Fall Arts Guide: 83 Gallery

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Rock bands have been playing basement shows since Black Flag in the early '80s at least. That independent spirit goes back even further in art history - "post-Warhol, everything got sort of insane," said Mic Wesson, one of the curators of 83 Gallery, a new Short North art hotspot that's literally underground.

Columbus was lacking in gallery space for artists with no experience or connections, so Wesson, along with Geoff Collins and former collaborator Audra Cheek, opened 83 Gallery last November in the tiny space underneath Wesson and Collins' apartment.

The DIY gallery became an instant hit, drawing a small but devoted audience for monthly Gallery Hop shows featuring about 15 artists apiece. The space showcases everything from oil paintings to photography to sculptures made of trash; at one recent show, prices ranged from $5 to $5,000.

"We've featured work by high school students, high school dropouts and doctors at the same show," Collins said.

Every artist who's showed at 83 so far has been welcomed back for November's "All Saints Day" exhibit and first-anniversary celebration.

In addition to Hop shows, the gallery now hosts solo exhibitions on the second Friday of each month, including Royce Icon's Bad Sex Paintings this Friday. And they've begun hosting Sunday "band practice," jam sessions with an assortment of invited musicians.

Gallery 83 is an anomaly in the Short North, but they relish the idea of more such spaces sprouting up, lending credence to first-time exhibitors and truly independent artists who work "under the art underground," as Collins and Wesson like to say.

"We'd love for it to start spreading," Collins said.