Jeremy Callahan (aka Siftus) is one of several dozens artists that you’ll find at the Columbus Idea Foundry, a multi-purpose creative hub tucked away on a side street in an industrial strip of the Milo-Grogan neighborhood. His work spans many mediums, from visual arts to creative writing to video production and he describes his style as both simultaneously decrepit and hopeful.
Read on for our full Q&A interview with J. Tillman Callahan.
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your personal artistic background?
A: As with many people, I more or less knew that an artistic path was one that I would walk from a young age. You juggle those dreams as to what you’ll want to do with your life and I have been lucky enough to be able to bite on all the opportunities that have been presented to me in order to make those dreams a reality.
I’d started out as a somewhat talented writer and decided to attend art school to influence my interest in pursuing a solidly balanced set of skills to work with. Really, the best thing you can do with an interest, is to jump right in there, and get to work. So this is what I’ve attempted to do despite not being able to lock onto any one format or another.
Having created work for the better part of twenty years now, I feel like I’ve just come out of my personal studio cave in the past five years or so to really grasp what has been right in front of my face all along and that’s to not only pursue a future as an artist, but define that future as I go. Columbus itself has been an incredibly diverse canvas to do so, while the venues, events, and groups are sprinkled all over the city like paint as the creative scene continues to grow rapidly as time goes on. Its been nothing short of wonderful running art groups and throwing shows in this city.
Q: How did you first get involved with the Columbus Idea Foundry?
A: My creative collaborator from the Taint project (an incredible artist, David M. Kennedy) had been living and maintaining a studio at Milo for a year or two and had crossed paths with Alex Bandar, who was then contemplating starting up the tech shop in the school-turned-artist-community. He’d decided to move on to his own venue and took some of the Milo folk with him, and as an artistic dingleberry, I found myself clinging to that strong yet important hair.
Once the CIF had moved to their first building on the east side, I’d begun pitching in where I could by volunteering to capture media and took advantage of some of the great classes that the CIF has always offered while assisting during events. You’ll see one piece in the show that was made during this time period, which is an interpretation of a metal sculpture, built during a welding course from Foundry Manager, Matt Bowman.
From there we moved to Corrugated Way and since then the CIF has been like a kid who is constantly outgrowing their pants so that you always see their ankles even though they got new jeans last week. The CIF is a facility and community of people that I hold very dear to my shrunken little heart.
Q: How would you describe your artistic aesthetic?
A: Life is at once very beautiful, yet brutally profane as it naturally occurs and its been inevitable that my work mirrors this in many ways. I’ve fallen deeply in love not only with the manipulation of matter to communicate complex or simple ideas, but also the delightful and sometimes grotesque marriage of concepts versus presentation. The pieces that come from me, whether typed or visual, tend to tell stories or at very least leave a taste in the viewer’s mouth that sits long after they’ve experienced whatever piece they’ve consumed. You’ll find a tainted and decrepit outlook with slivers of hope for the future intertwined within all the rotting material and dick jokes. There’s all kinds of feelings smashed up against the taint and my hope is that they play well together.
Q: Have you found the Columbus art community to be collaborative or fragmented?
A: Columbus is a type of congealing slime for creative people, as its always been. We’ve got so many amazing groups within the city that work with no budgets while throwing huge events, supporting one another, and generally providing the “clay” which artists, musicians, and writers sculpt their careers around and then tend to leave for something bigger.
These days, the art communities seem to be doing all they can to overlap and benefit one another. The Idea Foundry is no stranger to this as that specific community does all it can to wrap its long arms around all the other groups. For instance, the CIF recently threw a Maker’s Fest to compliment their annual Power Tool Drag Race and invited another group I work with, Art Party Columbus, to assemble a sprawling mass of creative vendors while also displaying their artists in the CIF gallery in tandem.
It’s actually a dream of mine that once all these creative groups, communities, and outlets in our city truly and effectively join these parts to form like Voltron, that it’ll be an unstoppable mass of talent which will ripple its way into arts history.
Q: Tell us a bit about what we can expect at this Saturday’s “Underground at the Foundry” show?
A: I’ll start off by stating that Kate Morgan is an extremely talented artist and not only has it been a delight to work with her, but an honor to build this show next to her side.
This show, like many others, is taking up a living, breathing, life of its own as Kate’s and my work are beginning to make sweet love with each other on the walls of the Foundry. We’ve opted to feature text pieces that will find their ways onto the walls as well, that stand on their own yet guide the overall flow amongst our visual pieces that will form a type of color and narration that will only exist in this context. Many of my pieces are emotional, yet obscure works that tableau quite well with her stylized and expressive portraiture work.
Starting to find myself becoming increasingly ecstatic to see the final product much like a band waiting for their studio work to get mixed down into a final album.
Q: I understand you’re headed to Portland soon on an arts study grant? Can you tell us what the future might hold for you?
A: To be honest, my journey out west is an act to force myself outside of the comfort zone of Columbus to figure out what comes next. I’ve found so much success in recent years, that its exciting to continue to chisel out my own future to see exactly where my work will continue to find its way from inspiration to reality to expression. Its always been an important process for a creative person to define themselves and gestate their palate for what work will come next.
There’s been a series of projects that time has not allowed me to realize and with this journey, I hope to get closer to accomplishing these goals while continuing to enjoy what life has to offer. With some luck, I’ll be able to continue inspiring other people and maybe teach a bit while learning a few life lessons as it goes. Its my intention to retain Columbus roots throughout.
A wise person once said: “The process is the product.”
More info about J. Tillman Callahan can be found at www.columbusideafoundry.com/jeremy-callahan.
Join us on Saturday, October 8th for the first “Underground at the Foundry” Art Show! CLICK HERE for more information.