ArtToro is unveiled outside market

Hopewell Valley News

From Aug. 15 through Oct. 19, the entire Hopewell Valley will become an outdoor art museum exhibiting 68 fiberglass oxen painted and embellished by local artists, participating in the public art project launching the Hopewell Valley Arts Council.

Instead of hanging on walls and sitting on shelves, the colorful and creative 8-foot-long oxen sculptures will dot the Valley landscape — in front of shops, in the town centers, in suburban neighborhoods and in rural fields.

The curators of this outdoor exhibit hope the “Stampede,” as it is called, will be a runaway success in raising money for the newly formed arts council and promoting its mission “to celebrate arts in the everyday.”

Even though the installation of each individual artistic ox sculpture will result in a mini-celebration, the Pennington Quality Market’s installation of “ArtToro” on Saturday (July 26) was particularly “oxceptional,” said Stampede Co-chairwoman Carol Lipson.

“ArtToro” is the creation of Titusville resident E. Gyuri Hollosy and Pennington resident Mary M. Michaels, who worked together at Mr. Hollosy’s Grounds for Sculpture studio.

Those who arrived at the market early in the morning saw a crane lifting “ArtToro” from a truck onto its platform in front of the market that will serve as its showcase until Oct. 19.”ArtToro” was welcomed to his temporary home by Michael Rothwell (an owner of the market), U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, who is a Hopewell Township resident, and Ms. Lipson.

Latin-style snacks and Latin jazz fusion guitarist Arturo Romay gave the noontime installation a festive flair.

“My fellow arts council members and I believe in the transformative power of art — its ability to reduce stress, make people happy, nurture the individual, as well as the community as a whole. Our goal is to contribute to making the Hopewell Valley a great place in which to live and work,” said Ms. Lipson.The public art initiative will conclude with a gala evening reception and live Ox-tion on Jan. 24, 2015, at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township, where 10 of the most prized sculptures will be auctioned.

However, prior to the gala, there will be a series of ox-unveiling events, as well as a variety of other activities, the details of which can be found at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council website:

An illustrated map showing the location of each ox will be available online and at various community locations. People can vote for their favorite ox, and the ox that pulls in the most votes will win the “People’s Choice” award.

“However, the Arts Council would be most appreciative if some oxen aficionados could vote with their wallets and purchase these beautiful pieces of art,” Ms. Lipson said.

Such purchases would help raise funds for future arts council programs. Most of the oxen will be sold through an online silent auction starting in mid-September through the end of the outdoor exhibit.

For the young and young at heart, the website will feature fun activities, including a scavenger hunt and a naming contest — an activity inspired by Congressman Holt when he spoke at Pennington Quality Market.Individuals can come up with their own clever names — featuring ox-puns such as “Ox Marks The Spot,” “Boat Ox.” Or they can vote for the cleverest given names, such as “ArtToro” or “Olly,” which hails from the phrase, “Olly Olly Oxen Free” (the children’s hide-and-seek game phrase) and a creative reference to the free artistic spirit infusing this public art exhibit.

Hopewell Valley Community Bank, Capital Health, Morehouse Engineering, Betty Wold Johnson, and an “anonymous” donor were the exhibit’s founding sponsors. Their generosity inspired 40 more gifts that collectively have sown the seeds for a vibrant Hopewell Valley Arts Council future, Ms, Lipson added.

When asked why the ox was chosen as the icon of this exhibit, Ms. Lipson said the “ox is a symbol of the Hopewell Valley’s agricultural heritage, teamwork and pulling together for the collective good of the community.”Today, a team of oxen still is used to plow the fields and haul heavy loads at the Howell Living History Farm in northwestern Hopewell Township.