The new space will hold a virtual opening soon

In the days following the late-May killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the King Arts Complex responded with an initiative called the HeART of Protest, with the goal of healing the city’s Black community through the arts. Underneath that umbrella, King Arts launched 46 Days of Protest, involving 46 nonconsecutive days of arts programming throughout the city, so named because Floyd was 46 when he was killed.

As the creative directors of the HeART of Protest initiative, Gamal Brown of Onyx Productions and Lawrence Lemon and Alonzo Edmundo of Get Cr8v divided the 46 Days of Protest into four quadrants: pain, promises broken, protecting our future, and progress. It's that last piece that inspired the idea to bring the King Arts Complex to Easton.

"At the King Arts complex at Easton experience, you're going to get an opportunity to have a glimpse into what the King Arts Complex has to offer,” Lemon said. “We'll bring some multimedia exhibits, productions, installations, meetings, educational pieces and things that highlight our rich and brilliant diversity that we have here in the city. … The focus is to celebrate the vibrant black arts community that we have here.”

The new KAC at Easton experience is housed in the space formerly occupied by Forever 21, which currently is emblazoned with a bright yellow vinyl wrap promoting artists and events at the complex. In the coming days, King Arts hopes to host a virtual opening for the space, which eventually will host events and an art gallery.

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“It allows us to extend our reach in terms of touching other folks within the Columbus community,” said Lyn Logan-Grimes, cultural arts director at the KAC.

At the same time, Lemon said the KAC space will make the shopping complex welcoming and inviting to those who wouldn’t normally visit. “A lot of people still don't necessarily come to Easton. A lot of times we don't see ourselves there. But this is an opportunity for them to see themselves there,” said Lemon, whose Get Cr8v offices are located at Easton.

“The Forever 21 space is the first phase," Logan-Grimes said. "There's also a window space where we have artwork displayed right now. … That work will be rotated."

Lemon and Logan-Grimes said KAC will have more to announce about the Easton space in the coming months, with COVID preventing any large gatherings for the time being. But the launch is one more step in the bold, ongoing responses of artists in this new civil rights movement of 2020. “Artists have always been and will probably always be on the front lines of any movement at any moment in the United States of America and across the world,” Lemon said. “And we know that it's not just a moment. It’s a movement.”

“There's power in art, and I love that artists are speaking very boldly in our city through the arts,” Logan-Grimes said. “Our artists have something to say and they're not afraid to say it. They are speaking loudly.”