Alumnus Creates, Installs Volcano Wall for Local Tiki Bar

Rutkowski's volcano wall featured in the background, photo courtesy of Columbus Alive!

CCAD has a new downtown neighbor, in the Grass Skirt Tiki Room, and Fine Arts alumnus Nikos Fyodor Rutkowski (CCAD 2002) brought about one of its more dynamic interior features.

Rutkowski was approached by Harold LaRue, one of the owners of the Grass Skirt, after he saw an installation Rutkowski did for the Columbus Arts Pop-Up Project. LaRue wanted Rutkowski to design a lava wall for the tiki-bar-themed restaurant.

“I was a little hesitant at first,” Rutkowski said. “I had been swamped at my day job where I make props for haunted houses and theme parks, but in the end I just couldn’t refuse the opportunity to work on such a cool project so close to my alma mater.”

Rutkowski's design for the wall includes raised foam forms to imitate volcanic rock. He used black light paint on the recessed portion of the wall to give the illusion of liquid magma and illuminated the entire piece with LED black light features.

The installation of the wall took Rutkowski about 30 hours spread out over several weeks—even with occasional help from volunteers.

“It was awesome to see the restaurant all finished and up and running,” Rutkowski said. “And it was great to see my contribution fitting in so well. There are so many cool visual contributions from artists and craftspeople throughout the restaurant, and many people have come up to me to compliment my work.”

The Grass Skirt, which opened in mid-September, is owned by Columbus Food League Partners, a group that owns several popular restaurants in the Columbus area.