Front Row Center Newsletter from the Greater Columbus Arts Counsil

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By Jami Goldstein

The arts are ingrained in our everyday lives, from intricate murals that breathe new life into dilapidated buildings, to local exhibitions, festivals and live performances. An engaged arts community enhances a city’s culture. It encourages collaboration and promotes creativity. A strong, deeply rooted arts community relies on engagement in order to grow and thrive. The city of Columbus has a living, breathing, well-oiled arts community, and it’s gaining momentum.

At the heart of it all are the artists who paint, photograph, sculpt, sing, dance, write and create right here in Columbus. Their stories are the driving force behind the Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art campaign, a sustainable five-year initiative created by the Greater Columbus Arts Council (Arts Council), local arts organizations and community partners that will bridge gaps between artists, businesses and the local community.

“Over the last decade, different organizations conducted and sponsored multiple studies on the arts and culture in Columbus,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, president and CEO of the Arts Council. “One of the things that kept coming up was the arts sector in Columbus needed to find a way to market together as one entity.”

“The Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art campaign is an effort for the first time to bring everyone together and raise the visibility of arts in Columbus, said Katzenmeyer. “One of the main ways we wanted to promote engagement was to tell our artists’ stories. People want to connect with them and know what they’re doing and where they’re headed.”

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Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art is focused on stories because behind every artist is a story worth telling and a masterpiece worth admiring.

Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art is the first campaign of its kind, and is the largest collaborative arts campaign in the city’s history. It celebrates local artists for their talents and for their desire to create work here in Columbus. Many of the artists are proud to call Columbus home because of the available resources, supportive community and network of like-minded creative individuals who are fully invested in growing the city’s arts community. Each artist creates unique art and has a unique story.

“We want to celebrate our artists’ decisions to stay and create their work in Columbus because it’s a great place to be,” said Nannette Maciejunes, executive director of the Columbus Museum of Art and chair of the Columbus Cultural Leadership Consortium, a campaign partner. “We want the people of Columbus to connect with our artists, and feed off of their passion, their dedication, their talent, and their love for our city. This is an opportunity for people to get engaged and to feel personally connected to the arts in Columbus. We want community members to get to know creative thinkers and artists. These people are extraordinary.”

Artist Bryan Moss exclusively paints women as his fine art subjects because of his respect for the two sisters he grew up with in Columbus. Sound and video artist Ty Owen can sense magnetic fields due to a gold-plated magnet that is implanted in his left ring finger. Horticulture designer Amanda Bettin creates breathtaking garden and landscape exhibitions at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, but she doesn’t have a single houseplant in her home because she fears it would be neglected. Dancer Samantha Lewis believes the key to a perfect performance is letting go of trying to be perfect. For Jazz musician Bryon Stripling art creates passion, joy and heartfelt enthusiasm—and he believes that jazz brings people together in a way that nurtures and fulfills.

These artists stories are just a handful of many that you can experience on the Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art website. Because behind every artist is a story worth telling and a masterpiece worth admiring.

“I want people to get engaged with the arts here in Columbus,” Katzenmeyer said. “I want them to go to a performance or exhibition, or to a gallery and admire, and maybe even buy one of our artist’s work.”

“If I could tell a stranger on the street one thing, it would be this: This campaign promotes engagement at any level,” added Katzenmeyer.

Columbus’ increasing reputation as a creative capital has contributed to the attraction and retention of young talent that has helped make the city the fastest growing in the Midwest.

“In order to attract residents, visitors and economic development, a city must have a strong arts community, great arts attractions and visible public art,” said George Barrett, chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health. “Columbus has these pieces in place. Now that we have established ourselves as one of America’s top cities, we must showcase our arts. This campaign will build upon our strong arts foundation, and do a much better job telling our story as a city of arts and of artists.”

For many young artists in Columbus, the arts are more than an opening night performance, a perfectly shot photograph or a painting that rivals the work of the greats. The arts are a way of life. And through immersing themselves in Columbus’ arts and culture scene, the artists find deeper meaning.

“We’ve never done anything like this before on this scale, and to be this committed for five years…it’s amazing. You can really find yourself in the arts here,” said Maciejunes. “It’s one of the things that makes our community so incredibly special.”

Columbus is a place where individuals can be heard and make a difference through their work and creativity. The artists featured in the campaign say they wouldn’t want to make their art anywhere else. Can you blame them?

The sponsors of the Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art campaign are the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Columbus Cultural Leadership Consortium, AEP Ohio, Cardinal Health, PNC Bank, Dispatch Media Group and The Columbus Foundation. The campaign’s community partners include Columbus 2020, Experience Columbus, Fahlgren Mortine, Griffin Communications, Paul Werth Associates, Ologie and WOSU.

Jami Goldstein is the vice president of marketing, communications and events for the Greater Columbus Arts Council. She has two decades of expertise in marketing, public relations in the arts sector and is a passionate advocate of artists and the arts in Columbus.

Eddie Adams: Vietnam, currently on view at the Dublin Arts Council