When Matthew Kyba moved recently to Columbus from Toronto, Canada, he experienced shock and awe at the local art scene. Shock because he was amazed by how friendly and helpful those in the art community greeted him, and awe because of the wealth of accomplished artists he found.
Kyba, 31, with degrees infilm and media studies and experience in gallery and nonprofit work in Canada, decided to establish his own warehouse art center in Columbus and begin presenting exhibits and events celebrating contemporary artists.
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“Enactive Architecture,” which continues through June 24 in Kyba’s 2,000-square-foot Franklinton exhibit space, features six Ohio-based artists whose new works — most of them created for this exhibit — express or consider the nature of “home.”
“Much of their work is about how people relate to different live-in environments,” Kyba said. “Each work is tied to a feeling or an understanding of home.”
Cleveland-based artist Leila Khoury’s installation is a reconstructed version of her Syrian grandparents’ home, with its several rooms occupying the center of the gallery. Ceramic clay vessels are placed on shelves; laser-cut cardboard leaves and flowers decorate tile-covered walls, and a small bathhouse has been recreated in one room. The installation is both lovely and nostalgic.
A very different group of residences is central to the wall installation of Migiwa Orimo, a social justice artist from Yellow Springs. Placing black shapes on top of pages from a dictionary, she offers bird’s-eye views of cells in more than 150 detention centers from throughout the United States. At the bottom of each page in small print is the name and location of the facility. To the right of this large mural are shadow boxes containing sculptures of yellow canaries — perhaps signifying caged beings and warnings.
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Marsha Mack, a ceramics instructor at Ohio State University, is both colorful and playful with her installation “Siren Song.” Large purple- and rose-colored murals of tropical beach scenes serve as background to abstract, ceramic sculptures placed on beach towels on the floor. These sculptures — “heat lamp trees,” a giant clam shell containing a self-portrait sculpture of the artist and an abundance of decorative ceramic strawberries among them — all work to address Mack’s themes of commercialism and the built environment.
Gianna Commito, an art professor at Kent State University, uses abstract paintings to comment on life with her family — a partner and two young children — while cooped up during COVID-19 lockdown. Densely packed colors, lines and geometric shapes reflect both the chaos and compatibility of family members confined in close quarters.
Columbus artist Armando Roman draws from Mexican and indigenous history in colorful crayon and ink-jet depictions of hooded Jesus figures in religious rituals.
The funniest (and most disconcerting) installation is one by Nate Ricciuto, who teaches at the Columbus College of Art & Design. His “Two Points on a Curved Surface (acceptable distortion)” comments on the lengths people will go to create an environment they believe will protect them from government interference and control. Among the artifacts: a screen-enclosed bed placed under a camouflage tarp, a sculpted human ear spinning inside a cage, a black ski mask on the floor. All that’s missing is a tin-foil hat.
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Before selecting and presenting these six artists, Kyba contacted and visited the studios of dozens of artists. He found and converted the warehouse space, adding walls and lighting and room for several artist studios. He plans to offer events as well as exhibits including a strawberry candy tasting (referencing Marsha Mack’s ceramic strawberries) from noon to 3 p.m. June 19.
His next exhibit, which he has given the tongue-in-cheek title, “A Healthy Dose of Nihilism,” will open July 15.
Kyba said he maintains his enthusiasm for his new home.
“I was ignorant of how amazing the Midwest American art scene is and how many important conversations are happening here,” he said.
At a glance
“Enactive Architecture” continues through June 24 at the Ministry of Culture & Tourism, 754 Harmon Ave. in Franklinton. Hours: noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment. Contact: http://ministryofcultureandtourism.com