What unites a bluegrass group, a youth drum line, and an artists’ collective? Competition and creativity, says Chris Sunami, organizer of the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition, which will provide plenty of both. The CIAC will also be an opportunity for central Ohio residents to discover the talents of their friends and neighbors.
“There’s always been this stereotype about Columbus that there is more talent than audience. [And] it can be hard to get people to come and experience [Columbus arts],” says Sunami. CIAC taps into the energy created by talent shows like American Idol, The Voice, and others that Sunami sees as “big in popular culture right now” but lacking the ability to get people to “experience the art that’s around them.” This art is represented by many Columbus artists, like the painter Mabi Ponce de Leon, who will participate as a member of Creative Arts of Women (CAW), what she calls “a great organization of incredible women.” Her work, Patagonia, references her interest in travel and the reaction of European explorers to indigenous peoples. Another member of CAW, Amandda Tirey Graham, will present artwork like her image Neuro Nectar. For Graham, “the most important part [of CIAC] is representing different groups in Columbus, and [she is] honored to be included.” Celebrating the Columbus Bicentennial, the CIAC will have three overlapping events: a performing arts showcase, visual arts exhibition, and a studio recording showcase. The eclectic mix of arts is not an accident. It’s the point of this program, according to Sunami, who referred to journalist Jonah Lehrer’s writing about creativity: “Creativity actually happens in a community, and it often happens in a community where very different people brush up against each another. Part of my hope is that no matter what happens with these events bringing these groups together will help spark their creativity.”
The Performing Arts Showcase—August 25 from 7-9pm at the Columbus Performing Arts Center (549 Franklin Avenue)—will showcase Billy Two Shoes, a charity-focused bluegrass band, and the New Harvest Urban Arts Center, among others. The Columbus Metropolitan Library will host the Visual Arts Competition Exhibition with an opening public reception on September 6 at 5:30, and the exhibit running until October 26. The winners of the online Studio Recordings Showcase will be announced at an awards banquet on October 4 at 6:30 in the King Arts Complex. Sunami has high hopes for the events and aftereffects: “I do hope that some new artistic movement does emerge out of this. I’m hoping that this will become a regular event for Columbus and hopefully expand regionally maybe internationally after that.” More information is available at columbus.invitationalarts.org.