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Happy 20th Anniversary Gallery Hop!
By Karen Edwards
October 2004 Issue

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Gallery groupies back in the '80s.

The Gallery Hop turns 20 years old this month, so in keeping with the diversity and excitement of the Short North’s seminal event, the Short North Gazette has compiled an assortment of 20 (plus one to grow on) fun-filled facts, stories, memories and trivia that make the first-Saturday-of-the-month truly one of a kind.

Of course, the stories here represent only a fraction of the thousands of stories that are and have always been an ongoing part of the Short North Gallery Hop. Thanks to all of the gallery owners, shops, and others who responded to our request for help. Enjoy!

Lincoln and High
Los Angeles has Hollywood and Vine, New York City has Broadway and Times Square. For the Short North, it’s the corner of Lincoln and High – the birthplace of the Gallery Hop. According to pm gallery owner Maria Galloway, participants in that first “official” Gallery Hop – held October 1984 – included the pm gallery, ArtReach Gallery, Ritchey’s at 714, the Michael Allen Gallery, Handmotions, and UNICEF. “We had a combined artist reception with the ArtReach Gallery in January, but it was cold and we didn’t get a lot of cross traffic,” says Galloway. My, how times have changed!

Have I just stepped into a time machine?
Suddenly it’s the 1980s all over again. Short North shop and business owners decided to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Short North Gallery Hop with a little retro food, and music. You may even find gallery and shop owners dressed in “period attire” “Sure, I’ll go along with it,” says Byzantium’s Joyce Griffiths, “once I remember what the ‘80s was like.” If you’d like your own wardrobe to reflect the time, (remember those Alexis Carrington cinched-wait suits with the huge shoulder pads?) check out the Short North’s vintage clothing stores, Nostalgia Vintage, at 1195 N. High, and Retrocat Vintage Clothing & Accessories, 848 N. High. Or just come as you are. Really. “One gallery hop,” says pm gallery’s Maria Galloway, “I saw someone in their pajamas.”

When do you hop?
Gallery hoppers fall into one of three time-zones, says pm gallery’s Maria Galloway. There are Early Birds – those who come to check out the exhibits and merchandise and want to avoid the crowds. Party People want to check out the exhibits and the crowds. At the end of the hop come the Raves. “They’re the ones who are just starting their evening,” says Galloway. It’s not surprising that the age of gallery hoppers typically slides from oldest to youngest during the course of the hop. Connie DeJong, board president of Global Galleries agrees that gallery hops are lasting longer. “I used to close the doors at 10 p.m. every gallery hop,” she says. Now, she reports, the doors stay open until midnight – and sometimes later.

Art speak
During Gallery Hop, everyone wants to talk art, says Clay Sneller, one of the artists who exhibit regularly at Studios on High. “I can be down here on a typical weekend, and people will come through, look at the art and leave,” says Sneller. “But on Gallery Hop, most of the people want to stop and talk about the art.” Sneller offers several reasons for the artful conversations: “There are more people, for one thing,” he says. “And we also see a number of students on Gallery Hop night.” Whether they’re students from Ohio State University up the road, or the Columbus College of Art and Design around the corner, the students are eager to talk to the artists who created the work they’re viewing. “Then of course there are the people who’ve had a few drinks, and just feel like talking.”

Party-in-the-street music
Mary Martineau, executive director of the Short North Business Association, says it wouldn’t be a Gallery Hop without the dedicated street performers who come to entertain the masses. “The makeup of these folks has shifted and evolved over the course of the years,” she says. “In the beginning it was friends and friends of friends of the gallery owners and shopkeepers who were musically inclined.” There are still a lot of those today, but the Gallery Hop also draws plenty of entertainers who realize there is an appreciative audience strolling up and down High Street – all in the mood to party.

Martineau names a few street artists, past and present:
Nick and Polina is the pseudonym for some “fabulous neighbors” who used to set up on the sidewalk and play for beer money, says Martineau. “In my era they evolved with other awesome neighbors into “The Artlaws” and would play for Holiday Hop.”
George Stewart can be found most Gallery Hops, faithfully wailing away on his sax at least six months out of every year. “And he’s been performing for what must be 10 years now,” says Martineau.
Eugene Beers and his “one-man band” bicycle is a fixture at Buttles and High during many Gallery Hops.

