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How to advance and evolve with the changing Short North. What would you call Da Levee and Justin Boehme? Old-School New Short North? Yeah that sounds about right. The Louisiana-born Iraq vet brought his native cuisine and a laid back vibe to his little spot behind Axis, and was most certainly of the young, independent [...]
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How to advance and evolve with the changing Short North.

What would you call Da Levee and Justin Boehme?

Old-School New Short North?

Yeah that sounds about right.

The Louisiana-born Iraq vet brought his native cuisine and a laid back vibe to his little spot behind Axis, and was most certainly of the young, independent businesspeople that came to characterize the second wave of the neighborhood. He knew his customers, and they knew him.

A few months ago, unable to recognize the neighborhood from eight years earlier—or two for that matter—he made a decision:

It’s time for us to change, too.

With more folks in the entertainment district wanting to wet their beak than try on a new culinary adventure, ever the Army guy, he adapted on the fly, turning the former Cajun restaurant into a sleek, slim pool hall, named after his grandfather, a veteran too.

Today, Eugene’s Canteen is thriving, and Boehme is embracing new customers—and new possibilities in the Short North.

You and your grandfather are both veterans. Can you tell us about the branches of military you were in, and your jobs? We were both Army. Grandpa was in the infantry and carried a bazooka. He actually enlisted under his older brothers name because he was too young. He never talked to anyone, not even Grandma, about his experience. The one fact I know is he was in the Battle of the Bulge and him and only two other soldiers in his company came back alive. He passed away before I joined the military, so we never got to swap war stories. My job was a 31U, radio operator/maintainer. My main mission during my deployment was operating the TOC, coordinating patient transport to the clinic. Halfway into my deployment I was assigned to travel base to base in Iraq to upgrade HUMVEE seat belts. It was quite the experience to tour the country.

Tell us about The Backdoor. The Backdoor is a pop up kitchen located inside of Eugene’s Canteen. We schedule local chefs to come in and feature their food and have a High Street restaurant for a day. It also gives me a opportunity to do my own pop-ups and experiment with new dishes for my catering company and future restaurants.

This location used to be Da Levee. What was the catalyst for changing your business.  There were two factors that sparked my interest in the change. The first is for the past year I had planned to be a part of a new concept here in the Short North serving cajun that is a bar and has several food concepts, similar to a food court. After a year of planning and a verbal agreement I was notified by a text message that I was no longer a vendor on the day they started announcing their vendors. The second factor is that my catering company is really taking off and wanted to make my life a bit easier. I have kicked my own ass these past eight years running multiple restaurants. I wanted to create a space I could just kick it and chill.

You transitioned from a restaurant featuring cajun food, to a bar inspired by your grandpa. Is it more personal now? Can you compare and contrast them a little bit for us? Opening a new business to me is like having a child. That is also being said from a guy with no kids. Da Levee will always be my first child and hold a special place in my heart. I have been in the cajun business for 15 years. nine of which with my mentor Joe Vuskovich and eight and counting on my own. Eugene’s Canteen is more personal due to the fact that I got to work side by side with my wife. She is an amazing designer and really did a number on this one. She handled all the design and branding and I did my best to build it. It is nice to look at every detail of the build out and remember every Lowe’s trip and argument that came with. Eugene’s is my happy place. As a child my sister and I would create a fake grocery store in my grandparents attic and we called it “Gene’s Place.” Once I opened Da Levee I promised my sister one day I would open a “Gene’s Place,” Eugene’s Canteen is my version of that. This bar has really been in the works for 30 years.

We’ve got to talk about construction if we’re talking to a Short North business owner… I think the construction in the Short North is all for the better. I can’t say I agree with the destruction of certain buildings or approve of certain architectural decisions, but overall I think its a positive change. I can’t wait for my new sidewalk!

So, your future is in the Short North? I am evolving with the scene and keeping my business relevant. I am also a huge fan of change. I was ready to release some creativity and build something I hope the neighborhood appreciates. To add to it, running restaurants is a challenging business. Running a bar feels like a vacation, comparatively. Less overhead,  less stress, better hours. I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon. I was recently offered a disgusting amount of money to buy my business, but I’m not ready yet. I want to see what Eugene’s grows into.

