Studio Proof: Artists come out strong to support Franklinton gallery

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

The Vanderelli Room quickly found success as a gallery showcasing Columbus artists in both solo and group exhibits on a monthly basis. Now it's forging ahead with a couple new endeavors. The gallery will still be a monthly destination for those seeking out the best local artists - as evidenced by the incredible roster of artists who donated work for the gallery's silent auction fundraiser last Saturday - but gallery owner Alicia Vanderelli is also taking on some notable new projects.

Saturday's event, "ROLL CALL: Artists Uniting to Benefit The Vanderelli Room," raised funds for the gallery's education and artist-in-residency programs. An all-star list of Columbus artists donated pieces - artists could choose to donate 50, 75 or 100 percent of sales to the gallery - and the event raised thousands of dollars for these programs. (Bidders were also able to score some incredible deals.)

Kudos to all the artists who donated pieces - it was one amazing showcase, overflowing with 128 pieces from 72 artists.

The gallery has become a station for art education and development, mentoring teenage artist Henry Hess (pictured with his parents, Vanderelli and current artist-in-residency Walter Herrmann). Hess is a prolific creator of illustrations, wall hangings, three-dimensional sculptures and installations, and anything else his wondrous mind thinks of. Hess has also been diagnosed with autism.

Under the guidance of Vanderelli, Herrmann and a number of other artists, Hess has sharpened his practice and earned gallery representation. His successes have inspired more educational programming, all of which will be discussed at Ohio State's Arts and Autism conference in August.

The Vanderelli Room is in the early stages of its "holistic integrated educational program" that will focus on counseling, supporting and mentoring teenage artists. The first community outreach event under this program had 50 young artists visit the gallery and participate in art-making.

The funds raised from Saturday's auction will go to securing supplies for these artists, as well as supporting future events and programming.