Gallery Hops Draw Big Crowds
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Photo © Gus Brunsman III (October 2009)
The first Saturday of each month from 4 to 10 pm - rain, snow, or shine - is Gallery Hop Night in Columbus's Short North.
Since its inception over 25 years ago, this unveiling of new exhibits by the area galleries has become one of the city's biggest social events.
It's a happy pastiche of Bleeker Street prowling, East Village rambling, Palm Beach promenading - with a lot of Soho thrown in for good measure. It's all that and more. It's the culmination of an idea that has added a lot of pizzazz to old Columbus town.
Hop night is a street fair without carousels, an event that overflows the sidewalks with crowds of art patrons, appreciators of the arts, the plain curious and the madcap.
One of the joys of Gallery Hops is not only the opportunity to inspect the latest art offerings, but to revel in the most popular of American pastimes, people-watching.
Hop Nights present people-watching at its best. Better than the State Fair. Far and away better than an evening at the theatre. Better even than A Night at the Opera with the Marx Brothers.
Elegance rubs shoulders with the bizarre. The drab and the commonplace mingle with the whacky, the whimsical and the absurd.
It's worth every bit of the free admission just to scrutinize the passing hair styles - male and female - many of which are mind-boggling in their daffiness, perhaps deserving topknotch honors anywhere. There are folks who believe tattoos and pierced body parts will bring them happiness, and who's to say they're wrong?
Frequently among the street performers are mimes, actors, and musicians - all adding to the festive atmosphere.
In the galleries, it all comes together: the viewers, the art, the artists, and the gallery entrepreneurs. It is a slam-bang culmination of motives, an electrical happening that galvanizes emotions, sends sparks of interpretation showering into the invisible ether.
Brilliantly hued paintings vie with equally vivid gowns. Portrayed by artists, pastel-powdered harlequins and harlots, captive to the walls, smile empty-eyed and ruefully into the passing sea of faces.
Huge canvasses of abstract art, hard-wired with wild energy, refract jeremiad judgments - and the gallery-owners are here, there, everywhere. Trying to entertain. Trying to cope. Trying to make a buck.
Clusters of viewers gather around tables offering hors d'oeuvres and punch bowls of bubbly. Old friends meet, are introduced to new friends.
As people mill about in their carefree enthusiasm, sometimes there is concern expressed for pieces of free-standing sculpture and fragile works of glass.
There is a constant coming and going, the galleries becoming revolving doors as viewers flock from one establishment to another. There are dozens of galleries and craft shops. And more being added all the time.
Jesse Helms would love it.
Short North Arts District: North High Street from Goodale Boulevard to Fifth Avenue
Columbus, OH 43215
Local Number: (614) 299-8050
GALLERY HOP HISTORY, SEE:
Cummings, Spangler The Art Gallery That Started It All: The Spangler Cummings Gallery and the Rise of the Short North [May 2008] by Jennifer Hambrick
Gallery Hop History Looking back to the beginning of the ever-popular Gallery Hops [June 2000] by Maria Galloway
Happy 20th Anniversary Gallery Hop [October 2004] by Karen Edwards
Celebration of 275th Gallery Hop brings back memories. [July 2008] by Maria Galloway
For more information, visit the Short North Business Association Web site at www.shortnorth.org