For those missing Da Levee, you can still pop in to their Gahanna location, or get a taste of Rouxpert’s, Boehme’s catering company, which still serves out of the Backdoor every Friday and Saturday night. Eugene’s Canteen is open 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday at 765 N High St.

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Students at C.K. Lee Taekwondo Academy kick in for a good cause

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Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second: who wouldn’t want to break a wooden board with a furious Taekwondo kick or punch in front of several hundred cheering onlookers? Now, imagine the aforementioned spectacle will help a philanthropically-minded local business raise over $10,000 this year to bene t Nationwide Children’s Hospital?

You’d deserve a roundhouse kick to the sternum if you turned that chance away.

But worry not, all of you closet martial artists: there’s still time. Now for the fourth straight year, the Upper Arlington-based C.K. Lee Taekwondo Academy will host the aptly named Health Kick, an action packed fundraiser benefiting Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The event will offer the academy’s students, along with any willing audience donor, the chance to break a board in front of hundreds of their closest friends.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

“We go through around 1,000 boards every year,” said Christine Lee, daughter of the academy’s namesake C.K. Lee, so there’s plenty to go around.

The pair, along with two other family members, immigrated to the United States

from South Korea in 2011. They wasted no time in opening their now-thriving academy in 2013, which today serves nearly 300 students from the age of four to adult.

Christine is a dedicated student of Taekwondo herself. Having studied it since the age of seven, she is currently a regular sparring competitor and a bonafide instructor at the academy, all while maintaining a full time course load as a student at Ohio State.

Likewise, C.K., now 53, has been a student of the martial art since he was a child. “Taekwondo has a focus on self control, courtesy, and respect for others,” he said, speaking to the benefits of the practice. Lee adopts this same holistic, progressive approach to teaching as well. “Teaching Taekwondo is similar to being a father, where I’m caring and nice when I can be, but firm and strict when necessary. Many students consider us to be like a second family.”

Testament to Lee’s style of instruction is nine year old black belt Taran Tein, who attends the academy with his mother (and our very own photographer) Rebecca and sister Calliope. Tien recalls extracting more than simply martial arts training, but important personal lessons from sessions with C.K.

While Tien gushes about the kindness and enthusiasm of Lee, he recalls an important early lesson in his training career. “On one of my first days, I kept trying to show off things without listening. Later when I would try to high five master Lee, he didn’t high five me. He would put his hands behind his back.” Lee eventually took Tien aside and gently explained to him that listening to his instructions was critical to success. He remembers the event vividly, and it appears it has generated an amount of productive self awareness one wouldn’t expect from a 9 year old. “I feel like I’m more mature now,” he said. “There’s a reason he didn’t high five me, and I know that.”

And when Lee isn’t providing paternal advice to his nearly 300 students, the Taekwondo Grandmaster is bestowing critical Columbus charities with funding.

In the last three years of its operation, Health Kick has raised $28,000 for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and a fundraising event that has always been solicited by the students.

The event is the Columbus-area iteration of a national fundraiser that began in Buffalo, New York, with Taekwondo Grandmaster Sun Ki Chong, called the ATU National Health Kick, or Kicking for Miracles. Since its inception, it has raised millions of dollars for charities across the county.

The 2019 C.K. Lee Academy Health Kick will be held in the Centennial High School gym, since the fundraiser is now too large for Hastings Middle School, its former venue, and the Lees expect well over 300 people to be in attendance.

Students from the academy will start the event by holding their final belt ceremony of the year, which will include students performing their forms—a coordinated series of kicks, punches and other maneuvers that martial artists must run through correctly to advance.

After another short demonstration of forms by the academy’s demo team, Lee’s students will begin breaking broads, and eventually audience members will be able to try their hand (or more likely their foot) at the task, after making a $10 donation.

According to Tien, donors need not worry about failing. “Everyone should be able to do it,” he said. “We’re trained to hold it the right way, and that makes it a lot easier to break.”

