'A Christmas Story'-Themed Art Show Lands at 78th Street Studios

click to enlarge Ovaltine - Billy Nainiger
Billy Nainiger
Most Clevelanders have many nostalgic memories tied to A Christmas Story. Most of us remember watching the film year after year on Christmas day thanks to 24-hour basic cable marathons. The house where part of the movie was filmed is a favorite local historic landmark in Tremont (3159 W. 11th St.).

In celebration of the season, local artist and co-founder of 78th Street Studios’ E11even 2 (Suite 112) Billy Nainiger presents A Christmas Art Show, his second solo show in as many years. The exhibition opens with a reception at E11even 2 as part of this month’s Third Friday festivities at 78th Street Studios from 5 to 10 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 20.

Nainiger chose A Christmas Story as his influence for this show because he thought the subject was fitting for a holiday season show and for its popularity, especially in the Cleveland area. "I grew up on the film, like many people of my generation, and it has always held a special place for me because of its local ties,” reflects Nainiger. “I also think it is one of the best Christmas movies ever made."

A Christmas Art Show is a follow-up to Nainiger’s Big Lebowski-themed The Dude Abides solo show at E11event 2. Nainiger’s work frequently features pop culture imagery, most often The Beatles. Using primarily spray paint, latex and found objects, Nainiger creates dynamic portraits of the movie’s characters, such as Ralphie, The Old Man and Scott Farkus, as well as symbolic and nostalgic imagery from the film.

"I chose some of my favorite and funniest scenes from the film and worked from there,” he explains. “Although portraits dominate the show, I couldn't forget some of the iconic symbols like Ovaltine, Lifeboy Soap and the leg lamp, which in itself can be considered a character in the film."

Some of his paintings are created on reclaimed pallet wood. Nainiger ellaborates, "Although I have been working on used pallet wood for a couple of years now, I thought it was very appropriate for this show. The used pallet surfaces reflect the essence of the film; the chipped painted exterior of the Parker's house and the weathered wooden fences that Scut Farcus lurks behind. Even the wooden crate that the leg lamp is delivered in fits within this concept."

In addition to the paintings, the gallery features ornaments, greeting cards and limited edition prints for sale. E11even 2’s recently remodeled space will be split in half with Nainiger’s paintings in one room and an homage to the interior parts of the Christmas Story house – featuring a genuine leg lamp, of course.

As usual, Nainiger and his E11even 2 co-founders Christina Sadowski and Rich Cihlar, have planned some special surprises for guests of opening night’s reception.

“For the opening, we will have a special guest from A Christmas Story too,” Nainiger promises. “Patty Johnson LaFountaine who played the female "elf from hell" in the famous Higbee's scene will be hanging out at the opening reception. Nainiger has created a special portrait of her, and there will be limited edition posters available for purchase that she can personally autograph.”

Next month, E11even 2 hosts a closing reception one week before Christmas, Friday, Dec. 18 from 5 to 10 p.m. as part of Third Friday at 78th Street Studios.

(E11even 2) 1305 W. 80th St., 440-724-9261, e11even2.com 
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