Art Treasure Hunt Just Part of 'Don't Panic!' Exhibit From E11even 2

Bob Peck and Rich Cihlar have known each other for about a decade. Peck’s abstract, graffiti-influenced paintings were frequently on display in Cihlar’s exhibitions at his former gallery, Lakewood’s Pop Shop and (Art)ificial Gallery. Cihlar also uses spray paint, but his process involves layers of stencils to create form and depth in his more representational visual imagery. Despite working with similar materials and color palettes, the two had never attempted to collaborate with their artwork.

“When asked to do a collaborative show with Rich, I knew it was going to be an awesome time,” says Peck. “He and I have worked side by side in one way or another for a many years now, but never on the same surface. Once he presented the idea to me, I immediately began to see my abstracts ‘sprouting out’ around his paintings every time I looked at them, even months before we started our own work together. That's how I knew it was going to be a great fit.”

“I think Bob and I have always been on the same page when it comes to art,” adds Cihlar. “We make it, show it, and have a good time from start to finish. Sometimes it's that simple. I've known Bob now for about 10 years, and after 10 years I finally felt I was ready to merge our art work together. Bob is always ready. I don't mean that in goofy way. He's always on his game, and ready to get down to business. That's why he was the first on my list when the idea for a show came to mind. Bob has been a seasoned vet in the art world for a long time, and although I've been around too, most of my efforts were behind the art (hanging, running a gallery, etc.) so that's what I mean when I say I was ‘ready.’ I finally have been spending more of my time on the creating art work.”

Both artists took turns on the individual pieces, with each of them doing some of the initial work and the other responding to it.

“We didn't really plan the works out together,” explains Cihlar. “I would start a canvas and hand it to him, or he would start a canvas and hand it to me, and the end results were always amazing.”

“For us, it's about bold imagery,” adds Peck. “Rich supplies a vivid character as a foundation and I anchor my designs into the background and foreground, creating dimension and a sense of movement. It became very symbiotic...but not like how aliens do, with the whole life-force-draining and all that. With that being said, we both agreed that we wanted to make paintings that evoked the lighter side of life. Art for the sake of art. So, do us a favor and, Don't Panic!"

The show features a number of fun, added elements. Last week, Cihlar and Peck placed a number of handmade, wooden signs around town to promote the show. Over the next week, if you spot one, and you can get it down, it’s all yours.

“I think the most fun part of this show will be the ‘treasure hunt’ we allow our fans to participate in,” adds Cihlar. “We've made a handful or more of wooden diecut pieces that we'll be leaving around town. They're 2 x 4 ft pieces of plywood with rocket ships on them. So anyone who really wants to get a piece of art, and might not have the funds to get an original can go on a wild goose chase around Cleveland and snatch one of the rocket boards up. It's all for fun, as well as a reminder to Cleveland that there are a lot of talented people here. I'm hoping to see and hear about people getting them.” (All nine have already been found and saved by fans.)

The fun continues at the opening. Cihlar and Peck promise a number of added elements designed to make the show as exciting as possible.

“We will have free Don't Panic! and Panic! buttons for guests,” continues Cihlar. “We've made full color koozies with two of the paintings on them, posters of most of the collaborative works, 3D glasses (Chromadepth) that engulf viewers into the pieces, and many other fun angles. It's going to be a fun show. In the end, i think that's all we really wanted to achieve. It's all about our art work, our friends and our new friends coming out and having a good time.”

Additionally, Cihlar will be giving away special, commemorative painted pennies used to hold down his stencils. They come in a colorful package featuring imagery from the show. Stop by the gallery early to score one while supplies last.

Don’t Panic and Third Friday at 78th Street Studios are free and open to the public. Can’t make it to the opening? Stop by next month for the closing reception at May’s Third Friday event from 5 to 9 p.m., May 15.

(78th Street Studios) 1300 W. 78th St., 330-819-7280,

(E11even 2) Suite 112,