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Wildflowers color the hilltop meadows… open air art These words—emblazoned on a goliath stone resting alongside a zigzagging woodland trail—reverberate through the trees as they are read aloud. The Japanese translation of the haiku, along with the phonetic pronunciation, is carved in a gingko leaf-shaped plaque on the side of an enormous rock. The poem echoes softly [...]
Danny Hamen

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Wildflowers color the hilltop meadows… open air art

These words—emblazoned on a goliath stone resting alongside a zigzagging woodland trail—reverberate through the trees as they are read aloud. The Japanese translation of the haiku, along with the phonetic pronunciation, is carved in a gingko leaf-shaped plaque on the side of an enormous rock.

The poem echoes softly in my mind as I lazily pace my way through the Holmes County Open Air Art Museum. This is one of dozens of haiku stones that are scattered across the trail—the first arrival of a series of installations that make up the outdoor gallery. As my guide leads me through the winding trail, each haiku stone we happen upon tells the story of the seasons, an idea conceived and executed by Julie Warther, the regional coordinator of the Haiku Society of America.

“It really is an encounter. We place them around a bend so you don’t see them coming, and so when you approach them there is a giant stone with a poem.”

Open air art is a cornerstone of European culture, and is something that Jason Nies, proprietor of The Inn at Honey Run  and curator of the outdoor museum, wanted to share with all of Ohio.

“In my 20s, I went to Latvia quite a bit to visit family. While I was over there, I went to an open air art museum, and it was the coolest art experience I had ever seen. I always knew I wanted something like that.”

At the time, Nies didn’t have a getaway resort at his disposal to store such a magical amenity, so when he purchased The Inn at Honey Run in historic Millersburg, Ohio, he thought what time better than now to bring his dream to fruition?

Nies’ outdoor gallery spans across a mile and a half long trail alongside the resort—an almost hidden footpath peppered with artwork from artists from around the state. One of the most notable pieces is a massive, wooden installation, entitled “Woven.” Fabricated by Columbus artist Walter Herrmann, the structure is made of materials collected exclusively from the grounds at The Inn at Honey Run. Described as an Earthwork installation, Herrmann’s piece consists of thousands of sticks woven together to create an outdoor archway and outer wall, dredging up images from whimsical woodland tales like Where the Wild Things Are.

“It’s cool to just let the artists go nuts,” said Nies with an enthusiastic smile. “Initially, we just hike the trail together, and then I encourage the artist to construct whatever inspired them from the walk.”

It is this type of creative freedom that arouses a variety of different types of art: woven structures, a colossal totem pole, haiku stones, or something as seemingly irreverent as 12,000 paint sticks swinging gently from an overhead net. As we wander through the trail together, I see Nies’ passion project comes to life with each passing piece of art.

Another notable installation—conceived of and created on the grounds of the Holmes County Open Air Art Museum—is by Columbus-based tattoo artist Katharine Marie, who built a gargantuan cuckoo clock made of mostly organic materials found on site. Her piece, “Being Time,” stands over 15 feet tall, and invites an organic feeling of natural whimsy, a mesmerizing display of artistry and craft hidden in the middle of nowhere.

“The woods were illuminated, the sound of the inner clockwork rang through the woods to create an all sensory experience, and ‘Being Time’ was lit up for the first time for all guests to view,” said Marie, reflecting on her work’s debut.

As we finish the short hike, I reflect on Nies’ gallery—a delightful homage to European artisty veiled in the shade of foliage and fallen snow along a short wooded trail. With each stop, I felt the undeniable tug of inspiration—for me, art paired with nature just seems to make sense. With each season breathes a new aesthetic, an ever-changing backdrop providing new settings, making for a rotating gallery of sorts. Nies vows to continue building and expanding the project, making his open air art museum bigger and better with each passing year, an evolving concept lost amongst the trees. 

Calling all Columbus Artists!

Interested in creating a feature installation for the Holmes County Open Air Art Museum?

The Inn at Honey Run and the Greater Columbus Arts Council would like to welcome Franklin County and surrounding area artists, sculptors, designers, photographers and imaginative thinkers of all kinds to participate in this highly unique opportunity, where up to three installations for the Holmes County Open Air Art Museum (OAAM) will be selected. Contest concludes May 31.

Contest details, requirements, registration, and information are available at innathoneyrun.com/gcac

For more information or assistance with submissions, please contact Alexandra Corron at [email protected]

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Arts Fest Preview: See BalletMet live outdoors!

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BalletMet’s Friday night’s headline performance at 8:30 p.m. at the Arts Festival is sure to be a highlight of weekend. One of the nation’s top 20 largest professional companies, BalletMet consists of dancers hailing from across the nation and the world and boasts a premiere academy for aspiring professional dancers, one that’s been recognized as an institution of local and national stature.

Since 1978, BalletMet has brought incredible dance to theaters in Central Ohio and beyond and their commitment to bringing dance to the Columbus community, especially in underserved areas, is unparalleled.

