Front Row Center Newsletter from the Greater Columbus Arts Counsil


Central Ohio’s outdoor festivals season kicks off with the
2014 Columbus Arts Festival, June 6, 7 & 8 at the Downtown Riverfront!

By Jan Alloy

Take the winding promenade, paths and bike ways of the Scioto Mile. Add juried artists from 37 states and Canada. Infuse with poetry, community performance, hands-on arts activities, and exhibitions by local student artists and artist collectives. Season with foodie-favorite eats and drinks. Top with continuous live entertainment on four performance stages. What do you have? The recipe for Columbus’ opened-armed welcome to summer, a splendiferous, expansive outdoor art gallery: the 53rd annual Columbus Arts Festival, June 6-8, at the Downtown Riverfront. The Festival, produced by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, consistently ranks among the best arts fairs in the nation.

All Things Art

This year, the Columbus Arts Festival will host a lineup of more than 280 acclaimed artists, including eight returning award-winners from last year’s Festival and nearly 50 Ohio-based artists.

Also featured will be 12 Emerging Artists, selected by the same panel that juried all of the Festival artists. The Emerging Artist program is

2014 Emerging Artist, Kenneth Claussen of Gahanna, Ohio.

2014 Emerging Artist, Kenneth Claussen of Gahanna, Ohio.

for central Ohio artists who have little or no experience exhibiting at national festivals. In addition to lower booth fees, the artists receive assistance from Festival staff on how best to exhibit and market their art to the public.

The Columbus Arts Festival is the place to discover the next generation of great artists. An exhibit organized by the Festival Coordinating Committee, the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education and local arts educators will showcase more than 100 works by students from 27 central Ohio schools and an art studio/gallery that supports individuals with developmental disabilities.

“We have an impressive lineup of talented artists joining us this year—from Festival favorites to new local emerging artists,” said Scott Huntley, Festival director. “The diversity and quality of the work is exceptional, and there’s something for every price point.”

For homegrown art, the place to be is the Big Local Art Tent, where Columbus artists and collectives will display their work and present live art demonstrations. Festival-goers who like to get their hands dirty can participate in make-and-take projects in the See How It’s Made area, courtesy of 400 West Rich, Art Party Columbus, Cap City Creatives, Clintonville Arts Guild, Columbus Crafty Cotillion, Columbus Idea Foundry, Etsy Team Columbus and Ohio Art League.

Fashion-savvy shoppers on the lookout for signature pieces will find finely crafted, one-of-a-kind wearable works of art. More than 60 local and national artists specializing in jewelry, leather and fabric designs will offer an eclectic assortment of apparel and accessories at a range of prices.

Presenting …

Nineteen bands will take the ABC6 Main Stage in Bicentennial Park, along the Scioto Mile, backed by breathtaking water features and two spectacular bridges.

Erica Blinn & THM-12

Erica Blinn & The Handsome Machine headlines on Saturday night on the ABC6 Main Stage at 9 p.m.

This year’s main stage will feature live performances throughout the weekend by popular local and national acts, including Columbus favorite singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Happy Chichester, Brazilian/bossa nova jazz vocalist Maggie Green, and alternative rockers Kid Runner.

Headliners for the weekend are nationally-rising local bands. The Phillip Fox Band, whose music ranges from straight-up country to rock with a blues-influenced Southern flare, will perform Friday at 9 p.m. Erica Blinn & The Handsome Machine, described as “part Joan Jett, part Bonnie Raitt,” will take the stage Saturday at 9 p.m.

The Festival’s Community Stage will feature multidisciplinary performances and a diverse mix of music, from acoustic to jazz to bluegrass to world music.

The Dance Stage will host a dozen local dance troupes/companies, including Central Community House’s TRANSIT ARTS Performance Group.

The Word is Art Stage will spotlight some of Columbus’ most talented spoken-word poets and authors. To read work by two of them, Authors’ Showcase Winner Heather Sinclair Shaw and Poetry Competition Winner John Croke, download or pick up a Columbus Arts Festival Guidebook, the bible of Festival goings-on.

So What’s New?

