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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 & Culture

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Cousin Simple to wow crowd with energy, passion

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As a young up-and-coming band, Cousin Simple is excited to play at this year’s Columbus Art’s Festival. In their two years as a band, they have already done a lot of really cool things, such as making a single with L.A. multi-platinum music producer David Kershenbaum, playing at Vans Warped Tour at Blossom Music Center, and selling out shows at the A&R Bar, the Basement and The Big Room Bar. But there is much more they want to accomplish including recording more music, making a music video and playing more shows in and out of Columbus.

The band members are all Columbus born and raised. Four members currently attend The Ohio State University, while their drummer Joel is finishing up his junior year at New Albany high School. Cousin Simple brings an energy and passion to the stage and gives everything they have to their performances, regardless of the crowd size. They just released a new single in February called Honeybee, available on iTunes and Spotify and have a single set to release May 10 titled “Star Destroyers.”

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Columbus is a great city for musicians. Whether you’re in the indie, rock, or hip hop scene, there are other musicians and music industry people willing to help you out. Columbus also takes a great sense of pride in its “local gems.” People love to see musicians who are doing well in their hometown and are willing to support them in many ways.

There are so many organizations that have taken this to heart and are helping bands get great opportunities. CD102.5, WCBE 90.5, PromoWest Productions and the Columbus Music Commission have helped Cousin Simple get airtime, shows and support. When it comes to music cities, Columbus may not be the first place that comes to mind, but there are so many bands and musicians doing exciting things it’s making the future bright for them and the Columbus music scene.

But Cousin Simple recognizes that none of this would be possible without the support of their family, friends and FANS that come to each and every show. They are humbled and motivated by their audiences who energize them to make every performance an experience their fans won’t forget. 

Cousin Simple will perform on the Big Local Music Stage on Rich Street on Friday night, June 7 at 7:45 p.m.

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