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South High Double Feature

Amid the modern movie houses remains a monument to local motion picture history — the South Drive-In. Central Ohio was once home to 17 drive-in theaters. But with the closings of the Kingman and 40 East a decade ago, the South High has the distinction of being the last drive-in theater in Columbus. But this [...]
J.R. McMillan



Amid the modern movie houses remains a monument to local motion picture history — the South Drive-In.

Central Ohio was once home to 17 drive-in theaters. But with the closings of the Kingman and 40 East a decade ago, the South High has the distinction of being the last drive-in theater in Columbus.

But this isn’t a eulogy.

Even as traditional theaters are struggling to compete with the ease and instant gratification of Netflix and Redbox, big screens are big business again. Audience interest in 3D films has declined in recent years, but ticket sales for large-format features are booming.

Though not exactly an IMAX experience, the South’s super-size screens make those puny multiplexes look like bed sheets and your flat-panel TV look like a postcard.

Tonight’s crowd is as mixed as the cars they drive – a pickup for every Prius, a muscle car for every minivan.

“It’s definitely more family-friendly, as is the price,” said Jason Harddarger of Columbus. He and his wife Carol have been coming here with their children for more than seven years. Adult admissions are comparable at $9, but children 11 and under are only a buck.

There are newbies, as well. Sixteen students from Dublin Coffman’s cross-country team are here to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Some had already seen the film, but none have been to the South before tonight. They said they were willing to caravan past several first-run theaters to see the space epic on a giant scale.

“I grew up in Illinois and went to my first drive-in movie when I was nine,” said Piper Hayward, the 17-year-old senior who organized the outing. “I wanted my friends to see how different the experience really is.”

The South’s gas-powered popcorn popper certainly beats the pre-popped alternatives you find elsewhere. But they also let audiences pack their own snacks. You can even bring your own grill, so long as the coals are cold before the film starts. (Just try bringing hotdogs and a Hibachi to any other theater in town).

Seating options are also up to you. Enjoy the quiet comfort of your car, cozy up under a blanket in the bed of your truck or just break out the lawn chairs. Audio is available from vintage speakers or through your vehicle’s radio. As for rain, refunds are rarely necessary – though there was that one time in 1973 when a tornado actually took out the main screen just as the movie was starting. Now that was 3D.

You also get two films for the price of one. The South has two screens, each showing a different film after sundown and a second movie on each after that.

“They open for sellers at 5 a.m., but I arrive around 3 a.m. every Saturday to get one of the best spots. I think folks come here because they can wheel and deal.”

But the South’s double feature isn’t just the second screening. On weekends and Wednesdays, it transforms into Central Ohio’s largest open-air flea market.

There are the usual suspects: crates of vinyl records, tools and trinkets, dubious DVDs and knock-off purses. But also the unexpected: wooden lobster traps, tube radios, old-school game consoles, golden age comics, and antique furniture.

Several farmers have set up stands near the entrance and holler like carnival barkers. “Cantaloupes, one dollar! Sweet corn, Three dollars a dozen!”

Joseph Ponder has been selling various wares at the South for three years. A former welterweight boxer-turned-writer originally from New York, his wits are still as quick as his jabs once were.

“They open for sellers at 5 a.m., but I arrive around 3 a.m. every Saturday to get one of the best spots,” he confessed. “I think folks come here because they can wheel and deal.”

It’s equal parts kitsch and collectibles, where hipsters and hillbillies mingle and you’re never quite sure if the mustaches and sideburns are ironic or sincere.

After a mile of meandering, I left with a tall stack of 78 records, a flashlight that looks like a Coke bottle, and a sack of tailgate tomatoes — all for less than I pay for a haircut.

If you come looking for something specific, you’ll likely leave disappointed. If you come looking for something interesting, you won’t leave empty-handed.

South Drive-in and Flea Market is located at 3050 S High St. and is open until mid-November.

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Arts & Culture

How Bazaar: Popup arts fest shines a light on local creatives

Mike Thomas



While cultivating a newfound sense of personal fulfillment might be as simple as picking up a paint brush or instrument, earning a living through your art is a more complicated prospect. As longtime friends, collaborators, and Columbus art-scene hustlers Dustin Bennett and Zak Biggard will tell you, making it as an artist sometimes comes down to who you know.

Having met years ago as coworkers at a local printmaking shop, Bennett and Biggard have gone on to individual success with their own creative design firms. For Bennett, part of this work entails curating the art displayed at Clintonville’s Global Gallery, a cafe and art space that is committed to promoting fair trade handcrafted products from around the world.

When an exhibition Bennett was planning for the space fell through, he reached out to Biggard to fill the vacancy with his work. The resulting show was a hit, with Biggard selling several pieces in one of Global Gallery’s most successful exhibitions to date.

Biggard and Bennett outside of Global Gallery (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

His reputation with the venue established, Biggard approached Amy Palmer, Global Gallery’s manager, with an idea for a large-scale show. She gave him the thumbs up, and Biggard again partnered with Bennett to help bring his vision to light. The result is a show spanning three weekends in the month of August that the duo have dubbed Bazaar Ritual.

“The idea was a bazaar, this sort of Middle-Eastern marketplace where you walk in and it’s just a feast for the senses,” says Biggard. “All of these different sights, sounds, smells—everything packed together.”

