Thursday, January 9, 2014

Public Art in Columbus

Author's Note: This post was originally written for the Columbus Emerging Museum Professionals blog, which you can read here.

When I drive through Columbus, I notice a lot of paintings, sculptures and other forms of public art. Most of them are murals. Some are bright and colorful, others are quirky and nonsensical. Some are at home on the brick walls of a store, others feel more ephemeral, their canvas being a large piece of plywood affixed to a building or fence. All of them add interest and life to the city landscape during my commute to work. I often find myself wondering how many paintings and sculptures are in Columbus and if anyone maps or tracks them. If I had more time, it’s a project I’d consider taking on myself, just to explore more of the city. As it turns out - I don’t have to as there are several groups (including the city of Columbus) already passionate about public art! 

Wall With A View is a website that is cataloging outdoor murals in Columbus, and they have quite a few already on the site. The murals documented on Wall With A View were researched between 2008 and 2013. Some of these murals are already gone, having been painted over or lost when the building was torn down. Each mural that is documented has a photograph, street address, the artist name (if known) and any other information that has been found. The site is organized by section of the city. I love checking out the familiar murals I see every week and new murals I might see someday soon! 

On the 200th birthday of the city of Columbus, public art and beautifying the city were a big focus. ColumbusPublicArt2012 was a city wide initiative that included sixteen feet tall wooden towers topping the Broad Street bridge, sixteen 24x26 inch plein air murals scattered throughout the city, and a contest to create a gigantic paraprosdokian (a sentence that changes the meaning of the words before it in an unexpected way). I loved the Broad Street bridge towers the most! The goal of ColumbusPublicArt2012 was to raise awareness and support of public art and to create a way for the city to regularly commission permanent public art for the city. 

Columbus Art Walks are self-guided tours of Columbus neighborhoods focusing on public art and historical sites in the city. Each walk has its own map and you can call a number then enter an extension number to hear more about a particular work. There are paper maps (I picked mine up at the Columbus Arts Fest this past summer) and a mobile app for your phone. 

My goal for 2014 is to check out more public art in Columbus, and to see each of the plein air murals from ColumbusPublicArt2012 in person! Thankfully, Wall With A View has a street address for each one of them

To learn a little more about public art here in Columbus, check out the following sites: 
Wall With A View Resources and Links 
Public Art in Columbus Ohio Video part 1
Public Art in Columbus Ohio Video part 2
Public Art Walk from ColumbusAlive