Wild Goose set to open in Franklinton this weekend

Friday's opening marks the culmination of a two-plus year journey that included a crowdfunding campaign and the previously unplanned closing of the organization’s former home

Jim Fischer
Wild Goose Creative organizers Lydia Simon, executive director, Gabe Michael Kenney, incoming president, Roman Suer, incoming vice-president, and Heather Lynn Kyle, current president, at the new location on McDowell Street in Franklinton. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

The Franklinton Arts District will welcome a new resident arts space when Wild Goose Creative opens its new home to the public on Friday, July 9.

The longtime arts presenter/incubator will celebrate the opening of its new location during Franklinton Fridays with an event that includes live painting, DJs, food and more, along with the opening reception for Dana Lynn Harper and Lucie Shearer’s joint exhibition, “halfway here.”

The event marks the culmination of a two-plus year journey that included a crowdfunding campaign, virtual arts events during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the previously unplanned closing of the organization’s North Campus/SoHud area location, which had been its home the previous 12 years.

“The support from the [Franklinton] neighborhood has been incredible,” former Board President Heather Lynn Kyle said. “We’ve been welcomed with open arms, and artists and arts organizations in the neighborhood have all expressed a willingness to collaborate.”

“Wild Goose has had relationships with people and with organizations in Franklinton for years,” Executive Director Lydia Simon said. “Our next hope is to build connections into and invest in the neighborhood.”

The new location is about double the size of Wild Goose’s previous home, including increased gallery space — there are two galleries in the new Wild Goose: a main gallery and a second space available for rentals and pop-up shows/events — a larger and more modern kitchen and a new stage. The plan, Kyle and Simon said, is to maintain the kinds of programs that have long been Wild Goose staples, broaden the organization’s ability to present the visual and performing arts, and enhance its mentorship efforts on behalf of emerging creatives, targeting those who are not only visiting Franklinton but those who call the neighborhood home.

Simon also noted the importance of the stage, pointing both its historic value as well as what it can provide moving forward.

“So many of our [past] programs happened or or had memories attached to the stage,” she said. “And with Franklinton being a visual arts-heavy district, it really helps us find our place, our niche, in the neighborhood.”

Book shelves at Wild Goose Creative at the new location on McDowell Street in Franklinton. (Photo by Tim Johnson)

New Board President Gabe Michael Kenney sees the timing of the grand opening as serendipitous.

“I think people’s attachment to the local creative community only grew stronger during the pandemic,” he said. “Wild Goose is really situated now to build on that attachment by providing novel experiences for folks and facilitating new opportunities for artists.”

Chris Sherman, who has owned the building since 2004 and is now leasing it to Wild Goose, said he has had numerous offers to sell over the years but had something different in mind.

“I have a commitment to keep the arts thriving in this neighborhood,” Sherman said. “I’ve always loved what Wild Goose has done and was thrilled to get them into this space. With all of the joy and magic this building has brought to me and hundreds of others over the years through parties and gatherings, it’s a perfect fit for them to continue and expand on that energy.”

Sherman’s help, along with crowdfunding and grants from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Columbus Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the Tom E. Dailey Foundation, among others, are efforts not lost on the team at WGC. 

“It really feels like there’s an incredible energy and excitement on our part to be in the district and from those who are already there in having us come in,” Simon said. “Now we just want to add to everything there and do what we do to protect and promote the arts.”

Wild Goose Grand Opening

6-9 p.m. Friday, July 9

188 McDowell St., Franklinton