Make A Marc Exhibition Part 2 - Art’s Powerful Impact

The Make A Marc exhibition may have only lasted for one day, but its powerful impact will be felt for a long time. And not just locally here in the ‘Burgh, but nationally and internationally as well. The goal of the exhibit was to bring awareness to the unjust incarceration of Pittsburgh area teacher, 61-year-old Marc Fogel and others. He was detained in Russia in 2021 for possession of a small amount of medical marijuana, prescribed by his doctor for chronic pain. He was sentenced to 14 years in a Russian prison. 

The event, organized by Pittsburgh artist, Tom Mosser, Mara Lorusso, and the Fogel family attorney, Sasha Phillips, was very well-attended by 1000+ people at the Brightspace Room at the Energy Innovation Center on Bedford Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh. There were two openings, one from noon-3pm and 5-9pm. Family members and friends of Marc were in attendance, as were politicians and local media. I also understand that the BBC and the Washington Post were also tweeting about it or covering it in some way.

Everything about this exhibition is absolutely stunning! It was the first time that I had participated in a show focusing on advocacy instead of a commercial exhibit. I was simply not prepared for the emotional effect it would have on me and indeed everyone I spoke to. To see original art in person, created by hand and heart, is to connect to the artist’s vision in a way that cannot be duplicated online.

The works were not for sale during the event, but from what I understand is that some may be available directly through the artists themselves. Every single piece of work was of the highest quality of craftsmanship and deep heartfelt expression. To have my painting included with such amazing talent in total support of such an important cause is humbling, an honor and reinforces my determination to be completely dedicated to my own life’s work. 

The Art and Artists

Most of the work presented was created by Pittsburgh area artists with some pieces by friends and family of Marc. 

The best word to describe the show is Wow!! You walk down this long corridor to the Brightspace Room at the Energy Innovation Center. There were TV screens along the way featuring photos and statements from all of the participating artists. Visitors were also greeted by several artworks, paintings, mixed media, photography of Marc, tables of information, and a place where one could write a letter of encouragement to Marc. 

Then you enter the Brightspace Room with hardwood floors, very high ceilings and huge windows with sweeping views of the city. Natural light floods the space. The first piece to greet you was an interactive large-scale portrait of Marc where everyone was encouraged to use a Sharpie and write his name. By the end of the night, the portrait, created by Tom Mosser and Mara Lorusso, was full. The space was filled by works by about 110 emerging and established artists: paintings, mixed media, sculpture, photography created specifically for this event. The styles ranged from realistic portraits, to graffiti/street art, to Expressionism, to images mixed with words, to political and social commentary, to images of hope and unity. The art was displayed on the artists’ own easels, giving visitors personal interaction and immediate connection with each and every piece of artwork.

The result was a cohesive collection of art, created by people united in a most worthy cause of bringing attention to the horrid situation of Russian detention of Americans to be used as political leverage. It is no small feat to bring together a large number of diverse people from different backgrounds, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, and political views. This exhibition represents what can be accomplished when people put aside their egos and their differences and unite for positive change. 

I had the privilege of speaking with Marc’s cousin while looking at some paintings. She spoke lovingly of their close-knit family, and their strength, resilience, and love for each other. She said that the exhibit means so much to them, to have so many selflessly come together to show their support for someone very few of us know. We shared some tears, and I was so moved that personally, I gained an immense respect and empathy for those affected by these absurd circumstances.

The disconnect when we watch TV news or read articles online was obliterated with viewing an exhibit in-person such as this. Human connection is what is needed to affect change for the better. There is a distinct possibility that this exhibition will be a model for similar events around the country. Art is an agent for change, and here it is for peaceful and actionable change. 

One of the main reasons I brought my family to Pittsburgh 16 years ago was the people. I have lived in several other places and travelled to others. This is the only city where I found people who actually cared about each other, even strangers. Maybe I simply was not around the right kind of people in those other places, or maybe it’s the influence of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. But others have expressed the same feeling about Pittsburghers. Despite our differences, problems, and disagreements, we come together when the need arises and support each other. That Pittsburgh spirit was on full display April 1st

An upcoming major Pittsburgh art event, Art All Night, is considering a Make A Marc section for their event. Dates, location TBA soon.

This exhibition is also an excellent example of why the arts are so important to our culture and day-to-day lives. A few of the artists are students, and I would like to encourage anyone considering a career in the arts to please do so. We need your voice! The arts are one of the most effective communication means that we have transcending languages, cultural differences, and geo-political boundaries. As such, it is absolutely imperative that the arts are given priority status and funding in schools from the pre-school level through to high school and beyond. 

Let’s bring Marc home!

