Second Sight Studio in Franklinton represents new beginnings

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
    Mona Gazala at her new gallery Second Sight, which opens this weekend.
  • Assemblages by Jeff Harber.
From the December 13, 2012 edition

Mona Gazala is a lifelong Clevelander. She’s nurtured an art career, a family and an independent artist’s collective there. In 2009, though, Columbus came to her in a vision.

Hold on, Gazala said. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

“I had this picture in my head just out of the blue,” she recalled. “I was looking out the window of a beautiful German Village townhome. It was such a compelling image.”

She hadn’t been to central Ohio since attending Ohio State, and even then she didn’t visit German Village often, but the power of the image made her immediately think, “I had to get to Columbus,” Gazala said.

So down I-71 she traveled, visiting Columbus galleries, getting to know the artists, becoming a member of the German Village Art League.

But even then Gazala was a Clevelander. It wasn’t until last year that she officially planted Columbus roots with a studio at 400 West Rich, and this September Gazala became a Columbusite. A Franklintonian to be exact.

“I’m just so excited about what’s happening in the Columbus arts scene,” Gazala said. “Cleveland and Columbus are very different. Cleveland is a little more insular.”

Columbus’ indie arts scene, she mused, is welcoming and scrappy, and the movement to get arts to Franklinton (see: 400 West Rich) is one she hopes to continue with her rental-house-turned-art-gallery, Second Sight Studio.

Second Sight is housed in a 1,300-square-foot Franklinton home covered in black eyes (holes in the walls, an electrical system stripped of its copper) to which Gazala has lovingly tended. The white house lowly moans as steps are taken inside it, but that’s part of the Second Sight song, part of its charm.

“I fell in love with it,” Gazala said of the house, adding the low price tag and proximity to 400 West Rich were selling points, too. “I love that it’s not so precious.”

That’s why, for the Second Sight debut exhibit this Saturday, Gazala chose to display the work of Jeff Harber, a Columbus sculpture artist who engineers found items into detailed assemblages that let the items speak for themselves and as a unit.

“Some are playful,” Gazala said of Harber’s pieces, “others are very dark.”

Harber hung his 60-plus works in the home’s living room, second bedroom, dining room and kitchen. Gazala’s bedroom and studio were the only places off limits.

The gallery will be open by appointment after Saturday’s viewing and will have bi-monthly shows of Columbus artists and possibly Cleveland creators, such as Gazala’s contacts from her group, Cleveland West Art League.

“I hope it becomes a magnet for people to come to Franklinton,” Gazala said. “400 West Rich is wonderful, and it’d be great if we could spread that excitement a little bit. I think arts in Franklinton will have a snowball effect and more artists will move here.”

Maybe. As Gazala has proven, her visions are powerful. Second Sight is no German Village townhome. But it’s certainly beautiful.