When Junctionview manager Adam Brouillette’s mom came to visit the 22,000-square-foot warehouse for the first time, the building was hopping with some interesting activities.
“She saw a karate class and people kicking each other in their underwear, basically. And then there were drag queens practicing in the hall wearing tights and high heels,” Brouillette recalled, laughing. “She was kind of like, ‘What do you guys do here?’”
What did happen at Junctionview since it opened in 2002? A lot. In addition to being the home studio to hundreds of local artists throughout the years (the waiting list to get into the place is just as long), Junctionview became the place for myriad fundraisers, festivals and, perhaps most importantly, gallery shows.
“There weren’t a lot of places that were showing local art other than Roy G Biv, [Ohio Art League] and a few others,” Brouillette said of when the Couchfire Collective and fellow Junctionview artists began planning a long list of events that eventually put Junctionview on the Columbus map. “We had a very DIY attitude. That’s where Agora came from.”
Agora! At the annual festival, Junctionview artists left their doors open and visitors could peruse their studios. The team of Agora planners had already been discussing making this year’s Agora X the final one (it requires a lot of planning and there are other festivals, such as Independent’s Day, that are similar) when it got news from the building’s landlord, Nationwide Realty Investors, that the building would be razed this spring so the land could be redeveloped as part of the Grandview Yard Project.
Preparing for its closing has been busy — and only kind of bittersweet. Brouillette spoke glowingly of the relationship between NRI and Junctionview, and added that while Junctionview at one time helped build consciousness in the general public to buy and show local art, its closing highlights a new need in the Columbus art scene.
“Personally, this is why I wanted to do something like Wonderland in the first place,” Brouillette said of the attempts to build a place for artist studios and performances that the artists actually owned. “You have permanence. The problem isn’t the development of the neighborhood, you can’t fault the private development company for wanting to build, it’s that there’s no protection of the artists.”
Brouillette and 11 fellow artists of Junctionview are moving to a new studio nearby. They and others have plans to set up some grills and lawn chairs to watch and celebrate when a demolition team tears down the building.
“I have eaten, slept, lived and breathed this kind of stuff for the past several years,” Brouillette said. “We are family.”
Five reasons to go to Agora X
1. It’s the last one.
There are other April events at Junctionview, like the Junctionview Moving Sale on April 20, but Agora is the grand goodbye. While it’s nice to hear that the tenants have a positive attitude about the move, it’s still sad to see the local art scene lose such an important and fun space. Come pour one out for this cherished red building. Only $5 for the memories.
2. So. Much. Art.
See the studios of some of the artists who work out of the 22,000-square-foot warehouse, and more than 150 visiting artists — selected from online submissions — will have work on the walls.
3. More art.
There are no fire dancers this year, but plenty of other performers will keep things hot throughout the day. In the back lot of Junctionview will be a stage of bands with a new one playing every hour. Rock out in the Ride to Ruin air bass contest at 1 p.m. or close out the day with Earwig (8 p.m.), Bicentennial Bear (9 p.m.) and DJ Moxy (10 p.m.). The new Alternative Fashion Mob, a group of independent fashion designers and their supporters whose goal is to democratize the fashion scene, will have a fashion show of local designs. Inside the warehouse will be standup comedy (starting at 5 p.m.) and Junctionview video artist Andrew Ina’s collection of work by local cinematographers.
4. It’s a kickoff to festival season.
A bunch of food trucks in one place is no longer novel, but food trucks plus booths to shop at?! OK, also no longer novel. Oh well. Agora always has a hip mix of things for your belly (beer, Short North Bagel, Jeni’s, etc.) and your closet. Outdoor hawkers of sweet stuff include jewelry designers Mute & Gold and Gabs & Reese and clothing brands Dark Star Threadz and Draigle Trading Co.
5. There’s a preview party.
It’s a day before the actual Agora X, but here’s a chance to see the art early. Tickets are $20 at the door. Eat, drink and listen to the musical musings of Chris Duggan and Matt Montaw.