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Ohio Northern alumna shows work during special exhibit commemorating flood

SeptemberAn art gallery in Colorado is commemorating the one-year anniversary of the state’s September flood with a special exhibit by Ohio Northern University Alumna Toby Baker (BFA ’06).

Boardwalk Gallery is hosting the “Mastery in Nature” exhibit Sept. 12-13 in Windsor. The show highlights the beauty found within the forces of nature. Sculptures by Toby and Colorado artists Mark Hopkins are featured in the exhibit. Several of Toby’s pieces in the show incorporate sticks and objects found after the flood waters receded.

“These intricate stick jams created an incredible puzzle with hues, shapes and textures,” Toby explained.

Boardwalk Gallery is holding a reception to celebrate the exhibit Sept. 13 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

As a girl growing up in the High Plains of Wyoming, Toby usually came home each evening with pockets filled with winsome stones and intriguing weathered sticks. Today, as an artist and writer, she is inspired by her environment and continually pursues what she considers the mystery and magic found in the everyday.

“This describes my current exploration with flood sticks, that wondrous well-worn, well-traveled wood flotsam that survived the fury of the 2013 flooding in Colorado,” said Toby, “specifically the Cache La Poudre River that begins in the Front Range in the northern part of the Rocky Mountain National Park and travels 126 miles, dropping over 6,000 feet through the mountains until it merges with the South Platte River not far from where I live.”

She began exploring the muddy riverbanks as the water receded and discovered intricate stick jams. So complex and beautiful, she marveled at how each stick fit so precisely into the whole pattern, an incredible puzzle with hues, shapes and textures.

This reflects her flood stick sculptures that were created with random sticks and found objects that she picked up along the banks of the Poudre River. “As with all my art, my intent is for each piece to draw you close so you can share in the mystery and magic as well.”

Born in Wyoming in 1954, Toby has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the University of Wyoming, an M.A. in creative writing from the University of North Dakota and a B.F.A. in studio arts from Ohio Northern University. She has worked in public relations, journalism and broadcasting and for the last 19 years served two universities, the University of North Dakota and Ohio Northern University, as the spouse of the president. While at Ohio Northern, she was commissioned to create a number of site-specific sculptures for the campus including her 2009 “School of Fish,” for the atrium of the new Mathile Center for the Natural Sciences.

After moving to Colorado in 2011, she now pursues art and writing with abandon. A recipient of several awards and distinctions, she has shown her work primarily in galleries and exhibits in Ohio and Colorado.

Boardwalk Gallery is located along the lakefront in the historic downtown district of Windsor, Colorado. The gallery is open by appointment and for special events. It is also home to Northern Colorado Writers, providing support, encouragement and success to writers of all levels and genres in Northern Colorado. 

Originally designated as the School of Fine Arts and later the College of Fine Arts, the art & design program was first established as an independent academic unit at Ohio Northern in 1878, largely as an outgrowth of course work in engineering and architectural drawing. Today, Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2014–15 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

Image: River Dancer, found Poudre River flood sticks, 12 1/2"w x 6"h x 22 1/2"d