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The Chosen Ones

"I showed up on a bone cold day in February and set my equipment up in Zac’s dining room. I had them sit at the dining room table for a video interview. The interview is comprised of four simple questions/directives: State your names, how and where you met, what makes your bond special, and what [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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“I showed up on a bone cold day in February and set my equipment up in Zac’s dining room. I had them sit at the dining room table for a video interview. The interview is comprised of four simple questions/directives: State your names, how and where you met, what makes your bond special, and what does this queer family give you that a blood family relationship does not. Usually, people are shy and short with their answers but Zac and Aria ran with it. I learned about how they met in a homeless shelter in L.A. and what brought them all the way to Columbus, Ohio. They chatted, giggled, and cried with me for over 40 minutes. I received a generously tender narrative of how they found support in one another. They have experienced hardship unlike most people, but it hasn’t stopped either one of them from hustling for their dreams of making art or creating music, which they often do together. They both push each other but also, in down times, lift each other up even when they don’t have a lot left to give of themselves. Zac and Aria are gorgeous reminders that it is not about what you have in life but who you have.”

Julie Rae Powers, on Out of Hiding

Julie Rae Powers is a photographer who captures not just
images, but hearts. Her thoughtful photojournalistic project, Out of Hiding, opening this month at Sean Christopher Gallery, takes an intimate look at the chosen families of queer people. Often rejected by their own flesh and blood, queer people have a history of making their way in a hostile world, with the support of those around them—who may not be related by DNA, but instead, shared experience. (614) had the opportunity to talk to Julie about her
work with these chosen families.

How are family challenges different for queer people than for straight/cis people?

The most basic and generalized way to answer this from my perspective is that queer individuals historically have been ostracized by their nuclear families, likely from a cultural or societal influence, or at least experience a particular discomfort or disconnection of lived experience whereas, their heterosexual counterparts experience acceptance from their families on a
societal level. 

What is it like as a photographer and interviewer to try to get on an intimate level with your subjects?

First of all, it is very rewarding. This is my first time taking on something of this nature and working in this way. The stories and moments shared with me were very heartwarming and a reminder
that there is still good in this crazy world. Sometimes the process, because this isn’t my usual way of creating a project, was daunting
or overwhelming, but very much worth it.

What do you hope a viewer walks away with after seeing your exhibition?

I hope the viewer takes away warmth and joy and a positive relationship to queer culture and individuals.

Is there anything unexpected you gained after making this project?

A renewed view on things. The political climate can feel very scary to queer people at the present, so this project reminded me that we have each other’s backs and we are strong.

How does being a member of the queer community affect your work with queer families?

I think it gives me a great foundation of understanding and perspective on their journeys, and I think it may even provide a sense of trust between us. It is an incredibly special and important thing to say,
‘I see you’ and to be seen.

What effects do you think this exhibit will have on the people who agreed to be a part of it?

The most common thread between everyone is that they are so proud and excited to show and talk about their families. To say, this is my person, they are incredible, they have shown up for me. I think it’ll warm their hearts to look in the exhibition and say there they are! My babies! But, also, much like the previous comment, it is incredible to see and be seen when the world has told you that you shouldn’t be a part of it because of your sexuality, gender, etc.

What effect has it had on you?

It’s been a reminder that I am not alone, that there is love, that
there is positivity, camaraderie. It has given me the push to keep digging and moving forward with life—that our great hearts can help make change on a cellular level. •

Out of Hiding opens at Gallery Hop September 1st, and closing reception is September 22nd from 4-6 p.m.

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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

614now

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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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