Akron artists are dealing up another deck of cards

Individual Akron-centric playing cards handing on a shelf
Last year's Akron-centric playing cards were such a hit that they inspired a similar deck for Cleveland artists -- and a second series of Akron cards. [ArtxLove]

During the pandemic, 54 artists contributed to a deck of playing cards with Akron-themed artwork. Now, a second batch is being prepared.

Last year’s deck was a fundraiser for local artists and businesses. Organizer Mac Love expected to sell just 1,000 decks to cover his costs. He's now sold 6,000 decks -- and there’s more available this holiday season.

The cards feature Akron scenes by Akron painters and photographers – as well as dancers and musicians in-performance.

“It can be that, it can be someone posing in front of a venue, it could be someone in-performance. The Highland Theater is like that. And BLU Jazz is a portrait photograph of two local artists and a poet standing inside.

“We’ve also had artists who just took a large painting of theirs, and stood in front of a beloved venue.”

Love's wife, Allyse, is co-coordinating the "Akron on Deck II" project. She says that despite being a lifelong Akronite, she's learning a lot about her city from the cards.

“I am a sucker for diner breakfasts. And the picture that was submitted for Fred’s Diner is a cook holding a giant platter of bacon, and I was like ‘why have we never eaten here?’ And that one made it into the deck – and I had never been there before.”

Through April 1, 2022, the Loves and their ArtxLove group are accepting submissions for the second deck, to be released next holiday season alongside the first. Both versions assign each suit to a quadrant of the city (north, south, east, and west). Artists get a 40 percent royalty on the decks -- though the Loves say many of them elect to send their proceeds directly to charity.

A deck for Cleveland, too

The Akron cards also inspired the Cleveland-based “CAN Journal” to create a limited-run card game last year according to Michael Gill, executive director and editor of the journal.

“Our Board had heard about it, and was looking for a way to create a local, art-centric, collective activity that people could be part of -- from their homes -- during the COVID lockdown. The board collectively developed a list of artists, one for each card, reflecting the diversity of Cleveland.

"There was a game sheet listing each suit and denomination for the cards, and another listing the names of all the artists. The game was to match them. The players with the most matches won prizes. We sold this game like a benefit: it came in a package with a bottle of wine and some chocolates. People had a set period of time to turn in their answers, and we announced winners at our winter launch event, almost exactly one year ago."

Although the decks were sent out as part of the game last year, they will be on-sale at the 78th Street Studios in Cleveland this holiday season, starting November 26-27.

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