The backs of two women with gray hair side by side. The one on the left is pointing to artwork on the wall.
Credit: Abigail Preiszig
The 24th Biennial Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show opening reception was held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 22 at The Galleries at CSU.

Hundreds pack the opening reception for the Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show

The biennial exhibition was “for the people,” featuring 406 non-juried, uncensored pieces from artists of all ages, skill sets and mediums on display until Nov. 16.

Instrumental music and voices teeming with excitement poured out of The Galleries at CSU entrance as 471 people piled in for pizza and art at the opening reception of the 24th biennial Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show.

The first post-pandemic opening reception took place between 5 and 8 p.m. on Sept. 22, 2022. The “non-juried, uncensored exhibition, celebrating diversity and imagination” featured 406 pieces of art, representing 246 artists. 

Student musicians Agnieszka Uścińska, left, and Max Hyde-Perry played the violin and double bass at the entrance of the Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show opening reception Sept. 22, 2022. (Abigail Preiszig)

“So this is what happens when you ask people to bring two pieces of art,” Kendall Christian, director of The Galleries at CSU since 2019, said. “This is a community. It’s called the people’s art show because it’s people. You can be from France or you can be from Solon, Ohio, eight or eighty, if you show up on the due date your art gets in the show.” 

Kendall Christian, The Galleries at CSU director, at the Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show opening reception on Sept. 22, 2022. (Abigail Preiszig)

This was the first People’s Art Show since 2018 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the break and open submissions, Christian expected a lot of participants and spectators. The show gave many artists the opportunity to display their art for the first time, or drew them back into their craft after some time away.

Artist Vidah “Hadi” Sadeed explained that having her piece “Ocean of Possibilities” in the show was her first step towards her redevelopment as an artist. 

Artist Vidah “Hadi” Sadeed with her piece “Ocean of Possibilities” at the Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show opening reception Sept. 22, 2022. (Abigail Preiszig) 

“This is one of my first pieces restoring myself back into my art,” Sadeed said. She plans to sell her piece for $2 million with the intention of donating half of the proceeds to the Cleveland Public Library and putting the other half into her art. 

Tenzin Lucas, a senior majoring in Art History, has been working in The Galleries at CSU since January. This has been the largest show curated by Lucas who referred to the process as a “giant game of Tetris.”

 Tenzin Lucas, a senior majoring in Art History, helped curate the Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show at The Galleries at CSU Sept. 22, 2022. (Abigail Preiszig)

“I think the coolest thing about having an open submission art gallery in general is actually being able to see and talk to the artists themselves,” Lucas said. “In terms of getting submissions, the hardest part was actually finding room for everything. Having to run around, trying to figure out ‘Okay, where am I going to put this before we actually put this up?’ and by the time we got all the submissions going, looking around and being able to pick out pieces that will look good together figure out ‘Oh, we have a lot of abstract, that should go in this room here.’ Actually trying to puzzle together, like a giant game of Tetris, all the art, is a lot of fun.”

[About Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show]

The People’s Art Show began as a populist experiment in 1993 with the idea of showcasing works of art created by ordinary people in a professional gallery. The experiment was a huge success and over the past three-plus decades has become a tradition unique to CSU and an essential event for both the campus community and the region as a whole. 

Students connected with each other at the Robert Thürmer People’s Art Show opening reception on Sept. 22, 2022. (Abigail Preiszig)

“Come on down and see it, I would tell people,” Michelle Strong, administrative coordinator for The Galleries at CSU, said. “It’s a really special show. We have all skill levels, we have children’s art in here today and then we have fine artists who have been producing for many years, we have former faculty and current faculty in the show, so it’s a really special unique exhibition.” 

The show was recently renamed for retired former director Robert Thürmer and his 30 years of service to CSU. He was a strong advocate for showcasing the works of students and community members. Thürmer attended this year’s show and had his own art on display. 

[More about Thürmer]

The exhibition is open to all, Tuesday through Saturday noon to 5 p.m. until Nov. 26 at The Galleries at CSU, located at 1307 Euclid Ave., in the historic Cowell and Hubbard building.