And while the many youth receiving care from Nationwide Children’s will no doubt benefit from the 2019 Health Kick, Lee’s unique approach to philanthropy aims to help his students just as much.

“I think that even though many kids won’t be able to raise $100, by raising even $1 or $2 they will be able to feel like they’re a part of the fundraiser,” Lee says. “They’ll see at the end how that small amount of money becomes over $10,000, and hopefully that act of kindness becomes a habit for them.”

The 2019 Health Kick fundraiser will take place at Centennial High School, located at 1441 Bethel Rd., on Saturday, December 7 from 10:30 AM until 1:30 PM.

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Painlessly Beautiful: Non-toxic beauty products take flight at Fine Feather

Olivia Balcerzak

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The old saying ‘beauty is pain’ has been around for ages—but that will not hold true for much longer, according to Diana Wang, owner of Fine Feather. The Grandview shop is challenging the old phrase, proving that beauty should not be painful.

“I care so much about people having access to healthy products and being an empowered consumer,” Wang said. “Everything we carry is clean and I have set the standards for everything that we carry, and the standards I’ve set are very strict.”

Fine Feather is a new store that carries exclusively non-toxic health and beauty products including skin, hair and body care, makeup, nail color, personal fragrances, aromatherapy, and wellness supplies. Wang said each of the products in the store is hand picked by her after extensive research to confirm that there are no harmful toxins in the products.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

“I was a customer of a lot of the brands before I carried them here, so I can speak on just how well they worked,” Wang said.

She created Fine Feather after realizing that, despite the growing size and population in Columbus, there was a lack of clean beauty stores.

“I was really frustrated with the fact that I looked around Columbus for a clean foundation and I could find nothing here,” Wang said. “You can find almost everything here, but why can’t we find clean beauty brands here?”

This led her to do more research. “I had come across a few independent stores across the U.S. that carried only clean beauty and I looked at them and I was thinking to myself, ‘I really really wish someone would bring this here,’” Wang said. “I just finally realized maybe I can’t stop thinking about this, because I should be the person to do it.”

Wang began working on what is now Fine Feather full-time in January 2018, and the store opened officially in August of this year. While the store is still very new, the movement towards clean beauty is one Wang said has been around for a while and will only continue to grow in the near future.

“I really believe that clean beauty is going to become the norm someday,” Wang said. “I think the goal of anyone in beauty, whether they’re a retailer or a brand, is for clean beauty to just be beauty.”

With that said, Wang recognizes that there is still a long way to go before “beauty” means without toxins—at least in America. According to Wang, the FDA is very limited in the amount of toxins that they can ban from the U.S.

“As a consumer [...] I wasn’t very well-informed; most people are not very well-informed and that’s not our fault—we kind of default to trusting those in power,” Wang said. “We assume our government is looking out for us; our government is not allowing for toxic ingredients that could harm us to be put into these products, but they actually are.”

In fact, Wang said, the U.S. only bans 30 toxic ingredients from their beauty products, whereas Canada bans over 600 and Europe bans 1,400. Because of the lack of regulation, she said that the addition of the word “natural” to beauty products has no meaning.

“For a brand to call itself or its products natural, they can do that here because no one’s regulating, no one’s saying ‘what do you mean by natural?’ it is whatever they define as natural,” Wang said. “Because that word is not regulated, and that’s a word that people who don’t use clean products throw around a lot, so it’s lost its meaning.”

For that reason, Wang said she does not use the word natural to describe Fine Feather, either. Rather, she informs potential clients that all of the products are free of toxins and clean. Informing consumers about the products in the store, their uses, and the ingredients in them is a part of the experience customers can expect upon entering Fine Feather.

“I want it to be a place of high engagement and I really wanted to educate people who want to be educated,” Wang said.

That is why Wang said she added another component to the Fine Feather experience. A couple of times a month, Fine Feather hosts educational events that are $10 or less (and oftentimes free) to attend, and are open to the public.

“I really wanted the store to be more than just a place where you can buy products,” Wang said. “I wanted it to be a place where you can cultivate community, education and empowerment.”

