Dual Art Reviews: The Pizzuti Collection and Rooms to Let
They attracted me anyway.
Saturday May 18th offered central Ohio art supporters a unique opportunity to appreciate two very different ways in which the art scene in Columbus is taking off. On one end of the spectrum is the Pizzuti Collection, which opened its doors to members to present a preview of the newly renovated gallery space and opening exhibitions. At the other end of the spectrum, on the same spring afternoon and just two and a half miles east of the Pizzuti Collection, the fourth installment of Rooms to Let was held. While these two events presented obvious differences in terms of scale, scope, permanence, and resources, the love of art and the commitment to provide access to it linked them in common cause.
The Pizzuti Collection is non-profit organization established to present art from the collection Ron and Ann Pizzuti. Works will be displayed in the newly renovated United Commercial Travelers building located across from Goodale Park at 632 North Park Street. The facility includes ample gallery space, a library, sculpture garden, rooftop terrace, and a dedicated screening room for video and digital art. That the Pizzuti’s are consistently ranked in the annual ARTnews 200 Top Collectors list makes all this a pretty big deal.
Ron Pizzuti has been collecting art for decades. The resulting body of work is one born of love, research, and connections with galleries, dealers and artists from around the globe. It’s strength is its fusion of works by contemporary masters (Gerhard Richter, Ai Weiwei, Frank Stella, etc.) alongside those of emerging artists. The opportunity to have works from this renowned collection accessible to the public is a real boon for art lovers in central Ohio. Cutting edge art notwithstanding, the Pizzuti Collection presents an initiative reminiscent of traditional philanthropic endeavors, right down to its imposing facade and location across from one of our city’s preeminent parks.
Meanwhile, east of 632 North Park Street, the fourth installment of Rooms to Let was being held in the city’s King-Lincoln area. Rooms to Let provided the upstart, ephemeral, and DIY yin to the Pizzuti’s more traditional and established yang.
Rooms to Let is the brainchild of Melissa Vogley-Woods. It’s an initiative that provides artists with temporary gallery/installation space in the form of vacant homes. Imagine it as a kind of pop-up gallery, but with a focus on residential spaces rather than commercial. From the artists’ perspective this is a unique opportunity. Creating works on a specific theme and for a specific site often leads to connections that wouldn’t otherwise occur. It pushes the creative process and offers the chance not to simply fill a space, but to create one anew.
From a visitor’s perspective it’s an opportunity to feel part of the process. The experience of Rooms to Let is equal parts gallery visit and fun-house. Engagement, interaction and exploration are encouraged, whether that’s roaming through Jeremy Stone’s life-sized camera obscura The Proper Organ of Vision or carrying a flashlight through the near darkness of In The Dark.
The chance to appreciate other people as they navigate the work is one of the real charms of Rooms to Let. Galleries and museums can be intimidating places. They’re quiet, contemplative, and ordered. We don’t always “get” the work. Security staff hover silently in each room, on guard for any breach of protocol. Rooms to Let breaks down that wall. It transforms visitors from viewers to participants.
That Rooms to Let and the Pizzuti preview occurred on the same day is likely just a coincidence, albeit a very illustrative one. It serves to remind us of the wide range of support the arts in Columbus engender, from high to low, from top to bottom. I for one wish both endeavors (and everything in between) all the success in the world.
The Pizzuti Collection will hold it’s grand opening on Saturday September 7, 2013 and feature two exhibitions. Cuban Forever highlights selected works relating to Cuba’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. Inaugural Exhibition: Looking Back and Looking Forward offers a survey of the milestones and notable acquisitions from the Pizzuti’s years of collecting.