No Place Gallery Moves Downtown

After several years on the South Side, No Place has a new space.

Brittany Moseley
Columbus Monthly
Owner James McDevitt-Stredney in the new gallery space with an installation by Ben Quinn, “Starworm 1"

When James McDevitt-Stredney found out last December he would have to leave the Merion Village space that had been No Place Gallery’s home for almost a decade, he wondered if it was time for him to leave as well. 

The 32-year-old was raised in Sunbury and graduated from the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2012 with a degree in fine arts. Over the years, some of his former classmates moved to New York and Los Angeles. So when McDevitt-Stredney learned he had until March 1 to vacate the artist-run space he founded with friends in 2012, his friends suggested he move to the East or West coast. 

He spent time meditating and fishing, trying to figure out his next move. He says it took him about a month to decide to stay. 

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“I knew if I left, I would feel bad about not doing everything I could to really push the envelope here,” he says. “I also felt like, I don’t want to bail on these folks. Because it’s a really fantastic city, and I think it has so much potential.” 

When the first two locations the gallerist was interested in fell through, a friend put McDevitt-Stredney in touch with Jeff Edwards, the CEO and president of The Edwards Cos., well known for development projects along Gay and High streets. That introduction led him to the real estate firm Day Cos., which happened to have a space for lease on Gay Street. 

"Sacred Demon of Ungovernable Mischief" by Chloe Seibert

No Place’s new home at 1 E. Gay St. is bright and open, thanks to crisp white walls and large front windows. Unlike the Merion Village space, which also housed artists’ studios, the new location is strictly a gallery—although McDevitt-Stredney does work on his art in the basement. On the day we meet, large painted masks and black-and-white paintings by Chloe Seibert share space with Shawn McBride’s brightly colored, collagelike pieces. 

Although McDevitt-Stredney isn’t working directly with Edwards, No Place Gallery fits into the developer’s vision to make Downtown a destination—with dining, nightlife, green space and, of course, art—where people want to live and visit. 

“I’ve been developing things Downtown or near Downtown since the mid-’80s. We used to talk about things like 24/7 activity and life Downtown, which, quite frankly, 35 years ago was an impossibility,” Edwards says. “But now, there’s 10,000 [housing] units. There’s 12,000 or 14,000 people living Downtown. That starts to be a meaningful nighttime population … I think it’s night and day different than the effort that would have occurred even 10 years ago.” 

A Shawn McBride painting

Although he was nervous to move to a new neighborhood, McDevitt-Stredney is settling in nicely. He remodeled and built out the gallery himself. (It used to be Don Rey Cigar Lounge.) He’s made friends with his neighbors. He’s booked several exhibitions through the end of the year. He appreciates the foot traffic a Downtown location affords and says it’s a good centralized spot for his clients to get to. 

“There’s so much potential here,” he says. “I’m just surprised people haven’t jumped on it.”  

This story is from the October 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.