Art of War Photo by Jen Zmuda

From in-school programs to theater field trips, scholarships and free performances, the company is dedicated to making dance accessible to all. More than 10,000 children attend the company’s Morning at the Ballet field trip performances each year. And thanks to a grant from PNC Arts Alive, BalletMet’s second company, BalletMet 2, has performed at free events at the King Arts Complex, Franklin Park Conservatory and more, throughout the 2018-19 season.

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In addition to the free performance at the Arts Festival BalletMet will perform at Dance on Dakota on Friday, May 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Franklinton. This performance is also free.

Dance on Dakota, co-hosted by Franklinton Arts District, is part of a weekend-long block party in Franklinton and features free food and drink and a collaborative performance with TRANSIT ARTS. The event will take place at Dakota Ave. and Town St.

Dancers Grace Anne Powers and William Newton Photo by Jen Zmuda

BalletMet’s Columbus Arts Festival performance will include a mixed repertoire of shorter pieces from its past productions and will be preceded by music from DJ Donnie M. of Damn Girl.

And if these performances capture your interest, the company recently announced its 2019-20 season, which includes ALICE, based on the later stories of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, Twisted 3, a collaboration with the Columbus Symphony and Opera Columbus, and, of course, The Nutcracker.

More info at www.balletmet.org. For all your Arts Festival details visit www.colubmusartsfestival.org

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Arts Fest Preview: You wood hate to miss local crafter

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Woodworker and Art Makes Columbus featured artist Devon Palmer has been working with his hands since his upbringing in northeast Indiana. His mother a wood carver and his father a carpenter and cabinet maker, Palmer took a more mechanical route by obtaining his pilot’s license and attending Purdue University to pursue a career as an airplane mechanic.

But as his career transitioned from maintenance to the tech field, he yearned to work with his hands again. Originally he considered pottery, before a class he planned to attend got canceled. But a trip home the weekend before Thanksgiving led to his father introducing him to woodturning.

That was more than 15 years ago. And though he is largely self-taught, Palmer also credits local woodturners from the Central Ohio Woodturners (a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners) for taking him under their wing. In 2005, he opened his first studio just north of Downtown, and in 2007 he began teaching woodturning at Woodcraft Columbus.

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Today, Palmer does a bit of mentoring of his own. He teaches classes in blade and bowl turning, resin cast pen turning and more advanced projects like hollow vessel turning in his studio at the Idea Foundry. He is also adding a series of LGBTQ date night pen turning classes to his growing schedule of classes, shows and demonstrations.

Palmer says his work represents “family and connectedness” with work ranging from salad bowls and laser engraved pens to funerary urns and ornaments. The details in his hand-crafted tableware and home goods manage to invoke a warm sense of community, fellowship, and hospitality.

Devon Palmer works in internet technology and is also a pianist and ordained minister.

Make your own wood turned pen with Devon Palmer at the Columbus Arts Festival, June 7-9, at the Big Local Art Village located at the Festival’s Franklinton entrance. Learn more about Devon at www.columbusmakesart.com/stories/devon-palmer and get all your Arts Festival details at www.columbusartsfestival.org

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Arts Festival Preview: Dr. E uses voice to overcome adversity

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Dr. E, singer-songwriter and author Cleveland-born singer-songwriter Dr. Elaine Richardson — known by her stage name Dr. E — has used her voice to detail the incredible circumstances she encountered while overcoming great adversity. Born to a musician father and Jamaican immigrant mother, Dr. E begun tapping into her talent while singing in church, her school’s choir, and in girl groups.

Dr. E continued to sing despite the difficult path she faced. As a teen, she became a sex trafficking victim and fell into addiction. In her recovery, she pursued higher education at Cleveland State University and Michigan State University. During this time Dr. E also began performing as the frontwoman for a number of cover bands and placing her original music on various TV shows. She recorded her first album, “Elevated,” in 2010.

Dr. E’s introspective song lyrics reflect the often difficult process of healing while defending those who share her experiences or face exploitation and discrimination in other ways.

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On her sophomore album, 2017’s “Songs for the Struggle,” she gives a soulful retelling of her journey from sex trafficking survivor to university professor, Ph.D., author and advocate. Blending elements of soul, rock, funk, rhythm and blues, and jazz, Dr. E sings with an astonishing amount of hope and positivity; Though the album details the trauma and exploitation experienced by Dr. E during her teen years, her power message ultimately expresses affirmations of self-love and acceptance employed with an equally powerful and joyous voice.

Dr. E is currently a professor of literacy studies in the College of Education at The Ohio State University. She has written a number of books on African American literature as well as a memoir, “PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life.”

See Dr. E. perform at the Columbus Arts Festival, Saturday, June 8 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on the Big Local Stage on Rich St.

For hours, artist listing and all Festival information go to www.columbusartsfestival.org

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