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Soul Meets Body

Erin Wozniak studies the subtle details around us—for us Erin Wozniak’s specialty is giving you a little peek into the real. Her paintings and drawings capture mostly human subjects in the most intimate everyday moments. Close-up views of their bodies reveal sleepy faces and maps of wrinkles. Some scenes free of context, like a child’s [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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Erin Wozniak studies the subtle details around us—for us

Erin Wozniak’s specialty is giving you a little peek into the real. Her paintings and drawings capture mostly human subjects in the most intimate everyday moments. Close-up views of their bodies reveal sleepy faces and maps of wrinkles. Some scenes free of context, like a child’s hand clutching a string tied to a balloon, speak to a larger notion of sharing a home, and benign yet special moments with a little one. The subjects are so unguarded and exposed in the images that the viewer feels an immediate sense of their vulnerability and familiarity. (614) caught up with Wozniak to examine the look of her work, her inspiration, and her upcoming exhibits in central Ohio.

Your art has been described as “contemporary realism.” Is this a genre you purposefully studied and aspired to? 

There are so many artists and genres that I take inspiration from, with contemporary realism being one of them. I’ve always been drawn to art that requires the dedication of time and the intense labour of looking at and really studying something closely.

The nature of the representation of your subjects is arguably a “warts and all” approach. From puffy eyelids, to rolls of skin dotted with moles. How do you regard “imperfections?”

Just as I am interested in how the surface of a painting can hold time and history in its brush strokes and layers of paint, I am also fascinated with how the surface of the body is similar. The marks, scars, wrinkles, etc, of a person’s body, tell a story and are evidence of a life lived. I like to work with that evidence.

In this era of over-edited selfies, is this a way to explore those imperfections?

I don’t think my work is about imperfection vs. perfection as much as it is about human vulnerability. Recording the “imperfections” of the human body is part of the process of representing our physicality; the stuff that we are made of.

The images are of mundane scenes, but often viewed from a novel angle. Do you want the viewer to feel a familiarity with the images? Or an alienness? 

Both. My work stems from the familiar; I paint what’s around me. However, when you really look at something, study it for a long time, or look at it from a new angle, sometimes you uncover an otherness or an alienness about it. What is familiar can so easily slip away and become strange. This unsettling feeling hooks me and is what drives a lot of my work.

The colors you use are airy and unsaturated. Does this communicate a mood or intention?

Again, I think the sense of human vulnerability and permeability that I always seem to come back to in my work influences the color palette and atmosphere in my paintings and drawings. Edges soften and fade, and colors tend to be pastel, maybe pierced with a bright red or deep black.

What are your favorite materials to create with?

I love the simplicity of pencil or charcoal on paper. I’ll often sketch first with vine charcoal to block in basic shapes, or I’ll lay down powdered graphite or charcoal and work backwards with an eraser. I also love oil paint for its versatility. I always stare at a blank canvas like I forgot how to paint and think to myself, “How am I going to figure this out.” Oil paint just comes along for the ride. I tend to rework paintings a lot, painting in thin layers, then maybe thicker, sanding down paint, painting thin again, and so on.

Who are three artists you admire in Columbus?

Julie Taggart was a professor of mine at CCAD. She’s a fantastic teacher and I love her work. Mark Bush, who I’ve shown with a number of times at Hammond Harkins creates stunning portraits, and Sarah Fairchild, whose work is just mesmerizing.

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Arts & Culture

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

Mike Thomas

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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.

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“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

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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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