Great cities stand out because of their striking design and innovative built environments, elements that lead to quality spaces, community engagement and unlimited accessibility. To show the richness and possibilities of design, the Festival is presenting Canstruction, a unique charity that hosts competitions, exhibitions and events that showcase colossal structures made with cans of food. For the Festival weekend, a team of DesignGroup architects and Gilbane Inc., and a second team of Schooley Caldwell Associates, King Business Interiors and Corna Kokosing will create breathtaking lifesized sculptures on the Arts Festival grounds. After the Festival, the canned food, generously provided by Kroger, will be donated to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

The Festival is partnering with the Columbus Film Council, Gateway Film Center and WOSU Public Media to present some of the best work from the Columbus International Film + Video Festival—the longest-running independent film festival in North America—in a 50-seat theater tent. WOSU’s Emmy Award–winning Broad & High will showcase local filmmakers and local arts in its television programming.

And the Arts Festival will introduce central Ohio to the tradition of Italian street painting, generously sponsored this year by Piada Italian Street Food.  This engaging art form features both reproductions and adaptations of famous paintings and unique original work. Local artists will create chalk masterpieces on Washington Street, north of the Rich Street Bridge.

Festival season can be grueling for artists. The Greater Columbus Arts Council will present an Artist Health & Wellness Fair, free and open to the public, from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, June 6, in the East, West and Mezzanine Meeting rooms at COSI, 333 W. Broad St., near the Festival grounds. The Fair will feature medical screenings, activities, demonstrations, information and wellness resources. Attendees may enjoy a free and healthy continental breakfast and a five-minute massage. The Arts Council will raffle off a Fitbit wireless activity tracker at the close of the event.

Don’t Forget the Kids!

Kids of all ages can head to Hands On Art Activities to have their faces painted, make origami and kites, decorate flags and so much more. Under the guidance of artists from Glass Axis, kids aged eight and older can use a torch to mold glass beads, while younger children can string together

Throwing a clay pot at the Hands On Art Activities Area.

Throwing a clay pot at the Hands On Art Activities Area.

colorful bracelets. Would-be painters—with or without talent!—can create a canvas, with step-by-step directions from the instructors (talented) of Wine and Canvas. On Saturday, kids 6–11 can get crazy with Shadowbox Live, with theater warm-up games, imaginative costumes and a madhouse rehearsal for a classic fairy tale show. Parents can join at the end of the one-hour session for the grand premiere of the play. Sunday will be the athletes’ turn, as they test their soccer skills and try out the Columbus Crew’s kick-accuracy inflatable for fun prizes and giveaways.

At the Children’s Art Gallery Saturday and Sunday, kids 12 and under can purchase original artwork donated by Festival artists for $5 or less. No adult interference! Parents wait outside.

Thirty-three local poets and authors, chosen by audition, will perform their work at the Ohio Magazine Word is Art Stage, an intimate coffeehouse atmosphere dedicated to spoken-word performance. Also on the stage will be poets and performers from Flip the Page, Ohio State University Poets, young docents from the Thurber House, Actors Theatre Summer Street Team and the Storytellers of Central Ohio.

The 10th Annual Columbus Arts Festival Poetry Slam will take place Saturday, June 7, at 8 p.m. The Poetry Slam, organized by Writers’ Block poetry forum, is an interactive presentation. Ten poets will perform and be judged—all in good fun, of course—by audience members.

New this year on the Word is Art Stage is the Authors’ Showcase, featuring seven local writers who will read on Saturday and Sunday. Heather Sinclair Shaw, who received the 2014 Award for Excellence after auditioning in March, will read both days.


The Festival is all about the art, but the Festival Coordinating Committee, composed of more than 80 volunteers, is all about the Festival. The committee works year round to help plan and run the show. Their invaluable input ensures a Festival that’s fresh, original and fun. More than 300 volunteers staff information booths, sell souvenirs, help take care of artists, patrons and more. Volunteers fuel the Festival.

Can’t do it this year? There’s always next year.  Registration for 2015 will open in July. Volunteers are still welcome to volunteer for this year, but the deadline is Thursday, June 5:

C’mon! Be a Friend!

