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Avant-Anna

Amongst a psychedelically patterned backdrop enter five dancing fembots. Their faces are brushed white with dense makeup, contrasting fervently with bright red lipstick, cobalt eyeshadow, and fluorescent, multicolored wigs. Four of them move and sway robotically to the beat in their fetish friendly getups, while the fifth swings lazily back and forth from the rafters [...]
Danny Hamen

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Amongst a psychedelically patterned backdrop enter five dancing fembots. Their faces are brushed white with dense makeup, contrasting fervently with bright red lipstick, cobalt eyeshadow, and fluorescent, multicolored wigs. Four of them move and sway robotically to the beat in their fetish friendly getups, while the fifth swings lazily back and forth from the rafters on a large aerial hoop, achieving a truly strange and titillating performance that seems almost too bizarre to be real life.

Anna and the Annadroids feels like an Andy Warhol fever dream—a surreal and visceral multi-media performance, combining dance, original music, and video production, fusing the avant-garde qualities of Dadaism with thoughtful post-modern criticism. While the show may leave you with a temporary LSD flashback and a handful of unanswered questions, Columbus-to-San Francisco transplant Anna Sullivan’s vision has more substance than just a few flashing neon lights and scantily clad dancing Annadroids.

“I think that sexuality is a natural part of our primal being—you should be able to explore that,” Sullivan said. “In our culture you can be sexy, but not too sexy—if you are then you’re a slut…so how does that work out?”

Sullivan explores these double standards, as well as a variety of other themes in her newest production Faux(pas)bia. Between 2005 and 2011, Anna and the Annadroids made their home in Columbus, benefitting from funding from Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council, staging countless performances around the town, from private parties to fetish friendly events like Trauma and Comfest.

“My time in Columbus really helped me develop something that would not only be artistically satisfying but satisfying for audiences. Dance tends to be just heavily academic—it doesn’t usually have that level of entertainment, so I want to try and combine those two…to make something that is deep and intelligent, but at the same to leave inspired and want to come back. I feel like being in Columbus really helped me formulate that idea.”

In 2011, Sullivan moved to San Francisco, wasting no time securing grants, putting on new performances, and building a Rolodex full of determined creatives to join her team, including a CCAD illustrator, Uko Smith, for her accompanied graphic novel, and her trusted technical director Alexi Alexaieff, who has helped conceptualize the delicate intertwining of dance, video production, and originally composed music.

“The different aspects of the multimedia have really come together for this production— the aerial dance is a huge component to adding to the entertainment quality of the piece, as well as the video environments. Having [Alexaieff] join as a collaborator has really upped the level of the productions for sure.”

Although her shows often posses jubilantly childlike imagery of dancing androids doing silly things in skimpy skirts, Faux(pas)bia, uses fear as the central thematic device. According to Sullivan, considering the tumultuous and fearful state of our country, the timing was just right.

“Fear and phobic situations are being pushed in our face constantly. You can’t even open your Facebook without being like, ‘Oh my God, are we all gonna die?’ It’s gotten so bad, so I feel like it’s really relevant. Faux(pas)bia resonates with me so deeply. You can choose to be afraid of something or not, and I think, for me, that I struggle with the not. I am admittedly afraid, so the challenge is figuring out how not to be. That’s why I am inspired to create art based on the mechanisms that I make up to cope with my fear.”

In a time where fear and anxiety are more prevalent than ever, we look to escapism as a means for positive outlook, to momentarily view the world through the lens of an artist.

“Performance art makes people feel less isolated. I feel like it’s our way of sharing how we are coping with the world, allowing the audience to join in.”

Faux(pas)bia will be debuting in Columbus March 30. For more information on ticket prices and show times, visit capa.com.

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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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