CANTON New works by five of the most imaginative artists of Stark County are collected in an exhibition called "Storytellers" that will open Friday at Cyrus Custom Framing & Art Gallery at 7645 Cleveland Ave. NW.

Featured are paintings, drawings and mixed-media works by Joseph Carl Close, Steve Ehret, Kat Francis, David McDowell and Erin Mulligan, who also curated the show. 

"'Storytellers' is about the narrative inside a piece of art. Without the story, why would we care to look?" Mulligan said. "There are millions of worlds to explore within any well-executed piece of artwork, and this is what we tried to create.

"All of the pieces created for the show have a story for you to unravel and characters to get acquainted with. They may be separate stories or one big story or both, it is really up to you!"

There will be an opening reception for the artists at the gallery from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday. Refreshments will be served. 

The show will remain on view through March 11. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (closed the first Saturday of the month).

The work in "Storytellers" is for sale.

"Snail Cats" by Erin Mulligan: "Snail Cats were inspired when a friend of mine sent me an image of an old illuminated manuscript which had cats in snail shells within the margins. I had to make some! The rare snail cat is a cave-dwelling creature, who, despite its creepy appearance, is surprisingly affectionate and tame. This painting is done in a new technique which I have been experimenting with, using watercolor first and glazing over that with oils."

"Shadow People" by Steve Ehret: "I had plans to just loosen up and mess around with this painting. It soon developed into something more. It has to do with doubts, worries and fear. Past and present. Which is why I use so many layers. To me they help show a change in time, space or seasons. No matter how far along we get most people continue to worry or have some sort of burden to deal with daily. Rather physical or mental. It's about figuring out how to move past those road blocks. Find a way to use those struggles in a positive way.“

"Traveler 2" by Joseph Carl Close: "Horse jaw bones and piano keys, pieces and parts from a Burning Man, shoe forms with Art Deco ballast end cap, strings and metal, things that linger and call over the years to be included into a new thing..."

"Adventure Land" by Kat Francis: "My work for this show is about the stories my son Emery and I make up at bedtime. 'Adventure Land' is inspired by one of our tales of imagination and courage. Emery is my greatest inspiration and the most wonderful storyteller I know.”

"Odin" by David McDowell: "This is an illustration for a book which will be published by the Troll Hole, a troll museum in Alliance, Ohio. Trolls come from Norse Mythology. They started as giants that fought with the gods and were banished to the darkness — similar to the titans and gods of Greek myth. Odin is the Norse equivalent of Zeus, and always has his pet wolves and ravens with him. I used myself as the model for this piece, since i have a big beard. Shooting reference pictures while wearing a smoking jacket and fireman’s helmet and carrying a copper pipe made for a very amusing day at the studio!"