Clowns, fire-eaters and other sundry acts
In addition to musicians (old bands, new bands, and solo performers), there has been just about every kind of street busker you can imagine entertaining Gallery Hop crowds, says Mary Martineau, SNBA exec. Jugglers, fire-eaters, “and at least one clown has perfected their persona at Gallery Hop,” says Martineau. Last month’s Gallery Hop featured some pretty talented tap dancers. Of course, in an election year like this, you can also expect to find politicos and their volunteers stumping for votes, “and every hop produces some activists,” says Martineau. “PETA, Greenpeace, war protestors, event promoters. They all add to the cacophony and uniqueness of each month.”

Scoring comp tickets to 2Co’s
As if the street-musicians and tap dancers weren’t enough, Katy Psenicka, spokesperson for Shadowbox and 2Co’s Cabaret, reports that the actors, singers and musicians of 2Co’s take to the Short North streets each Gallery Hop – in costume, character, and sometimes with tuba – to provide hoppers a preview of a current show.

“The performers grab a street corner or square of sidewalk and launch into a set list of songs that are included in whatever production they’re doing at the theater,” she says. Since drum kits and amplified guitars don’t cut it as street instruments, the 2Co’s crew fills out the music with back-up vocals, percussive instruments, acoustic guitars and – a tuba. “What better way to provide the bass line?” asks Tom Cardinal, general manager of the theater troupe. “It’s loud, it’s deep and it’s portable.” (Not to mention attention-getting.) Gallery hoppers who stick around through the impromptu show are rewarded with complimentary tickets to future 2Co’s shows. “It’s a great way for us to get our names out there and to introduce new folks to what it is we do,” says Cardinal. “Plus, it gets us out of the theater for a while to mingle with our Short North Neighbors.”

Moment of critical mass
You know it’s a crowded Gallery Hop, says pm gallery owner Maria Galloway, when suddenly all movement in the gallery stops. “It happened during one hop,” she says. “One person too many came through the door, and suddenly no one could move.” Every inch of space was taken. Someone finally stepped outside to release the critical mass inside.

Most popular months to hop
June, July and August are the clear winners according to most gallery and shop owners. Warm, sunny weather and longer days expand Gallery Hop crowds – but don’t count out December’s Holiday Hop. People know the Short North is a perfect place to shop for gifts, and with all the Holiday Hop activity, it’s a close second behind summer as the most favorite time to hop. The least favorite? January and February – so if you want to avoid Gallery Hop crowds, and don’t consider yourself an “early bird” – this may be the perfect time for you.

The hop must go on
Gallery Hops occur on the first Saturday of every month – no matter what. But sometimes, people have called gallery and shop owners to ask, “Is there a Gallery Hop tonight?” (The answer is always a resounding “yes!”) What types of occurrences bring on the question? Here are a few events that made gallery hoppers pause: An OSU night football game, New Year’s Day, torrential rain, snow storms and blizzards.

Speaking of blizzards…
Judy Hoberg, owner of Studios on High, vividly recalls her first Gallery Hop. “I had looked forward to it all day. I was so excited.” She and a partner had everything ready. “We saw snow start to fall about three or four o’clock,” she recalls. They didn’t think much about it. It was April. How much snow would fall on the first Saturday in April? For those who were in Columbus in 1987, they know more than 12 inches fell that day, a rare (record-setting!) spring blizzard. “No one came in that first Gallery Hop,” says Hoberg. “Our second Gallery Hop was much better.”

What kind of hopper are you?
Most gallery and shop owners say hoppers who come into their place of business fit inside one of three categories: lookers, buyers, or hinters. Lookers may eventually become buyers, but they don’t commit during Gallery Hop. They scope out the goods, make a mental note of what they see, then move on to the next gallery. Most hoppers fit into this category – especially if what they’re considering is expensive. Other hoppers buy on the spot. Immediate gratification items are usually low to mid-price, and include jewelry and small art objects. Then there are the hinters. “These are the people who drop a hint they would like so-and-so for their birthday or for Christmas,” says Maria Galloway of pm gallery. That’s when the fun begins. These gift-buyers will walk into the gallery or shop, not quite certain what they’re looking for. “We try to help them as best we can,” says Galloway. But sometimes, they’re not even in the right gallery. So, if you’re a Gallery Hop hinter, you might want to make your request as explicit as you can. And be sure to note which gallery (or shop) you’re in when you spy the item of your dreams.

