Downtown-Go-Around Dad rediscovers love of art through kids

First Posted: 6/10/2014

Every day before his kids leave for school, Christopher J. Hughes leaves a piece of napkin art filled with cartoon characters in their lunch.

What began as a small, fatherly gesture evolved into something much bigger for the former Abington Journal reporter.

The Scranton resident will debut a series of recently-created pop culture parodies in a joint exhibit with painter Judy Rhue at Sole to Soul, 535 S. State St., Friday evening as part of the Clarks Summit Downtown-Go-Around. The exhibit will run throughout the month of June.

“Exhibiting in the Abingtons will be a real pleasure,” Hughes said.

A variety of family-friendly arts-related exhibits, artists and vendors are planned to celebrate “Father’s Day” at the June Downtown-Go-Around. The monthly ABPA (Abington Business & Professional Association) sponsored family-friendly arts event is offered to the community on the second Friday of each month.

Hughes served as a reporter at the Journal from August 2005 to July 2008 and as editor from July to August 2013. Over the course of his career with The Times Leader and its affiliated papers, he served as the Leader’s online editor; founding editor of its Sunday publication in Scranton, Go Lackawanna; interim editor of the Weekender, an alternative arts publication; and as a copy editor and features reporter for The Leader. He is currently the manager of web content and news media at Lackawanna College, his alma mater.

“I’m glad to share another side of myself with residents from that area who may remember me,” he said. “I’m thankful to Dorothy O’Connor and everyone at Sole to Soul for the chance.”

“I was thrilled when Chris was available to show for our June DGA (Downtown-Go-Around),” O’Connor said. “The theme is ‘Dads’ and Chris is a great dad; he does napkin art in his kids’ lunch every day. I am delighted to have Chris back in the Abingtons. It was bittersweet to have him come in as editor of the Journal and then leave so quickly but any time spent with Chris is time well spent.”

Hughes’ current work evolved from those napkin drawings, which brought to mind some of his favorite shows as a kid and resulted in the creation of four pieces inspired by the 1990s Nickelodeon program, “The Adventures of Pete and Pete.” The exhibit was shown at the former New Visions Studio and Gallery in Scranton June 2013.

“Drawing a familiar cartoon character for their lunches allowed me to enjoy art again and, in a way, it sparked a new creative note in me that I had lost for a long time,” Hughes said.

Almost all of Hughes’ work begins with pencil sketches that are then scanned and digitally modified.

“(Digital art) is more forgiving in a lot of ways that traditional methods just aren’t for me,” he said. “The flexibility makes it less daunting to make mistakes when trying new things. I’m constantly inspired to mix up characters and settings in new ways.”

Working with familiar subjects is difficult because “I want to be sensitive to the source materials and their original creators,” Hughes said via email.

“Sometimes, if a reference is too close, I’ll scrap an idea completely so that I don’t infringe on anyone else’s rights. It’s a tightrope walk, but it’s my niche right now.”

Hughes believes his wife, Lyndsey, is “a far better artist who, thankfully, supports his geek-driven artistic efforts.”

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