GCAC Presents: True Collaborations Build Sustainable Community

 Eva Ball GCAC Presents: True Collaborations Build Sustainable Community
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When it comes to time to talk about running an arts organization, the current buzzwords are ‘partnerships’ and ‘collaborations.’  With the economy as it is how else can we survive without working together and building community?

Here at Glass Axis, a 10,000 sq. ft. non-profit glass arts space, we take community seriously and have spent 25 years supporting artists working in glass and educating the public; this past year, we’ve transformed our space into more of a community hub that we may share and grow our vibrancy, promoting sustainable cultural equity in Columbus and beyond. With a limited budget the project would have been impossible without the support of artists and the larger community. It took a diverse and generous pool of participants to make it happen, including a large donation by philanthropist and glass artist, James Lehr Kennedy; appropriately so the new space is called ‘Kennedy Galleries at Glass Axis.” Architect Tim Lai, electrical engineer John Eschenbrenner, general contactor Larry Cavallaro, and sign maker Digico donated thousand of dollars in services and materials. We did the construction drawings, renderings, and pulled a permit with the city all with donated money and services.

The challenge was to create a space that serves our artists first and foremost, but also the entire community: a welcoming space that launches new relationships and supports current ones. We divided the space using as little material and labor as possible. We created a curatorial gallery for cultural experimentation and a gift shop to easily merchandise and sell glass art, separated by not a wall, but a thick red stripe on the floor and a table. The table doubles both as a barrier between the spaces, but also as a hands-on activity space, “Art Right Now.” It is a space where anyone can pop in and make a small glass piece for around $15, guided by a self-led pamphlet and tied into the exhibition in the curatorial gallery.

We are also building our ‘Knowledge Wall’ with the generous help of Chris Westhoff, a local museum exhibit designer. The ‘Knowledge Wall’ displays each type of art produced at Glass Axis, from blown glass to neon and everything in between, accompanied by a video of each piece being made, shot by Chicago artist Glen Jennings.  Wall text highlights scientific and artist elements of each work, creating a self-led comprehensive education experience.

The entire space is a vibrant civic hub with many levels to participate, at any age, and at any stage of artistic experience and interest. Our first large scale event in ‘Kennedy Galleries at Glass Axis’ is our 4th Annual Pumpkin Patch with thousands of colorful glass pumpkins on display and for sale in addition to art activities for the whole family on October 7, 8, and 9. Visit or call 614-291-4250 for more information about the event, our regular classes, or how you can participate.

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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