Monday, June 13, 2016

Arts Weekend in Columbus

Friday June 10, 2016
This weekend there was no shortage of activities to choose from in the greater Columbus area. Starting on Friday there was the annual Columbus Arts Festival. Saturday there was the quarterly Avante-Garde Art Show at St. Agatha’s in Upper Arlington, and in late afternoon there was the Digfest at Grandview Yard. We only attended one of these three electing to go to the Arts Festival after work on Friday (mostly because it was supposed to be quite hot & humid on Saturday). It was a bit warm walking around at first, but after about an hour or so it started to cool off, so we were both pretty comfortable in slacks and t-shirts.
I’m not sure when we last attended the Arts Festival, but I do remember it was in the old location downtown, quite near to where Andrew was working at the time at Motorist’s Insurance. He even took a few photos of the festival looking out of one of the upper floor windows.
Since all the improvements downtown and the completion of the Scioto Mile, it makes for quite a nice venue for the festival. I would love to be one of the tenants whose apartment overlooks the festivities, or perhaps not, because I imagine it would be a bit noisy for a few days.
While searching for the Pierogi stall, we ended up looking at quite a lot of art before we finally found the elusive Polish delights (by which time they were out of half the flavors, but no biggie!). I think the first booth we looked at had some handmade guitars that were works of art, as well as playable guitars. One was made out of some sort of animal horns that looked like it would make playing quite difficult, but would definitely be a conversation piece, which is probably why you would buy it. Later on we saw another booth also selling homemade, but slightly more conventional guitar-like instruments (I forget what they were called) where the artist gave demos of how easy they were to play (because they only had 3 notes/3 strings). Had I any musical inclinations, I probably would have bought one.
I even ran into an old art class friend who said hello to me first. We’re both veterans of Amy Flowers’ Shrewd Arts classes. We had a chat at a booth selling (very expensive) homemade paper books bound in leather. My friend said they were very high quality (useful for different kinds of media) and better than most others she had purchased in the past. I’ll take her word for it, but passed all the same. I have several homemade paper books at home, none of which has ever been touched after bringing it home. Someone told me you need to mess up the first page or two in order to get over the fear and then just plunge right in and make some art.
Probably the longest conversation I had was with a young artist who had some interesting business cards – which were square and had a piece of her art on the front. Like many other potential customers, I ended up picking up more business cards than actual art, because so many of the cards were little works of art. The artist told me she uses moo to do her business cards and they have great customer service even shipping extra cards to her at a location on the road since the first batch didn’t arrive on time to her home. I told her I like moo because they’re one of the sponsors of NPR, so they’re a good company to support. I wish I had bought something from her, but looking around there wasn’t anything to fit our budget, or the size of our walls.
I ended up purchasing five items before the night was out – starting with two b/w photos by a young photographer. One was of the famous Shakespeare bookstore in Paris (which we had visited, but don’t really have any very interesting photos of), the other a self-portrait very reminiscent of the style of Vivian Maier. I later bought two necklaces, both fairly inexpensive purchases, and a blue tile that had a photograph transferred onto it reminding me (at least color-wise) of a delft tile. Either way, it will be a nice addition to our kitchen where I have lined up my others behind the sink under the window. My last purchase of the evening, and certainly the most agonizing decision was which homemade paper book to buy. This was in the tent of local up-and-coming artists from the Columbus area, so prices were somewhat cheaper than the others on the midway. Okay, so I’m a cheap philanthropist, but like I said earlier, I have a penchant for collecting these little works of art and keeping them pristine by never sullying their delicate pages with what passes for art from my untrained hands. I finally settled on the ‘Wanderlust’ book setting aside the ‘Inspiration’ one with slightly pink colored paper. I probably should have bought them both, but I didn’t want Andrew to have a cow when I blew my $100 budget (which I went over, just a little).

I talked Andrew into buying a funky clock from a vendor out of Oakland, CA. It wouldn’t be the one I would go to when needing the time in a hurry since it’s more of a work of art and is somewhat difficult (at least to my untrained eyes) to suss out the time. However, it is a work of art, and Andrew spent quite awhile studying each one, so I knew he was definitely interested. He just needed a little encouragement. It didn’t take much prodding to convince him to go for it, and I think we’re both glad he did.

After dark the whole Scioto Mile turns into this magical place where I wish I could have spent longer (it was still quite warm, but not too humid), but the festival was wrapping up for the day and people were heading out, so we slowly made our way back to our car and headed back to suburbia.

Sunday June 12, 2016
Today we visited the Wexner Center to see their latest exhibit, Martin Wong, Human Instamatic. I don’t know if that’s what he called himself or whether some clever marketer came up with that, but even after seeing the exhibit, I still fail to see the connection.

Though it’s not work by a master, the paintings and other multi-media pieces were still top quality. The artist was a homosexual Asian  (who loved to dress as a cowboy) who lived in San Francisco before moving to NYC, and most of his art reflects the people he knew and the neighborhood he lived in. It’s a grim portrait to be sure, but still moving and interesting.
My favorite works were the paintings he did of fingers spelling out phrases using ASL (American Sign Language). He apparently had a fascination with the deaf and their language, and loved how they communicated. As a speaking person who knows a little ASL, I found this very interesting. The chatty security guard at the Wexner said he once coached a bowling team made up of nothing but deaf kids, so he once knew some ASL, but had long since forgotten it. I have had about half a dozen lessons (so I know less than 200 words), but it’s certainly easy enough to forget if you don’t use it on a daily basis. I was however, able to communicate with the deaf people running the pierogi booth by pointing at my selections (like everyone else), then signing “yes,” and “thank you,” so at least I still know a few useful phrases.
After leaving the Wexner Center we walked over to the Gateway Film Center to see “The Lobster,” a movie I would classify as “Sci-Fi” (and that's how I saw it advertised) since it has futuristic themes, but Andrew thinks it's more Dystopian. Either way, we both agree it’s a dark comedy that’s very bleak and disturbing at times, but certainly does make you think. According to Google, "In a dystopian society, single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of their choice." I was glad when the film was finally over and we emerged back into the sunshine where Andrew held my hand as we walked back to our car.

Have a good week everyone!

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