Gray Areas: Curating art show was educational experience

Gray Areas

Last week was an education.

Saturday was the opening reception for “First Three Songs, No Flash: From Hometown Heroes to Hall of Famers,” the concert photography exhibition I guest-curated at Trumbull Art Gallery.

I have no idea how many art shows I’ve previewed over the years. It has to be well into triple figures. But this experience let me see what goes into an art show from a different perspective.

As guest curator, I mostly rounded up my talented friends — Bob Jadloski, Geneva Anderson, Eric Broz, John Patrick Gatta, William D. Lewis, Daniel Montecalvo, Chara Politte, Erika Rock and R. Michael Semple — and helped some of them select the photos that best showed off their talents.

When it came to hanging the show, I mostly typed labels and watched gallery director William Mullane work his magic. Mullane has an eye for grouping the work in a way that makes the images pop on the walls and tinkering with the lighting so they are illuminated perfectly.

I admit to being clueless about just how long hanging a show takes, especially for a show that shoehorns as many pieces as we did onto two floors of gallery space at TAG. Mullane spent four hours or so a night for several nights making things look as good as they did on Saturday, and that was after working a full day with a lengthy commute and probably attending a few board meetings for the many groups he serves.

I took a few days off to be able to focus my attention on getting the show ready, and I still was dragging tail by the end of the week. Mullane does it all the time.

Then there is director Pat Galgozy and the small army of TAG volunteers that did everything from gathering donations from different local businesses to assembling the spread of munchies that visitors enjoyed at the opening reception. They also staffed the gift shop and helped us sell Chinese auction tickets at the opening reception. A generous donation from Covelli Enterprises helped cover the cost of printing, mounting and framing the work.

The reception itself was a wonderful blur. Not to sound like a boastful commander-in-chief, but the crowd was huge. The gallery was packed all evening.

Several of the performers on the walls also were in attendance. Bob Fiorino and Bob “Rollo” Miller of Mom’s Apple Pie performed at the reception, and MAP members Pat Aulizia, Dave Mazzochi and Bob Pinti also were there to see the photos Jadloski shot of the band more than 45 years ago.

The Vindys played a 4 p.m. Saturday set in Cleveland at the Tall Ships Festival, but Jackie Popovec, Rick Deak and John Anthony raced back to town to see Broz’s photos of the band and other current local acts. Demos Papadimas also played a gig Saturday afternoon but made it to the art show, and The Super Babes and Dennis Drummond were on the walls and in the crowd.

I think the musicians enjoyed seeing themselves displayed alongside some of the biggest names in music — Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Alice Cooper, Mick Jagger, etc. And the photographers, especially the newspaper guys who are used to seeing their work displayed under less-than-optimal conditions, were thrilled to see their images get a showcase worthy of their talents.

For those who couldn’t make it, the show will be on display through Aug. 24 at TAG, 158 N. Park Ave., Warren. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

A lot of the work is for sale. Visitors also can purchase tickets for a Chinese auction to win original photographs signed by Leavittsburg native and 14-time Grammy winner Jerry Douglas, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee John Mellencamp, local favorites Michael Stanley and Donnie Iris and rockers Buckcherry and Ted Nugent. There’s also a large unsigned image of Dave Grohl available in the auction.

A silent auction features different signed works by Mellencamp and Douglas along with a montage of images by Jadloski signed by 92-year-old vocal legend Tony Bennett. All proceeds from the auctions will benefit TAG and art for David Grohl Alley. Some of the Grohl images shot at the alley dedication in 2009 by Tribune Chronicle photographer R. Michael Semple will be donated to the alley for permanent display after “First Three Songs” closes.

— Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at agray@tribtoday.com