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It Came From Clintonville

Scott Hammond grew up in the glow of the VHS era, creeping downstairs after everyone else was asleep to stay Up All Night with Rhonda Shear. The new world of cheaply made, weirdo, sleazy, gratuitous, bloody, hilarious movies had a formative effect on his tender adolescent brain. Alone in his sleeping bag, cradling his two [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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Scott Hammond grew up in the glow of the VHS era, creeping downstairs after everyone else was asleep to stay Up All Night with Rhonda Shear.

The new world of cheaply made, weirdo, sleazy, gratuitous, bloody, hilarious movies had a formative effect on his tender adolescent brain. Alone in his sleeping bag, cradling his two liter in front of the TV, Hammond felt like he was privy to an exclusive cool club that no one else knew about.

A little over a decade ago, Hammond was a little older, and a little wiser, but his love for all things camp had not dimmed over the years. In an effort to gather his friends for some laughs, he organized Bad Movie Nite! As an aperitif to the main event, he would show collections of clips, or a ridiculously tone-deaf social hygiene film. Soon his house was bursting at the seams with people. The scene was out growing the venue.

In Spring of 2011, Hammond called up Eric Brembeck, the owner of Studio 35 in Clintonville. Hammond wanted to join the tradition of late night kook, and what better place to start than the cultural hub of the neighborhood? Seven years later, and Bad Movie Nite! is still going strong. It has moved from monthly to every other month, and some of the faces have changed, but the heart remains as low-budget as ever. (Still, the effort put into BDM!—each episode has 200-300 edits and takes about a month to put together—is impressive). Hammond took a moment away from his monsters, lasers, and two-liters to give (614) a little history lesson about BMN!

How bad does something have to be before it’s good?

Why do I eat so much ice cream? Why do I think my hair looks good this way? What makes something good or bad is subjective. When I say Bad Movie Nite! I do mean this is, let’s say not Academy material, but also bad, as in your parents wouldn’t want you watching this unsavory material. Like Bad Movie Nite! is baaaaaad in a hair-slicked-back-skip-class-to-go-smoke-under-the-bleachers kinda way.

How do you coax people into watching bad movies?

Candy. Beer. Free hugs. I’m like a carnival barker and I will straight up lie to you to fill a seat. People who look for alternative programming. Something different and fun. Folks who are into bad movies already. BMN! has strong word of mouth. I’ve heard praise like “that was amazing and I’ve never seen anything like that before” to “you are a depraved individual and my mother warned me about people like you.” We give out BMN-themed buttons when we have a new episode. People collect them and I think some people might actually come just for the buttons. One woman had 20 pounds of BMN! buttons on her denim jacket, which was flattering.

What defines a “good” movie and a “bad” movie?

A good movie is one that meets some or surpasses all its goals. A bad movie is one that fails to meet its objectives. A good bad movie is one that fails disastrously. If you’re watching a werewolf movie that’s supposed to be scary, but you can clearly see a zipper in the werewolf’s fur and its victim is screaming, but also kinda laughing, that’s funny, and also something you don’t see everyday. These movies are often so bizarre, watching them is an experience you just don’t get with other movies.

What is your favorite bad movie?

My favorite bad movie is a teenage sci-fi sex comedy called Dr. Alien. It’s about a dweeby teenager, Wesley Littlejohn (the ’80s amiright?) who is turned into a hunk overnight by his college or it might be high school (the movie is a little confused by this) science professor, who is secretly an alien looking for a mate to help her repopulate her home planet. It’s a cheap and goofy movie with a surprising amount of heart and hits a lot of points on my b-movie wishlist (aliens, lasers, corny jokes, horny teens, car chases, killer music).

Why should we watch these movies if they are so bad?

It’s fun to watch something weird and unexpected, especially with a large group of people have sharing that same experience. These movies are bad, but they’re also kinda earnest too. You have to respect a group of people who really don’t have the money or talent to make a movie, but pull it off anyway and here we are years later enjoying them.

What was your favorite movie as a kid?

Better Off Dead. It has a lot of sensibilities of a B-movie. It’s about a guy who gets dumped and decides to become an ace skier to win back the girl. It takes place in real life but not quite our reality. There’s a bunch of weirdo characters. There’s a dancing hamburger. It’s amazing. It has an off-kilter sense of humor that I think played a major impact on me. My mother rented it from the Video Barn when I was little. She never (and has yet to) returned it so I watched it again, and again, and again.

How do you discover new movies?

A lot of these movies star the same actors (Gerrit Graham, Linnea Quigley, Richard Moll) and are directed by the same people (Jim Wynorski) so often one movie leads you to another. Sometimes a movie will clumsily use footage from another to save money, which leads you to track that one down… Legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman was notorious for this. He made Battle Beyond the Stars to cash in on the success of Star Wars. Special effects scenes from Battle showed up in dozens of his productions for the next 15 years. It’s fun to spot them when they pop up.

Who likes to come to bad movies?

Degenerates. Winos. People that were AV Club geeks in high school. Interesting people that are easily bored by standard Hollywood fare. Folk who are looking for a place to make out for two hours. Cool kids. Actually one of my favorite parts about BMN! is all the awesome, interesting, and super talented people I’ve met through it. Audience participation (yelling out comments during the show) is highly encouraged and it’s really fun to watch people make the show their own.

Bad Movie Night! will hold its eighth anniversary 8.17 (11:30 p.m.) at Studio 35. For more, visit  facebook.com/badmovienite.

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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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