Fine Feather is located at 1201 Grandview Avenue. All events can be found on Fine Feather’s Instagram page at finefeathershop.

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Arts & Culture

Gallery Space: Danielle Deley

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In the ‘60s, the clash of mass culture and fine art exploded. Led by New York-based artist Andy Warhol, whose silkscreen paintings of Campbell’s Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe were instantly iconicized, the vibrant basis of his works became known as pop art. While Warhol was one of the founding pop art leaders, the lesser-recognized Roy Lichtenstein was a Fine Arts graduate from The Ohio State University in 1949 and was notable for his comic-like expressionism.

Subtly following Lichtenstein’s influential trajectory is visual artist Danielle Deley, who’s currently prepping for her Skylab show Jubilee. Her use of color is rich in tone, and her subjects are easily recognizable, with cultural nods to Frank Ocean, Barbara Streisand and the late David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

“I want Jubilee to feel like you’re walking back into the height of the pop art era. I might have a more muted color palette than Lichtenstein, but I want it to make a comment about traditional fine art,” Deley said. “Each of the 2D pieces are based off of very popular sculptures in Greek and Renaissance art. Each 3D piece is taken from paintings from that same time period.”

Originally from Youngstown, Deley graduated from CCAD in 2011 with a BFA in graphic design and advertising. Spending a semester in England while she attended CCAD, Deley regularly kept in contact with her grade school art teachers, who provided encouragement and foundational skills. Their guidance led her into becoming co-president of the Columbus Society of Communicating Arts, and even illustrating Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on a cover of Chicago Reader in April. Through Deley’s intricate, pastel design, Lightfoot is recreated into a queen of spades form.

“Sue Kwong, the creative lead for the Chicago Reader, reached out, had this awesome cover idea and wanted me to bring her vision to life,” Deley said about the collaboration. “She found me on this forum called Women Who Draw, something I submitted to six years ago. They make a space for female artists and illustrators to find other female artists and illustrators. [Illustrating the cover] probably took eight hours. It was my first cover illustration for a big publication so I wanted to get it right.”

Often visiting Gateway Film Center to see how films are composed, Deley actively studies the meticulous craft of cinematography, along with going to intimate gallery spaces to align with the art community. After graduating from CCAD, Deley would only create on her computer, but decided to transition her work into watercoloring. “[Watercoloring] then moved into gouache, wood carving, and finally painting with acrylics. My style started to take shape just from doing these small projects that popped into my head,” she said. “My first one was The Young and the Restless illustration that I have on my website and I just couldn’t stop. The style stayed the same but I would push myself with composition, size, and color.”

Currently contracting as a designer at independent digital design Studio Freight, Deley also co-created the “mind reading” board game Medium, which Two Dollar Radio attendees had the chance to celebrate and play after its release. In August, Delay also illustrated children’s (and dog lovers) book Good Night, Buckeye with author Dan Wurth, with all proceeds from the book benefitting Canine Companions for Independence. With Deley’s hectic creative schedule, Jubilee could have become an afterthought, but she assures (614) that the show’s creation was intentional, with retrospective, familial ties.

“I came up [with] the name [of Jubilee] for two reasons. One, Jubilee came from the idea of celebrating. I thought it was time to celebrate this style I’ve been creating,” she said. “And two, it’s an homage to my grandparents. My Baba would always make this rich and delicious cookies called ‘jubilees’. They were always doing a craft with me or when I would come visit they were creating something.”

With appreciation for local art venues such as 934 Gallery, No Place Gallery and Roy G Biv, Deley avidly wanted for Jubilee to be placed in Skylab, ready to share her “post-pop art” genre with Columbus. “Skylab was the perfect space to propose this show. Its view of art has always been contemporary and experimental, and that’s how I view everything I make,” she said. “Contemporary art for me is about making things weird and beautiful at the same time and that’s how I hope people perceive Jubilee.

Jubilee opens Jan. 1, 2020 at Skylab Gallery, located at 57 E Gay St., 5th floor.
Visit danielledeley.com or @danielle_deley on Instagram for more information.

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