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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 [...]
614now Staff

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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

Ohio animator creates tribute, parody video of DeWine & Acton

Wayne T. Lewis, Publisher

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Video at bottom of story

About three weeks ago, when the world was starting to fall apart, Dave Stofka was looking for something to take his mind off the stream of daily bad news. A freelance web developer and animator since 2007, Stofka had just the idea.

"I watched Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton's press conferences, and all the Facebook comments I was reading conveyed a sense of great appreciation of their leadership. At some point I jokingly thought to myself that all they need is a theme song. Growing up in the days when every show had a theme song, the "Laverne & Shirley" theme popped into my head for some reason, said Stofka.

With some encouragement from his wife, he dug into the project putting to work his previous experience making animated parodies. Stofka says he put about 100 hours over 2.5 weeks into the video project.

"I knew technically how to pull it off. The jokes started flowing the more I worked on it and bounced ideas off my family and a couple friends. It snowballed from there," said Stofka.

The 1:20 video offers a light-hearted take on the state government's efforts - led by DeWine and Acton - in combating the coronavirus pandemic. The video is based on a hilarious take on the "Laverne & Shirley" theme song, performed by Stofka's friend, Elisa Grecar.

"My goal in this was to bring smiles to people's faces. It's so easy to focus on the negative and difficult to focus on the positive -- not just in times like this but in life in general. I love that Ohio's motto is "With God, all things are possible" -- it made a perfect tagline at the end -- and personally it has given me a lot of hope to get through this," added Stofka.

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Arts & Culture

CCAD Spring Art Fair goes virtual

Mitch Hooper

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The COVID-19 outbreak has all but canceled every event slated for April, but that isn't stopping the Columbus College of Art and Design from finding ways to safely move forward. Though there won't be an in-person Spring Art Fair this year, folks can still support these students and their artwork through the first ever virtual installment of the showcase.

Spanning April 10 to April 12, the CCAD Spring Art Fair will have its students projects, designs, and creations available for purchase online. The day kicks off on Friday at 5 p.m. and ends Sunday at midnight. All proceeds from the event will go directly to the artists, makers, and designers.

CCAD is also running a giveaway for anyone who makes a purchase during the Art Fair. If a visitor spends $50 or more and posts their receipt (without their personal information visible) to Instagram with the hashtag #CCADArtFair, they will be entered in to win a $50 gift certificate to CCAD’s Continuing & Professional Studies classes. Three winners will be selected randomly on April 13.

To find out more about the Art Fair, visit ccad.edu/experience-art/art-fair.

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Arts & Culture

Now Streaming: Columbus entertainers find virtual ways to perform

Mitch Hooper

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As Columbus entertainers prepared for warm weather and folks returning to the bars, COVID-19 came in and put it to a halt. The bars being closed indefinitely not only impacts owners, servers, and bartenders, it impacts the performers who rely on these places as a platform to showcase their talents. When folks can't come support local entertainers, what can they do?

What if they bring their talents to them? That's what many Columbus entertainers are doing during social distancing. While "work from home" wasn't much an option before this, comedians such as Amber Falter and Ian Miller are taking to Instagram Live and other streaming platforms to perform.

The first virtual show the two did was with Alexis Nelson of BarkBox, and admittedly, they were a little nervous about not having an audience for feedback.

"I was actually scared to start," Miller said. "Jokes don’t have what I call 'standalone timing.' You need a give and take with the audience, you build it into your jokes. The thought of telling jokes without immediate feedback was terrifying."

The two said the show went great and it didn't take long for both of them to enjoy streaming their comedy. Falter quickly did another virtual show, A Hamantha and Brisket Comedy Hours, with Samantha Sizemore and Bridjet Mendy themed around dating stories via Zoom. Miller, on the other hand, started a weekly story telling show on his Twitch channel Glass Cannon Comedy.

Falter, co-host of ACLU Stand-Up For Choice, says there's even been some silver linings to streaming her comedy.

"I was joking with one of my friends that is always like, 'Hey, I'm going to make it to the show! Can't wait to see you at the show!' and then they never make it out," Falter laughed. "Now you have no excuse, honey!"

As for the future ACLU Stand-Up For Choice comedy events, Falter said she and others involved, such as co-host Pat Deering, are figuring out how to do so through streaming.

Miller said he has seen many of his shows canceled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. He had six shows slated across 13 days, all of which have been canceled. Additionally, his monthly story telling show as well as Glass Cannon's quarterly-themed shows are suspended.

"It’s been rough. There may not have been of ton of Columbus comics “paying the bills” with comedy, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t felt the impact," Miller said "Times are tough, and it’s really hard to have a side hustle of any kind when you know leaving your house could put yourself and other in danger."

And that's why he believes it's so important to support entertainers in anyway you can. Whether that be through a share or follow on social media, every little bit helps grow their platform.

Falter echoed this sentiment, too.

"I want this to become a source of income and I've been extremely, extremely grateful for the people that have even sent like $2," she said. "Or not even that, if they just followed me on Instagram or told me I had a good set. [By just] saying, "Hey that was really fun, thanks so much," that alone is making me super emotional."

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