Plus! 5 things to see and do at the 2015 Columbus Arts Festival

Plus! 5 things to see and do at the 2015 Columbus Arts Festival

One of the most exciting things about living in Columbus is watching the Columbus Arts Festival grow bigger and better — literally and figuratively — every summer. This year is no exception, as the festival stretches farther west, from the Scioto Mile into the heart of Franklinton. With more city streets to fill, the fest is adding a bunch of new programming as well.

“We are a visual arts fair but we really are trying to emphasize the ‘s’ in ‘arts,’” said Jami Goldstein, vice president of marketing, communications & events for the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC).

In addition to showcasing works from more than 300 visual artists from around the world, the fest will feature live performances in music, theater, dance and spoken word on six stages. New stages this year include the Sharkey’s Jazz & Blues Club, which will feature jazz, blues and R&B in a club-style setting; the Acoustic Lounge, which will host local acoustic musicians in a lounge setting; and the Franklinton Theatre Stage, which will host dozens of performances from local theater companies, including Available Light Theatre, Actors Theatre, Weathervane Playhouse and Columbus Children’s Theatre.

Here are five additional attractions — some new and some returning — that you won’t want to miss at this year’s fest.

Rebranded GCAC booth

Stop by GCAC’s new and improved festival booth on Civic Center Dr. (just south of the Rich St. bridge entrance) to learn about the local arts organization’s brand new “Art Makes Columbus/Columbus Makes Art” campaign, which will launch at the fest this year. The community-wide arts marketing campaign will aim to raise awareness of the city’s diverse offerings of arts and cultural organizations, and will be the largest public/private partnership to market the arts in Columbus’ history.

“We are really excited to showcase this city’s amazing talent,” Goldstein said. “We’re launching at the festival so it will be the public’s first glimpse of this really exciting campaign.” While you are there, strike a pose at the booth’s selfie station (there will even be a fan on hand to give you that wind-blown glamour shot look).

Hands on activities

Crafters and DIY types of all ages rejoice: The arts fest offers nearly two-dozen activities (in the English Plaza by COSI) to get your creative juices flowing. The Hands On Activities area is staffed by volunteers from local organizations and will feature glass bead sculpting, lessons on how to use a potter’s wheel, instructions from Glass Axis artists on how to sculpt glass beads, ceramic pot painting, a comic book character creation workshop, screen printing and much more.

Six in the City project

Inspired by the Six-Word Memoir trend started by SMITH Magazine in 2006, GCAC, with support from Express, has launched a new project, “Six in the City” to celebrate Columbus and the experience of living here. This interactive effort will kick-off a yearlong project culminating in a 30-foot wide photo gallery, featuring black and white portraits of festival attendees, along with their six-word memoirs about Columbus. So, start thinking now about how you would sum up your experience of living in Columbus — in just six words.

Arts fest meets coffeehouse

What better complements live spoken-word performances than delicious caffeinated beverages? If you are feeling overwhelmed by the crowds at the art fest, escape to the more intimate Ohio Magazine Word is Art Stage & Coffee House (at the corner of Civic Center Dr. and Town St.) and watch live readings by more than 60 poets and spoken-word artists over an iced coffee or cappuccino from Boston Stoker, Café Brioso, One Line Coffee, Roosevelt Café and Stauf’s Coffee Roasters.

A larger-than-life camera

You may have spotted “Brownie In Motion,” a traveling art installation, photographic darkroom and working camera obscura, at other arts events around town. But this enormous (5-by-8.5-by-7.5-feet) big brown camera by Columbus multidisciplinary artist Stephen Takacs makes its debut at the Columbus Arts Festival this year, just south of Main St. and S. Second on the edge of the park. The camera is modeled after a Kodak Brownie and there is plenty of space for visitors small and tall to step in and take a look around.