Feature: German Village’s Art Crawl is more than just fun and fundraising

By Sarah Thompson
From the July 18, 2013 edition

For 364 days each year, German Village’s Macon Alley is nothing special, providing your average garage access to nearby homes. But for one night every summer, the alley, sandwiched between Whittier and Frankfort streets, gets to shed its day job and transform into a gallery fitted with talented creations ranging from traditional paintings to jewelry and sculpture.

German Village’s Art Crawl, a 13-year-old, now fifth-annual event put on by the German Village Business Community, will use temporarily donated garages from residents to showcase 30 artists from its own streets. Artists from surrounding communities, like Worthington, Lancaster and Canal Winchester, were also invited to participate. All the artists — selected by a jury of prominent members of the city’s arts community — will gain exposure and sell their creations to the 600-700 patrons expected to attend.

Art Crawl doesn’t just benefit the artists. Ticket sales help benefit the preservation of the historical district by funding restoration projects and educational resources. But Jeff Lowe, chairman of Art Crawl, is quick to note: It’s not just about the monetary benefit.

“We don’t feel any animosity toward Short North artists or anyone else, but we have a lot of galleries people don’t know about as much as (Short North’s) galleries. And publications such as yourselves tend to publicize Short North a lot more than other areas,” he said. “So we do it to show off our artists and other communities’ artists for this event. We want everybody in Columbus to know what a good arts community we have down here.”

Thom Glick, a freelance graphic illustrator and instructor at Columbus College of Art and Design, German Village resident and first-year Art Crawl participant, has similar sentiments.

“I think the community at large takes the Short North very seriously as an artist outlet. I think that’s because it’s such a cluster and it’s such a dominating component of the arts community here,” he said. “But there are pockets of really cool stuff going on that aren’t getting much notice, and it’s kind of easy to miss those pockets.”

Keeping in line with “different,” Glick, one of the event’s four art demonstrators, said he’s likely to return to his traditional roots and perform a live painting, the size of which will be reminiscent of the large murals he used to create for businesses. Other demonstrations range from equally traditional methods to wood turning and latex sculpture.

In addition to catching these demonstrations and (possibly) snagging a couple giveaways, the event also offers some grub and libation. Each ticket is good for free food samples from 20 German Village businesses such as G. Michael’s, Barcelona, Hey Hey and Pistacia Vera, as well as two free samplings of wine or beer.

That takes care of the taste buds and eye candy, but don’t worry: The ears aren’t forgotten. Each of the alley’s four blocks will house local bands that provide a variety of sound: The Dixieland band Good Time Charlie’s, ’60s and ’70s pop duo Sugarfoot, steel drum player Joseph Glenn and blues and jazz performer Al Smyth.

But food and fun notwithstanding, Lowe and Glick both insist participants gain a more serious takeaway.

“The (German Village) Society (of which the GVBC is a committee) is a nonprofit that needs money, and there’s always people thinking of ways to do that. Art crawl was something that stuck,” Lowe said, attributing the particular fundraising event’s success to the village’s unwavering support of the arts. “It’s a perfect match.”

Glick agreed.

“Yeah, this is a fundraiser. German Village needs some kind of fundraising events,” he said. “But it’s also about community awareness. About bringing attention to this art scene.”

“There’s so much stuff going on here,” he added. “Columbus as a whole is a huge art hub on so many different levels, and I think adding more and more layers to that is important.”