Media Links for Make A Marc

Jill Farrar Photography-exhibition photos

Artist Studio Visit photos:

Olga Nevzorova exhibition photos:

Here is a 15-minute in-studio KDKA radio interview that Tom Mosser did the day before the event: 

Two WTAE TV pieces and articles:

Several on-line newspaper articles:

Cranberry Eagle:

Trib Live (Pittsburgh Tribune Review)

Local Pittsburgh:

Here is a walking tour of the Brightspace Room, Energy Innovation Center to scroll thru:

Instagram post by @tommosserdesign of podcast interview The 1028 Podcast “This is Art” podcast with hosts and Make a Marc creatives Corey Ochai and Malcolm Xavier:

 #talkthattalk @malcolmxavier7 @muve_78   #marcfogel #makeamarc

James Protin Podcast interview

List of Participating Artists (I apologize for any duplicates)

1.   Tom Mosser 

2.   Sasha Phillips 

3.   Mia Tarducci 

4.   Jesse Best 

5.   James Simon 

6.   Jill Farrar / photographer 

7.   Chris Boring 

8.   Jannick Wildberg 

9.   Olga Mendenhall-Blinova 

10.  Tim Kelly 

11.  Andrea Echavarria 

12. Yelena Lamm 

13.  Olena Abakumova 

14.  Amy Clark 

15.  Cameron Schmidt 

16.  Mellow Threads 

18.  Rick Claravel 

19.  Michel Demetria Tsouris 

20.  Corey Ochai 

21.  Duensing Anette 

22.  Josh Gates / photographer / is going to help us set up…shoot a bit 

23.  Dennis Keyes 

24.  Debra Platt 

25.  Marlon Gist 

26.  Gaby Ortiz 

27.  Maikhoi Donguyen 

28.   Michel Demetria Tsouris 

29.  Zac Rutter 

30.  Arlene Holtz 

31.  Cue Perry 

32.  Sophia Williams 

33.  Camo Nesbit 

34.  Cindy Engler 

35.  Josh Mitchel 

36.  Jesse Best 

37.  Kellie Snider 

38.  Muldoon John 

39.  Gregg Valley 

40.  Tim Engelhardt 

41.  Luanne Haak 

41.  Danny Overdorff 

42.  Mara Lorusso 

43.  Sam Pejack 

44.  Jaime Bird  

45.  Ebtehal Badawi 

46.  Stacie Lawrence 

47.  Bonnie Seifers 

48.  Melissa Baker 

49.  Robert Strovers 

50.  Susanna Weyandt 

51.  Dan Wintermantel 

52.  Monica Cervone McElwain 

53.  Lauren Lampe 

54.  Mara Ragos 

55. Carolyn Perrotti 

56. Bob Freyer 

57. Kathy Safchick 

58. Malcolm Xavier 

59. Cara Lavario 

60. Phil Seth 

61. Tim Engelhardt 

62.  Emily Armstrong 

63.  Jessica Geyer 

64.  Schmidt Cameron 

65.  Connie Merriman 

66.  Aimee Bungard 

67.  Elizabeth Santos 

68.  Larry Bridgett 

69.  Jeremy Raymer 

70.  Annette Johnson Jackson 

71.   Anna Bogh 

72.  Josh Snider 

73.  Donnie Day Pomeroy 

74.  Suzanne Werder 

75.  Grace Evans 

76.  Kim Breit 

77.  Gadi Leshem 


79.  Scott Gilday / SG Artworxs 

80.  Clare Stefanini 

81.  Kristen Miller 

82.  Karen Larson 

83.  LeDonne Seth 

84.  Marci Moon / Creating Time Instagram 

85.  Kim Denne 

86.  Latifah Shay 

87.  Svetlana Trofimova 

88.  Shauna Ferris   

89.  Josh Leffel 

90.  Svetlana Trofimova 

91.  Lynn Ratkovich  

92.  Art Vasbinder

93.  Kimberly Manno 

94.  Olga Nevzorova Olga 

95.  Masha Geht 

96.   Eric Falk 

97.  Wagner  Susan  

98.  Kristy Dubinsky 

99.  Leffel Josh 

100.  Marie Jesse 

101.  Moshe Sherman 

102.  The Rev. Daisher Rocket    

103.   Adam Panek 

104.  Oleksandra Pasichnyk 

105.  Cole Williams

106.  Sophia Williams 

107.  Joann Renner 

108.  Rev. Daisher Rocket 

109.  Randy Backes  

110.  Josh Mitchell 

Marc Art 1

Photo by Joann Renner

Marc's 94 Year Old Mom

Marc’s 94 yr. old mom 
Photo credit: Olga Nevzorova

Marc's mom signing his portrait

Marc’s mom signing his portrait by Tom Mosser and Mara Lorusso
Photo credit: Mara Lorusso

Another Marc Portrait

Photo credit: Seb Foltz

 Article Author: Joann Renner

Post a Comment