The Magic of DayGlo

The Gallery at Waterloo Arts has been dark since March, when it closed down due to the pandemic, right before opening the annual DayGlo exhibit. In April there was a virtual preview of the show on Zoom and on September 4th, Waterloo Arts is excited to open the doors and let the public in to view the artwork in person. Those who are familiar with the event will remember the opening reception as a crowded and lively affair and not one of social distancing. While we love the energy of that celebration, we obviously cannot do it this year so instead we are providing a safe way for everyone to experience the Magic of DayGlo. As always, the gallery will be lit with black light and the artwork will be glowing. It is a unique experience that is delightful for all ages so bring the whole family.

This year’s DayGlo exhibit honors the origin of the fluorescent paint company with a theme of Magic. It all started with a near fatal accident in the summer of 1933 when Robert Switzer,

a pre-med student, fell at his summer job at H. J. Heinz Company in Berkeley

California. With a fractured skull and severed optic nerve, it was necessary for Rob

to convalesce in darkness for several months, where he was kept company by his

younger brother Joseph, an amateur magician. Joe was working on a theatrical trick

and needed something fluorescing to pull it off. The boys searched through the

compounds in the family’s pharmacy business and found naturally fluorescing

compounds they then mixed with shellac to make the first fluorescent paint. The

trick was a hit and the industrious boys opened a business the following year -

selling paint to the public.

Looking for other applications, the Switzer brothers worked with San Francisco

artist Delmar Gray to develop store displays and advertising, which caught the

interest of Warner Bros Pictures and led to a meeting with Continental Lithograph,

their advertising subsidiary in Cleveland. To demonstrate the application, the

Switzers and Delmar Gray set up a fluorescent movie poster display in the lobby of

Cleveland’s Hippodrome Theater - the largest movie house in the country seating

4000 people. Continental was sold and they soon went into business together. With

continued innovation the Switzer developed products for use in WWII, machine flaw

detection substance, and then commercial packaging. In 1946, they founded Switzer

Bros. (now DayGlo Color Corp) and later sold the company in 1985 using a portion

of the proceeds to create the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, providing

research fellowships to environmentalists.

To reserve free tickets for this year’s event, visit The gallery will be open to ten visitors at a time and if you don’t have a ticket, you can come in as space allows. On the opening night, viewings are scheduled every 15 minutes and for the rest of the month they are 20 minutes each. Masks will be required in the gallery and while waiting in line and we ask that you keep 6 feet from others not in your household. It has been difficult not to see friends and family as often as we would like to but scheduling a visit with a group you haven’t seen in a while could be a good way to spend some time together. On September 4th, there will also be exhibits at Photocentric Gallery, Praxis Fiber Workshop and Framed Gallery so you can enjoy a full evening of art out in the community. The Magic Of DayGlo will be in the gallery September 4 - 26, with viewing times on Thursdays & Fridays from 5-7 pm and Saturdays 12-4 pm.

Waterloo Arts Gallery

15605 Waterloo Rd

Cleveland, OH 44110


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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 4:17 PM, 09.03.2020