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THE brilliantly crafted images on 13 large banners covering the front windows of The Commons certainly have been successful in meeting one major objective.
They essentially have blocked from public view an empty storefront that once housed the Scotty’s/Detour
Empty storefronts in any downtown area can be a poison pill for economic development. In this particular area, the effect can be even worse. The Commons, particularly with what had once been a bustling scene of noontime and after-hours activity up until the closing of the restaurant area in March, has long been the centerpiece of the downtown revitalization project.
City officials now are in the process of finding a new tenant, but until that is accomplished, the view of an empty area inside such a prominent building can be discouraging for both potential investors and local residents.
Aside from that practical approach, the banners also achieve something equally meaningful. They showcase outstanding achievements by Columbus-area artists and students.
The art is the work of students in the visual communications program at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus/Franklin.
The project began with the board of directors of The Commons, who were interested in making the exterior of the building more appealing until a new tenant can be found.
They contacted Karen Shrode, director of the Columbus Area Arts Council, who in turn got in touch with Lloyd Brooks, chairman of Ivy Tech’s visual communications program.
Brooks selected a number of images from his students’ works and had them transferred to the banners that have been on display for two weeks.
While Columbus — for a number of decades — has served as a living museum for the works of famous international figures such as Henry Moore, Dale Chihuly, Robert Indiana and Jean Tinguely, the city has also distinguished itself by highlighting the works of homegrown artists. Fortunately, these works have been showcased in very public areas.
These displays do more than contribute to the community’s overall quality of life. They also give the artists a renewed sense of confidence in their own abilities and could deepen their resolve to continue their pursuits.
Perhaps their names will not resonate with art lovers to the degree of their more celebrated contemporaries at this time, but expositions such as that at The Commons will at least serve as an introduction to the public and encourage them to be even more creative in the future.
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