5 Years: Art

After the economic downturn of 2008-09, professional artists found themselves with fewer sales and escalating rent, even in some of the long-held, low-cost bastions of art…and they adapted, emerging from the recession stronger. We asked three from different backgrounds and disciplines to take the temperature of the art scene in the Capital City (as well as offer a self-portrait):

S.E. Steele
What I love about Columbus is its accessibility, and the quality of talent we have here. I have seen a lot of artists move to bigger cities and, later, move right back here because of the possibilities here in Columbus. If you are an art collector here, let’s not kid ourselves: you are spoiled rotten in a fabulous way! The art is accessible, affordable, and high-quality.

As an artist you have to branch out and grow with the city. Locals are starting to become more and more art savvy, and proud to buy local. This is great for sales, and it’s not a happy accident. Many arts groups and businesses have collaborated with local artists connecting them to the community within the last 10 years, now branching out past the Short North. Most can agree that aside from a few galleries (Roy G Biv and The Pizzuti Collection are among my personal favorites), that Gallery Hop is now Shop Hop with valet parking (if you are lucky).

Now, I see areas like Downtown East near Parsons, The Discovery District, and Franklinton (specifically at 400 W Rich) as the nexus of current art scene. Local artists are starting to step up and become curators by creating their own exhibitions in these areas, and are going to be the new leaders in the arts scene. In general, artists collaborating with city planners have much more of a hand now in locating the next hot spot.

As an artist, I have had studios at Junctionview in the past, and at 400 W Rich. Working in those spaces to create art helped me to connect to other artists, which is important in building connections and collaborations. I loved the sound of artists working; somehow it made me produce more work. Sometimes I miss that atmosphere. Currently, I own a live/work space downtown at Rich Street Lofts. I knew if I want to be in a permanent location it needs to be purchased. Right now, you see a lot of artists purchasing homes and setting up studios in up-and-coming areas, so as to own places that will become the new German Village or Short North, and so to not spend time worrying over rising rental costs, and worrying instead about producing great art.

Be sure to check out Steele’s show, “The Simulacra Fayum Chronicles,” hung at Wild Goose Creative (2491 Summit St.) April 3 – 30, with an opening on Sunday, April 6 at 7 p.m., and check out more of her work at www.stephanieesteele.com

Lisa McLymont

Creativity, like time, is subjective and based on emotion, and memory. In the last five years of the Columbus art scene, we’ve witnessed

Junctionview end its glorious time in Grandview.

Wonderland, as a proposed destination, become an exciting future-y concept.

The passing of the art crown from the Short North to Franklinton

Non-profit arts organizations like OAL struggle, and survive (again!)

Artists continuing to expand their craft, despite a slowing of sales. We are a persevering group that will always find ways to express. We can’t help it!

BIG things are happening, though it’s taken lots of innovation to get here. Past art experiments like Acme Art Company, Buggyworks, BLD, Milo, Studio16, and more have influenced many of the concepts we have today.

Wanting to be a part of the birth of a new chapter in Columbus, I chose to rent my first solo studio at 400 W Rich in 2011. I had no idea how I would use such a space for my art-making, but I knew I needed to be in a space where I could connect to the community. Much like Junctionview, Franklinton is a place for many artists to learn, share, and thrive. Though I was not able to connect with my art-making space at 400 W Rich, I learned a lot about what I want to do, and watched many beautiful sunsets from my windows…

Also thriving is Tacocat, in Grandview. A dozen Junctionview artists built their dream space together, thoughtfully including a gallery and a woodshop. The group meets on a regular basis over dinner to plan events that help to blend our creative community with many others outside of the 614. Tacocat is my current creative home base, and I am thankful for my place in it.

So, what’s next, Columbus?

With so much creative curiosity here in Columbus, I predict no slowing down. The arts will always be a method of translating our world, and those who claim they cannot do this will continue to find ways to nurture their voracious appetites for the arts.

I envision individuals and organizations harnessing their collective power in healthy collaborations. Like-minded creatives will expand their craft and our networks will continue to grow. Three networks that are supportive to many artists are The Art and Artists Of (AAAO), Creative Arts of Women (CAW!), and The Creative Women of Color (CWoC). If you are a creative, there is a niche for you!

Join McClymont at Tacocat on April 6 between 6-9 p.m. to view works by some members of a group she helps administrate, The Art and Artists Of Ohio!

She will also have new works on display in a solo show at the Bexley Library (2411 E Main St.) from June through July. Find her on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/theartandartistsof, or check out her website,www.lisamclymont.com.

Pat Durkin
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be artists. You need a sense of humor and a thick skin to survive and thrive as an artist in Central Ohio’s visual art scene.

But…it is worth it. The last five years have been difficult, yet they have provided an excellent opportunity for reinvention, something at the very heart and soul of the artist. As Junctionview lived out its last days, Franklinton began to blossom. The Short North became a Mecca for upscale restaurants with fewer galleries, but Bexley and Grandview picked up the gallery slack. Many of the pretenders move on. And, always, Columbus’s better talent rises to the top! That’s the way it’s always going to be.

As an example, I’ve been a member of the Milo Arts community for over 25 years. I was the first artist to rent a studio in this beautiful, repurposed old school building. Being Columbus’s only live-work-studio option, it has battled through these difficult economic times, receiving several setbacks and emerging stronger than ever.

Many of Central Ohio’s most talented artists have used and rented studios in our building. Currently, Carol Stewart, a rising star with the Hammond Harkins Gallery (and in my opinion this city’s most gifted painter), has her studio here, as does the incredibly talented photographer, Will Shively.

Four years ago the recession killed my custom rug business, and I was forced to come up with a Plan B. As a working artist, I’d been approached many times to volunteer and create an art activity to share with others. Eventually, inspiration hit, and I came up with Matisse-a Pizza, based on the legendary Henri Matisse’s iconic paper cut-outs. An area art collector, a gallery owner, a former CMA employee and several artist friends insisted that it was a great project and needed to see the light of day and lined up to support it…and that’s how the magic happens. You can bet it happens here in Cbus every single day.

And I’m not alone. The city’s great venues, the Riffe Gallery, the Cultural Arts Center, the Ohio Art League, the Ohio Craft Museum, and the multitude of fine galleries all provide exposure for Columbus’s multi-talented artists, and all are great assets. So is the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and its dynamic new president and Art Czar, Tom Katzenmeyer, lending support through artists’ grants and other programs, leading our Central Ohio visual art community into a brighter future.

It’s a great time to be an artist; after a relatively dim half-decade, the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter than ever. Columbus has got it goin’ on.

Durkin’s amazing rugs were featured in our first issue; later, we covered the birth of his art-for-everyone nonprofit Matisse-a-Pizza in September 2012’s story, “Art for Autism’s Sake.” We wish him much luck and hear he is in the final phases of making his dream a reality. Check him out on Facebook, or atwww.patrickleedurkin.com

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