October 26, 2018 - April 30, 2019
Loyal to the Lot has been Stephen Tomasko’s ongoing project since 2012, set within the huge Cleveland Municipal Parking Lot, illustrating with visual stories the Cleveland Browns’ fans who gather there.
The “Muni Lot” is home to a massive tailgating party starting at 7:00 a.m. before every Browns home game. A few things set it apart from other well-publicized tailgating events around the country. With just three winning seasons since 1990, including an 0-16 season in 2017, the team’s stadium was dubbed by local comedian, Mike Polk, the “Factory of Sadness,” a nickname that quickly gained social media traction. The fans however, continue to come, abiding by a life-long commitment to their team even though generations have watched as others eventually triumph. A popular t-shirt reads “Just One Before I Die.”
And yet, despite it all, perhaps even to spite it all, the party rolls on. It really is a most remarkable phenomenon — the generosity, enthusiasm and understanding that crosses many cultural and social lines in The Lot. People who might clash in the world at large fling themselves into this party together. Across racial and ethnic lines, from the wealthy to those struggling with homelessness, young and old, east-siders and west-siders — all assemble under one banner for these five or so hours, eight times a year. Together, we improbably celebrate with joy in the face of it all. “Here we go, Brownies. Here we go!”
Stephen Tomasko was born in Parma, Ohio, in 1966. For more than thirty years, he has made drawings, paintings, and uncompromising straight photographs of the American life and landscape. His work has been displayed and is held in collections throughout the world, including the permanent collection of the Akron Art Museum. In 2017, Tomasko’s artwork was featured in The Art Gallery of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario. The same year, he was part of a large two-person show at the FAVA gallery in Oberlin, Ohio, was awarded an Akron Soul Train Fellowship and gallery show, and was the subject of a solo show at his alma mater Bowling Green State University’s Little Gallery. In 2018, Tomasko exhibited a solo show at the Kendal Gallery in Oberlin, Ohio, and was featured in the Akron Curated Storefront series as a part of the FRONT Art Triennial. Stephen is the recipient of an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, and a monograph of his work, titled Delira and Excira, is published by the Shanti Arts Press. He holds a BA in art history and philosophy from Bowling Green State University and an MFA from the University of Delaware.