What brought DayGlo to Cleveland? Yes, art!
Driving down St. Clair Ave, approaching 45th Street, you can’t miss the electrically colored monkey painted by Scott Pickering, or the shocking pink and orange logo on DayGlo Color Corp’s building. But if you don’t drive through that neighborhood, you might miss all together that Cleveland is home to this radically fun paint company.
Ironically, DayGlo is one of those brand names synonymous with its product, like Jell-O and Band-Aid. But the retail division of the company is by far the smallest. DayGlo makes other brands pop all around us, and they provide the eye-catching color of safety products throughout the world. Without tooting their horn, though, you may not know how the Switzer brothers developed DayGlo paint.
It all started in 1933, when Robert Switzer–a pre-med student–fell at his summer job at H. J. Heinz Company in Berkeley, California. With a fractured skull and severed optic nerve, it was necessary for Rob to convalesce in darkness for several months, where he was kept company by his younger brother Joseph, an amateur magician. Joe was working on a theatrical trick and needed something fluorescent to pull it off. The boys searched through the compounds in the family’s pharmacy business and found naturally fluorescing compounds they then mixed with shellac to make the first fluorescent paint. The trick was a hit, and the industrious boys opened a business the following year – selling paint to the public.
Looking for other applications, the Switzer brothers worked with San Francisco artist Delmar Gray to develop store displays and advertising, which caught the interest of Warner Bros Pictures and led to a meeting with Continental Lithograph, their advertising subsidiary in Cleveland. To demonstrate the application, the Switzers and Delmar Gray set up a fluorescent movie poster display in the lobby of Cleveland’s Hippodrome Theater – the largest movie house in the country. Continental was sold, and they soon went into business together. With continued innovation, the Switzers developed products for use in WWII, and then commercial packaging. In 1946, they founded Switzer Bros. (now DayGlo Color Corp), which they sold in 1985. They used a portion of the proceeds to create theRobert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, providing research fellowships to environmentalists.
The annual DayGlo Exhibit at Waterloo Arts honors the history of innovation, manufacturing, and art in Cleveland. This year the artists will work with a new more environmentally friendly product line of Dayglo paint. We encourage you to stop by the gallery in January and February to see this unique black light exhibit.
15605 Waterloo Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44110
The Baron of Prospect Avenue: A Sneak Peek at Derf Backderf’s New Graphic Novel: November 4 –27
Swingin’ into the Holidays: Ornament and Holiday Boutique: December 2-4, Preview Party December 1
DayGlo 5 Show: January 6 – February 12, Opening Reception January 6, 5-9pm, DayGlo a GoGo Dance Party February 3
National Arts Program Artwork Drop-Off: February 16 & 17
National Arts Program Exhibit: March 3 – 19. Opening Reception & Awards 5 – 9 pm March 3
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