’08 Columbus Arts Festival Underway

Listen to the Story

Artist Bill Secunda's bear made from 60,000 welded nails
Artist Bill Secunda's bear made from 60,000 welded nails

The 47th annual Columbus Arts Festival opens today for a three-day run. The festival is filled with music and poetry. Several hundred artists will display their work in wood, glass, precious metals, tile and pottery, fabrics, painting and photography.

Columbus’s Discovery District was chaotic Thursday morning. Workers were transforming the areas bounded by Cleveland and Washington Avenues and Gay and Long Streets into a virtual tent city for the annual Columbus Arts Festival. With time running out, volunteer Sue Carter Moore was trying to clear a path up Gay Street for arriving artists.

“We’re moving as fast as we can we only have five tents left “

“Then you talk to the artists when they can’t get through,” said Moore.

Moore managed to keep her cool in Thursday’s soaring heat and humidity.

“Columbus Arts Festival 2008 in the discovery district. Katie Lucas, director, doing a damn fine job of moving this arts festival from the riverfront to the discovery district. People have no idea of the logistics. It’s like building a little city from scratch,” Moore says.

The Festival, now in its fourth decade, draws artists from all over the country. Patty Bolz, a designer goldsmith, drove 16 hours to Columbus from Camden, Maine.

“I work in high carat gold mostly and some one of a kind pieces and some production pieces and do shows kind of all over the country,” Bolz said.

Digital artist Scott Wheeler from Butte, Mont., does a lot of traveling too.

“What’s involved in coming to a festival like this?”

“You jury on line with this application which means you have your photographs on line for the jury to see. And then you pay a non-refundable jury fee just to apply to find out if you were accepted.

“And for me that meant driving almost 2,000 miles away, two time zones. And I actually tried to schedule a trip I did one in Estes Park, Colo. On the way back I do one in Minneapolis. But it’s difficult because all these shows are juried. There’s a show on the way in Kansas City that I hoped to get in but I wasn’t accepted. So it’s kind of hard especially since it’s so far away like this.

Artist Karin Connelly’s booth is all about spring. She’s a digital artist who photographs blossoming flowers and trees. Her piece titled Dreamland was photographed in the Texas hill country.

“It started out as a traditional color photograph,” Connelly says. “I converted it to black and white and then colored and enhanced it and made it more dreamlike. It’s called Dreamland – to give it a more ethereal feel rather than just a solid look. I used to shoot just straight photography but I’m kind of going a different way now. I love all the new technology out there, it’s amazing. So I try to use it.”

Pennsylvanian Bill Secunda uses old fashioned rust to transform his larger than life size wild animals – including two bears and a moose into beautiful works of art.

“I have a bear that’s ten foot tall made of over 60,000 welded nails and after I weld all the nails on I use an acid mixture and then let it sit out in the rain for a few days and it gets a beautiful rusted patina.”

“Then I have a creature called Daisy. He’s kind of an abominable snowman type creature in rusted metal. If you look at him he has a flower in his hand. You kind of feel sorry for the ugly guy.

270 artists will have their works on display. They were selected from 1200 applicants.