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Gallery Space: Hakim Callwood & Lauren Carter Best

Linda Lee Baird

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It’s difficult to write a Gallery Space column about public art. After a long discussion with artists Hakim Callwood and Lauren Carter Best—both of whom created murals for Gravity, Franklinton’s new “conscious community” development—it’s clear to me that the term “gallery” is too limiting in this context; galleries put doors around artwork and separate it from everyday experiences. This is exactly the opposite of Callwood and Best’s intentions, and it’s something Gravity attempts to correct by infusing artwork throughout its architecture. “Walking into Gravity is just an immersive experience that, like, anyone can have,” Best said. “I feel like it’s just kind of changing the assumption that art is something that only privileged people can see or be around.” 

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Callwood and Best both found out about Gravity through personal networks; Callwood applied to be one of the artists after learning about the opportunity through Urban Scrawl (an annual street art event he participates in regularly) and Best through a friend. Both were attracted to the idea of creating work that would be accessible and visible to the public, outside of the pretenses associated with high art. “When we have art shows, it is not very businessy,” Callwood said. “A lot of what I do is try to welcome people in: Come to your first art show! Wear some jeans!”

For his mural, Callwood created a tribute to artist Elijah Pierce, who worked in Columbus from the 1920s until his death in the 1980s. Callwood was inspired by Pierce’s story and the work he created. “He lived here in Columbus, in this same neighborhood, roughly. And he was a woodworker and a barber and a sculptor. He was just like a local legend,” Callwood said. The mural depicts Pierce standing alongside oversized versions of some of his work. Callwood’s intent was to make the experience interactive for viewers. “He did wood carving, sculptures of animals, so I tried to make life-sized animals so people could come take a picture next to the deer, or ‘like’ petting the cat.”  

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Best chose to enlarge one of her existing pieces called “Spring” for her mural. Spring is part of a series featuring the same woman experiencing the different seasons. (Best would like to eventually paint the remaining seasons around other parts of the city). The mural features large, swirling designs rendered in soothing colors. Best hopes it will encourage viewers to slow down and reflect. “I feel so strongly and passionately that part of the healing that needs to happen in the world is that people need to spend more time just pausing,” she said. It’s a powerful message permanently situated at the entrance to the massive development on busy Broad Street.

Gravity, phase I, is 550,000 square feet of apartments and commercial space, with over 14,000 square feet of murals (the even-larger phase II will break ground later in the summer). The project has faced its share of criticism over everything from the decision to hire an artist from outside of Columbus to paint the most prominent exterior mural to complaints that the rents at Gravity put its apartments out of reach for many longtime Franklinton residents. There’s an irony that the murals, created to be enjoyed by anyone, are part of a project that’s been criticized for being too exclusive.

Callwood was quick to acknowledge the concern. Still, he gives credit to Gravity’s planners for working with the community, noting that they hired local artists and collaborated with the Franklinton Arts Council in designing the project. “Those are people from the neighborhood,” he said. Best echoed this sentiment, explaining that while she shares concerns about gentrification, she chose to have her work represented at Gravity in part because it is “showcasing what the community has to offer,” and she felt the artists’ work was valued and recognized by Gravity’s architects. Brett Kaufman, Gravity founder, said he is committed to using the space to bring people together. “We’re intentionally engaging people in a way that has real meaning—offering a physical space where they can literally see beauty and creativity all around them.” 

The task of creating 14,000 square feet of murals isn’t an easy one, and Callwood laughed as he shared how the weather refused to cooperate on work days. “At the key time when people were doing the murals it started raining!” he said. Best worked on different days and coped with heat instead. Despite the conditions, she enjoyed the process. “[My mural] faces Broad Street so people would just be walking down and yell, like, What are you guys doing? It was an interactive type of thing, really fun,” she said. 

Controversies aside, Gravity represents an exciting opportunity for Columbus artists and art lovers alike, giving prominent recognition to work that may not be a fit for traditional galleries, but is, as Callwood says, accessible and fun. “You ever go to another city and see a bunch of murals on like their buildings and it just makes you feel welcomed into the city? That’s the same type of thing I’m trying to do.” 

Gravity is located at 500 W Broad Street in Franklinton. Lauren Carter Best’s work can be seen at Laurencarterbest.com and on Instagram at Laurencarterbest. Hakim Callwood’s work is at Hakimsartnstuff.com and on Instagram at hakimsartnstuff.

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614NOW Survival Guide: Jazz & Rib Fest

Mike Thomas

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With hours of free live music and over a dozen vendors of amazing smoked foods at your disposal, the Jazz & Rib fest is one of the signature events of summer in Columbus.

A festival of this scale offers so much to enjoy, which means it’s also easy to get overwhelmed. Unpredictable weather. Crowds. The ever-present threat of itis. What’s a Jazz & Rib-lover to do?

Never fear, 614NOW is here with another summer festival survival guide. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to jazzy, pork-nap bliss.

Weather the storm (or heat)

July weather in Columbus can be unpredictable, so you’ll want to be prepared for whatever mother nature throws at you. With near-record heat in the forecast this weekend, be sure to pack an extra bottle or two of water or your favorite sports drink. High temps bring the potential for popup thunderstorms, so a cheap rain poncho in the back pocket is a clutch move.

