Art show shows the essence of Marc Fogel, former Butler man jailed in Russia
Although he has been detained in a Russian prison since August, 2021, friends and family of Marc Fogel felt his presence in Pittsburgh Saturday, April 1.
Tom Mosser, a Pittsburgh-based artist, was inspired to host an art show about Fogel when he read about his situation and entrapment in Russia. Fogel, a 1980 Butler Senior High School graduate, was detained in Russia at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport in August, 2021 with slightly more than a half-ounce of medical marijuana. After a trial, he was sentenced to 14 years in a Russian prison, where he reamains.
Anne Fogel, Marc Fogel’s sister, said the show was well-attended, and raised a lot of awareness about her brother’s situation thanks to the numerous depictions of his likeness through paintings and other pieces.
She also said the variety of artists, who not only ranged in age and experience, but came from several cultural backgrounds including eastern European roots, helped create a beautiful experience.
“There was a lot of energy and a lot of concern and well wishes,” Anne Fogel said. “It had a beautiful, multicultural feel to it for sure.”
The event called on local artists to create artwork about Fogel that was on display in the Brightspace Room at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. Mosser said the idea of bringing multiple artists together to depict the same subject also interested him. He teamed up with the Fogels’ lawyer, Sasha Phillips, who also is an artist, to put the show together to raise awareness about Marc.
“I was just compelled to do it,” Mosser said prior to the show. “There is a lot of great talent in the area, and I thought let’s gather some people and have them create in whatever form something related to his situation and have an event and do something about this.”
Anne Fogel and Mosser spent most of Friday setting up the show. She said nearly 100 artists responded to Mosser’s call, and she was shocked at how their works depicted her brother and the family’s struggle for his freedom.
“They really did and certainly the spirit of freedom and being wrongly accused and the turmoil of the world,” Fogel said of capturing her brother’s essence. “There are paintings, sculptures, and there are lots of portraits, but there are also just social commentaries on Russia and its role in the world now.”
Fogel also said her family managed to get word to Marc that the show was taking place.
“He does know that it's happening, and he is shocked,” Anne Fogel said. “He’s not really completely comprehending it.”
Anne Fogel said there will be a rally for Marc on July 8 in front of the White House, where she and other supporters will bring artwork from the show. She said raising awareness is her family’s number one concern, because the more people who know “the better chance he has.”
“We're really trying to create our own spotlight now, and hoping the artwork does that and the rally does that,” Anne Fogel said. “We just want to get the word out.”