Connect with us

Arts & Culture

Oldham is New Again World

A few years ago a friend gave me a gift subscription to a magazine about “simple living.” At first I scoffed at the idea that a 130-page monthly periodical stuffed with advertising would simplify anything. But one day as I pulled an issue out of the mailbox, the warm, clean cover image actually seduced me [...]
Laura Dachenbach

Published

on

A few years ago a friend gave me a gift subscription to a magazine about “simple living.”

At first I scoffed at the idea that a 130-page monthly periodical stuffed with advertising would simplify anything. But one day as I pulled an issue out of the mailbox, the warm, clean cover image actually seduced me into believing that I might have a better life—maybe even be a better person—if I could just have a tiny stand to hold decorative towels, topped with a bonsai plant, a chunk of coral, and a framed picture. One weekend I went crazy with a can of white textured spray paint, glamming everything from baskets to picture frames to tree branches I found outside. What was happening to me? Had I begun to reach enlightenment, or had I fallen into a trap?

Todd Oldham laughs and reassures me I might be normal after all, or at least abnormal in a good way. (Somewhere between aerosol fumes and enlightenment.)

“The most important thing I think you’ll ask anybody who’s involved in creative efforts is about making stuff. That’s how you know you’re alive,” he says. “It’s not the end result—and I think it’s something that any creative person will agree with.”

I confess I peel the label off my shampoo because it doesn’t match my bathroom. Oldham tells me he cuts the labels out of all his clothes. And we both sigh for a return to the clean aesthetic of the generic aisle of the grocery store where shoppers of the ’70s and ’80s could buy cereal, ice cream, or even beer in simple white containers with square black lettering. (C’mon. We just lived through 2017. We’re allowed to be a little nostalgic.)

Oldham’s design retrospective, “All of Everything,” coming to the Wexner Center for the Arts is an exhilarating look backwards to a decade of runway fashion with more than 65 of his meticulously constructed garments, a sparkling thrift shop of pieces that indeed makes clothing with almost everything imaginable from plaid to pipe cleaners to Swarovski crystals.

“I was really never interested in trying to make something new, but I loved making something new from what was in front of me.” Oldham said, as he recalled a childhood DIY project of busting an old TV and using the cabinet to make a sink cozy. “It’s all the same to me; I think that’s why those clothes look the way they do. They’re built.”

Oldham dominated the runway from 1989 to 1999, becoming one of the first designers to work with then-rising supermodels Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington. Designing for an America trying to rock skate tees, wallet chains, and hair parted straight down the middle, Oldham puts a playful, even absurdist, twist on the colors and textures of childhood with nods to tie-dye, thick knits, and paint-by-number crafts scattered throughout his designs. While the pieces may call back an era where cable TV was the latest thing to hit the media, Oldham frequently receives comments that his collection looks surprisingly contemporary.

“We were always on our own little island in fashion, so to speak,” Oldham explained. “We were in fashion, but kind of off to the side. The clothes weren’t really about following trends or what things were at the moment. So they kind of endure in a different way.”

What is not contemporary is the entirely analog construction of the garments, each reflecting months of work, with beads, sequins, and embroidery attached by hand. The consideration to detail, combined with the diversity of material, brings a delightful balance to the craft of making and the art of design. As technology continues to disrupt the analog, Oldham and his studio have moved on from “old school” crafting by hand, not just to save time and money, but also to cull new creative possibilities.

“We’ve interfaced with these incredible makers in our studio who’ve grown up digitally and here they’re learning to embrace the analog part of it, and what’s coming out of that is extraordinary,” he said.

Oldham, a native Texan who moved frequently and spent four years of his adolescence in Tehran, credits much of his career and creativity to growing up in a family where ripping through pillowcases to build an ensemble, or visiting the botanical gardens, was just another normal day. That engagement has lead to a cross-pollinating career of masterful and eclectic design. After moving on from the fashion world, Oldham expanded his studio projects to furniture design, interior design, photography, filmmaking, and book publishing. But regardless or direction, element, or form, Oldham insists upon the singularity of his work.

“It’s no different from what I was doing when I was 6 and 7—which was just making stuff out of stuff.”

All of Everything: Todd Oldham Fashion will open February 3, and run through April 15 at Wexner Center for the Arts. For more, visit wexarts.org.

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: See BalletMet live outdoors!

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED

BalletMet’s Friday night’s headline performance at 8:30 p.m. at the Arts Festival is sure to be a highlight of weekend. One of the nation’s top 20 largest professional companies, BalletMet consists of dancers hailing from across the nation and the world and boasts a premiere academy for aspiring professional dancers, one that’s been recognized as an institution of local and national stature.

Since 1978, BalletMet has brought incredible dance to theaters in Central Ohio and beyond and their commitment to bringing dance to the Columbus community, especially in underserved areas, is unparalleled.

