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New Books to Document Columbus Art, Artists

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman New Books to Document Columbus Art, ArtistsImage courtesy of White Phoenix Arts.
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Trying to take in all of the unique, interesting things within the Columbus arts scene can be a difficult challenge, especially with the information overload social media can subject us to.

In the past, projects like the Columbus Book Project have taken on the responsibility of documenting the Columbus arts scene (and more) through a traditional format. Now, other groups are taking on the task of providing a platform with some weight to it.

White Phoenix Arts, a Columbus-based art consulting company, is curating a coffee table book featuring Columbus artists.

The company finds resources for artists to showcase their work, either by creating events (such as Brew Art Month, which takes place for the second time in October) or by working with local breweries and restaurants to put on pop-up showcases.

White Phoenix Founder Alex White says part of the reason he created the consulting company is that he found new artists were having trouble getting opportunities with existing galleries and groups because they didn’t have built up resumes. Now, White is working on a book that will showcase the creative talent in Columbus in a traditional format.

“I know the struggle with artists is that…it’s another job on top of your creative passion to get your work out,” he says. “So the reason why we decided to start doing A Big Book of Columbus Artists is [it’s] another way of sort of getting away from social media.”

The book will feature profiles of 30 to 40 artists in painting, fashion design, photography, modeling, culinary arts and theater, and contact info including their social media pages and website. The book is meant to serve as a marketing tool for artists, to be distributed to coffee shops, breweries, doctor’s offices, and other spaces that allow artists’ work to be seen in person.

Profile of Designer Yannii by Keana Petty. Image courtesy of White Phoenix Arts.

White hopes to eventually spotlight 200 to 300 artists across a series of books. The first book is currently in the funding stage, with an estimated release date set for January or February 2020.

White says by listening to artists’ stories, clients and customers can understand who they are and create an emotional bond with artists’ work.

“We’re really just trying to help promote the artists as much as possible and grow up a community that is more efficient at promoting their artists than the bureaucracy that we have been facing through some of the government-led programs and some of the other private galleries that we’re competing against,” he says.

A similar project comes by way of Adam Brouillette of Blockfort. Brouillette has been working on his respective book for nearly four years. The idea was fostered out of a conversation on what was needed in the Columbus arts scene.

Image courtesy of Adam Brouillette.

He says he’s come to see the scene as somewhat insular.

“We were talking about, you know, are there enough venues, are there enough galleries, do artists have enough funding, are there enough collectors?” said Brouillette. “We do have a lot of really great artists here and there’s a lot of people making really nice work, but a lot of those people don’t ever show their work out of town.”

Eventually, Brouillette was elected to take on curating the project. He chose the title “In Between Everywhere” to reference that initial conversation.

“We’re not a New York, Chicago, LA, Miami, and we should stop trying to be,” he said. “And then we’re also not, you know, the cow town that, you know, people think that we are. And I think it’s okay to be in between.”

Brouillette reached out to the artists who will be featured, including Daric Gill, Adam Hernandez, Sherleelah Jones, Cassidy Rae Marietta, Julie Martin, Joey Monsoon, Kate Morgan, Nicholas Nocera, Alison Rose Nocera, Steve Ehret and April Sturkey Sunami. Each of the 40 plus artists paid an entry fee that will also give them their own copy of the book. Remaining copies will be shipped to galleries and museums across the country, available online and at Blockfort for around $30 each.

The book will include basic contact information, as well as an in-depth description of the artists’ work written by Brouillette.

Curating the book also means Brouillette can use his experience with the artists to filter through what work is “good,” the value he feels each artist brings, and the meaning behind their featured pieces.

“I wanna make sure I’m saying things that are enlightening and illuminating about the work…making sure that I say things that align with what the artist’s vision is, but still being able to look at it as a curator,” said Brouillette. “I know enough to be able to describe its value to an institution that might be looking to show artists from Columbus.”

The book will be released on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.

For more information on White Phoenix Arts, visit whitephoenixarts.com. For more information on Blockfort, visit blockfortcolumbus.com.

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