CCAD grads create murals for #ArtUnitesCbus

artists painting mural capa

Columbus artists wasted no time spreading messages of healing, hope, justice, and community by painting murals on the boarded-up windows of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts and Greater Columbus Arts Council buildings in Downtown Columbus. The damage happened during protests on May 28, 2020 that were ignited by the recent death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. 

The next day, CAPA partnered with GCAC on the #ArtUnitesCbus initiative to employ a diverse group of nearly 40 visual artists in Columbus to paint the temporary murals, including eight from the CCAD Community. The works of art were completed in three days, and the #ArtUnitesCbus initiative has been ongoing.

Lisa McLymont, former Adjunct Faculty at CCAD and a graphic designer at CAPA, collaborated with Blockfort Gallery & Studio owner Adam Brouillette (Fine Arts, 2002) to bring in several artists to the project, including fellow alum Jen Wrubleski (Illustration, 2010). Fittingly, the mural they created on the front of the Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St., features a bright sunny day, with an inspiring quote from the Broadway show of Les Misérables: "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise." 

ohio theatre with mural

The theater, owned and operated by CAPA, “suffered multiple broken windows and doors, smashed video screens and minor fire damage to the ticket kiosk. But rather than dwell on the damage—much of it repairable—the theater’s operators instead decided to turn an eyesore into a monument of support for the demonstrators and the justice they seek,” reported The Columbus Dispatch.

Over at the Greater Columbus Arts Council, located at 182 East Long St., the colorful, boldly-designed murals conveyed messages of empathy, love, peace, and social justice. CCAD community members included artists: Hakim Callwood (Creative Summer Workshop Instructor), Kayneisha Holloway (Interior Architecture & Design, 2020), Bryan Moss (Continuing & Professional Studies Instructor), Ariel Peguero (Advertising & Graphic Design, 2016), and A.J. Vanderelli (Fine Arts, 2008).

“#ArtUnitesCbus is just one small way the arts community is trying to help,” says GCAC President & CEO Tom Katzenmeyer. “These murals are not the answer, simply a message that we all can, and must, help heal our community.”

Some businesses, particularly those in Columbus’ Short North neighborhood, reached out to artists independently for work on mural projects, while others went through #ArtUnitesCbus, which paid artists a $250 stipend for their creations, reported The Cincinnati Enquirer. The publication said CAPA paid about $3,500 (from private donations) for the work on its building, while GCAC spent $3,250 from an existing fund. Overall, said the Enquirer, officials estimate Columbus has been decorated with more than 100 murals thanks to the effort.

Following this effort, in the fall, Columbus arts organizations launched "Deliver Black Dreams," 
an aspirational racial equity campaign led by Marshall Shorts (Industrial Design, 2006) and Maroon Arts Group in partnership with the GCAC and the city of Columbus.

Deliver Black Dreams, a campaign of, by, and for Black people, uses public art to launch a sustained and future-oriented approach to achieving racial equity in Columbus. The collaborative effort includes the #ArtUnitesCbus temporary murals, permanent murals, awards to Black filmmakers and photographers, and artist mentorship—with more programs to come. 

Read GCAC's press release regarding Deliver Black Dreams here.

GCAC and Film Columbus also announced recipients of the Art Unites Cbus Photography and Film Awards. This new project provides cash awards to Black photographers and filmmakers for documenting and exploring the story of the Black Lives Matter protests in Columbus and/or the art created in response to the protests. 

Among the artists selected for recognition was CCAD grad Rashunda Holloway (Photography, 2011). Read more about the Art Unites Cbus Photography and Film Awards here.

Learn more about #ArtMakesCbus and how you can take part as an artist, business, or supporter here. Check out coverage from WOSU Public Media, WCMH, The Columbus Dispatch, WBNS, Spectrum News 1, 614 magazine, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Jewish News, Columbus Navigator, The Lantern, and CityScene.

Photos from GCAC's and CAPA's Facebook accounts.