Best of Columbus 2020: Editors' Picks for Arts & Entertainment

Columbus Monthly staff
The mural created by Catalyst Columbus; it reads "We Are Stronger Together"

For its first project, Catalyst Columbus, a nonprofit founded by artist Mandi Caskey and real estate developer Brian Suiter, turned an abandoned highway overpass south of Downtown into a massive piece of life-affirming public art. Over the course of six days, Caskey and a team of other artists painted a 400-foot-long mural on top of the bridge. Though it’s hard to view unless you’re a bird or a drone, the coronavirus-inspired mural consists of a giant bubble surrounding the words “We Are Stronger Together,” a message of encouragement for these difficult days.

Endurance Test

In late March, after the pandemic cost Joe Peppercorn two jobs, the musician decided to livestream an online benefit concert from his house in the style of his annual Beatles Marathon, which features every official Fab Four song in chronological order. With a little help from his friends—three accompanied him through a window—Sgt. Peppercorn played all 214 songs in 12 hours, racking up more than 48,000 views. His highlight? Getting to sing tunes from Abbey Road with his kids.

NFL Draft Cameo

Playing a pop song from their homes for the NFL draft was a departure for a group more often heard playing Bach at the Southern, but in the can-do spirit of the pandemic, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra was quick to accept the invitation from “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. The musicians accompanied the singer virtually from across the U.S. on “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and were featured in the national telecast April 25.

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Cinematic Revival

After decades of decline, drive-in movie theaters became the only cinematic game in town in early May when state officials allowed them to reopen before their indoor counterparts. Even though Columbus’ South Drive-In Theatre and Lancaster’s Skyview Drive-In have social distancing built into their business models, they’ve still adapted to our pandemic times, decreasing occupancy and adding online ticket sales and protective barriers in their concession stands. They also now face a bit more competition, with places like Easton and the Ohio History Center putting together new drive-in film programs this summer.

Airborne Art

Visitors to Schiller Park and several other Columbus locations this winter were treated to a unique high-wire installation: graceful sculptures of athletes and acrobats balancing overhead with spectacular poise, gently wobbling and floating in the breeze. The exhibition, Suspension: Balancing Art, Nature, and Culture, by Polish artist Jerzy Kedziora, was brought to Columbus by the Friends of Schiller Park.

Virtual Museums

When the pandemic forced them to close, Central Ohio museums opened their collections and resources to virtual visitors, offering a variety of online tours, exhibitions, classes and more.

  1. Columbus Museum of Art
    After making the rounds in New York and Miami, Art After Stonewall, 1969–1989, a groundbreaking exhibition organized by the CMA, finally arrived in Central Ohio in March, just in time for the coronavirus to interrupt its three-month run. But don’t fret. You can still see a virtual version of the exhibition on the CMA’s website, as well as YouTube videos from curator Tyler Cann highlighting pieces from the show.

  2. Ohio History Center
    Even historical re-enactors are getting tech savvy during the pandemic. With Ohio Village forced to delay its opening this year, the re-created 19th-century community and its residents went online, creating a series of YouTube videos called the Ohio Village Gossip Tour, hosted by “Mayor O’Fallon.”

  3. The Wexner Center for the Arts
    Covid-19 closures prevented Wexner Center senior curator Michael Goodson from delivering his scheduled gallery talk in March about The Last Cruze, LaToya Ruby Frazier’s exhibition on the closing of the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio. As an alternative, Goodson narrated an online walking tour of the exhibition, sharing insights and behind-the-scenes tidbits about Frazier’s work.

  4. Franklin Park Conservatory
    The conservatory features a host of online offerings, including virtual tours, exhibitions and classes. You can even download Zoom backgrounds featuring images of the Rainforest Biome, the John F. Wolfe Palm House and the blooming flowers in the Grand Mallway to add some natural splendor to your next video meeting.

Best of Columbus 2020

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Joe Peppercorn