All A – DayGlo
One of the joys of the annual DayGlo show at Waterloo Arts (February 4 – 26) is that it celebrates something so very Cleveland: an industrial product that is right at home in the art world. DayGlo is a Cleveland-based industrial manufacturer of fluorescent pigment: their customers are other manufacturing companies that use the pigment to make vividly colorful packaging materials, and of course also inks and paint. But of course when there is eye-popping paint to be had, artists can’t be far behind.
Another of the DayGlo Show’s delights is the gimmicky factor of a show that takes place in black light, and for which visitors are supplied 3D glasses that dis-assemble the paintings into layers of color separated by visible space. I’ve tried more than once to capture the otherworldly effect of the 3D glasses, but it seems the polaroid triangulation has to happen live: it’s a stereoscopic thing, made possible by the distance between your eyes. If you haven’t done this, it’s worth the trip.
But what keeps us coming back year after year is to see which artists have joined the fun, and what they have done to tickle our senses. Some 40 local artists contributed work this year. There are some DayGlo stalwarts, like Scott Pickering, Douglas Max Utter, and Angela Oster, all of which have participated frequently in the annual show. It was great this year to see works of several other noteworthy artists. Darius Steward, for example, has had his work on view at moCa Cleveland, and several of Cleveland’s most esteemed galleries, and is one of the CAN Triennial 2022 curators. His style is immediately recognizable through the color palate so contrary to his usual muted, natural looking watercolor. His painting of a boy looking up from his Lego construction project won an Honorable Mention from the jurors.
So did a painting by Chris Pokes, whom Clevelanders know from an enduring era of graffiti around town. His work on canvas echoes that, looking like a square extracted from a wall, taking with it part of a larger piece, marked with several smaller tags.
First Prize went to Emily Szalkowski, for her painting of button-eyed, x-eyed, and pop-eyed figures, elf-hatted, mushroom headed, with a jack-o-lantern looking over the scene. The central figure’s hat resembled the cap of a spotted mushroom, and indeed there were several other mushrooms littered throughout the surreal scene. “Trippy,” I think, is a relevant descriptor. Second prize went to Lindsey Bryon, and third to PJ Halliwill.
It was great to see a piece by Natalie Lanese, whose regular practice is to use bright colors in geometric abstraction. Even without DayGlo, Lanese’s works make color vibrate. Clevelanders know her from mural installations as well as works on canvas and paper, including a mural on the walls and floor at Survival Kit Gallery years ago, which must have been the most instagrammed location in Cleveland for a few months. Her work in the Day Glo show is a new realm of experimentation.
It was a joy to see Sequoia Bostic’s graphic storytelling style of character painting rendered in DayGlo pigment. Her Ornate Goddess is a woman with a pattern of cocentric circles behind her like a complementary halo, gesturing out, palm up, seemingly generous, whether she is giving or receiving.
Todd Hoak’s mixed-media painting of a man’s face on poplar sets the face literally in a third dimension, on a plane elevated from the backgeround. It’s a face nearly featureless, except for a single eye, as if it is seen from the side, and only half the face is visible. The layered effect is accentuated further by the DayGlo and 3D glasses effect.
What felt most in-tune with the spirit of the show were a couple of collectively created pieces. This year, in addition to the exhibit itself, and functioning as a kind of drum-roll for the month before the opening, Waterloo Arts presented a series of hands-on opportunities that invited all comers to work with DayGlo paint. There were workshops and parties. The back wall of the gallery carried that idea forward, inviting visitors to paint during their visit. The result is an onslaught of styles, marks, and drips, sharing space and evolving over time like a wall covered with graffiti.
Another collective piece, both more controlled and less, is a dropcloth covered in DayGlo footsteps, with all the entropic chaos of a dance party, which is exactly what it represents: Draped along the western wall, it is the documentation of Ready Set Go, created during Dance Dance Party Cleveland—a one-hour, freestyle dance party for women and non-binary people, held monthly by Zoom. In January, organizers known as Den Mothers danced in the gallery; the drop cloth became a recording of their steps. The backstory of collective, solidarity-building joy is beautifully presented in abstract expression. And viewed through 3D glasses, it was appropriately many layers deep.
As we publish this, you’ve got one more week to check it out. DayGlo 9 is open through February 26, 2022.
15605 Waterloo Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44110