‘Pen to the President’ political Cartoon exhibit coming to CMI

Written By Matt Petras, Co-News Editor

There will be an opening party with cartooning workshops to accompany the first day of a gallery of political cartoons from the Toonseum at the Center for Media Innovation (CMI).

“It’s a neat display that the Toonseum has put together,” Andrew Conte, Director of the CMI, said.

The cartoons, on display from Oct. 20 through Nov. 18, will be provided by the Toonseum in Downtown Pittsburgh, and will be taken from the “Slinging Satire: Political Cartoons and the First Amendment” exhibit that was previously at the Toonseum last year. There will also be new cartoons unique to the CMI exhibit, according to Conte. The party will take place on the opening day from 4-7 p.m.

The only publicized information about the event’s guests contained misinformation.

A page on the university’s website detailing fall events at the CMI included Rob Rogers, the Toonseum board president and political cartoonist at the Post-Gazette, and Randy Bish, a syndicated political cartoonist retired from the Trib, as the two guests at the event. The two were slated to “take part in an afternoon workshop/panel discussion.”

Bish declined the university’s offer when he was first asked in a private Facebook exchange with Chelsea Pompeani, the CMI’s media innovation specialist. Additionally, none of his work will be present at the exhibit, according to Pompeani. On Saturday, Rogers said via phone interview that he was asked to attend the event through a peer at the Toonseum, but did not confirm whether or not he would attend.

Rogers confirmed to the Globe that he will attend the event after all.

“I will do a short PowerPoint on the exhibit and show some of my campaign cartoons as well as do a tour, whatever they need,” Rogers said in an email sent on Monday.

Conte said in an interview that he wrote that Bish and Rogers were attending on the website. He did this, knowing he did not have confirmation from either of them, because he “hoped they would attend.”

“It didn’t work out,” Conte said. “I’m sorry that [Bish] is not going to be here.”

Conte pointed out that the event was always advertised as free.

“If we were selling tickets on the basis of Randy Bish being there, that would be one thing,” Conte said.

Conte also pointed out that all of the other guests for CMI events have showed up as promised.

Throughout the course of conducting interviews, the portion of the web page advertising Bish’s appearance has been removed.

Conte said he doesn’t know what to expect in terms of attendance for the event.

“You can invite people and put the word out there, but you never know how it’s going to go,” Conte said.

There was another exhibit of work on display at the CMI, the Inaugural Juried Exhibit, featuring photography from Point Park students and more focused on freedom of speech. No more than a few students at a time attended the Friday event, which featured no guests.

The CMI has hosted 17 events, which have been attended by over 1,500 people total, according to Conte. Whenever Sarah Koenig attended, the event was filled to capacity after 250 people registered. This was one of two events that reached the registration limit, according to Conte.

Pahl Hluchan is described as co-host of the opening event, a title that surprised him.

“I’ve been involved with putting together the relationship between the Toonseum and Point Park for quite some time, and I have been working on promoting the exhibition,” Hluchan said.

On display on the televisions at the CMI is a video advertisement animated Hluchan created, adding motion to some of the cartoons on display.

Hluchan and Pompeani both said that Jonathan Trueblood, a Point Park animation professor, will draw live at the event for students to observe. John Kelly, executive director of the Toonseum, will also be at the event, according to Pompeani.

There will be easels around the space for students to draw, as well as the political cartoons displayed around the event.

“It’s going to be a casual event,” Pompeani said.

Rogers said he watched the second presidential debate with a notebook in hand and laughed while recalling his cartooning this election cycle.

“It’s funny,” Rogers said. “Because people come up to me every day now and say, ‘you must be having a great time.’”