The Big Local Art Tent continues expanding the presence of local artists at the Columbus Arts Festival. With a larger designated space capable of featuring a 150-plus spectrum of creatives and a dedicated organizing committee of local artists (Tona and Randal Pearson, Olivera Bratich, Donna Estep, Bradley Baillie and Eric Shook), the tent has developed into a showcase for Columbus' arts community.

The Big Local Art Tent continues expanding the presence of local artists at the Columbus Arts Festival. With a larger designated space capable of featuring a 150-plus spectrum of creatives and a dedicated organizing committee of local artists (Tona and Randal Pearson, Olivera Bratich, Donna Estep, Bradley Baillie and Eric Shook), the tent has developed into a showcase for Columbus' arts community.

"We wanted people to know these local artists are here all year round, not just for the festival. You can come see our art all the time. We're trying to build revenue each year and awareness of who we are, to continue making it bigger, better. We've proved ourselves to the Arts Festival, and they are willing to let us [grow]," said Randal Pearson of how fundraising efforts and collaboration with festival organizers has led to expansion.

The tent comprises 10 local art groups and organizations - from 600-member Art Party Columbus founded by the Pearsons to the recently-established MINT collective - as well as independents. A range of mediums will be presented, from painting and three-dimensional work (glass, jewelry, sculpture) to self-published authors and even chainmail and marionette creators.

Last year was the first time the Big Local Art Tent had a specific, singularly-focused organizing committee involved with the festival. The results were unexpectedly impressive.

"Last year we made about $10,000 just from local art sales," said Tona Pearson, while mentioning that last year was so successful some of those involved were literally brought to tears.

This year's Big Local Art Tent promises to be the best yet, and should continue improving, due to the dedication of local artists that serves as the foundation of the Columbus arts community.

"There's really innovative stuff happening in the arts and great talent within our city," Bratich said. "Columbus arts is not a weekend - it's a lifestyle. It's who we are and what we do, and the Big Local Art Tent is a chance for that to shine as well."

Photo by Meghan Ralston