Another way to get more tied in with the Columbus Arts Festival is to become a Friend. Proceeds from Friends of the Festival donations support the Arts Festival’s mission to offer a free and engaging arts experience for the community. They also help defray operating costs of both the Festival and the Arts Council’s ongoing programming.


The Art Shark mingling with Mayor Mike Coleman and Angela Pace at the Patron Party.

Friends of the Festival packages feature all-weekend passes to an exclusive VIP Lounge that offers members a private oasis in the shaded courtyard of the Cultural Arts Center. Other amenities include a private cash bar, complimentary water and snacks, free parking, comfortable seating and private restrooms. At just $75, a Friends of the Festival package is the perfect gift for business clients or family and friends visiting Columbus during Festival weekend.

Friends of the Festival packages will be sold prior to and during the festival. Passes are good for the entire weekend. To find out how to become a Friend of the Festival visit


What’s a festival without food? There’s something to satisfy every appetite—whether it’s for classic festival food and tasty barbecue or for cream puffs, hand-tossed pizza or our own nationally acclaimed Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. And at Columbus festivals, food trucks are de rigueur. The many popular local food trucks will feature everything from gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to Brazilian-style street food.

Enjoying the Festival is thirsty business. Beverage stations throughout the grounds will be serving beer, wine and frozen cocktails, as well as Artsfest-060813-0884smoothies and fresh-squeezed lemonade.

The Greenery and the Green

The Festival’s return to the Riverfront in the past several years has brought in record crowds and drawn praise from festival-goers of all ages.

“The Columbus Arts Festival has settled into our forever home on the Columbus Riverfront and Scioto Mile,” Huntley said. “We want to be good stewards of our beautiful home.”

The Festival will continue to focus on environmental impact. Special programs have been implemented to reduce trash headed for the landfill and to increase recycling of plastic, paper and pre-consumer food waste. The festival plans to power the ABC6 Main Stage with a solar and wind-power generator.

Alternative Transportation

And there are other alternative transportation options in Columbus during Festival weekend.

COTA’s CBUS will get your there and back–for free!   CBUS goes up and down High St. from the Short North to the Brewery District.

Car2go car sharing service will have a booth onsite and will have special car2go parking within the Festival grounds on Washington Blvd. north of COSI, accessible from Broad St.  New members can register with a special discount offer and win FREE minutes at the car2go booth.

Consider carpooling with Uber, with your FREE first ride up to $20 for the Arts Festival! When you sign up, use the Uber Festival Signup code: CAF14.  For more details go to

Meet the Art Shark!

Everyone’s favorite Festival mascot, the Art Shark, will be back again this year to mingle with fellow art fans! Kids of all ages can meet the Art Shark during special appearances onsite throughout the Festival weekend.

Whew! Did we forget anything? You’ll have to come and see for yourself!

The 2014 Columbus Arts Festival runs June 6–8. Hours are Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Arts Festival is sponsored by American Electric Power, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Hollywood Casino, Limited Brands Foundation, Blue Moon Brewery Co., Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams,Piada Italian Street Food, Pepsi, Birds Eye, Live! Technologies, Sugardaddy’s and The Westin Columbus. Media sponsors include WOSU Public Media, ABC6, The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Monthly, Lamar Outdoor, Ohio Magazine, Orange Barrel, CD102.5, Mix 107.9 and WCBE 90.5.

For more information on the Columbus Arts Festival, call (614) 221-8531. Or visit for a complete list of artists, entertainers, stage schedules, interactive arts activities and more. The Festival website is optimized for mobile and smartphone viewing.

Be sure to follow our social media accounts before and during Festival weekend to keep up on what’s happening!  On Twitter follow the Art Shark @cbus_artshark, the Columbus Arts Festival @colsartsfest, the Greater Columbus Arts Council @gcac_cols and the Tweet and Go Seek treasure hunt @tweetandgoseek.  On Facebook, be sure to follow the Columbus Arts Festival and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.  We also have a Pinterest page where you can follow Festival boards – as well as the Art Shark’s own pins!


Columbus Arts Festival Emerging Artist, knitter, spinner, weaver - Karen Mulier