Festivus is just around the corner. Have you erected the aluminum pole for your loved ones to gather around or prepared for the Airing of Grievances?

Festivus is just around the corner. Have you erected the aluminum pole for your loved ones to gather around or prepared for the Airing of Grievances?

This Saturday, artist space 400 West Rich in Franklinton takes the hassle out of the "Seinfeld"-created holiday with a Festivus celebration that's open to all. It'll be complete with a pole and a wall for sharing gripes, as well as fire spinners, food trucks, a kids' gift-making station and handmade goods for sale.

The event will also provide the first opportunity for the public to tour the 40 artist studios inside the renovated facility.

"We've got all these tenants, and they all make different stuff. Ultimately we decided to make it an open house that really showcases the tenants," said Heather Wirth, Festivus organizer and leasing agent for 400 W. Rich.

Wirth said Festivus is a group effort, with contributions from tenants such as Derek Stewart and Lisa McLymont, who together created the poster for Festivus and handle all graphics for the facility.

Artist Chris James, a designer and fabricator for Orange Barrel Media, stepped up for the Festivus pole. As he explained, "Not everyone knows how to weld and has access to lots of metal. I'm glad I was able to contribute something."

A tenant since October, James hasn't spent much time furnishing his studio, but he has filled the upper part of one wall with an installation of vivid wooden blocks and red butterfly sculptures. Over time, he plans to extend it across all four walls and the ceiling.

Despite being at 400 for less than a month, artists David Denniston, Lea Gray, Andrew Lundberg and Shawn Walburn already have a lived-in feel in the large, light-filled studio they share.

"It has a real charm to it," Lundberg said of the building.

"And the whole Franklinton area seems like it's getting better," Denniston said.

Gray added, "It's like an artists' colony. We can have events here, be part of something."

She'll be actively contributing to Festivus as one of the fire spinners, in addition to selling purses, origami pieces and fine art alongside her studio mates.

James Butch will be selling the jewelry he makes in the space he's had since August. Organized and inviting with warm-toned walls, velour seating, a full bar and a display of clean sterling pieces with big, beautiful stones, Butch's studio provides him with a space to be creative away from his residence in the Brewery District and his job as director of event sales for Franklin Park Conservatory.

According to Butch, "It's turned into a home away from home."

Photo by Jodi Miller