2020 Fall Arts Guide: Things to See and Do in Columbus

Sophia Englehart, Alexis Florence
Suzanne Goldsmith and Chaz McPeak
Maggie Smith, pictured, and Saeed Jones will appear in conversation together online Oct. 15.

The 2020 arts season in Columbus will be unlike any other. Until the threat of COVID-19 recedes, the Ohio, Palace, Southern and Lincoln theaters will remain dark. No wailing guitars or roaring crowds will be heard in the Schott or Nationwide Arena. Yet-to-be-announced opportunities will arise to see groups like Shadowbox Live, BalletMet and others on small screens, either streaming live or in recorded performances, but many musicians, actors, singers and dancers will practice their art primarily at home or in socially distanced studios. Many larger groups have canceled fall performances and shifted their focus to the spring of 2021.

Museums and galleries are gradually reopening, some with timed-entry reservation requirements. Call ahead and bring a mask. Shows that closed early in the spring or never opened have been extended or will be available for viewing at last. CMA’s blockbuster After Stonewall exhibition has been extended through Oct. 4, and the Twentieth Century Hustlers and Folk Art Road Trip shows will remain in the galleries into next year. Public art is plentiful, from the installation of extraordinary balancing sculptures in Schiller Park and elsewhere, which will remain in place through September, to the Short North’s Summer Spray collaborative mural project, to the installations at Gravity in Franklinton.

At press time, some smaller venues like Natalie’s in Worthington and the Grandview area were planning to continue live musical performances with reduced audience numbers. Attend at your own risk. Bring a mask, call ahead and stay safe.

In any event, find a way to sustain our local artists and keep them in your life. Buy albums and artwork. Pay for livestreams or click the “donate” button. Attend virtual fundraisers. Hire an artist to teach you elements of his or her craft. The arts in Columbus will survive; you can help them thrive.

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Greater Columbus Arts Council, through Dec. 23

The Greater Columbus Arts Council inaugurates its new Long Street office and accompanying gallery with an exhibition organized by Creative Women of Color, a collective of African American female artists whose mission is to educate, encourage, inspire and provide a creative connection with the community. The show is part of the HeART of Protest initiative honoring the 46 years of George Floyd’s life. Works in the exhibition can also be viewed online. gcac.org

Columbus Museum of Art, through Dec. 13

The Works, through Dec. 28

Acclaimed photographer Clarence H. White grew up in Newark and co-founded the Newark Camera Club; Ema Spencer, a member of the club, was successful in her day but is overlooked today. This dual-site exhibition spotlights their work and explores how industrial and cultural aspects of Licking County at the turn of the 20th century shaped their work. columbusmuseum.org, attheworks.org

Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, through Oct. 25

While these two- and three-part works have traditionally been dedicated to depictions of religious subjects or political triumphs, this collection of works by Ohio artists in a range of media addresses stories of contemporary experience. The exhibition includes photos, paintings, linocuts and works in wood, ceramics, glass and on paper and is accompanied by videos of the artists at work. decartsohio.org

Ohio Craft Museum and online, ongoing

The Ohio Craft Museum has taken this exhibition of works by 20 ceramicists online. Gorgeous bowls, vases, teapots and sculptures by such featured artists as Eric Botbyl, Joseph Delphia, Samantha Hostert and Janel Jacobson are available for viewing and purchase. ohiocraft.org

Wehrle Gallery, Ohio Dominican University, through Dec. 7

The first exhibition of ODU’s 2020–21 academic year will reflect the campuswide theme of “Focusing Our Vision” by looking inward at ODU’s own collections. The choice is both a response to and a commentary on life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Director Janette Knowles will work with her senior seminar students to continuously change what’s on display, including oil paintings, West African musical instruments and a Rookwood vase. ohiodominican.edu

934 Gallery and online, Sept. 4–Oct. 24

The paintings Daniel Rona has selected for this exhibition challenge you to decode them as you would a Cubist work by Picasso, but viewers will also find other influences—as well as something utterly unique. Virtual and in-person openings with timed viewing appointments Sept. 4 and an artist talk on Oct. 24. 934gallery.com

Glass Axis and online, Sept. 10–12

This annual three-day convention hosted by Ohio State University will take place online this year, with a few socially distanced in-person events. Events will include a graduate symposium on Thursday and an expo day on Friday with creator roundtables and presentations by multimedia artists, and an online and in-person exhibition Friday night. On Saturday, glass art and comics demos will be livestreamed from Glass Axis. facebook.com/solconohiostate

(Not) Sheep Gallery, Sept. 17–Oct. 31

Protecting ourselves and others from infection is not the only reason we don masks. In this group show at the intentionally political gallery, artists confront issues of identity and choice—and the duality of our everyday selves versus our true selves. notsheepgallery.com

Broadway and Park Street, Grove City, Sept. 19–20

This celebration of the arts and community began in a Grove City alley and has expanded over its 40-year history to encompass many of the surrounding blocks. Check out the offerings of dozens of artisans and crafters, along with a parade (starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday), food vendors and a singing contest, the Voice of Grove City. 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday. gcchamber.org/parade

