Columbus Artists: Becoming Collectible

By Tracy Zollinger Turner

When it comes to cultivating a financially successful career as a visual artist, there is no clean and obvious blueprint. It is an obstacle course of grant and fellowship applications, exhibitions, gallery representation and media attention that still may not lead to the ability to financially sustain oneself as an artist without a strong helping of serendipity.

There is also the question of what makes an artist’s work appear to be a worthwhile investment to art collectors. While it’s sometimes just a matter of the personal tastes of a committed art-buyer, other factors, such as a track record of grant and fellowship awards, appearance in publications or a strong history of showing in notable galleries, can put a higher premium on the work of a particular artist.

One thing that often creates momentum, as well as a more solid foundation for an artist is having work purchased by a major institution or private collection.

“The value of an artist having work purchased by experienced collectors is that it can help build confidence in inexperienced collectors as they consider what to buy,” says Rebecca Ibel, the veteran Short North gallery owner who shuttered her doors in 2011 and became the director and curator of the Pizzuti Collection.

“Collectors don’t do things by committee. They are often just buying something they like. But the impact of having a well-established collector buy something can also be meaningful to the artist,” she says. “If it’s good enough that someone like Ron [Pizzuti] bought it, that can be a big confidence boost.”

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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 an average of 30,000 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 a few of the many talented individuals who make up central Ohio’s thriving creative community. This month's profile features Ohio native and longtime Columbus resident, Bob Ray Starker.  Starker is a singer, songwriter, saxophone player, illustrator, graphic designer - and undoubtedly many more creative talents and interests that we didn't have time to get in to.  Starker has been a fixure in the Columbus music scene for years and is well-known in the arts community as a great talent.  And anyone who knows him will say he's an all-around great guy.

"Writing is such a different thing from performing, it’s way more introspective and solitary. Performance is immediate feedback, it’s a cooperative party that happens in the moment. Writing is something I do all alone, like a cat crawling under the back porch to have kittens. Writing is storytelling, you have to have opinions, you need to be a philosopher to a certain extent, or maybe a journalist. If you don’t start out with a story to tell, you’re not going to write much of a song. It helps if it’s built on a personal experience, but I also like to keep my stories/lyrics as universal as possible, in the hopes that a greater number of people can use those songs to find some truth in their own life. If I write a song that helps me get through the death of a pet cat that helps someone else get through the death of a close friend... well that’s a win-win, right?"

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Columbus Dance Theatre (CDT) announced in February the recipients of the third annual Columbus Dances Fellowship Award. Five choreographers have been chosen to receive fellowships through funding provided by GCAC. The winning choreographers’ new works—five new dances in all—will be showcased in a performance free to the public on March 15 and 16 at CDT’s Fischer Theatre.

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For two weeks in March, CS Gallery will play host to Exposure: A Mobile Photography Exhibition, showcasing the work of more than 50 artists -- local and global, emerging and seasoned -- whose diverse views are expressed through mobile phones. Exposure will shatter preconceived notions about the genre, and demonstrate that a desire to push boundaries can spark a global movement to redefine photography.

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On March 2, eight high school a cappella groups will compete for a $1,000 grand prize at the Fourth Annual Columbus A Cappella Fest, presented by the Columbus Children’s Choir (CCC) and The GrooveBarbers (founders of Rockapella). Judge scores will combine with audience votes to decide the winner. Performances by CCC and Bexley High School will finish out the evening.

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