Saturday, March 5, 2011

Aurora show to spotlight art inspired by childhood toys

AURORA – On April 9, more than two dozen local and renowned artists will participate in Molded Heroes, a two-day gallery show inspired by childhood toys, at 75 S. LaSalle St. in downtown Aurora.
The show is the first of its kind in the area and brings artists from several states to hang poster art that focuses on toys from their youth – the plastic empire and beyond.
“I think that my generation was heavily influenced by toys. When I was a kid I had a mix of action figures. My He-Man would be fighting alongside Chewbacca against a robot made from Legos,” said Michael Mancuso, who is orchestrating the show.
Mancuso, of Aurora, began arranging Molded Heroes, his first gallery show, earlier this year. 
An artist and screen printer, he first asked his circle of artist friends to join the show. He was encouraged by the response and extended invitations to national artists whose work he admires, including well-known Chicagoans: screenprinter Steve Walters and illustrator Ray Frenden.
“I wanted my first show to be accessible to as many people as possible. Everyone can relate to toys, from the obsessed collector, to the millionaire on his deathbed calling out for his sled, like in the movie Citizen Kane,” Mancuso said.
Mancuso connected with several artists locally from last summer’s Alley (ART) Festival in downtown Aurora and credits social media outlets, like Tumblr and Twitter, for exposing him to artists nationally.  
“Social media is a powerful tool for the self-employed artist,” he said. 
Mancuso will show many of his own prints in the show. Joining Mancuso are local artists Lisa Gloria, Don Picton, Marie Lubshina, Jon Schratz, Gideon Haynes IV, Joanna Goss, Fernando Medina and a handful of others including Mancuso’s wife, Becky Mancuso.
Visiting artists include Jun Nakamura, of Boston; Nick Francel, of St. Louis; Glen O’Neill, of British Columbia; and several artists from Chicago.
The public is invited to an opening reception from 6 to 10 p.m. April 9 at 75 S. LaSalle St. in downtown Aurora.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 10. Online sales at start on April 10.
Visit the website at and find Molded Heroes on Facebook.