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Arts Partnership debuts first Love Tusc sculptures

| September 14, 2023
Nate Tusc paints the Love Tusc sculpture for Atwood Lake during Wednesday's Preview Party at the Kent Tusc Performing Arts Center. (WJER Radio)

Tony Contini with the Love Tusc sculpture that will go up in downtown New Philadelphia.

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Sept. 14, 2023) – We now know what’s painted on themed sculptures that will be going up in nine local communities as part of a countywide public art initiative.

The Tuscarawas Arts Partnership invited everyone to the Performing Arts Center Wednesday evening for a Love Tusc Preview Party. Artist Cathy Straub painted a “Spirit of Dover” sculpture that the city will display on the northeast quadrant of the square. Mayor Shane Gunnoe is pleased with how it turned out.

“We think it’s gonna be a great centerpiece for downtown Dover. We’re excited for it, and I don’t think the project could have come off any better. And we’re excited for the other communities as well…I think it really is a great project to kind of bind all of our communities together.”

Each Love Tusc sculpture is shaped like Tuscarawas County with a heart cut out of the middle. Museum Acrylics owner George Laurence came up with the concept.

“You can get two faces in that heart because that was one of the original ideas was to have mother and child, proms, weddings. It’s a great photo op.”

New Philadelphia resident Tony Contini got to decorate the one for his hometown and says he learned a lot about its history in the process.

“It was a lot of research. Kent State Tusc, there’s the Tuscarawas County Historical Society, and I had two flash drives full of historical images, and that’s kind of where I started. And having meetings with [Mayor] Joel [Day], he talked about a lot of historical significance with the town.”

The sculpture he painted features depictions of Schoenbrunn Village, Tuscora Park, the high school, and Harry Clever Field. Day thinks he did a fantastic job of representing the city’s spirit.

“I just love how it brings together a lot of the history that we have in New Philadelphia.”

Jim Dawson owns Synergy Signs in Strasburg. He and his team fabricated all of the sculptures and put some extra love into the one they designed for their community.

“We took a lot of liberty with it, doing dimensional carving and stuff on it because we’re the fab shop and we could do some things that other people couldn’t, and we also built an interactive coin display in the back so people will be able to go take coins off of the sculpture. Those will be forever changing so the stuff that’s on the sculpture 10 years from now won’t be what’s there when it’s installed.” 

The other sculptures making their debut Wednesday evening were for Bolivar, Sugarcreek, Dennison, Newconerstown, Port Washington, and the Atwood Lake region. Those will start going up October 1st as fundraising continues to expand the project into another 11 communities and create a countywide sculpture tour next summer. For details and to donate, visit

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