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GCAC Presents: An Insiders’ View of Outsider Art

 Cat Lynch GCAC Presents: An Insiders’ View of Outsider Art
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Open Door Art Studio, located at 1050 Goodale Boulevard in Grandview Heights, acts simultaneously as a gallery and as a creative space dedicated to providing art services to individuals with developmental disabilities. Over 60 artists with disabilities currently create art at Open Door, and most have been there for longer than I’ve worked there. Naturally, I turned to them when looking for the right words to accurately describe the Open Door Experience.

Wallace Peck, Devine Bovine, acrylic, from Open Door Art Studio.

One artist described it as “fun and educational, but not a classroom setting. (I love) the freedom. There’s a wider opportunity spectrum to test out different types of art. It’s more like a working studio.” Each artist works on his or her own individual project with lots of feedback and minimal assistance from professional art facilitators. The studio truly is an open, working studio. Projects in various states of done-ness line tables and shelves, paint touches every surface and the air is busy with the sounds of people making art.

But according to the Open Door artists, it’s also not like any other studio- “It’s one of a kind,” said artist Jessica Wallace, “You’re not judged- you can be your own person, do your own thing. It’s very positive.” Since the days of Michelangelo, art has been a competitive field. Even in modern art, big personalities like Picasso and Pollack, have led to the common assumption that artists are dark and brooding and in constant, fierce competition with each other.

This couldn’t be further from the truth at Open Door. These are artists at their most unrestricted- exchanging ideas, encouraging one another and providing honest, critical feedback to help each other grow. When asked how to describe Open Door to first time visitors, words like ‘warm’ and ‘comfortable’ kept coming up.

Ron Tucker Abstract in Purple acrylic, from Rendville Art Works (left). Charlotte McGraw & Sara Armstrong - Pink Eye Rabbit, mixed media doll, from Goodwill Columbus (right).

Another artist described Open Door as “ART EVERYWHERE!,” which is quantifiably the most accurate description of the space itself. In addition to a formal gallery with curated bi-monthly shows, there is art on every wall of the studio, even a ‘Musée du Loo-vre’ in the bathrooms! Even more impressive than the quantity is the quality and variety of work. Open Door artist Brandon Boggs accurately described Open Door as “A mixed media of mixed media artists…it’s like a catalog, there’s something for everyone.” From traditional landscapes to imaginative monsters to beautiful, non-objective fields of color- from acrylic and watercolor to three-dimensional wood, fiber and papier-mâché, there truly is something for everyone.

Open Door is a remarkable place, but it’s not alone. There are dozens of accessible and progressive studios throughout Ohio, eight of which (including Open Door) will be represented at Open Door’s upcoming exhibit Outside/In, on display from August 11th to September 21st. The community is warmly invited to attend the opening reception on August 11th from 5-7pm because, as artist Chris Clarkson explains, “People in the community need to know that just because we have developmental disabilities, doesn’t mean we can’t be creative just like others.”

Open Door Art Studio is located at 1050 Goodale Boulevard, Grandview Heights, Ohio 43212. To learn more, visit opendoorartstudio.org.

GCAC Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus – in partnership with the Columbus Arts Marketing Association, a professional development and networking association of arts marketers. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at the arts in Columbus.

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