Akron Arts Expo 2016: Celebrating local talent for 37 years


by Melanie Anderson

On July 23 and 24, Akronites will have the opportunity to discover local talent at the Akron Arts Expo. Located in Hardesty Park, the event will provide a range of activities such as the opportunity to sample food from local restaurants and food trucks, wine tasting and a silent auction. But let’s not forget the roughly 160 artists from the Akron area who will be showcasing their work all weekend.

The Akron Arts Expo has been celebrating local talent for 37 years now, and this year it will feature a range of long-established artists as well as new faces in the local art scene. Attendees can expect to enjoy a wide variety of artwork, from paintings to stained glass artwork, photography, and sculpture.

Here’s a sneak peek at just some of the artists who will be there.


Photo courtesy of Dara Harper
Photo courtesy of Dara Harper

Dara Harper

Inspired by her artistic parents, Dara Harper, a teacher at Emmanuel Christian Academy and mother of five, still finds time to express her heart through art. Dara’s paintings are bold, colorful and expressive. She creates her own block prints to layer her work, and often uses text (generally Bible verses or thoughts from her art journal) as an additional layer to her paintings. Dara’s mother, Diane L. Johnson, is also an artist, and mother and daughter have partnered together to found Art Only Boutique, an outlet through which they can share their work with the community. Together, their paintings have also been showcased at the Weathervane Playhouse Gallery, Artsy Mart, Highland Square Art festivals and more. Dara primarily paints on canvas, but at the Expo you can expect to see some of her work translated into clothing and jewelry as well.


Photo courtesy of Diane L. Johnson

Diane L. Johnson

Diane Johnson comes from a family of artists and has continued the tradition in her own vibrant and expressive work. Her work, most of which is expressed through acrylics on canvas, is a blend of abstract and figurative art, distinguishable by bold, bright hues and random layered patterns in the backgrounds. Diane finds inspiration in observing and interpreting the mundane things in life, turning them into colorful expressions of art through her own imagination and skill.  She has displayed her work alongside her daughter Dara Harper at many local events, and is currently featured at the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation exhibit “Celebrating Creativity,” an exhibit which features Akron Art Prize entries of 2015.


Photo courtesy of Bob Pozarski

Bob Pozarski

Bob Pozarski sees the world through light and color. He creates blown glass and stained glass art through a process which includes fusing and blowing and then beveling the glass into lens and prism shapes to acquire striking optical effects.  His work ranges from stained glass windows to exquisite vases and other decorative art. Bob has been making glass in Akron for 40 years, and has been featured at every Akron Arts Expo since its second year. This year, he will be bringing out some older work— glasswork in Tiffany style, Art Nouveau, and Victorian styles— for a retro show reflecting his inspiring artwork over the years.



Photo courtesy of Brandon Spannbauer

Brandon Spannbauer

After graduating with a degree in biological sciences, Brandon Spannbauer bought himself his first DSLR camera, the Nikon d40. Since then, he has found a way to express himself not only through simple photography, but also through unleashing the drama of his photos by creatively intensifying them with photo editing software. He seeks to find a balance in enhancing the image digitally while also allowing restraint to keep the viewer grounded in reality. Brandon believes that “each image should tell a story or evoke an emotion in your viewer to be powerful and memorable,” and he follows this mission in capturing and enhancing the beauty of the Akron area through the photographic lens.


Photo courtesy of Kristina L. Malcolm

Kristina L. Malcolm

For Kristina Malcolm, metalsmithing is both a profession and a driving passion. Kristina uses historical, hand-building techniques to create personal and exquisite works, whether it is exquisitely unique sterling silver jewelry or a large-scale commissioned community sculpture in Green. She looks for the quiet and beautiful everyday moments in nature that bring her peace and works to translate that feeling into her art and to encourage people to seek beauty in the world. Besides creating custom-made work, she also occasionally writes and lectures on her art, giving private lessons and sometimes teaching part-time at Folk Hall at the University of Akron. To Kristina, art “is defined by the passion and love you put into something.”


Melanie is an aspiring writer and an English major for life. Having only lived in the Akron area for two years, she is excited to write for The Devil Strip and discover all that Akron has to offer.


(Featured photo courtesy of Brandon Spannbauer)