Artscape: German Village Art Crawl

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Ryan Orewiler's paintings voyage through urban landscapes, capturing traffic jams flanked by bright advertisements, public squares stuffed with pedestrians and the subtle architectural details of old buildings.

But well before he traveled to cities such as Singapore, Berlin, Florence, Chicago and New York and captured them on canvas, he spent his childhood in the historical urban landscape of German Village.

"I have many memories skateboarding throughout these brick streets with my friends," he said. "I think it had a lot to do with making me who I am as an artist."

Last year, Orewiler decided to help breathe some new creative life into his home locale, where he resides again today, by founding the German Village Art League.

"I wanted to give back to my neighborhood. I also wanted to connect with other artists here and volunteer to help other artists connect," he said.

A CCAD graduate, Orewiler's work is up in multiple local businesses, and he shows regularly at Columbus and Chicago galleries.

"I kept hearing about other artists that live here that I had never met," he explained. "I spend eight to 10 hours a day isolated in my studio, as do other artists, and connecting, having dialogue and community, is important for feedback and critique."

In less than a year, the German Village Art League has ballooned upwards of 70 members. Many members are local, although artists from as far away as London and Hong Kong who maintain a connection to the neighborhood have also joined. The roster also extends beyond painters and sculptors, including performing and word artists.

"We are open to all forms of art. I am hoping to have people from different art disciplines step up to help form subcommittees since the GVAL is growing so quickly," Orwiler said.

"As a working artist and a GVAL volunteer, it has been very time-consuming. I admire those volunteer organizations such as the Ohio Art League that have lasted over 100 years."

The German Village Art League had its inaugural juried exhibition, Unify, at Caterina Ltd. earlier this year, as well as an exhibition and live art event honoring the German Village flower - the red geranium - in June.

According to Orewiler, the organization aims to have between two and four juried exhibitions annually, and hopes that eventually, someone will donate a permanent exhibition space in German Village.

Currently, the league has The Language of Art on display at the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Carnegie Gallery, juried by four of its members - two visual artists (Leni Anderson and Sean Cooper) and two poets (Gordon Brooks and Robert Abbott). While much of the poetry was performed during the show's opening reception, a great deal of it is also displayed within the exhibition.

In partnership with the German Village Business Community, this year the art league has also assumed responsibility of the neighborhood's biennial Art Crawl, following the German Village Society's decision to skip the event due to funding and staffing concerns.

The Crawl is a nod to the tradition of arts patronage and collecting that continues to this day among German Village residents. It has morphed over its 15 or so years of existence from a gallery walk (when the neighborhood had more galleries), to a dinner with invited artists, to its current incarnation as a makeshift look at local talent.

For the 2009 edition, several garages along Macon Alley will serve as temporary galleries for works by over 30 artists. The event will also showcase wares from local businesses and offer samples from neighborhood restaurants, along with adult beverages.

Members of Actors' Theatre will show up in costume and the band Stockton Way will perform, and visitors will be invited to contribute their own creativity to three large "Make-a-mural" pieces made just for the occasion.

German Village Art Crawl

When: 6-10 p.m. Saturday, July 25

Where: Macon Alley between Frankfort and Whittier, German Village