Though she passed away in 1998, plastic surgeon and arts lover Anne Miller still has a presence in Columbus’ cultural community. For example, if you’ve visited the Pacific Island Water Garden at the Franklin Park Conservatory, you’ve probably enjoyed the view of her Japanese koi swimming in its pond.
A number of local artists and organizations have benefited more tangibly from Miller’s memory through the programs administered by Annie’s Fund, the nonprofit founded in her honor by her husband, Robert Falcone. In its 14 years of existence, more than $75,000 in cash awards has been disbursed to professional and student artists.
“It was established in an effort to perpetuate the things she was interested in, such as fine crafts,” explained Ellen Grevey, a founding board member. “We’ve given an individual artist grant through Greater Columbus Arts Council every other year, and we established a scholarship fund to send CCAD students to Pilchuck Glass School.”
Annie’s Fund also has instigated an annual solo show of Falcone’s art at Lindsay Gallery, with proceeds from sales going to the grant program.
Strongly graphic and steeped in pop culture, Falcone’s work has focused in the past on iconic rock stars and vixens from the James Bond films. This year, he found unusual inspiration in reality shows about survivalists.
As he explained, “On National Geographic there’s a reality show about people preparing for doomsday. I thought, if the end time is coming, it doesn’t have to be the end of art and culture, so I painted art for bunker walls — cave paintings to be discovered 2,000 years from now by some poor alien archaeologist.”
“Apocalypse Soon” features a dozen works that take a light approach to the end of civilization. Classic Civil Defense logos and radiation symbols are treated to gold leaf and other decorative touches, and a National Archive photo of early nuclear tests on the Bikini Atoll is given an absurd shift in tone with the simple, multicolored addition of the phrase “Beach Party.”
“It could be serious, but not so much for me,” Falcone joked. “I was all ready for the rapture last year, and that didn’t work out. Either I’m a sinner and I’m still here or it didn’t happen.”
As Grevey observed, “Robert’s got a great and strange sense of humor.”
“Beach Party,” by Robert Falcone