Calling all artists! It’s time once again for Cleveland’s most democratic art tradition, Cleveland State University’s People’s Art Show. Unlike any other show in Cleveland (and maybe anywhere else), the People’s Art Show is open to anyone, from kids to professionals. The walls of the Galleries at CSU will be filled salon-style (artwork from floor to ceiling) with hundreds of works by local artists of all backgrounds and experience levels.
“The People’s Art Show is a tradition unique to Cleveland State University,” says CSU Gallery Director Robert Thurmer. “It began as a populist experiment in The Art Gallery [CSU’s former Chester Avenue location] in 1983. The idea was to show works of art created by ordinary people that ordinary people could understand and appreciate. The experiment was an art show of, for and by the people – The People’s Art Show.”
Elaborating on the initial concept, Thurmer continues, “The People’s Art Show was to be free from snobbery, and elitism – no curators, no experts and no taste police. The people themselves would determine the content of the show – every participant an artist, a curator, and a critic. The Gallery would refuse nothing – no judgments would be passed, and the works themselves would have to hold their own in the free and open marketplace of ideas and images.”
Unjuried and uncensored, past exhibitions have been so controversial that the formerly annual event is now held once every two years – so provocative that it made the front page of the New York Times
and led to Thurmer being interviewed for the Howard Stern Show. Recent incarnations have been relatively subdued, but each year is different and no one really knows what to expect until the artists start dropping off their work this weekend.
“It was a huge success – ‘too much’ perhaps, as the show almost self-destructed in the 90s in a frenzy of ‘artists gone wild,’ adds Thurmer. “Cooler heads prevailed, however, and we now enjoy a very polite People’s Art Show, self-restrained and self-censored.”
Although the 22nd People’s Art Show won’t open to the public until Oct. 28, artists of all ages and experience levels are invited to drop off work from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 14, and Saturday, Oct. 15.
“As an exercise in aesthetic democracy, the People’s Art Show has become part of our community and our history,” Thurmer says. “It has served as a battleground for First Amendment issues, as a forum for the role of art in contemporary society, and as an outlet for creativity at the grassroots level. The People’s Art Show is more than an amateur art exhibition – it is a unique phenomenon – a celebration of self-expression and freedom of thought achieved through creativity, diversity and imagination!”
Submitting work to the show is free and open to anyone (from children and students to amateurs and professionals), but a $5 per entry donation is suggested. Each artist may submit up to two works in any size and any medium.
The People’s Art Show opens with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, and remains on view through Dec. 8. The opening reception and the exhibition itself are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the gallery or visit their website.
(The Galleries at CSU) 1307 Euclid Ave., 216-687-2103, csuohio.edu/artgallery