From a trip across the Heart of Africa to a "Sunday in the Park with George," here are our picks for the best of arts and entertainment in Columbus.
Reasons to Root for Russia
If you found yourself forgetting which men's hockey team to root for during this year's winter Olympic Games, you weren't alone. It was especially difficult for Columbus Blue Jackets fans to differentiate between the good guys and the other guys during the preliminary round when the U.S. met Russia-and four of our city's beloved players were defending our nation's opponent. Swallowing a reflexive, ecstatic cry of "Bobby!" each time Sergei Bobrovsky expertly deflected 30-some American shots on goal was nearly impossible, and cheering when he let three slip through felt just plain wrong. Fellow Russian natives Artem Anisimov, Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin further blurred the line of allegiance. Thankfully, the confusion abated once the regular NHL season resumed and we got our boys back.
Art-smart people in Columbus have known for years that developer Ron Pizzuti leads a double existence as one of the world's most respected art collectors. We just didn't get to see the fruits of that labor of love until September 2013, when Pizzuti Collection opened with jaw-dropping galleries filled with works by some of the biggest names in contemporary art: Ai Weiwei, Frank Stella, Jean Dubuffet, Richard Tuttle and others. The opening exhibitions, which included Cuban Forever, deftly addressed themes of sex, politics, violence, artistic expression and other heady topics. Pizzuti Collection is an instant peer to its fellow, older arts institutions.
Can't afford a trip to Africa? Head to Powell instead to get up close and personal with the 11 giraffes that call the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's newest exhibit home. Heart of Africa, a 43-acre African savanna exhibit home to more than 130 animals, features a giraffe-feeding area where visitors can purchase romaine lettuce to hand-feed the Masai and reticulated giraffes. The walkway is elevavted, so you'll be face-to-face with the 13- to 18-foot-tall giraffes that walk up for a snack. Their 18-inch, dark gray tongues will keep rolling out of their mouths, ready for more lettuce, but don't worry about overfeeding them-zookeepers switch out the giraffes at the feeding stations and closely monitor their diets.
Addition to the Gallery Scene
Angela Meleca has been collecting art for more than 20 years, so when the opportunity arose to open Angela Meleca Gallery last September in the Downtown building housing her husband's architecture firm, she jumped at the chance to bring contemporary fine art to the neighborhood. "I want to be open to all kinds of contemporary art," says Meleca, who admits she gravitates toward paintings but strives to incorporate a variety of media in the gallery's exhibitions. "The first key component is that it resonates personally with me, and thought-provoking is important to me." Look for an exhibition of art by recent Ohio State MFA grads this spring.
Neighborhood-Perfect Theater Company
Short North Stage didn't just bring live theater to the Short North; it gave new life to a waning neighborhood landmark. Memories of the seedy nightclubs that once occupied the Garden Theater faded with every new coat of paint as the grassroots theater company-led by board president Peter Yockel-spent 2011 and 2012 refurbishing the city's second-oldest theater. Today, thanks to numerous benefactors like the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Garden plays host to eclectic comedies, dramas and musicals. The company's second season, which has already seen "The Who's Tommy" and "The Divine Sister," will close in October with a two-week run of "Sunday in the Park with George."
Sure, it may have taken two years and $33 million, but few Campus buildings compare to the new and improved Sullivant Hall. The 102-year-old building's eastern facade was entirely refurbished, giving way to a breathtaking rotunda. Traverse its marble stairwells, and you'll find new modern-industrial dance studios for the Department of Dance and sound- and motion-capture labs for the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum also calls Sullivant its new home (thanks, in part, to donations made by the family of "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz). Beautiful wooden floors and display cases span the museum's new 30,000-square-foot space-not to mention the aisles and aisles of storage lockers for those 2.5 million cartoon clippings.
Busy Reader's Redemption
Now, when you check out any book, CD or DVD at any Columbus Metropolitan Library location, it will be renewed automatically at the end of its lending period-up to 10 times in a row. "We want to make it easier for our customers to use items and renew items," says library spokesman Ben Zenitsky. "We want people to read." As long as another customer hasn't reserved your item in the meantime and your account shows less than $10 in outstanding fines, it will be auto-renewed-which means less time worrying about when the book's due and more time actually reading it.