Nature Of Art Exhibit, Auction To Benefit Nature’s Nursery

Artists Robert Garcia holds the peregrine falcon he created out of clay for the Art of Nature fundraiser for Nature’s Nursery. Fellow artist Julie Draeger created a non-objective abstract that she is donating to the cause, along with a watercolor of flowers. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — After years of connecting disadvantaged youths with artists, Joe Szafarowicz found two basic truths: Art changes lives and Northwest Ohio has plenty of talented, giving artists.

Now, Szafarowicz has pulled together more than 40 area artists to change the lives of the hundreds of injured and orphaned animals who are dropped off at Nature’s Nursery Wildlife Rehabili-tation Center each year.

The Art of Nature is an online auction in which proceeds from donated works of art will go to Nature’s Nursery. To provide a preview of the artwork, Nature’s Nursery is hosting an in-person exhibition of the works this weekend at the former Butterfly House, 11455 Obee Rd. in Waterville Township.

Paintings, drawings, glass, jewelry and sculpture will be on display from artists including Teri Bersee, Mark Matthews, Harold Rowe, Robert Shorter, Sue Luczak, Julie Schuster, Ken Thompson, Hans Ruebel and Scott Ziegler.

Michael Goettner, a Sylvania designer and artist whose fine art of automobiles, planes and trains hangs in galleries around the world, will sketch the Batmobile owned by local resident Mike Koepplinger from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. 

Robert Garcia of White-house and Julie Draeger of Toledo will also provide demonstrations. Both are award-winning working artists and retired art teachers.

When Garcia heard about the fundraiser from a friend, he decided to create a peregrine falcon like the ones that have rehabbed at Nature’s Nursery. He modeled and carved the falcon out of clay. After toying with the idea of making it abstract, he chose to make the falcon more realistic, with etched-in feathers.  

While the peregrine falcon is realistic, Garcia’s clay sculpting runs the gamut in styles and includes “National Waterfall Drive-in Theater,” a work on permanent display at the Toledo Museum of Art. 

Flowers and landscapes have been the subject of Draeger’s work for years – including those currently on display at Schedel Arbor-etum in Elmore – but after retirement, she began studying non-objective abstracts. 

“There are no objects you can identify, just the universal elements of art: line, shape, form, color, texture and value,” she said. “This relies on intuition. Expres-sion comes from somewhere under the floor of consciousness.”

The artwork will be set up throughout the former Butterfly House, including the greenhouse with its lush plants and koi pond. The setting couldn’t be better, said Nature’s Nursery executive director Allison Schroeder, as she met earlier this week with Wheeler Farms director of operations Christy Geha.

“Christy has an event venue without the events, and I have events without a venue, so it was a perfect match,” Schroeder said.

In addition to artists’ demonstrations, Nature’s Nursery education animals will be on-site on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Schroeder will sign copies of her book, One Special Owl, on Saturday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. along with Moon, the barred owl. A food truck will be available on Saturday as well.

The Art of Nature art exhibition will be held on Friday, April 30 from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, May 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; and Sunday, May 2 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The artwork will be auctioned off online through 8:00 p.m. on Monday, May 3 at NatureArt.

Admission and parking for the exhibition are free, but donations to Nature’s Nursery are suggested.

For a detailed schedule and list of artists, visit

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