Art feature: New 934 Gallery is a strong addition

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

The June opening of 934 Gallery in the Milo Arts District presents a noteworthy addition to the Columbus arts community. 934 Gallery has quickly established itself as a space presenting unique and high-quality exhibitions, but also offering other interesting components to engage with the creative community.

"We want to do great art shows and have exceptional work here. But almost as much, we want this place to be community-driven - the community around us, the community of the Milo [Arts building next door] and the community of artists who come together here. You could have great art on the walls, but if you're not connecting with people, it's useless," said Mark Warren Jacques, gallery director and co-owner with Kyle Charles and Curtis Cole.

Charles, Cole and Jacques have Columbus roots but had spent a number of years living and working in other large metropolitan areas- from California to New York City and Chicago - before returning. They each plan to utilize connections made in outside Columbus to bring in national and international artists, but also want to plant a stake in the local scene, where development over the last decade is exciting for the three directors.

"I think the art community here is good. I was actually quite surprised when I came back here, especially after we [opened] the gallery and really started plugging ourselves in to the scene here. It's kind of a funny sales pitch, too, to get national artists here. Yeah, it's Columbus, Ohio, but it's also the 15th largest city and one of the fastest growing cities … and has a truly thriving art scene," Jacques said. "There were some galleries and [exciting] things, but it seems like the music and art scene here is ten times better than it was ten years ago."

To connect with the community, 934 Gallery is holding events during its open hours from noon to midnight every Saturday. There will be opening receptions at the beginning of the month, with music performances and creative events held other Saturdays to offer a new experience each weekend.

"We always have something for each Saturday, even if it's not an opening," Charles said. "We have community projects. We've got one [coming up] where the kids in the neighborhood have designed a mural and are going to paint it on the garage over here. We're talking about doing a record swap sometime in August. It's really anything to just get people out to stop by for a couple of hours - take a look at what we have going on and hang out for a little bit. I hope this place can act as a hub not just for art, but music as well." (Charles, Cole and Jacques are each involved in music projects.)

There are other aspects of the Cleveland Avenue gallery (just north of downtown) that are distinctive, fresh, and should interest both exhibiting artists and viewers/collectors. All of the artists and the pieces they exhibited have been aggregated on the gallery's website, and catalogs for each show will be available. The goal is both support the artists and provide access.

"Giving people the opportunity to view the art in person is the main goal. That's why we're doing events on Saturdays," said Jacques. "But the online presence is just another avenue to show the work to people, which I think is important. And in our future programming we're planning to have a good amount of out of town artists. They have their own collectors, but they don't bring them with them. But we can bring them to the website. We want to catalog each show and we're going to keep everything in our inventory here too. If someone's not connecting with the work on the walls, then we can have them look through the catalogs from past shows too."

For 934 Gallery's first exhibition, prolific local painter Rick Borg was tapped because he could fill the 2,700-square-foot space on his own. For the second show - which held a well-attended closing reception Saturday featuring music from DJ Moxy - two local photographers (Kate Sweeney and Sami Harthoorn) joined forces. The third exhibit, "Oil" opening Aug. 8, features two oil painters, local Matt Carmean and Bronx-based Mario Joyce Harper. The gallery's three proprietors intend to keep the curating process organic, but have already discovered fruitful approaches that will be present in the future.

"This space is so daunting it's difficult to do a solo show. Not very many people have enough work to do a solo show here because it's so big. A two-person show makes sense that way. It's also cool to challenge the artists, whether they know each other or not, to collaborate in putting an exhibition together," Jacques said. "We have a few ideas for October and November. Then in December, we're doing a community-driven show that's an open submission, large group show. We're hoping to have one to three pieces from each artist. We pretty much acept everything that's being submitted. We're hoping to have 100 artists for that show, and give everyone locally a chance to be here."

934 Gallery

Open hours: 12 p.m.-12 a.m. Saturdays

934 Cleveland Ave., Milo Arts District