The Short North and Franklinton: A Tale of Two Arts Districts
This article first appeared in Columbus Monthly City Guide 2020.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an art aficionado, you probably know that the Columbus visual arts scene has long been centered in the Short North. For decades, the area has not only been home to top-flight restaurants and locally owned shops like no other, but also a smorgasbord of galleries.
In recent years, though, the Franklinton neighborhood just west of Downtown has emerged as a competitor to the Short North when it comes to all things artsy. Two bustling . districts in one city? We think Columbus can handle both. Read on for a breakdown of the highlights to be found in each area.
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Recently made part of the Columbus Museum of Art, the newly renamed Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art stands as the entry point for many gallerygoers in the Short North. Showcasing the treasures assembled by contemporary art collectors Ann and Ron Pizzuti, the venue offers regularly changing exhibits that have shined spotlights on everything from art created in Cuba to chairs that are as eye-popping as any painting (if not always functional). From April 21–26, the venue will be home to Opera Columbus and BalletMet, which will present “The Poppea Project,” a Baroque opera that will unfold within the space and involve elements of audience participation. The Pizzuti Collection prides itself on being accessible, with $8 admission for adults, senior citizens, students and those age 4 and older; free admission for members, active-duty members of the military or veterans and those 3 and younger; and free admission for all on Sundays.
Smaller galleries, however, remain the lifeblood of the Short North. Among the most notable in the area is Brandt-Roberts Galleries, which will present works by Georgia artist Kristy Hughes (June 6–28), New York artist Mark Reigelman (July 8–26) and paintings of Ohio barns by Marianne Miller (Aug. 1–30). There’s also the outsider art-focused Lindsay Gallery, which will shine lights on tattoo artist Stoney St. Clair (April) and fabric sculpture artist Antoinette Savage (July); Hammond Harkins Galleries, which is set to present new works by Granville landscape painter Paul Hamilton (April 10–May 24); and Sherrie Gallerie, which will showcase jewelry by Sharon Meyer (May 9–30), outdoor sculptures and paintings by Russ Vogt (June–July) and mixed media works and installations by Ron Johnson (July–August).
The artistically curious should consider partaking in the ever-popular Gallery Hop: On the first Saturday of each month, visitors can sample the district’s amazing group of galleries, along with street performers and shops that stay open late.
One of the stalwarts of Franklinton’s flourishing arts environment is the Second Sight Project. Formed eight years ago by artist Mona Gazala, programs supported by the project include artist residencies as well as neighborhoodwide endeavors, among them #AsSeenInFranklinton, in which photographers snapped shots of the community. The project recently wrapped up Saving the Crew that Matters, a combination “social-practice artwork/civic project” at the Urban Arts Center that asked why public dollars are applied to the building of a new stadium for the Columbus Crew when public school facilities need refurbishment.
Visitors can see and experience a wide range of art-making at The Vanderelli Room. Consisting of a 1,200-square-foot gallery and a stage space, the venue—named for founder Alicia Jean “A.J.” Vanderelli—makes itself available to a host of visual arts exhibits and performing arts groups. Recurring events that take place at The Vanderelli Room include classes for figure drawing and yoga, as well as an Alcoholics Anonymous-style meeting tailored toward the space’s uniquely art-centric environs.
Like the Short North, Franklinton is also home to more traditional galleries, including three housed within 400 West Rich, a repurposed former manufacturing building that is utilized for a spectrum of creative endeavors. Inside the venue are the Promenade Gallery, Bridge Gallery and No. 2 Gallery (the last of which is curated by Vanderelli). Also of note is nearby ROY G BIV Gallery, whose focus on emerging artists is exemplified by upcoming exhibits featuring paintings and sculptures by Kena Ramirez Dillon and Wade Tullier (March 13–April 4), installation and video works by Amery Kessler and Lorena Molina (June 12–July 4) and installations by Justin Hodges and Tess Elliot (Nov. 13–Dec. 5).
Franklinton has its own answer to the Short North’s Gallery Hop: On the second Friday of each month, Franklinton Fridays allows visitors to get a sense of the overall vibe of the neighborhood by hopscotching from one event to another.
So, check out both districts and decide for yourself: When it comes to the arts, is the Short North still where it’s happening, or Franklinton?