Front Row Center Newsletter from the Greater Columbus Arts Counsil
February Article
Tracy Zollinger Turner

Columbus has been lighting up one viral list after another in social media feeds for the past couple of years. For two years in a row, we have been named one of the top seven “Intelligent cities” in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum think tank. We’re a top five “secret foodie city” according to Forbes’ Travel blog and top three for Fashion Design behind New York and Los Angeles in a national ranking by Fashion Up. The Short North is routinely written about by national publications as a destination attraction. Yahoo Finance calls us a top 10 “new opportunity city” while Business Week ranks us the ninth best place in the nation for new college graduates.  Other publications tout us as among the top places to be young, broke and single or young and in love, and that is true whether we are gay or straight.

Past decades of civic hand-wringing over what real or imagined cultural identity to project about Columbus have given way to a city that’s coming into its own. Through thoughtful urban planning, ample creative energy and hard work it has evolved into someplace unique, imbued with attractive features that people all over the globe are pausing to look at.

“I think that Columbus has really changed in the last four or five years,” says Bill Conner, President and CEO of CAPA. “There is now a common understanding that in order to attract and retain the highest quality people in terms of the workforce – and attract and retain the highest quality of our college graduates – urbanization and quality of life are very important components of places people want to live in. If you look at the urban centers across America that are thriving, people are making decisions to live in them based on quality of life and not on income.”



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The Making of WOSU's Columbus Neighborhoods Series Artist Profile
Alan Spencer Headshot ceramicist, glass artist, geologist, educator
Alan Spencer

As the most comprehensive online events guide and resource for arts and culture in central Ohio, offers a virtual guide through the Columbus art world with a searchable database of events, concerts, performances and more. is an engaging place for artists and arts organizations to share what they do, with thousands of users per month. The Artist Directory allows visual, performing and literary artists to create a profile and portfolio to showcase their work—for free—and enables art enthusiasts to easily search for and connect with them. Our monthly artist profile series features interviews with some of the many talented individuals who make up central Ohio’s thriving creative community. 

For this issue, we interviewed Alan Spencer, whose career has ranged from field geologist to professional artist to arts educator.  Spencer has found a way to incorporate his lifelong love of geology into his current series of stoneware vessels, Strata in Clay. The pieces were created to represent examples of fossils preserved in rock strata in the each of the 12 geologic time periods during the past 500 million years.  Spencer currently works as a ceramics and sculpture instructor for Worthington City Schools.  His most notable works include stained glass window installations at the Methodist Theological Seminary of Ohio and the Delaware County Public Library.

“Geology and ceramics have both been passions of mine since I was young.  In the Strata in Clay series, I wanted to combine both of these passions and explore how our geologic history could be portrayed through a series of decorated vases.  Clay seemed to be a perfect material to work with to create this series. Clay is a material that is produced through the natural erosion process and weathering of rock strata.  The earth constantly recycles and rebuilds surface layers. As sand, silt and clay weather away from older deposits, new layers of sedimentary material form, and occasionally an organism gets buried between the layers, creating a fossil.”

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Sneak Peek

Ohio Craft Museum Presents In Touch With the Spirit

In Touch with the Spirit will showcase exemplary work by seven contemporary African-American artists alongside craft objects from the Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) Collection of African Art. Running through March 23, this exhibition examines the influence of African objects on today’s artists and how their contemporary work taps into this heritage.

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The Fuse Factory Presents the Nakatani Gong Orchestra

Tatsuya Nakatani will present his most recent project, the Nakatani Gong Orchestraas part of the Fuse Factory Electronic and Digital Arts Lab's Frequency Fridays series on February 7. The performance features 10 locally selected people on ten gong kits with Mr. Nakatani as the ensemble's conductor.

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Jazz Arts Group Presents Don’t You Forget About Me: Molly Ringwald

From the big screen to the stage, Molly Ringwald has done it all. Having made a name for herself as one of the greatest teen stars of all time, Ringwald has now made her imprint in the jazz world releasing her new album, Except…Sometimes, an homage to the Great American Songbook. Join her with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra February 6-9 at the Southern Theatre.

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GCAC appreciates and acknowledges support from: City of Columbus, Franklin County and the Ohio Arts Council.

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Front Row Center provides an in-depth look into the creative individuals and organizations that make the Central Ohio arts and cultural community unique. Front Row Center features articles about local and national arts issues, profiles of creative professionals, previews of upcoming events and the inside scoop on what’s happening in the arts in Columbus. For complete submission guidelines please visit our Publications Page.