Columbus' mushrooming reputation as an arts city is due in no small part to the advent of events supporting oft-overlooked-as-art fields, including design, comics and street art. Creative Control Fest, Urban Scrawl and Cartoon Crossroads Columbus point out that not is only is Columbus a seedbed for creatives, but that the community here is thinking about creativity in, well, creative ways.

Columbus' mushrooming reputation as an arts city is due in no small part to the advent of events supporting oft-overlooked-as-art fields, including design, comics and street art. Creative Control Fest, Urban Scrawl and Cartoon Crossroads Columbus point out that not is only is Columbus a seedbed for creatives, but that the community here is thinking about creativity in, well, creative ways.

Local artist/animator Sarah Schmidt sees her field of interest and endeavor in the same light.

"Look how accessible comics has become," Schmidt said during a recent interview at a Downtown coffee shop. "Animation is what comics looked like a few years ago. It's in that sort of hard-to-grasp place."

It's not that there isn't interest, or work being done. The city is home to a multitude of media companies staffed by animation students from local universities who are also finding freelance work or studio work in New York or Los Angeles. Schmidt, a CCAD graduate in animation, works for Columbus media firm Super77.

"There's so much that you can watch online, and it's easy to get. And I'm always hounding people to travel with me to festivals like Animation Breakdown! And GLAS in California and Animation Block Party in Brooklyn. And even though I have an animation job, something was missing," Schmidt said.

That something was a bridge - or two. A bridge between watching online in isolation and having to travel to a coast to watch with other animation aficionados. And a bridge between project-based animation and a fine-art exhibition.

So Schmidt hatched Malt Adult Animation Nite, a screening of 10 short animated films designed, very simply, to offer a local outlet for people who enjoy watching animation.

"Part of the reason I'm excited to do this at Skylab is that, as a gallery, it's got a reputation for being experimental," Schmidt said. "It seems that people don't assume animation can be that way. An animation showing in a gallery just doesn't happen."

So yes, there will be traditional narrative storytelling, but also experimental work featured in Malt Adult.

Schmidt has curated the films via contacts she's made at festivals, or from work she's seen online. Additionally, one piece is from local animator Pat Kain. Kain is design team coordinator at local firm Print Syndicate, but is also a freelance animator who previously worked for Titmouse in New York City, where he worked on Adult Swim cartoon "Super Joe."

"It's crucial for any artist to make work like this, that says, 'I have something to say or an idea to express and I want to get it out in the world,'" Kain said. "Even if you're working on a TV show and you're doing what you love you still need to be doing stuff outside of that."

"I wanted to curate something that was outside the kind of commercial work animators are often making, for musicians or for TV, stuff that could be recognized artistically as well," Schmidt said. "And something that was separate from the kind of animation we were taught in school."

"There's nothing like this in Columbus," Kain said.

Kain's piece, "HELLSCAPE," is a short that features "one continuous shot of hell, where hooded demons tear apart souls," he said. "It sounds way more intense than it really is. I'm not really sure where it came from. Everybody has sort of their own idea of hell, I guess, so here's my take on it. This one is actually cartoon-y, sort of inspired by 'The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror [episodes] and 'Looney Tunes.'"

Other featured animators include Georgia Kriss, Kevin Eskew, Julian Glander, Victoria Vincent, Sean Solomon and more.

"I think there's a nice balance of digital, illustrative, well-drawn and rough-looking," Schmidt said. "There's one that's these splotches of paint that move timed to classical music. I swear I had an anxiety attack when I watched it the first time."

Which, Schmidt said, is part of the point of hosting an event where people can watch these films in community rather than alone on their computers.

"Let's have a common space where we can experience this together. A lot of these films have uncomfortable moments, and you have a different experience of that in a group than you do alone," she said.

"Something like this could bring new points of discussion up about animation," Kain said. "There's nothing navel-gazing about it. It's more like, 'Let's have a genuine experience with this stuff because we like it.'"

"It's our weird little animation party," Schmidt joked.