Ethical Arts Collective Brings More Studio Space to Franklinton
When creative entrepreneurs LeAnne Johnson Absalom and Connie De Jong decided to take the plunge on leasing space in Franklinton, they never thought that they’d be creating another hub of activity for the emerging arts community in the neighborhood.
“We didn’t expect to find an 8,200 square foot building,” explains Johnson Absalom, who is the Creative Director of Peace Love Bling — an ethically handcrafted locally-based jewelry line. “When we found this building at 566 West Rich Street last December, we realized it was too big for us alone, so literally overnight, we came up with a plan to create a community of other artists and social entrepreneurs that shared our goals and values. The naming of the Ethical Arts Collective came so naturally.”
De Jong is the Creative Director for World Peaces — a designer and importer of Fair Trade Home Décor and Women’s Accessories, who many may recognize as the former Executive Director of Global Gallery. Between Peace Love and Bling and Wold Peaces, the two companies sell to more than 400 boutiques nationally, and the new Franklinton space is allowing them to continue to grow rapidly.
“Connie and I have known each other since I moved to Columbus from NYC in 2009,” shares Johnson Absalom. “Because our companies have complimentary business models and we share a commitment to ethical business practices, we wanted to find an office space we could share that would support our growth.”
The duo landed in Franklinton while searching for affordable industrial-style warehouse space. The proximity to other new and planned creativity entities was also a draw.
“We saw the potential in East Franklinton — what we believe will become the absolute center for arts and innovation in Columbus,” says Johnson Absalom. “400 West Rich has really gotten the ball rolling and the Columbus Idea Foundry, Glass Axis and the Harmony Project are generating more momentum. We hope our combination of arts and social responsibility will make a significant impression on the culture and opportunities that develop in Franklinton over the next few years.”
Studios and offices within the Ethical Arts Collective range in size from 110 to 900 square feet with plenty of shared public space for collaborating and special events. In just two short months, the rented spaces are already 75% full with artists and businesses including Scluptor Bruce Hanners, artist Ellis Beckwith, artist Joss Parker and Women Crafting Change — a joint venture between Global Gallery and the Shalom Zone.
“A central part of our mission was to create an environment that allows all members of the Collective to grow their client base and monetize their efforts through shared marketing and collaboration… it’s more than just renting space,” says Johnson Absalom. “We can also provide business services, fulfillment, merchandizing and consulting services.”
The Collective will host an official grand opening party on April 6th, which includes the opening of the Marcia Evans Gallery West, another new tenant in the building. The opening exhibition is called Abstracts and will feature work from Ellis Beckwith, Michael Halliday and John Donnelly.
“This is a an expansive, cutting edge show where Marcia’s established gallery in the Short North extends it’s presence into Franklinton in a first-of-its-kind effort,” says Johnson Absalom. “Additionally, work from all of our members will be on display and tours of all artist studios and offices will be available.”
Other upcoming events include a Fair Trade Fashion Show hosted by OSU Students on April 11th from 6pm-8pm, and from June through September, the Aids Resource Center will utilize The Collective to house the Artwork for Art For Life with a few events scheduled around the collection during that timeframe.
For more information, visit www.ethicalartscollective.com.
Photos by Walker Evans.