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Gallery Space: Golden Age of Patti Smith

Patti Smith has accepted no shortage of roles in her four decades residing at the intersection of the alternative art and pop culture worlds – singer-songwriter, punk archetype, poet, visual artist, and author among them. So when 35 artists from around the world, including a handful from Columbus, exhibit their works inspired by Smith’s life and artistic achievements, they’ll have plenty of inspiration from which to draw. The media represented will also run the gamut, from illustrators to leather workers to glass artists to painters.

“This is your Golden Age / Life is an Adventure of our own Design,” curated by (614) contributor Vanessa Jean Speckman, will be on display at Wild Goose Creative all through July, with a gallery night reception on July 12 featuring music by several locals musicians, including Lydia Loveless. In anticipation, we’ve highlighted a selection of artists who will offer their takes on an American living legend.

Lisa Congdon
This artist and illustrator from Oakland has had her line drawings and patterns used on fabrics, kitchen linens, wallpaper, and bedding, and she has done work for Martha Stuart Living Magazine, Urban Outfitters, Trader Joe’s, and the Obama Campaign. She’s most regarded for her colorful and bright paintings and collages, which could provide a nice contrast to some of the darker, more serious material inspired by Smith’s anti-establishment leanings.

Jeff Fernengel
In the Columbus art scene, Fernengel (now of Colorado) has become well-known for his whimsical, colorful, kaleidoscopic, cartoonish, weird paintings. His art often resembles a menagerie ripped from the mind of a child and brought to life with a humorous eye for creating a vibrant scene in which the parts and characters have been scrambled. He’s the most likely to feature Patti Smith waltzing with a half-panda, half-walrus creature, but it’s also possible that she will be represented by a trapezoid giving birth to an oval.

Bob Ray Starker
Like many of those in the exhibition’s lineup, Starker is both a visual artist and a musician, for whom Smith is an ideal muse. He’s played saxophone with local acts like Movieola, Main Street Gospel, and Joseph Camerlengo over the years, as well as leading his own band Whoa Nellie! In the art world, he’s an illustrator for Nix Comics Quarterly, a rock-themed horror comic series inspired by some of Smith’s peers, as well as his own webcomic, the darkly humorous Pander Bear.

Katie Guagenti
This Columbus artist has been creating vintage and reclaimed jewelry for her Poor Sparrow fashion line since 2009, combining antique and modern elements to create accessories that appear classic without feeling old. Guagenti especially favors breathing life into jewelry known as “deadstock,” meaning it was available for purchase but never sold, so with a few delicate touches, it’s transformed into brand new.

Ornamental Conifer
A decidedly non-local member of the motley group of artists, London-based sign painter Ornamental Confier, aka Nicolai Sclater, will add his brand of striking, bold designs to the exhibition’s assorted works. Though he uses paint, his canvases are anything but traditional; he adorns motorcycles, hot rods, leather and denim jackets, windows, T-shirts, helmets, and of course, actual signs. His painting ranges from a ’50s greaser aesthetic to more Patti Smith-esque punk leanings, and the custom DIY styling seems an easy fit for a show inspired by the legendary rocker. •

“This is your Golden Age / Life is an Adventure of our own Design” will be on display from July 1-31 at Wild Goose Creative, 2491 Summit St. The gallery night on July 12 will feature music from Lydia Loveless, Todd May, Micah Schnabel, Shane Sweeney, and Sean Gardner.

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