Park it

The official Jazz and Rib fest website has all the info you’ll need to get where you’re going, and even offers some tips on where to park. While parking at meters, in downtown garages, and at COSI will be in play, it’s good to remember that public transit might be the cheapest way to get in and out. For those with the means, an Uber or Lyft could be preferable to navigating crowded and expensive event parking—plus you’ll probably leave the fest too full of rib meat to drive anyway.

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Line ’em up

You’ve made it to the fest, and now you’re faced with the hardest choice you’ll make this weekend: which ribs should you get? Two main factors to keep in mind: long lines may indicate a top-notch vendor, but obviously you’ll be waiting longer. Tents with short lines offer a quick fix, but could be a dice-roll when it comes to flavor.

Our advice: let your hunger guide you. If you see a favorite BBQ joint or a place offering your go-to regional style, a wait in line could be well worth it. If you’ve spent an hour circling the block for an open meter and arrive to the fest with ravenous hunger for smoked meats, hop in the shortest line you see. General consensus is that all participating vendors are pretty good, so wherever you end up you’ll probably be satisfied.

Yeah, cat! Dig those smooth grooves

If you only come for the ribs, you’re missing half the fun. The 2019 Jazz & Rib fest has secured a stellar lineup of artists ranging from smooth jazz favorites Norman Brown and Brian Culbertson, to local standouts Kinfolk and The Huntertones.

But The can’t-miss musical event of the weekend comes care of the Soul Rebels, who will be accompanied by founding member and spiritual leader of the legendary Wu-Tang clan, the one and only GZA.

Check out the fest’s full lineup of artists and schedule, and plan your time in rib lines accordingly.

The 2019 Jazz & Rib Fest takes place Friday, July 19, 2019 through Sunday, July 21 at Bicentennial Park. The event is free to attend.

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The Weekend Lookout: 3 can’t miss events for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Mitch Hooper

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Did you enjoy your festival break last week? I sure hope so because the festivals are back in action this weekend and you have some catching up to do. With everything from cavity-inducing craft beer pairings to setting your new 5K personal record time, here’s what you can’t miss this weekend.

P.S. Don’t forget about Restaurant Week July 15-20!

Friday

Jazz & Rib Fest 2019 @ The Scioto Mile

All weekend you can enjoy the sounds of jazz and the stains of barbecue at the Jazz & Rib Fest. Including the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, this music festival will feature The Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Rebel Souls, and many more. Just be sure to keep a few wet naps handy throughout the day.

Sommerfest @ Germania Singing & Sport Society

Join the Germania Society for a night on the patio filled with bier, German entrees, and more bier! Test your endurance in the stein holding contest, or test your speed with a personal stein drinking contest. Just be verantwortlich (responsible).

Free Movie Night: How To Train Your Dragon @ Columbus Commons

Load up the kiddos in the car (or just come as your dragon loving self, we don’t judge) with blankets and lawn chairs to set up in the Commons for a free flick. How To Train Your Dragon is a comical animated movie, and it answers the lifelong question of how do you train your dragon?

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Saturday

The Peach Truck @ Weiland’s Market

Pour up a strong cup of coffee and head over to Weiland’s Market bright and early to score some of the freshest peaches in Ohio. The market opens at 8 a.m., and the lines will probably start filing in around 7:59 a.m.

Sours, Sorbets, & Donuts @ Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Start Saturday right with sour beers courtesy of Wolf’s Ridge and donuts courtesy of The Drunken Donut. The donut pop-up will be running from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. while the rest of the brewery will be doing flight pairings with sours and sorbets. For $12, your flight will include Grapefruit Sorbet with Terre du Sauvage; Blue -Strawberry & Rhubarb Sorbet with Strawberry Swimming in the Mangrove; and Black Cherry Sorbet with Swimming in the Mangrove.

Beer & Ice Cream @ Nocterra Brewing Company

So maybe starting your weekend before noon isn’t in your wheelhouse—that’s fine. Starting at 2 p.m., Nocterra will be partnering up with the Ice Cream Cart to serve up scoops alongside your pints. If you can’t tell, we really want you to forget the diet you’re on for the weekend.

Sunday

Michael Bublé @ The Schottenstein Center

Michael Bublé is back on tour after a long break from it all and he’s stopping off in Columbus. Don’t miss your chance to be serenaded by the smooth singing icon himself.

$10 Beer Flights @ Parsons North Brewing Company

Four mini glasses of beer for only $10? Sunday Funday has never been so affordable. Drink up! The deal is only on Sundays.

Ohio State Ross Heart Hospital 5K @ Ohio State (411 Woody Hayes Dr.)

This is why we were pushing donuts, ice cream, beer, and sorbet on you so heavy for Saturday and Sunday. Burn off those extra calories for a great cause as proceeds benefit heart disease research at Ohio State Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute.

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Be a canine counselor during Franklin County Shelter’s dog vacation week

614now

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It’s a miracle that we are lucky enough to experience Restaurant Week and Shelter Vacation in one week! From July 15-19, the Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center is giving you the opportunity to foster a dog, learn more about him or her, and see if you’re the perfect match for an adoption—it’s like a sleep-away camp for pups!

Shelter Vacation will feature adoptable dogs that have been at the shelter for at least one month, putting them in a better position to move out of the shelter and into their forever homes.

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Interested in this unique opportunity to brighten the life of a furry, four-legged friend? check out the adoptable dogs here, then contact Andrew at [email protected]

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