Sweet Christmas! Comic Art Up Front at New Gallery
Bart Sullivan, 07-15-2019

Perris Mackey's comic-inspired collages on display at Up Front Art Space.
Bart Sullivan
The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is especially true when it comes to comic books—some comic illustrations will describe an entire event without even the need for dialogue. For the Cuyahoga Falls gallery's second show since opening in May, Up Front Art Space's Biff! Boom! Pow! exhibit shows that they understand this adage well.

Biff! Boom! Pow! features two local artists whose work both influences and is influenced by comics and cartoons. Marvel artist and Highland Square resident Matt Horak displays his work triumphantly in large legal-sized binder sleeves, portraying some of his favorite comic pages he has drawn in the past, from such comics as The Punisher, Spider-Man, and Deadpool. “Spider-Man’s really fun, of course. I always want to draw Spider-Man, but I didn’t really have a huge love for Deadpool when I started drawing it,” Horak remarks. “Once I was drawing him, I realized Looney Tunes rules apply, so it’s really fun. No idea’s too stupid.”

Kay Phelps, co-owner of Up Front Art Space, chose both the comics theme and Horak to feature because science fiction and the superhero genre are things she is passionate about. “I’m a super nerd, and honestly, I just thought it would be fun,” Phelps explains.

Fun is exactly the ambiance Up Front Art Space presents. The mission of the gallery, run by Phelps and Mystye Gorgan, is to treat every client and artist with dignity and respect, provide framing and restoration of customers’ artwork using the using the least intrusive methods available, and, most of all, make the art gallery available and accessible to all demographics typically underrepresented in the art world. “We would like artists to come in and show their art without being boxed out because they haven’t been around long enough,” says Gorgan.

The idea that art should be available to everybody is especially shown in Horak’s presentation of his pieces alongside a small toy, such as a plastic dinosaur or army man. Horak found that having something small for children at conventions who could not afford expensive artwork or comics helped make their experience better.

In addition to this work, Perris Mackey presented collages of various comic book heroes, including Luke Cage, Misty Knight, Batman and Robin, and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, created from pieces of various paper.

Biff! Boom! Pow! runs through July 20th and the gallery is currently accepting submissions for the following show, featuring all children's artwork, which will open July 26th. Following that will be solo art exhibitions from Toledo painter Jennifer Sherriff and Cuyahoga Falls photographer River Berry. Phelps and Gorgan hope to expand on their “gallery is for everyone” concept by bringing more budget-friendly options to customers, as well as finding more niche artists from within and outside Cuyahoga Falls. They are also considering programs to help working artists get display materials, as well as art subscription boxes, though these are long- term future goals.

Up Front Art Space is located at 2239 Front Street, above Jean + Lou. The gallery is open Wednesday, 12pm-8pm, and Friday and Saturday 1pm-6pm.

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