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Maybe Ice-T knew all along. But it would have been hard for us to predict that the streetwise rap pioneer, who was the mouthpiece of dissent and dissolver of musical boundaries would, at 60, be one of the busiest men in showbiz. In a May phone call with (614), he joked that he has “14 [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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Maybe Ice-T knew all along.

But it would have been hard for us to predict that the streetwise rap pioneer, who was the mouthpiece of dissent and dissolver of musical boundaries would, at 60, be one of the busiest men in showbiz.

In a May phone call with (614), he joked that he has “14 jobs outside of being in Body Count.” Between his numerous acting gigs, his reality show, his commercials, and his ever-evolving music career, it’s a wonder he still has time pack up and tour with guitarist Ernie C. and his long-time Body Count confidants. But, Ice finds a way.

Now more than ever, Body Count’s rebellious, anti-racist, anti-authoritarian screed is extremely relevant. Last year’s Bloodlust, the hardcore band’s sixth record, deals in the same vicious rhetoric, on songs like “No Lives Matter” and “Black Hoodie,” that informed “Cop Killer” two decades ago. Ice feels so strongly about Body Count’s place in this new world order that it’s become priority and he’ll bring that rage to the Rock on the Range festival this month. And despite his glowing celebrity, Ice is never one to mince words or worry too much about political correctness, as I found out in a rare conversation with hip-hop’s original gangster and renaissance man.

How do you balance that fury and that voice with your celebrity? Does it still cause controversy? I always just continue to do what I’ve always done. I wear a lot of jackets and the song remains the same, I’m still standing out against what’s wrong in the world.

In your opinion, does today’s hip-hop (or punk or metal for that matter) still have the same vitality? Does it still have the same social influence or rebellion that it did when Slayer and Public Enemy were fighting “fake news?” It’s hard to speak about it because it’s a different era. This new 

age of people deals with things differently. We didn’t have the Internet. We didn’t have the same ways to address issues. I’ve gotten away from making comments about music, because the kids will address things in their way.

That said, have we reached a new low with Trump? And how do we combat that? I’m curious as to what Ice-T thinks? People are spending too much time complaining about Trump and not doing anything about it. The midterms are coming up and we don’t have anyone who will step up to the plate. We can complain about him all we want but we need a candidate, right? The problem is nobody wants to be President. Everyone understands he’s insane, but who’s going to take his place is the question.

“Cop Killer” was a watershed moment in 1992. Now more than 25 years later, do you think that message is still vital, maybe even more so considering the advent of social media and the spotlight on police brutality? Cop Killer” was a protest song.  I think it’s sad that I can sing a song from 25 years ago and it’s still going on. Twenty-five years ago, you didn’t have camera [phones]; you didn’t have the evidence to prove what I was saying. It was easy to call me crazy and someone to call it confusion, but now I’ve been vindicated. What I was talking about 25 years ago was going on and it’s still going on. That’s what’s sad.

In the greatest irony, you ended up playing a cop on TV. Do you ever get flak for this career move? People from my background are always happy when someone becomes successful and stays out of trouble. I’ve never gotten any flak from anyone who I have respected.

I recently read an interview where you said about the current … millennial generation that, “they grew up on Obama. They’re soft today.” Can you expand on that sentiment? Obama made it feel like everything was going to be alright. He was a very mellow, calming, guy. Now we have a new president who makes everyone feel like the world is coming to an end. That’s a wake-up call and in a way, that’s needed. That’s why people say “woke” now. We need to stay woke and keep up with the politics and stay on top of things. That’s the only thing that’s going to change the world we live in.

I’m a high school English teacher—and I always impart a nugget of wisdom you introduced in 1989: “Freedom of speech/just watch what you say.” I feel it’s just as potent as it was on the Iceberg album. Where does the first amendment stand these days? The first amendment is just a concept. You can say all you want, but the question is applying it. We all have the right to say whatever we want, but you have to be prepared to fight for the ramifications of what you say. It doesn’t mean free speech without penalty. It just means it’s legal to say anything; it’s not illegal, but that doesn’t mean someone can’t address you outside the law.

There’s a whole new generation of Body Count fans now who don’t know about 1992 and what that band represented then. What message are you trying to send to that new generation? Courage … have courage to say what you feel about whatever. It’s the same thing that happened when punk rock started—just speak your mind. Don’t be afraid. If you speak your mind, you’ll find out that a lot of people agree with you. A lot of people don’t know that Body Count is very much anti-racism and we are all probably angry at the same shit. Divide and conquer has always been the tactic and it works. Don’t let anyone turn us against each other.

If you were to run for president—which you have to be honest, with Trump, is completely possible—what would the pillar of your campaign be? Anyone with any intelligence would never want to be President of the United States. That’s just the worst job you could have. But if I was magically in control of the country? The pillar of my campaign would be education. Teachers would be the highest paid. They would all make over $100,000 a year easily. They have to be admired. I would make it that, if you wanted to go to college, it would be free. It wouldn’t matter if you wanted to learn a trade or academics, if you want to learn, you need to be able to learn for free. It would affect the way our economy works. It would lower the amount of people in prison because there would be more hope. And it would drastically change the way the United States is set up right now because there wouldn’t be so many dumb f**ks walking around.

Body Count plays Rock on the Range Friday May 18. For more information and daily lineups visit rockontherange.com.

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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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