The perfect Gallery Hop evening
Nancy Bohman has been gallery hopping in the Short North practically since the event’s inception – and not just because she handles communications for the Short North Neighborhood Foundation. “I love the atmosphere of Gallery Hop,” she says. And she “hops” frequently – with her husband, with her husband and another couple, but most frequently with her girlfriends. “It’s the perfect Girls Night Out,” she says. “We spend more time in the galleries and shops than the men do,” she says. Bohman offers the following suggestion for those who want to make the most of a Gallery Hop evening: “Start with dinner at one of the Short North restaurants, then walk up and down High Street, visiting the galleries and shops. Finally, finish the evening off with dessert and coffee.” You can return to the restaurant you visited for dinner, or go someplace entirely different. And if you prefer tea to coffee, the Short North has you covered there as well. The Zen Cha Tea Salon, near the corner of Second and High, hosts many a gallery hopper.

We disavow any responsibility for…
When you’re shooting for “Best Holiday Window Display” – and Mary Ann Brandt and other celebrity judges prove to be “bribe-proof” – then you just have to pull out all the stops to make an impression. So, during the 2003 Holiday Hop, Columbus EyeworksDaniel Koch, O.D., Todd Snyder, and Ryan Hays came up with the perfect, can’t-miss theme – a tropical holiday, complete with flamingos, margaritas, steel drum band, and a projected light show on the side of the building. While the Columbus Eyeworks crew “tripped the light fantastic” with its fabulous light show, it also tripped the circuit breakers every 10 minutes. “Contrary to popular belief,” the three avow, “we were not responsible for the malfunctioning Short North arches, the blackout in the eastern U.S., or the night the lights went out in Georgia.” Columbus Eyeworks is one of several businesses in the Short North that features art – and the work of 15 diverse artists have been displayed on its walls so far – including the works of Via Colori’s inaugural artist Eric Lubkeman. Columbus Eyeworks is open on Gallery Hop night – and wine and hors d’oeuvres are always a staple. Just remember, if there’s a projected light show going on, it’s BYOF (bring your own flashlight.)

The Gallery Hop – on steroids
If you’ve never been to a Short North Holiday Hop, Mary Martineau, executive director of the Short North Business Association describes it for you. “Think of the Gallery Hop, only on steroids.” Holiday Hop is the first Saturday in December (of course), and is generally the biggest gallery hop all year. Street musicians are everywhere (the Salvation Army bands come out in force), and Santa Claus can be found at the “Short North Pole” – located conveniently for gallery hoppers at Victorian Gate. You can also take a carriage ride, or have your picture taken as “Mona Lisa” by standing behind one of the artful cutouts created years ago by a Columbus College of Art and Design student. Gallery hopper Nancy Bohman says the tree lighting is her favorite part of Holiday Hop. For shoppers weary of overcrowded malls, however, the best part of Holiday Hop is the one-stop shopping offered by Short North businesses and galleries. You can not only pick out the perfect gift, but also pick up cards, gift wrap, bubbly, and ornaments. This year’s Holiday Hop will be Saturday, Dec. 4. Don’t miss it.

Hold the phone!
Byzantium’s Joyce Griffiths says crowds on Gallery Hop nights don’t begin to compare to the crowds that fill her shop on just about any given Saturday, but that doesn’t stop some of the more colorful characters from entering the premises. “One gallery hop night, I had a man ask to use my phone,” says Griffiths. “I don’t typically let people use our business phone, but he made it sound urgent, so I handed it to him. The man called his home and asked whether or not the people there wanted a pizza. Apparently they did, because he hung up, called a pizza shop and placed an order.” Each Gallery Hop, Griffiths puts out lemonade or punch, pints of strawberries, boxes of cookies, a half a wheel of brie. You’d think all that food would allay anyone’s hunger pangs…at least until a pay phone could be found.

The nature of the crowd
Everyone agrees crowds are the best part of Gallery Hop. Connie DeJong, executive director of the Global Gallery, says the growth in gallery hop crowds was clearly noticeable when she returned to the Short North after a three-year stint with the Peace Corps. “I ran Global Gallery before I left, and I’d participated in many gallery hops – but when I returned from the Peace Corps, I couldn’t believe how large gallery hop crowds had grown in just three years.” Nancy Bohman and Doug Fordyce, both veteran gallery hoppers, say earlier hops attracted a more bohemian crowd. Now, suburbanites mix with drag queens; students with seniors; starving artists with CEOs. That’s part of the fun. “It’s the diversity of the crowd that makes gallery hop,” says artist Clay Sneller. If you don’t believe it – come down and check it out for yourself.

