The electric glow of carnival rides and booths is part of artist Stephen Tomasko’s vision in “Fairgrounds,” on exhibit through Oct. 1 at Kendal at Oberlin.
“Most of the county fairs in the Midwest are old events, by American standards at least, often having been in existence for 150 years or more,” said Tomasko. “Rich in history and tradition, these fairs find the same farm families gathering each year, the sun shining once again on the same patch of land, as yet another version of their complex pageant gets underway.”
His images capture the way summer attractions offer a sensory overload, the fun of competitions in which countless ribbons won and lost, and the smiles and tears that adorn the faces of generations of fairgoers.
Tomasko has been making images telling the story of this part of American heritage for the past eight years and has attended more than 50 fairs.
“My work is visual storytelling, grown out of the tradition of documentary-style street photography,” he said. “Shoot first, ask questions later. This approach leads to surprise, spontaneity, and openness – on my part and on that of the subject.”
Tomasko’s work has been displayed and is held in collections, including the permanent collection of the Akron Art Museum, which included his work in exhibitions in 2011 and 2016. In 2017, The Art Museum of Windsor, Ontario, featured his work on its walls, and this fall his series of photographs, “Loyal to the Lot,” will be the inaugural exhibition of the new Paul Brown Museum in the newly expanded MASSMU, the art museum in Massillon, Ohio.
An artist reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14 at Kendal’s Heiser Lounge. All are welcome.