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It’s okay to look directly at the eclipse-related art in Kent

Eclipse-themed art in Kent, Ohio
Heather Malarcik
Main Street Kent
April Bleakney’s “Planetary" is one of five eclipse-themed art pieces on view now through June in Downtown Kent. Specially printed on what is essentially a foil-like, high-resolution sticker, the pieces are part of the city's week-long celebration of the total solar eclipse on April 8.

By now, most people know not to look at the total solar eclipse on April 8 without protective eyewear. Yet, there's something else to see in Downtown Kent: Five new eclipse-themed public art works have been installed along Water Street.

April Bleakney’s “Planetary,” Danny Likar’s “River Eclipse,” Mike Hovancsek’s “Approaching Totality,” Kristen Mimms Scavnicky’s “An Ichi Shadowscape” and Melissa English Campbell’s “Woven printed fabric inspired by the eclipse photography of Rick Fienberg” are on display through June.

Entries were reviewed over the winter, with the final pieces selected in March, said Main Street Kent Executive Director Heather Malarcik.

"We put a call out to artists asking for people of all generations, abilities and ages to submit their interpretation of a solar eclipse," she said.

Most of the pieces were created digitally and then printed on essentially a foil-like, high-resolution sticker.

Campbell’s piece drew on her textile background.

“She used a photo from an artist… that did some work for NASA,” Malarcik said. “She actually wove the piece and then had it photographed and digitally reproduced.”

Malarcik described seeing the 4-by-6 foot pieces as “dramatic.” Each one is accompanied by an artist statement. She said the physical prints, done by Ohio-based AlumniGraphics, are not designed to survive removal from brick buildings. Replacing them this summer is part of the ongoing change in Downtown Kent.

“I think it's really in the interest of newness and letting more people have an opportunity to display their work,” she said. “If they're able to be removed in one piece, by all means, I would think that the artists would get first dibs on them. I don't know for sure that they would survive the ‘unsticking.’”

Kent is one of dozens of Northeast Ohio cities hosting events related to the eclipse. Malarcik said they’re holding everything from a 5K run to a trivia night in the week leading up to April 8.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.