This spring and summer, hop over to The Morton Arboretum for Ribbit! The Exhibit, a whimsical collection of larger-than-life copper frog sculptures. On display through September 25, Ribbit! The Exhibit features 19 displays of five- to seven-foot-tall frogs taking part in a variety of activities, including playing instruments, catching butterflies and meditating on a lily pad.
Hand-crafted by North Carolina-based sculptor J.A. Cobb, the displays include the “Tree Frog,” who will be nestled in a stately white oak, “Zenny,” relaxing on his lily pad in the fountain of the May T. Watts Reading Garden, and the “Jazz Trio,” set in the Arboretum’s Arbor Court, home of the popular Wednesdays, Woods and Wine outdoor music series.
All spring and summer, Arboretum visitors of all ages can learn about frogs and nature through fun frog-themed programming, classes and events, including a visit from amphibian expert Deb the Frog Lady, and a Frog ID workshop for adults. The Children’s Garden will provide drop-in activities throughout the event that allow children and families to explore the world of frogs and their habitat.
“Every year, our visitors are enamored by frogs at the Arboretum–from the tadpoles in our Children’s Garden to the musical croaking of the chorus frogs and spring peepers that can be heard throughout the Arboretum during the spring months–so we think Ribbit! The Exhibit will be a great addition to our spring and summer schedule,” said Anamari Dorgan, director of education at the Arboretum. “In addition to entertaining our visitors, Ribbit! The Exhibit offers a chance to learn about the relationship between frogs and the trees that live all around us.”
Ribbit! programs include:
Frog and Toad visit The Morton Arboretum! – May 7-8
Meet the classic Arnold Lobel storybook characters, Frog and Toad, have fun with crafts and read stories throughout the day.
Creature Feature – July 30-31
From tails to scales, come and meet some real reptiles and amphibians. Deb the Frog Lady will showcase this incredible group of animals and attendees will even get to hold a few of the creatures.
Hooray for Herpetology! - August 14
Meet live amphibians and reptiles from the Lake View Nature Center and learn more about these slimy animals.
Frog ID Workshop – May 5
Learn the names and ecology of the frogs that call in the spring. The Chicago area is home to eight fairly common frog species, with an additional four found in the further reaching collar counties. Time will be spent indoors learning how to identify these amphibians by physical features as well as their distinct vocalizations. Then head outside to listen and search for species that call the Arboretum home.
Creating the Frogs
The 23 frog sculptures in Ribbit! The Exhibit are hand drawn, cut from sheets of copper, and hammered and folded into the desired shape, much like origami. The pieces are then assembled with a brazing process of solid copper, usually around a steel armature to give the sculpture the strength to last for many generations. Lastly, they’re finished, either from a chemically-forced patina or a colorful pattern coaxed from the metal using the heat.
About the Artist
Wilmington, N.C.-based sculptor J.A. Cobb’s unique copper art has attracted crowds at public gardens around the country. He is particularly renowned for his large-scale, fanciful frog sculptures which are displayed in creative ways, both indoors and outdoors. He also produces exquisite copper sculptures of birds, fishes and other animals with an uncommon level of skill and artistry. What started as a hobby now keeps Cobb hopping to keep up with demand. Cobb is now often referred to as the “Frog Man” due to the hundreds of whimsical frog sculptures he has built.