1. The year the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum got a new home
Before working at Alive, I had no idea Columbus was home to the largest cartoon library in the world. I got to tour the archives and gallery floor before the museum's new home in Sullivant Hall was even open. That place is a treasure trove of interesting and important pieces of art. Being able to tour it with its curators before it opened was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
2. The year Junctionview closed
After nearly 10 years as one of the city's most active artistic hubs, Junctionview finally closed in April 2013. Sure, the tenants and the city knew of its eventual fate, but I was still sad to see it go. I was able to walk the halls one last time as they prepared for Agora X and snapped this photo of some of the artists making their way down the halls to hang prints for the studio's final show.
3. The year Nina did Columbus
2013 was Nina's year, no doubt about it. She did a ridiculous number of shows, put out multiple music videos, threw several charity fundraisers and headlined High Ball Halloween. If you didn't know about Nina before this year, I bet you do now. Nina's other identity, Andrew Levitt, was even chosen as one of our People to Watch because of his activism. Getting to meet and photograph both Nina and Andrew has given me a glimpse of their lives both on and off stage, a rare treat for anyone.
4. The year I met Jeff Smith
I think this was maybe the most enviable thing I was able to do this year. Jeff Smith is an icon in comics, and when we were able to go into his personal studio and take photos of him, I had at least three friends freak out. But Jeff was so nice and mellow that I kind of forgot I was talking to a legend.
5. The year Big Fun came back to Columbus
Jason and Trinity Williams, with the help of Steve Presser, brought back Big Fun Toy Store, and put it in the heart of the Short North in May. Since they've opened, they've frequently lent us toys to use in our photos. Keep that in mind the next time you see a toy in our magazine and start to covet it.
6. The year I got paid to go to Star Base Columbus
I was born and raised in Columbus and am a sci-fi fan, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I already knew about and had visited Star Base Columbus on multiple occasions. But this time was special; I was getting paid to be there. Looking back, it still feels insane. Especially during the five minutes Jackie Mantey was kindly taking a picture of me in Star Base's Captain Kirk Chair.
7. The year I met Kassie Haji
Kassie Haji taught me a lot of things I didn't expect to learn from a photo assignment. After spending hours with her at school, home and even on the bus for half of her four-hour daily commute, I felt like I got to know Kassie, even if just a little. Her dedication to her family and her craft is inspiring. I don't know many people who would travel by bus that long each day to pursue their dream and maintain their lifestyle at home with their family.
8. The year I was in a zombie movie
Early in the year, we interviewed Max Groah, director of "Bong of the Living Dead," for our Q&A feature. When we first met, he mentioned that he was looking for extras when they were filming over the summer. I happily volunteered. Months later, there I was, made up like a zombie photographer, running toward a house with clumsy legs akimbo.
9. The year Tacocat opened
After moving out of Junctionview, a few of the regular artists started up a new, smaller gallery in Grandview just a rock's throw away. When I took this, I was finishing up photos of the new space before their first show. It was the end of the day and they had brought another watermelon — apparently, there were a lot of them — to eat. I snapped this photo and then sat down and enjoyed the watermelon with them. I think it was a Friday too — not a bad way to start a weekend.
10. The year I saw the Polaroid Wall at the Wex
The Wex has a wealth of art within its walls, but there are parts of the center the general public doesn't get to see. The Polaroid wall is one of those hidden gems. It has photos of resident artists, directors and more dating back to 1999. They are still updating it too, so seeing it again never gets old.
11. The year Long Street Collective opened
This place is an amazing amalgamation of tattoo shop and gallery, littered with Victorian-inspired curiosities. Their collection of the beautiful and bizarre made this location one of my favorites to shoot this year. I also see myself getting some ink there in the near future.