Biennial 'Skull and Skeleton' Exhibition Opens with Costume Party Tonight

click to enlarge Tim Kocevar’s “Duality,” acrylic on canvas. On view as part of the Skull & Skeleton in Art V: Folk Art to Pop Culture at the Gallery at Lakeland.
Tim Kocevar’s “Duality,” acrylic on canvas. On view as part of the Skull & Skeleton in Art V: Folk Art to Pop Culture at the Gallery at Lakeland.
This time of year, who doesn’t love skulls and skeletons? Since 2009, the Gallery at Lakeland Community College has been one of the most festive venues in Northeast Ohio every other Halloween thanks to gallery director and curator Mary Urbas’ Skull & Skeleton exhibitions. Continuing to grow each odd-numbered year, this year’s show is first to feature more than 100 artists. Already on view at Lakeland, the Skull & Skeleton in Art V: Folk Art to Pop Culture opens with a reception, costume party and Boneyard Market from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26.

What began with 18 artists in 2009 grew to 55 in 2011, 64 in 2013, 83 in 2015 and has now expanded to more than 100 local, regional and national artists exhibiting 275 works in a diverse variety of media, including: painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, textiles/fiber, wood, glass, jewelry and digital art. Stretching beyond Northeast Ohio, this year’s show includes artists from California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.

A show of this scale would be impressive at any of Cleveland’s major institutions, but Urbas’ ability to pull off a show of this size in a community college in Lake County is basically unprecedented. Not only the biggest version of the exhibition, it may be the best one yet as well.

“I've heard from numerous colleagues and artists that they think this year's incarnation is the best so far,” says Urbas. “There's a different level of refinement of the imagery incorporated into the 2017 collection. I invited a record number of artists to participate, from Northeast Ohio and around the country. With each exhibition, there's a different vibe. There are a few artworks that are quite elegant and ethereal in nature, along with the usual handful of eccentric, eclectic with a dash of dark humor thrown in. It is a mélange of characters.”

In addition to the works in the exhibition, Urbas organizes a Boneyard Market featuring vendors selling skull and skeleton-themed items at a lower price point during Thursday’s reception. Also in the gallery, the Urban Community School Middle School Art Club has created an ofrenda, or temporary altar, to honor the memories of deceased friends and relatives.

An enormous and popular exhibition, the show draws visitors near and far to Lakeland. Saying it is “worth the drive” would be an understatement, especially during the fall season. Make a full day of it with a drive to one of the area’s pumpkin patches and enjoy the colorful fall foliage outside the city. The Skull & Skeleton in Art V: Folk Art to Pop Culture remains on view through Nov. 3. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free gallery tours are available by appointment.

(The Gallery at Lakeland Community College) 7700 Clocktower Dr., Kirtland, 440-525-7029,

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