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State of the Art

At this summer’s Go Figure exhibition, the Pizzuti Collection featured a number of works that dealt with the human  body in all forms, shapes, sizes, and colors. Not only was it a show that challenged perception, but engaged audiences in conversations about race, aging, sexuality, and social media obsession. At its center was Kehinde Wiley’s [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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At this summer’s Go Figure exhibition, the Pizzuti Collection featured a number of works that dealt with the human  body in all forms, shapes, sizes, and colors. Not only was it a show that challenged perception, but engaged audiences in conversations about race, aging, sexuality, and social media obsession. At its center was Kehinde Wiley’s Bound, a monolithic bronze sculpture that features busts of  three African-American women, connected in the center by their hair. It was stunning in its display, but also emblematic of what Ron and Ann Pizzuti have hoped to achieve in showcasing their collection: furthering Columbus as an arts destination by bringing in not just the freshest in contemporary art and artists, but changing how we now engage with that art.

“We believe that art fosters wider cultural understanding and educational exchange, and we work to champion diverse voices from around the globe,” Ron said. “Artists have a unique ability to translate the current socio-political state, and the work that they do invites viewers to reflect about their community and themselves. Art is fundamental to the development of the individual and the cultural health of the community, especially in these turbulent social and political times.”

When the Pizzutis began collecting in the early ’70s, the mission wasn’t that lofty. With the purchase of a Karel Appel print from the Pace Gallery, their hobby began in earnest. Eventually they moved to paintings, adding a piece from Frank Stella, which was a “financial stretch,” and then to other modern masters, including Willem de Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, and Agnes Martin. But anyone who has visited the Pizzuti Collection since it opened in 2013, knows that the Pizzutis’ passion has been in fostering the careers of emerging artists. The true value of the collection comes in the relationships they form with the artists, becoming intimate with them in the early stages of their careers, many of whom have gone on to wide acclaim in the art world.

This month, the Pizzuti Collection will celebrate five years in its permanent home on Park Street, and in that short span the building has cemented itself as a landmark among other Columbus art institutions, hosting 16 exhibitions featuring 200 artists from 40 different countries. For the anniversary, the Pizzuti Collection will showcase even more envelope-pushing presentations, artist talks, and educational outreach, that has been the foundation since opening.

“What we have done from the very beginning is think ahead,” says chief curator Greer Pagano. “We are always wondering how are we going to show the range of what Ron and Ann have collected over time, and what we are going to do next. So these shows are not anything particularly linked to the anniversary, as much as they are keeping the ball rolling and continuing on what we’ve accomplished.”

In that effort to open up the collection even more, When Attitudes Become Chairs, will focus on the Pizzutis’ keen interest in design. Co-curated by New York art dealer Marc Benda and Glenn Adamson, the show will display how furniture design has been completely transformed and continues to be held in high regard as a dynamic creative discipline. The Take Up Space exhibition will match a series of abstract paintings with Dark Matter, a massive installation by artist Sarah Cain, which will immerse visitors in a kaleidoscope of color, patterns, and geometric shapes. Finally, the most ambitious of the 2018 shows, For Freedoms, joins in an initiative with artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, that will take place in all 50 states, hoping to encourage “civic engagement, discourse, and direct action” by allowing patrons to create their own lawn signs that express their “definitions of freedom.” Combined, these shows may offer just a glimpse into an expansive collection, that grows by the day, but it also demonstrates how Pagano can curate a reflection of the current social climate and maintain a cutting edge that boldly represents the “now.”

“We can be nimbler here,” say Pagano. “We can try different things and do it. That’s something a lot of institutions don’t have the freedom to do.”

And as for the future of the collection? The next five years? Pizzuti hopes to continue fulfilling his mission to present the city with top-quality contemporary art, and to increase the educational reach of his non-profit organization, but also to expand the role of public art in Columbus, something that many would argue is lacking.

“We are now the 14th largest metropolitan area in the United States, and the only one of that group that does not have a strong publicly-funded art program,” says Pizzuti. “I am hopeful that we will continue to put some muscle and some dollars into strengthening our city’s public arts program.” 

All three of the Pizzuti Collections’ five-year anniversary exhibits will open on Friday, September 7 and run until January 2019. Visit pizzuticollection.org for more information.

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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.

“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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By0yi8xhuPE/

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 Staff

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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.

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.

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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