Recently opened Emergent displays work from local Black artists in the Short North

Joel Oliphint
A selection of work from Emergent Art & Craft's February exhibition, which features seven local Black artists.

Sarah Ivancic had always kept her eye on the storefront at 14 E. Lincoln St. in the Short North. If the space ever became available, she promised herself she’d pounce on it. So last year, when the opportunity arose, that's exactly what she did. In the middle of a pandemic.

“To some extent it was an advantage opening knowing the circumstances. We know it's not going to be easy for a while,” said Ivancic, who opened Emergent Art & Craft on Nov. 13. “It's super scary. You don't know if it's going to work, and there are extra hurdles to jump over. But it’s also exciting.”

Ivancic has a degree in fiber arts, along with experience working in the retail world. With Emergent, she’s combining those two worlds in a space that blurs the lines between gallery and gift shop. True to the name, Ivancic also hopes to meld two factions of the art universe that don’t always talk to each other at parties.

“I always worked in what's considered the craft world more than the fine arts world. So part of opening the space is to blend those two things together so we can cater to artists that have paintings on the wall ... as well as artisans that make more utilitarian pieces of art, like ceramics, mugs and jewelry,” she said. “Art doesn't have to go on the wall. It's whatever makes you happy.”

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Though a chunk of Emergent’s business has depended on online sales since Franklin County went purple in November, the hope is that, once foot traffic picks up, some visitors may enter the shop looking for gifts and end up getting welcome exposure to the artwork hanging on the walls.

Much of that artwork will focus on up-and-coming local artists. “We are trying to provide a foot in the door for artists who perhaps haven't had the opportunity [to show their work] or don't quite know where to start,” Ivancic said. “We're trying to provide some mentorship, as well.”

In January, Emergent partnered with Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS) to host an exhibition of work by youth refugees. This weekend, during a Gallery Hop opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m., Ivancic will debut a new selection of works from seven Black Columbus artists: MahLeah Cochran, Chantal Stone, Adrian Sibley, Kristen Mimms Scavnicky, Gini Rhodes Elliott, Kavadis Hill and Briseus Smith.

“They cover the gamut, from realistic portraiture to abstract impressionism and expressionism,” she said, noting that Briseus Smith will also have a solo show at Emergent in June. “He’s inspired by Basquiat and pulls from pop culture and graffiti and works in this really exciting color palette.”

While the pandemic has wrapped Ivancic’s new endeavor in a blanket of uncertainty, she doesn’t regret taking the leap with Emergent. “I was talking to my sister about it,” Ivancic said, “and she said, ‘It’s like a rope swing. It swings back and forth, and you think about [jumping], and then, finally, you just let go.’”

A selection of work from Emergent Art & Craft's February exhibition, which features seven local Black artists.