UA gallery honoring John Puglia, Akron artist and alumnus

Works by John Puglia.

Works by John Puglia.

The life and creative work of Akron artist John Puglia is being celebrated with an exhibit at The University of Akron’s Emily Davis Gallery through Sept. 12. “Never Not Working: The Art and Influence of John Puglia” features both his work and that of his peers.

Puglia, who earned a B.A. in Mass Media – Communication at UA in 1988, was well known in the region for his own art and his collaborations with other artists through the magazines, gallery spaces and often elaborate events that he created. In the last year of his life before dying of cancer at age 48 in 2013, Puglia was particularly prolific, with two gallery shows of new work in Akron.

Career retrospective

“Never Not Working” occupies both floors of the Davis gallery. The main floor features a career retrospective of Puglia’s art, from his work as a UA student to the ambitious paintings and collages he created near the end of his life, focusing on Akron’s factory culture and Akron-born heavyweight boxing champion Michael Dokes.

Also featured are copies of M-80, a publication Puglia launched and published from the 1990s through the early years of this decade. The magazine featured images and writing by new and established local artists as well as nationally prominent artists, including Mark Mothersbaugh, Gary Baseman, Cindy Greene and Dick Tappan.

The upper floor is dedicated to works by artists influenced and supported by Puglia, who spent much of his energy generating new ways to showcase the work of his peers. Among those in the exhibit are Andrew Borowiec, Michael Loderstedt and Jay Croft. In addition, each of Puglia’s sons, Sam and Jonathan, have a space for their own work.

‘Never not working’

Throughout his adult life, Puglia balanced his creative ambitions with a successful professional career. He worked 19 years at Roadway Express (later YRC), rising to the position of director of corporate communications. His many accomplishments include creation of a Roadway-sponsored traveling Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and launching one of the first successful corporate websites. His Roadway site is now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum. From 2009 until his death, Puglia was creative director for WhiteSpace Creative in Akron.

Puglia was founder of the Millworks Galleries, which opened in 1990 in formerly abandoned BFGoodrich factory space. His work, which often focused on Akron themes, was exhibited at Millworks, the We Gallery, Square Records and other venues.

The Emily Davis Gallery is located in UA’s Folk Hall, 150 East Exchange St. The exhibition and parking are free. In general, the exhibition can be seen Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to call 330-972-6030 to confirm availability.

Media contact: Cyndee Snider, 330-972-5196 or