Online, Oct 1–4

The sixth annual event for comic and cartoon fans and creators saves the day by moving the festivities to a virtual platform. Gene Luen Yang, author of “American Born Chinese,” will be the keynote speaker, and guests will include Shing Yin Khor (“A Journey on Route 66”), Faith Erin Hicks (“One Year at Ellsmere”), Ebony Flowers (“Hot Comb”) and more. cartooncrossroadscolumbus.com

Columbus Museum of Art, Nov. 6–April 5, 2021

This year’s edition of the annual exhibition will showcase the work of select Central Ohio visual artists. Featuring GCAC’s 2019 Visual Arts Fellowship recipients—painter Christopher Burk, artist and design couple Molly Burke and Nathan Gorgen, and artists Laura Larson and Nick Larsen—CMA invites you to dive in to support the city’s art scene and immerse yourself in the talent it offers. columbusmuseum.org

Columbus Museum of Art, Nov. 21–October 2021

Take a peek into the mind of acclaimed artist Aminah Robinson during the 11-month run of her first major posthumous exhibition. Visitors can sift through her art, journals, collections and photos of her home studio to learn more about Robinson’s creative process and her intention to uplift the lives, culture and endurance of Black people. This exhibition asks guests to remember and celebrate Robinson’s story and encourages them to explore their own. columbusmuseum.org


Various locations, through Sept. 13

If you mourned the loss of ProMusica’s annual free concerts at the Franklin Park Conservatory earlier this summer, help is at hand. The chamber orchestra has reworked the series as a physically distanced, limited-capacity program of small ensemble performances at venues around Columbus. Venues may include The Fives, Ohio Village at Ohio History Center, Coffman Amphitheatre, Rockmill Brewery and more. Check the website for updated information and reservations. promusica.org

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Sept. 16–18

This fun-filled wildlife adventure will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Central Ohio’s favorite drag queen, Nina West, who also happens to be an animal enthusiast, will perform in the zoo’s newest region, Adventure Cove. columbuszoo.org

Online, Sept. 21–30

Nina West also will star in this streaming performance of the Off Broadway musical revue, which will feature avant-garde and drag costumes by local designers and premiere new songs by the show’s original writer, Mark Waldrop, who is working with the Short North Stage on the production. shortnorthstage.org

Amy Rigby (Editor's note: This event has been postponed until 2021.)

Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Live Music, Oct. 13

Rigby, originally scheduled to appear in May, will bring her talents as a writer and performer of quirky, intimate and often funny songs to the Worthington stage as she celebrates both a new album (The Old Guys) and a new memoir (“Girl to City”). nataliescoalfiredpizza.com

Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen, Oct. 20

Ottawa-born blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Foley won the prestigious Juno Award, Canada’s equivalent of the Grammy; she also holds the record for the most Maple Blues Awards, has earned three Trophees de Blues de France and has garnered several nominations at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis. nataliesgrandview.com


Online until reopening

At press time, three local art movie theaters were still closed due to the coronavirus but were offering first-run, international and hard-to-find films for on-demand viewing at home for a fee. Instead of browsing Netflix or Hulu, take a peek at what’s streaming at the Drexel, Gateway or Strand theaters. drexel.net, thestrandtheatre.net, gatewayfilmcenter.org

Online, Oct. 8–9

In 1968, a group of French filmmakers, including Jean-Luc Godard, crafted short, cinematic responses to political upheaval in Paris. Inspired by this project, called Cinétracts, the Wexner Center for the Arts has commissioned 20 short films by filmmakers from around the world and will host the world premiere of the works online. wexarts.org/artist-residency/cinetracts-20

Online, Oct. 22–25

The annual documentary film festival hosted by the Wexner Center for the Arts will return in an online format. wexarts.org


Streetlight Guild, Sept. 1–30

Thirty days, 30 local poets. Celebrate the art of expression through poetry throughout the month and discover both established and rising voices in the community, including Hanif Abdurraqib, Maggie Smith and Zach Hannah. streetlightguild.org

Online, Sept. 9

Thurber House hosts Ohio’s poet laureate for an online author event. Gunter-Seymour is a ninth-generation native of Appalachia and the founder and director of the Women of Appalachia Project. Her current poetry collection is “A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen.” thurberhouse.org

Online, Sept. 23

“What He Did in Solitary” is the timely title of former Ohio poet laureate Amit Majmudar’s latest collection, which the author and nuclear diagnostic radiologist will discuss with poet Jane Zwart in this livestreamed webinar sponsored by the Ohio Poetry Association and Gramercy Books. gramercybooksbexley.com

Online, Oct. 15

Smith, the acclaimed “Good Bones” poet,celebrates the launch of her latest book by appearing in conversation with bestselling Columbus writer Saeed Jones. Smith’s book, “Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity and Change,” springs from a series of inspirational meditations she posted on Twitter in the wake of her divorce. Jones’ 2019 memoir “How We Fight for Our Lives,” written in the wake of his mother’s death, traces his own development as a gay Black man. The two will discuss creativity, struggle and resilience. gramercybooksbexley.com

Online, Oct. 26

Following an online discussion of George’s latest novel, “The Paris Hours,” the writer will participate in a live interview with arts reporter Nancy Gilson. The book imagines one tense 1927 day in the life of a journalist, an Armenian puppeteer, a lovesick artist and the former maid of Marcel Proust. gramercybooksbexley.com


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"Morning Glory" by Gaye Reissland, in "From There to Here" at GCAC