My Neighborhood: What Johnny Riddle Loves About Franklinton

The Franklinton Arts District executive director chooses his favorite things in the Columbus cultural mecca.

Steve Wartenberg
Johnny Riddle, executive director of the Franklinton Arts District, with the neighborhood’s 20-foot-tall slingshot sculpture. The piece, by local artist Andrew Lundberg, was unveiled in May 2022.

Franklinton has become a magnet for artists and art, helping to kickstart the revitalization of this once-neglected section of the city. And who better to help us take an art-centric tour than Johnny Riddle, executive director of the Franklinton Arts District and a member of the Franklinton Area Commission?

400 West Rich

This old factory once produced refrigerated drinking fountains and porcelain toilets. Now, it produces art, and its mazelike halls and galleries feature established and up-and-coming local artists. “One of the hidden gems is the [second-floor] WIT Gallery,” Riddle says. “It’s curated by Larry Robertson, a DJ and artist, and predominantly showcases BIPOC artists.”

Land-Grant Brewing Co.

“This is where the members of the creative community go after [business] hours to hang out and explore ideas,” Riddle says, adding the brewery hosts a music series and invites local artists to create its distinctive label art. “I don’t drink, but they have a very nice, nonalcoholic ginger beer,” Riddle says.

Franklinton Fridays

On the second Friday of every month, the streets of Franklinton are filled with hundreds of people celebrating art, watching performances and finding community. “We recently added an outdoor market with vendors,” Riddle says.

Public Art

“The giant slingshot really speaks to me,” Riddle says of the 20-foot-tall sculpture created by local artist Andrew Lundberg that was unveiled in May (pictured above). “It’s aimed right at the Columbus city skyline and speaks to our upward mobility and that mischievousness we have in Franklinton.”

Gladden Community House

This nonprofit settlement house offers a wide range of services for local children, adults and families. “They do an endless amount of good with their youth programming and connect other nonprofits looking to do good work here in Franklinton,” Riddle says.

Columbus Idea Foundry

This well-known makerspace is a combination workshop, educational center and entrepreneurial launching pad. Riddle loves the work of the Columbus Fashion Alliance, which is housed in the foundry. The alliance provides resources for young fashion designers and works with Columbus schools.

This story is from the November 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.