BG Community Center, Bowling Green, Ohio

The Bowling Green Community Foundation (BGCF), Bowling Parks and Recreation Department and the BG Kiwanis are collaborating on an exciting functional art installation for the BG Community Center. The BGCF has awarded a grant to help facilitate a permanent, mosaic art installation. This mosaic art project will be made up of 20” squares that will hang in the front entrance of the Community Center on Newton Road. The BGCF grant money will cover the cost of 20 squares, the ideal number for the project is 50 squares.

In August we received good news from the Ohio Arts Council and they have approved a grant towards the project. This grant will allow for an additional 15 squares.

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A touch of glass coming to BG community center

Monday, May 9, 2016 9:20 am
By DEBBIE ROGERS, Sentinel-Tribune Staff Writer

Pretty panels of glittering glass are poised to be put up in the Bowling Green Community Center windows this fall.The mosaic panels will be designed by local artist Gail Christofferson, who headed up the Otsego Local School District’s knight-and-castle-themed mural in 2012.

Mirroring the Otsego mural process, the Bowling Green community is invited to play a part in assembling each of the 20-inch by 20-inch glass panels.

Christofferson will have the designs done, and community groups and students will have a chance to insert glass pieces into a mosaic panel that will be hung at the community center.

“People will really feel a sense of ownership and pride,” said Christofferson, who owns the business Animal House Glass and has taught mosaic glass classes for years in the Bowling Green area.

The panels planned for the community center will not only be pretty — they’ll be practical.

When the afternoon sun streams through the north-facing windows, it’s almost blinding to the front counter employees. Currently, “blah” brown curtains block the blaze, Christofferson said.

When the panels are put in, the sun will be like a spotlight on the glass panels, showing off the dazzling art, but it will also dim the blaze of light, she said.

“We do have issues certain times of the year and certain times of the day where the sun comes in at the wrong angle,” said Kristin Otley, director of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation. Christofferson made a bird glasswork that hangs in the community center, and helps with the sun issues on the west side of the building.

Otley said Christofferson has taught parks and rec glass classes for 11 years, and Otley and clients have always been pleased with her work and leadership.

They had been talking for years about doing a mural or artwork for the community center, but funding was an obstacle, Otley said.

With the assistance of Bowling Green Kiwanis Club, the glass panel project has received a $5,000 grant from the Bowling Green Community Foundation.

“The Community Foundation is super excited about it because it involves the community actually doing it, and when it’s done it will be at the community center for everyone to enjoy it,” Otley said.

“And how cool will it be for community members to be able to come up to the community center for years and say ‘I helped out with this.’”

They are also pursuing an Ohio Arts Council grant, and hope to get donations from community members and groups.

The project is going forward with the initial funding that will pay for 20 glass squares. There are three gatherings set over the summer for the public to place the glass in panels, starting with Art in the Park on June 10.

Christofferson also plans on taking squares to the Wood County Senior Center, Bowling Green State University and Bowling Green schools. Other groups expected to be involved are Behavioral Connections, Children’s Resource Center, Wood County Educational Service Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

She’s already received help and design assistance from some of those groups. A BGHS art class is nipping the glass so it’s in small pieces that can be readily inserted into squares. After doing a presentation to a BGSU glass blowing class, some of those students volunteered.

Community groups, businesses and individuals are encouraged to sponsor a panel and help in the design process. However, there will not be logos or organizations’ names on the glass squares.

“It’s not an advertising piece. It’s a piece of art.”

That being said, Christofferson does expect some of the designs to be easily recognizable as representing the Falcons or Bobcats with their orange and brown or red and gray colors.

The sprawling mural at Otsego Elementary led to a dozen similar projects across Ohio and Michigan. Christofferson has done murals for the Waterville and Lorain libraries, the Jackson County Youth Center in Michigan and a couple in Toledo.

It’s a niche business, that meshes art and community engagement, she said.

“The community gets to take part,” she said. “It gives them the opportunity to have some ownership of the pieces.”

Christofferson, who is a BGSU graduate with a degree in visual communication, also branched off into a different mosaic project last year, decorating 30 guitars and instruments with glass. As a winner of the 2015 Bonnaroo-Themed Skylight Competition, she got to have them displayed at the Nashville airport this winter.

The guitars, which include one designed with an American flag and another with an owl face, will also be displayed at a public square area near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.

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