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Uncovering Columbus: @columbusvisuals

While Instagram is filled with talented photo-graphers trying to use that powerful little square to get their work out there, a select few are also using it as their curatorial canvass. We decided to talk to Columbus Visuals’ founders for this month’s Uncovering Columbus feature—in the only way that made sense: from our photographer and [...]
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While Instagram is filled with talented photo-graphers trying to use that powerful little square to get their work out there, a select few are also using it as their curatorial canvass. We decided to talk to Columbus Visuals’ founders for this month’s Uncovering Columbus feature—in the only way that made sense: from our photographer and editor, all in the DMs.

@briankaiser: So, tell us a bit about @columbusvisuals. How long have you been around and why did you start it?

@mitchgeiser: Zack (@inthemidwest) and I started the page just over a year ago. When we looked at Columbus feature pages we felt like they fell in two categories. Half were highly followed pages that tend to feature businesses/tourism and [the] occasional skyline shot. While the other half were under-followed, yet featured a lot of amazing art/artists. We really wanted to bring these two worlds together. We are shooting for a page that artists follow and look to be featured on but also your every day user would be interested in as well. We want a page where not only photographers are inspired but so is the user who just wants to follow a Columbus page to see somewhere new to visit in their city.

@briankaiser: With over 3,500 followers and more than 18,000 uses of the#ColumbusVisuals hashtag, you guys have clearly found an audience. I think a big part of that has been the distinct images you find and feature. What goes into that process of selecting images to feature? Is there anything in particular you are looking for?

@inthemidwest: When Mitch and I talked about creating a page, it was because we wanted it to be something different. We wanted to share unique styles and perspectives to inspire our community to get out and explore Columbus. We wanted to share more than the same 10 photographers, and we actually wanted to find photographers who have never been featured on any page, but deserved it. The process is a lot of work. Enough so that we brought on three others to help run the page. A lot of time is spent digging through random hashtags and locations. We try to make sure we keep a diverse feed in both style  and content by constantly featuring new artists daily. Another way we have been able to discover new artists is by asking our Takeover Tuesday hosts to share what inspires them. Some of my favorite photographers have been found through others sharing their work during their takeover.

@briankaiser: Who have you guys found via the hashtag or a takeover recommendation whose work has really blown you away? Someone you weren’t already following?

@mitchgeiser: @xmarterz was a guy we found through this page. It was pretty exciting finding him because his style was unlike anything I’ve seen in Columbus. He isn’t from Columbus so our community was the first he got involved in. If I remember correctly our first meet up was also the first he had ever been to. He was also one of the first to host a takeover on our page.

@thelastwhitesquirrel: @house_of_revelry she’s rad. We’ve featured her a ton and others who have taken our page over have featured her as well. She shoots analog and digital. I love her work; she’s really good at making the ordinary things I’ve seen my whole life look extraordinary. I value that a lot in photography. She’s also super supportive to the community. She’s always commenting and liking photos we share.

@travis614: Are there certain tropes you see pop up that you try to avoid, or catch yourself trying to limit in your feed in such an imitative medium?

@widfarend: I think our focus is more on trying to feature a variety of photographers around Columbus, so if there was anything we try to avoid, it would be sharing the same photographers over and over.

@inthemidwest: I completely agree with Stephanie. I am completely amateur. I was into photography in college and stopped when life got busy. Mitch helped reignite that passion again by talking about photography while I got haircuts. He explained so much, took the time to give me advice, etc.

@travis614: Why do you think professional photographers have embraced Instagram, beyond just that it’s exposure? In my years in the biz, there was always such a huge divide and frankly, a bit of a snootiness about pro/am. Why has that changed and if you agree, how have you seen Instagram evolve that?

@widfarend: I really think that the communities nowadays want to collaborate and create with each other, especially the community we are seeing grow at Columbus Visuals. Instagram has simply provided the platform to do so. People want to connect, learn from, and explore with each other. And frankly that gets us so excited. The CV team is a great testament to that because each one of us brings something entirely different to the table.

@inthemidwest: Since starting CV we have had a wide range of professionals and amateurs and I have not seen a divide at all. People seem more about building a community and wanting to help one another, rather than being competitive.

@thelastwhitesquirrel: I totally agree with both of you.I’ve wanted to quit so many times, but the community has always encouraged me to keep going, pros and amateurs alike. I can’t speak for the rest of Instagram, but for the team here in Columbus, I see no divide between the pros and the amateurs.

@travis614: Finally: is there always the thought that there is still some secret spot out there that no one’s blown up? Or is it all about trying to find a fresh angle or lens to put on a familiar backdrop?

@inthemidwest: I still believe in the hidden spots. Exploring is one of my favorite things. I love looking for new locations, buildings, and views. The rush I get when I feel like I’ve been somewhere and captured something new no one else has, is a feeling like no other. Photography has just enhanced my passion to explore because I can share those places with others. I think if you look hard enough you can find little gems that haven’t been captured yet.

@thelastwhitesquirrel: As for tropes, the deer at the mile has been shot a ton and the skyline, but even so I still see new takes on those two things that make me say “wow.” I’m always impressed by people’s creativity and ability to capture things
I pass by every day and make them beautiful.

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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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