It's been almost a year since I started writing about the arts for Columbus Alive. It's been a whirlwind, and in that time I've only kissed the tip of the iceberg of all that's going on here.

It’s been almost a year since I started writing about the arts for Columbus Alive. It’s been a whirlwind, and in that time I’ve only kissed the tip of the iceberg of all that’s going on here.

One of the ways I’ve kept up is The Art and Artists Of (614), a public Facebook group with more than 4,500 members open to anyone interested in Columbus arts. (There are chapters for every Ohio area code, all of which originated here by local artist Walter Herrmann.)

The page is as invaluable as it is accessible, a place where artists share their work, get feedback, support, possibly inspiration and collaboration, and an incredibly vital tool for networking. Enthusiasts — those, like me, who lack the talent to create but respect and admire those who have it — can observe and find out what’s not-to-miss. There’s a lot.

A great way to get acquainted with the group is through its monthly First Monday Gallery (the next one is Oct. 6). Simply put, First Monday is an online exhibition. Any artist, whether novice or professional, is welcome to post one image of his or her work during a four-hour period (6:14-10:14 p.m.) for critique, advice, exposure, fun or whatever.

First Monday began with Herrmann seeking a place online where local artists could showcase work. It quickly became much more. After a few months, local businesses attempted to advertise in the comments section (and were deleted because this is simply about the art), and Herrmann noticed curators and gallery owners would “voyeur” to find artists for exhibitions.

“It has taken on this real identity of being a legitimate gallery and something concrete that is being looked at extensively. We’re [currently] averaging somewhere between 500 and 1,000 people interacting — physically interacting — with the [First Monday] posts,” Herrmann said.

Each month a local artist curates by picking a theme, and “greeting” each artist as they post an image by liking and commenting. For October, Simon La Bozetta is curating with a theme of soliloquy. La Bozetta will announce November’s curator at the end of Monday’s show.

“Hopefully [the theme] will get people to put some good things forward. There’s been some really great shows prior … so hopefully this will inspire,” La Bozetta.

Inspired? First Monday definitely is.

Photo by Meghan Ralston