As mutually beneficial as their collaborations had been, the Bennett and Biggard hope to open the doors of opportunity wide to other artists. Through this new exhibition/festival, the two aim to shed a light on creators who may not know how to navigate the sometimes complicated process of getting work into a conventional art show.

“Most of these people have never been involved in the gallery scene or never been able to show their work off,” Biggard explains. “They are just so excited to be a part of something, and the stuff I’ve been seeing from people, I just can't wait to have everything together in one place.”

When the exhibitors do come together for the popup-style event on August 3rd, 17th, and 31st, they will bring with them works across a diverse range of media.

“We’ve got people who make jewelry, clothing, glass blowers, painters and performance artists,” says Biggard. “It’s really the diversity of the work that’s the theme.”

As diverse as the work on display in the show will be, the exhibitors themselves hail from various disparate walks of life—everyone from nurses to dog walkers, printmakers to salespeople, as Bennett explains. In addition to the work shown during the recurring weekend events, each artist in Bazaar Ritual will have the opportunity to display one piece in Global Gallery throughout the month of August. Artists will keep 100% of the proceeds sold throughout the month and during the weekend events.

Along with providing a platform, the Bennett and Biggard hope that Bazaar Ritual will serve as a networking hub where creatives can meet and form collaborations of their own. Response from artists interested in taking part has already been building organically, with those involved telling their friends, those friends bringing more friends, and so on.

In addition to the prospect of hanging out with artists and perusing the exhibitions, the organizers of Bazaar Ritual have a number of surprises in store for attendees. Food trucks will be on hand, as well as live local music on Global Gallery’s spacious patio.

Though Bennett and Bigard are working diligently to bring this fledgling event to fruition, the two seem calm in the lead up to the show. Their artist-first approach lends a communal feel to the event, with creatives joining forces to put on an organized yet laid-back experience that shirks the corporate mold of some traditional gallery settings.

“We’re trying to do what art is meant to do and bring people together,” says Bennett. “We’re trying to bring together as many friends and strangers as we can—motleys and misfits alike.”

Global Gallery is located at 3535 N High St, in Clintonville. You can visit Bazaar Ritual there from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM on the 3rd, the 17th, and the 31st of August. For more information, check out @bazaarritual on Instagram.

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Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Kate Morgan, 2D mixed media artist





Kate Morgan began developing her ghostly, layered two-dimensional portraits after going back to school at the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2005. She already had some background in visual arts through her work in fashion and commercial photography, so the transition to drawing and painting was organic.

Morgan’s textured collages are inspired by folklore, mythology and a variety of artistic periods — especially Byzantine art. The 2011 Columbus Arts Festival Emerging Artist alum and 2019 exhibiting artist welcomes a wide array of complex themes into her pieces — including symbolic, cultural, historical and spiritual themes — while utilizing layers of vintage paper and original drawings to create visual depth and a sense of mystery.

Her pieces are purposely vague, leaning toward more minimalistic ideas to allow for wider interpretation by audiences. Largely her art depicts the female form, with as many layers and stories to tell as that of every human being. This is done with an eclectic assortment of materials — including sheet music, German Biblical pages, newspaper and maps — to add detail in both a topical and textural sense.

And yet, Morgan still continues to look for a challenge. From venturing away from her familiar blue hues to exploring different mediums like ceramics, her work knows no creative limits.

Morgan has exhibited at the Columbus Arts Festival nearly every year since 2011. She has gone on to win two jurors’ choice awards in the 2D category at the Columbus Arts Festival, as well as sell and have work juried at other major festivals across the country. In Columbus, her work can be seen as part of the Columbus Makes Art and Donatos Pizza collaborative mural “Every Piece Is Important” at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Morgan has a BFA from CCAD and currently works out of her Franklinton studio in Columbus. Experience this stunning work first hand when you visit her at booth M572 on the Main Street Bridge during the Columbus Arts Festival from June 7-9 at the downtown riverfront.

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Arts & Culture

Be Square: Changes coming to arts community at 400 W Rich

Mike Thomas



If you haven't visited the thriving arts community at 400 West Rich street in awhile, you might be surprised to see how much things have changed. Now, the minds behind the city's hub for the arts are changing things up to better reflect the area's evolution.

400 Square is the new collective moniker for the array of concepts that currently occupy the buildings on the 400 block of Rich street in Franklinton. The rebrand seeks to unify the community of artistic innovators who call the area developed by Urban Smart Growth their creative home.

Promo art for 400 Square by Anthony Damico

Spaces encompassed in the rebrand include Strongwater, The Vanderelli Room, and Chromedge Studios, and of course, the studios at 400 W. Rich. While the name may be changing, the group remains committed to providing and sustaining a thriving hub for creatives through education, resources, and entertainment opportunities in the area.

With the launch of 400 Square, Urban Smart Growth Director of Operations Seth Stout has led his team to develop new offerings for each of the growing spaces. Food and Beverage Director Lauren Conrath and Events Director Molly Blundred have taken the lead with changes to the Strongwater brand, while Community Director Stephanie McGlone and Art Director AJ Vanderelli are facilitating programming for all ages and abilities on the artist side.

Through all of the changes on the way, the staff at 400 Square are committed to bringing the public the same high quality of workshops, events, exhibitions, and more that have always been part of their unique creative community.

Stay tuned for more info—the new 400 Square officially rolls out during the weekend of Columbus Arts Fest 2019, June 7-9.

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