Posters Take Center Stage at The Paula Brown Gallery: Talented Toledo Graphic Designers Get Their Due

. May 16, 2017.
Learn more about ten of Toledo’s top graphic designers during an exhibit featuring over 70 posters.
Learn more about ten of Toledo’s top graphic designers during an exhibit featuring over 70 posters.

The Paula Brown Gallery is hosting an exhibition for a sometimes forgotten artistic medium: posters. The Poster Show, an exhibition of 50-plus posters from 10 Toledo graphic designers, spans five decades of work in and around the region.

Promoting everything from rock bands to city appearances by tennis great Bjorn Borg and the Mid-American Conference championship basketball tournament at Centennial Hall, the show is a history lesson on Glass City hosted events.

The show, which runs through July 7, is curated by graphic designer Dan Weeks and Peter Brown, co-owner of the Paula Brown Shop. Many of the posters received local and national graphic design awards.

Designers included in the show are Weeks, Bob Cairl, Jeff Kimble, Terry Lesniewicz, Ellen Loeffler, Steve Mockensturm, Al Navarre, Joe Pinciotti, Gene Powell and Martin Treu.

Idea for the Show

“Dan Weeks approached me about doing a poster show and it took me only a second to say ‘yeah,’ Brown recalled. “No one had done it and it’s a way of celebrating some of the great art that was done during this period.”

Weeks said the idea for the exhibit came to him after he realized he had many posters hidden away in flat drawer files in his home and thought many of his designer associates may have similar stockpiles.

Weeks explains that the 1980s were the heyday for event posters. “There was a time in Toledo where people were using posters as a marketing tool and also as a creative piece to commemorate an occasion, either an association or a company,” he said. “These are frameable posters that were multi-silkscreens and actual works of art rather than a brochure. There is still type on the posters that convey information, but the main visual is usually a strong work of art.”

Brown said many of the posters represent a competitive time for the designers.

“They tell me that in the 80s, it was almost a battle between designers — who could outdo who. Corporations and nonprofits that spend the money to do these. They don’t do it as much anymore.”

Well Received

Brown said reaction to the show has been very positive, which he attributes to a number of factors.

“It’s educational from the standpoint of what was going on here,” he said. “It’s kind of historical about Toledo. It’s also great artwork, most of which is somewhat timeless.”

Some of the posters are available for purchase. Most popular have been some of the band posters, which include Mockensturm works for Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Old 97s and the Civil Wars. The earliest poster is the Lesniewicz’s “Ad Man” superhero piece for the Advertising Club of Toledo, touting his “never ending crusade against tripe,” while Navarre’s poster from January 2017 promotes the “Musical Tribute to Pat O’Connor,” the longtime local record store owner who passed away in December.

Through July 7.
Paula Brown Gallery and Pub
10am-5pm. Tuesday through Friday, 10am-3pm Saturday.
912 Monroe St., 419-241-8100.