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Arts & Culture

Dealt By Design

At the intersection of artists and card sharks is the need to hustle. For the sharks, it may be an intrinsic draw toward a gamble or a conquest. For an artist, it may be for business connections, or even their next meal. One thing is true about card games and communities: The more, the merrier. MarcDeck [...]
Jeni Ruisch



At the intersection of artists and card sharks is the need to hustle. For the sharks, it may be an intrinsic draw toward a gamble or a conquest. For an artist, it may be for business connections, or even their next meal. One thing is true about card games and communities: The more, the merrier.

MarcDeck is a venture that combines the power of a plethora of artists into a handheld stack of playing cards. Each card is designed by a different artist, and the deck includes contact lists with each artists’ contact information, making this varied and sometimes whimsical deck an exceedingly practical method and model of connection. The pair behind the deck, and its parent design company, Marcd, have a handle on the hustle themselves.

Jake Pfahl graduated from Knowlton School of Architecture at OSU. Throughout his education, he focused primarily on the more hypothetical side of the discipline, creating mockups of imaginary buildings and products. Fantastical ideas taken to the next level.

Maria Luiza (Malu) Marzarotto’s mom decided to move to the United States from Curitiba, Brazil with little Malu and her brother. Malu’s interests lie in integrating art and technology to create immersive designs. Together, Malu and Pfahl are the co-founders of Marcd, a hyper-multidisciplinary design studio

Their website shows a cheeky and hypothetical approach to design. The concepts themselves are comments on modern life. The Marcd website is a roster of imaginative touches on the real, as well as the surreal. A tactical pavilion project invites visitors to caress and interact with the materials of a building. A fake finger saves its wearer from sweaty high fives. Colorful concert posters are a window into Marzarotto and Pfahl’s imaginations.

Among all of the hypothetical and experimental design, sits some brick-and-mortar works. The interior of a cafe, and the aforementioned playing cards. A deck of cards (for business and for play) featuring artists and their contact information are exceedingly practical. It serves a real purpose beyond a cultural comment. And the array of personalities behind the artwork are diverse.

“Some of the artists we knew personally, but a majority were discovered through Instagram or hours of searching personal websites. The process was a sort of curation, looking for artists of all different styles and mediums to collectively complement one another while individually standing out in a hand,” comments Marzarotto.

MarcDeck, is a way for the duo to create a diverse network of artists to whom they can relate and create a platform to promote international, underground work. In order to keep the emphasis on the artists involved, they were looking for a simple medium. They approached the United States Playing Card Company, which makes Bicycle playing cards. A deck of cards is a universal household object that appeals to an international audience. Likewise, it’s portable and can easily circulate through diverse environments.

“The process was a sort of curation, looking for artists of all different styles and mediums to collectively complement one another while individually standing out in a hand.” — Malu Marzarotto.

Marzarotto has a plan for her cards as they make their way out into the world.

“We see this as an opportunity to explore alternative ways of engaging with a typical deck, so if anyone knows of prodigious cardists, eccentric magicians, or oversized poker table distributors please let us know!

MarcDeck cards are available at Gramercy Books and The Wexner Center for the Arts. For more,

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Arts & Culture

Two of the 13 “Greatest Places in America” are in Central Ohio

Mike Thomas



Throughout Central Ohio, efforts to uplift communities have been ongoing for decades. Now, some of these efforts are garnering attention on the national stage.

According to a report from Columbus Business First, The Short North Arts District and Delaware's historic downtown were named among 13 “Great Places in America” by the American Planning Association, a national organization of urban planners.

The APA's picks highlight locales representing “the gold standard for a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for the future.”

In its rundown of the Short North Arts District, the APA points to the neighborhood's status as "a pioneer in urban revitalization in Central Ohio," and goes on to call the neighborhood the "art and soul" of the City of Columbus.

As for downtown Delaware, the APA It highlighted efforts by civic and business leaders in transforming the derelict city center into a thriving neighborhood full of attractive amenities for locals and visitors to enjoy.

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Arts & Culture

Nina West makes TV History with Emmys appearance

Mike Thomas



Hometown hero Nina West is having a big year. Following her "Miss Congeniality" win in season 11 of RuPaul's Drag Race, West has released of a children’s music album, Drag Is Magic, and a comedy EP, titled John Goodman.

Now, the Columbus drag icon can add a moment of television history to her impressive list of accomplishments.

According to, West is the first person in Emmys history to walk the purple carpet in full drag.

Season 11 of Drag Race, which airs on VH-1 and has been renewed for a 12th season, took home 4 Emmy wins, including the trophy for "Outstanding Reality Show." The long running competition was nominated for 14 awards in all—the most of any VH-1 show in history.

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Arts & Culture

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

Mike Thomas



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.

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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