of movement. It is happening in France and Third World countries because that is how they live. We have a movement here but it is just that everyone is too scared to acknowledge it and realize that they are a part of something outside of themselves.

I am guilty of it too. Everyone is so attached to their own projects that they are not willing to move onto something that everyone can work on together mutually. Ultimately, it would wind up better than if they had done it by themselves.

I want to start a movement and I want to give it a name.

Luis: Ohio has a history of alternative art that often is overlooked. Ohio gave us Don Novello who was known as Father Guido Sarducci the comedian. There are people here from Ohio that have done things.

I don’t know about giving a name to it but doing it because names come afterwards.

On another topic, I think that slam poetry has had a detrimental factor in community poems. What slam poetry has done is encourage writers to follow a certain form and hammer it over someone else’s head like they are insignificant. This is an ongoing argument I have, even though I have done the slam poetry scene myself.

It is played out. All it has been used for is to try to get on HBO and try to get to Hollywood. In other words, there are people participating in the scene not because they are into poetry but because it is a way to something else. So they have a moment of grandiosity and then they fall off of it.

I detest people that show up at a slam just to slam. They don’t really contribute to the scene it’s a detraction. It is just about someone being in your face for no reason.

If you want to be in someone’s face, be in the face of BP or the government. You know, get in the face of someone not doing what it is they are supposed to be doing.

Nathan: At the same time, there is something that is the nuclear opposite of the slam scene, like if two poets got together and just wrote a poem together. It would be like if we sat down together and just wrote word for word. It is such a gentle and beautiful idea. It is about being trapped in consciousness with each other and trying to express it.

The rabbit wringer

by Nathan Elias

My hot finger grips the trigger
of my father’s .410 single barrel shotgun
He tells me to be silent and wait for the rabbit
to reveal itself on the white forest carpet

Keep your eyes open, he says
and be cautious of movement
because if I miss that rabbit run
there will be no kill

Clouds of breath indicate life
hiding in nature’s last winter shadow
The gun in my hand does not tremble
petrified by my cockatrice

It shows itself, little heart racing
across a plate of white I shoot
and leave a trail of blood
in its footprints

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To Live Like a Monster (Independent Collegian)

To live like a monster

By Nathan Elias

Published: Monday, June 14, 2010

There has always been a tendency in American cinema to dig deep into the crevices of the philosophy and psychology of the human mind. The turn of the 21st century marked a pivotal point in the maturity of American cinema; films like “The Machinist” (2004), “Adaptation” (2002) and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004), as well as their psychoanalytical content, reflected on how the mindset of Americans became egocentrically tormented in a time of economical and political panic.

The dawn of the 20th century was the nurturing era of filmmaking as a form of art or persuasive tool. For example, “Birth of a Nation” (1915) is known for its subjective view on African American history and the American Civil War. In 2004, Americans were trying to filter through the facts of the Iraq War; the cinema of the time reveals an ideology of this state of internal and external conflict.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures  Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) faces an ugly reality as he Like “Birth of a Nation,” many other motion pictures have become landmarks for different states of being in history. “Shutter Island,” (2010), “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” (2009) and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010) provide an introspective look at the power of the mind and its effects on the body.

These movies take place in settings from post-war America in the mid 1950s and modern day London, England, to contemporary American suburbia. The result of 60 years of global miscommunication is what is seen in the tragic downfall of these characters. Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), Tony (Heath Ledger, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and Johnny Depp), and Nancy Holbrook (Rooney Mara) are the respective characters in those movies who experience the loss of their sanity and control due to seriously grim mental conditions.

In “Shutter Island” Teddy Daniels, although severely and dangerously intelligent, has lost his mind after the death of his wife. His ego insists that he is a Marshall on investigation at Shutter Island to uncover what could unlock the secret behind the world’s great wars. Daniels’ life story is revealed to him, but only by means of digging deep into the history of the island and ultimately coming to terms with a brutal reality. He is an island unto himself, a metaphor that is carried throughout the motion picture.

Daniels’ inner reality is a world consumed by vengeance; but as he unfolds the layers of his mind, he realizes that he is his own enemy. In order to avoid the horrible truth and sins of his past, Daniels represses his memories. Like many, he resets his mind in an attempt to hold on to the memory of his beloved wife.

Tony, the thrifty and charming philanthropist, like Daniels, dooms himself to tragedy. Tony is unable to cope with the many facets of himself that he observes deep in Parnassus’ imagination. After running inside Parnassus’ mirror, Tony is forced to accept his multiple personalities and their timely flaws. It is hard not to love his irresistible character. He is the definition of Casanova; he wins over everyone involved in Parnassus’ traveling sideshow. However, as the movie progresses and Tony changes form, he shows himself and the other characters the more unattractive, grueling sides of him.

In “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” repressed memories transform into a fatal outcome for the main characters. Like Daniels and Tony, Nancy Holbrook and her friends must suffer for their parents’ sins. As the nightmare comes to life, Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), pulls a group of teenagers from their physical reality into his horrific world, where he can reap their souls.

Holbrook meets Krueger in her sleep after already having witnessed her friends lose their lives to his sickled hands. Every murder she witnessed was a result of the lies and actions of her and her friends’ parents. She must fight to stay awake in order to defeat or outsmart Krueger. She is only able to defeat Kruger after admitting a shameful truth.

Daniels, Tony, Holbrook show how a person can collapse internally and externally under extreme traumatFreddy Kruger (Jackie Earle Haley) seeks vengeance upon Nancy Holbrook (Rooney Mara), left, and her ic conditions. Movies are memory markers and historical monuments in terms of how they explicate the human condition.

Teddy Daniels, for example, is one model of the result of austere events and crimes committed. Although his will and intent is righteousness, he becomes uncontrollably haunted by himself. Tony becomes so entangled in his lies and unorganized memories that he is forever lost in the depths of infinity, also known as Parnassus’ imagination.

Nancy Holbrook realizes that she has been living a lie when the past catches up to her in the form of an undead psychopath hungry for her soul. It is sometimes hard to distinguish what is real and what is imaginary.

However, these three motion pictures somehow encapsulate a mentality mostly prevalent in this decade of the 21st century. Motion pictures, as a medium, are types of reflections and personifications for human ways and ideals. How the mind functions is a daily miracle, sometimes difficult to comprehend.

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