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Art exhibit to feature former homeless cartoonist

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Posted at 5:42 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 19:33:02-04

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — A new art exhibit set to be unveiled this weekend highlights what's possible even when life deals you a bad hand.

At Chagrin Arts, located on Main Street in Chagrin Falls, Eugene Sopher works with Rocky Encalada to set up his cartoons, which will be on display for several weeks beginning on Sunday.

“The only thing I know how to do to reach the world is my drawings,” Sopher saod. “My cartoons are a reflection on life. You might look at yourself and see you in that cartoon.


News 5 Photojournalist gets a high-angle shot while Eugene draws at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in 2019

News 5 profiled Sopher back in 2019 when he was homeless and trying to publish his cartoons which packed a punch, warning both parents and their kids about meeting strangers online, staying away from abandoned buildings, and warning against the dangers of gang life.

RELATED: Homeless man creates coloring book pages with lessons he says children and adults need to hear

“I keep my cartoons in black and white so you can get a chance to put color to it,” he said at the time.

Since then, Sopher told News 5 that his desperation turned to inspiration after a call with Chagrin Arts ultimately led to his first-ever exhibition.

“I’ve been drawing my whole life from in the penitentiary to on the street, to the classroom, birthday parties, whatever,” he explained.

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"The Bear That Cares" highlights a teddy bear placed on a fence after an inner city child is killed, which Sopher said comes to life and tries to send the right message to the community to avoid further violence.

“He’s never done the gallery, he’s never done a reception and for us to have his body of work on our walls in Chagrin Falls for the first time is pretty exciting,” executive director Karen Prasser said.

A 47-year-old whose struggles read like a modern tragedy, now tackling problems such as gun violence, slavery, and growing old through cartoons with a message.

“I want people to see somebody that doesn't look like them, and give them a chance,” Sopher said.

The exhibit at Chagrin Arts will be formally unveiled this Sunday, Juneteenth, at 2 p.m. and is slated to be on display through July 8.