Art of War Photo by Jen Zmuda

From in-school programs to theater field trips, scholarships and free performances, the company is dedicated to making dance accessible to all. More than 10,000 children attend the company’s Morning at the Ballet field trip performances each year. And thanks to a grant from PNC Arts Alive, BalletMet’s second company, BalletMet 2, has performed at free events at the King Arts Complex, Franklin Park Conservatory and more, throughout the 2018-19 season.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

In addition to the free performance at the Arts Festival BalletMet will perform at Dance on Dakota on Friday, May 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Franklinton. This performance is also free.

Dance on Dakota, co-hosted by Franklinton Arts District, is part of a weekend-long block party in Franklinton and features free food and drink and a collaborative performance with TRANSIT ARTS. The event will take place at Dakota Ave. and Town St.

Dancers Grace Anne Powers and William Newton Photo by Jen Zmuda

BalletMet’s Columbus Arts Festival performance will include a mixed repertoire of shorter pieces from its past productions and will be preceded by music from DJ Donnie M. of Damn Girl.

And if these performances capture your interest, the company recently announced its 2019-20 season, which includes ALICE, based on the later stories of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, Twisted 3, a collaboration with the Columbus Symphony and Opera Columbus, and, of course, The Nutcracker.

More info at www.balletmet.org. For all your Arts Festival details visit www.colubmusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: You wood hate to miss local crafter

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED

Woodworker and Art Makes Columbus featured artist Devon Palmer has been working with his hands since his upbringing in northeast Indiana. His mother a wood carver and his father a carpenter and cabinet maker, Palmer took a more mechanical route by obtaining his pilot’s license and attending Purdue University to pursue a career as an airplane mechanic.

But as his career transitioned from maintenance to the tech field, he yearned to work with his hands again. Originally he considered pottery, before a class he planned to attend got canceled. But a trip home the weekend before Thanksgiving led to his father introducing him to woodturning.

That was more than 15 years ago. And though he is largely self-taught, Palmer also credits local woodturners from the Central Ohio Woodturners (a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners) for taking him under their wing. In 2005, he opened his first studio just north of Downtown, and in 2007 he began teaching woodturning at Woodcraft Columbus.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Today, Palmer does a bit of mentoring of his own. He teaches classes in blade and bowl turning, resin cast pen turning and more advanced projects like hollow vessel turning in his studio at the Idea Foundry. He is also adding a series of LGBTQ date night pen turning classes to his growing schedule of classes, shows and demonstrations.

Palmer says his work represents “family and connectedness” with work ranging from salad bowls and laser engraved pens to funerary urns and ornaments. The details in his hand-crafted tableware and home goods manage to invoke a warm sense of community, fellowship, and hospitality.

Devon Palmer works in internet technology and is also a pianist and ordained minister.

Make your own wood turned pen with Devon Palmer at the Columbus Arts Festival, June 7-9, at the Big Local Art Village located at the Festival’s Franklinton entrance. Learn more about Devon at www.columbusmakesart.com/stories/devon-palmer and get all your Arts Festival details at www.columbusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Festival Preview: Dr. E uses voice to overcome adversity

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED POST

Dr. E, singer-songwriter and author Cleveland-born singer-songwriter Dr. Elaine Richardson — known by her stage name Dr. E — has used her voice to detail the incredible circumstances she encountered while overcoming great adversity. Born to a musician father and Jamaican immigrant mother, Dr. E begun tapping into her talent while singing in church, her school’s choir, and in girl groups.

Dr. E continued to sing despite the difficult path she faced. As a teen, she became a sex trafficking victim and fell into addiction. In her recovery, she pursued higher education at Cleveland State University and Michigan State University. During this time Dr. E also began performing as the frontwoman for a number of cover bands and placing her original music on various TV shows. She recorded her first album, “Elevated,” in 2010.

Dr. E’s introspective song lyrics reflect the often difficult process of healing while defending those who share her experiences or face exploitation and discrimination in other ways.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

On her sophomore album, 2017’s “Songs for the Struggle,” she gives a soulful retelling of her journey from sex trafficking survivor to university professor, Ph.D., author and advocate. Blending elements of soul, rock, funk, rhythm and blues, and jazz, Dr. E sings with an astonishing amount of hope and positivity; Though the album details the trauma and exploitation experienced by Dr. E during her teen years, her power message ultimately expresses affirmations of self-love and acceptance employed with an equally powerful and joyous voice.

Dr. E is currently a professor of literacy studies in the College of Education at The Ohio State University. She has written a number of books on African American literature as well as a memoir, “PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life.”

See Dr. E. perform at the Columbus Arts Festival, Saturday, June 8 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on the Big Local Stage on Rich St.

For hours, artist listing and all Festival information go to www.columbusartsfestival.org

Continue Reading
X