Photos by Leah Hammond

The three-dimensional gun installation (top) is one-of-a-kind in this year’s People’s Art Show among other works of visual art such as mixed media pieces and canvases (bottom).


November 22, 2016

People’s Art Show displays works from Cleveland community

The People’s Art Show at Cleveland State University has welcomed works that are raw, creative, controversial and diverse for 33 years. Created in 1983, the show was an annual event for 10 consecutive years and became biannual in 1993.

Robert Thurmer, director of the Galleries at CSU, said the show has a lot of history.

“Looking back, we were very innocent then,” he said. “The show has gone through a cycle of being very provocative in terms of the entries... There was a time when artists were deliberately showing offensive works.”

Considering the accepting and uncensored nature of the People’s Show, it once featured a penis wall and a Jesus wall, Thurmer said.

“Things have calmed down since then,” he continued. “But, we used to have a lot of First Amendment issues with our political pieces….There are a few leftover people that are still trying to push buttons.”

In more recent years, the show  has featured more serious artists but not all are necessarily professional artists, Thurmer said.

“We have a lot of amateurs in the show,” he elaborated. “What I mean by amateur is someone who does it because they have a love for it…they love doing it.”

Cleveland State alumna Anna Tararova is a fitting example of someone who has a love for art and has also received two art degrees: a bachelor’s degree at Cleveland State in fine arts and a master’s at Ohio University in printmaking.

While she was a student at CSU she worked at the Galleries and also participated in the People’s Art Show more than once.

Tararova said she views the show as a Cleveland tradition and enjoys being a part of it even after her time at Cleveland State has passed.

This year, Tararova has two works featured in the show. Both are paper pulp paintings with silk screen.
Describing her work as creative and different, Tararova said she believes there is an urgent need for humanity to reconnect with nature to experience a harmonious and peaceful existence.

“I have been searching for a way to express this idea through my artwork, and I found it in papermaking,” she said. “Paper made from plants and recycled materials could be a sustainable solution to many ecological and economic problems the world is facing today.”

Like other participants, Tararova has been able to share her ideas and beliefs through her work.

Another Cleveland State alumnus, Benji Diaz has also been able to freely express himself through his artwork because of the show’s nondiscriminatory nature. He has two pieces displayed this year exploring sexuality.

“Most of my works are transgressive and eccentric,” Diaz said. “Art to me is limitless and part of our everyday living, so it’s enjoyable to see, touch, and hear it created in many ways.”

Diaz graduated from Cleveland State in 2014 with a degree in graphic design and is now studying at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

“The People’s Art Show is a great symbol for art within the Cleveland community,” Diaz said. “It gives everyone the chance to display (his) creative side, and I love being involved and a part of that.”

Attendees are guaranteed to find other diverse works in the show that are controversial such as political and racial pieces, and even a massive gun installation. An installation is a three-dimensional work that often is site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space, according to Wikipedia.

The show continues to evolve and there is always new blood coming in, Thurmer said. There are also repeat artists in the show, even artists that have been around since 1983.

Thurmer said the People’s Show doesn’t turn anything down but doesn’t accept works that have been featured in past years. The pieces must always be new.

The People’s Art Show is free and open to the public Tuesday through Thursday noon to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 7 p.m. until Dec. 8.



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