Toledo parking garage is turned into an art gallery of sorts

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TOLEDO (WTVG) - ProMedica's Fire and Ice Winter Festival is in full swing in downtown Toledo. The festival includes a zip line, an escape room, ice sculptures and a fire-breathing dragon. But there's also a big art work unveiling.

A parking garage is probably not the first thing you think of when it comes to art, but a new mural spans the length of the lower level of the ProMedica parking garage. Other than a being beautiful piece of art it's also a teaching tool of sorts.

Natalie Lanese is an accomplished Toledo-based artist, "My work is typically site specific so I enjoy responding to existing architecture and 3D forms in a space."

The piece is called The Dazzle Colonnade and it's getting rave reviews, "It is absolutely remarkable what she has done."

Natalie says the massive mural covers about 3200 square feet of space, "I started at the end of August and I painted for about eight weeks. I was here just about every day in September and October."

The painting technique has a tie to Naval history. It's called dazzle camouflage. It was used by the British and American Navies in World War I. Natalie says merchant ships were painted in high-contrast geometric patterns so it was tough to determine their position speed and direction, "The belief was that they would avoid being torpedoed because the person running the periscope couldn't make the correct calculations to fire it off. The British artist Norman Wilkerson is credited with inventing it. One of my favorite facts is that In both Great Britain and America, many women were employed to do the painting. They were referred to as the camoufleurs."

ProMedica commissioned the mural. Employees were able to watch the transformation of this space on their way to and from work. Kathleen Merrill is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications, "A piece like this brings joy, it makes people feel good. It brings a different energy to the space if it had just been a blank slate."

And that's something Natalie is proud of, "I love what it's done to this space. It's exciting to think of a parking garage as an art gallery."

The mural will officially be dedicated at 7:10 Friday night. ProMedica's Fire and Ice Winter Festival runs until 9 Friday night at Promenade Park and on Saturday from noon-9. The activities are free.