Studio Proof: OOVAR exhibit showcases depth of Ohio art

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

The Ohio Online Visual Artist Registry, the current exhibit at the downtown Columbus Metropolitan Library, is a multi-organization collaboration that represents the depth of art in Columbus and worldwide.

OOVAR brings together the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Friends of the Library, Ohio Arts Council and the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and is an online database housing works of art from tons of Ohio-based artists. But it's also open to anyone with access to the internet. While the "Ohio" at the front of its title means its roots and strength are based in the heartland, the registry is open to any artist who registers and submits work.

The OOVAR is best described as endless given its current membership of thousands and potential for growth. But a good way to touch the tip of the iceberg is the Ninth Annual OOVAR Juried Art Show, open through Jan. 10.

The juried exhibit, which holds an awards reception during its closing at 2 p.m. Saturday, showcases a diverse group of artists, as it's a selection of the hundreds of submissions from 72 OOVAR-registered artists. It wasn't an easy task for the three jurors - Tonia Derring and Mary Pat Martin, who work closely with the library, its gallery and the OOVAR website, and Petra Kralickova, director of exhibitions at Ohio University and curator of The Kennedy Museum of Art - despite their backgrounds. Derring mentioned the phrase "tough but fun" twice.

Thanks to the trio's efforts, and those of Carnegie Gallery coordinator Stephanie Rond, the 27 pieces come through as diverse, yet cohesive. Speaking with Derring and Kralickova in the gallery before they decide the Juror's Choice winner - no spoilers! - each discussed how the different approaches resulted in similar outcomes, both realizing that they saw eye-to-eye on a number of pieces.

The OOVAR exhibit itself encompasses many different mediums, styles, aesthetics and ideas. It's best seen in person, and visitors should make sure to drop a ballot for the People's Choice winner.