Alive & Unedited: Benjamin Kent

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

With his Oh Art campaign, Benjamin Kent wants to transform COTA buses and shelters into mobile galleries by plastering them with work by local artists. He's hoping to be in the running this month for a $250,000 grant from Pepsi Refresh, a program that funds good ideas across the country. Either way, Kent's a man with a plan.


I graduated in 2006 from the University of Rhode Island. Rhode Island is such a great place. Providence is really hip. I'm a big fan. I have a lot of friends who live there.


After school, I worked for "The Montel Williams Show." I was the receptionist guy. One of the craziest parts of the job is just picking up the phone. When it rings, you have no idea who it could be. You pick up. There's a pause. You hear, "Montel? Is this Montel?"


I'd accrued some bank, so I was able to teach English in Argentina. I lived in a hostel for three months, with students primarily. The school was unique in the sense that it sent out its teachers to different locations. It gave me the time to check out the city. Craziest nightlife that I've ever experienced.


Three things I can't live without are an alarm clock, cartoons and my parents.


I came to Columbus to study city and regional planning. You have to foresee and try to predict the best interests of a city, and I think that's an art skill set. I'd really like to be an advocacy planner, where I'd be able to create social programs in different cities.


Oh Art is an idea I developed in class at Ohio State. The instructor, Kyle Ezell, told incoming students that the whole point of his class is to develop something for the benefit of Columbus that hasn't been implemented before.


From a student's perspective, Columbus allows you to experiment. There's room to try something and see if the community embraces it or dislikes it.


Oh Art would promote socio-economic growth in the city. It would grab local artisans and give them the push, the leverage to make something out of what they want as an occupation. What better way to promote it than on a transportation system that many people use and pass by? Everybody's gonna see it.


I learned from COTA that the same bus doesn't go on the same route day after day. If Oh Art is implemented, you'll see different pieces of art every single day.


After the art has been in the buses and shelters, I'd want to cycle it out every two to four months into art galleries. So it'd probably be one gallery where consumers could come and say, "Man, I passed by this bus stop. I thought that this painting was beautiful. I want that."


The best advice I've ever received is that you have to live now but look at everything from outside the box.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at

Age: 26

Day job: Graduate student, Ohio State University

Neighborhood: Harrison West

Hometown: New Rochelle, New York


Playing Favorites

Favorite TV show: "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

Favorite movie: "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"

Favorite book: "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson

Favorite band: Billy Talent

Favorite song: White noise, creature noises, rainforest noises. I need to focus.

Favorite food: Home-cooked matzah balls

Favorite drink: Tequila on the rocks

Favorite place to travel: Providence, Rhode Island