Hop around the world
One moment, you’re strolling through sleek, sophisticated, Short North galleries – the next moment, you’re staring at a Kenyan bamboo hut, or chatting with a Tibetan monk. You just never know what you’ll find at Global Gallery on any given Gallery Hop. Connie DeJong says they’ve offered it all during Gallery Hops – from Ecuadorian bands to a Malawi family demonstrating their art. “The band, Sumakta, is a mainstay for us,” says DeJong. “If they’re not playing out front, people come in and ask where they are.” The same is true of the Tibetan treats, prepared and shared by Global Gallery volunteer Jampa. “Everyone loves her food, and they complain if we let a gallery hop go by without offering it,” DeJong says. The art exhibited at Global Gallery is an on-going affair. “We don’t just have art on gallery hop nights. It’s here all the time.” Yet Global Gallery strives to have something special for Gallery Hop nights. You just never know what it’s likely to be.

That’s not art – that’s a lilac skunk
For those of you who may not know it, Byzantium’s Joyce Griffiths was a veterinarian before beads became her way of life. So naturally, when an Adopt-a-Homeless Animal Hop was held last August, she was eager to participate. Byzantium played host that evening to kitties from Cat Welfare, and skunks – yes, skunks – from Skunk Rescue. “People buy skunks as pets, then decide they don’t want them, but you just can’t turn them out into the wild. They’ve become too domesticated,” she says. The trouble is, shelters won’t handle them, so the Skunk Rescue group tries to place the animals with other owners. Pet skunks are not your garden-variety, black-and-white striped critters. “The ones we had that evening were blond and lilac-colored. They are really beautiful animals, and their fur is so soft,” says Griffiths. She doesn’t know if any skunk adoptions resulted from the hop, but at least gallery hoppers had a chance to meet the maligned animals up close and personal – and to witness for themselves just how talented an artist Mother Nature can be.

Art therapy
In addition to being one of psychology’s most notable pioneers, Carl Jung was also an artist. “He was a painter who painted his dreams,” says Claire Bauza, gallery coordinator for the JungHaus, and a member of its board of trustees. Bauza has arranged more than 80 exhibits in the Jung Haus – many of them for Gallery Hops – and she says it’s still one of very few venues in town where talented non-professionals can exhibit their work. Not surprisingly, some of the most popular Jung Haus exhibits have as much to do with psychology as with art. “Once we coordinated an exhibit with Harding Hospital,” says Bauza. “Anyone with a degree in art therapy could exhibit their work. The response was so huge, we had to break the exhibit into two parts,” she says. Another memorable exhibit was created by Denise Romecki, who had suddenly, tragically, lost her fiancé. “She created an exhibit entitled ‘When two paths meet: a brief journey’ in memory of him. It was a beautiful and very personal exhibit.” Just as personal was the exhibit “Sacred Thrones” in which a group of artists (and some non-artists) decorated chairs in memory of their grandmothers. Each chair had an accompanying story to honor the woman who had inspired the art. “A lot of people responded to that,” says Bauza. And yes. At various times, Jung Haus has displayed the work of artists who, like Jung, have painted their dreams. Bauza is one of those artists. The JungHaus is now located at 59 W. Third – more “off the beaten path” than its other two addresses at Lincoln and Pearl, and Russell and High. Exhibits will continue at Jung Haus, says Bauza. But now, artists will decide if their reception will occur on Gallery Hop nights – or at some more convenient time.

How to shop for art
Doug Fordyce, artist and owner of Studio 16 gallery, says he’s a little too off-the-beaten path to participate, as a gallery owner in gallery hops. But he’s participated as both an exhibiting artist and a gallery hopper, and he has some wise words for fellow hoppers who come to the Short North to shop for art. “If you come looking for the painting that’s going to match your sofa, you’re probably not going to find it during Gallery Hop,” he says. “But if you come to see what Columbus artists are doing, and keep an open mind, you’ll probably find what you want.” If you see something you like, you might make it a point to talk to the artist. After all, the more you know about the art and the artist, the more you’re going to appreciate the art. Fordyce says his favorite galleries include the Riley Gallery and the Ohio Art League – but all of the Short North galleries can feature some amazing art. Look for what you like, what speaks to you, Fordyce advises, and you won’t go wrong.

© 2010 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.

SEE ALSO: The Art Gallery That Started It All

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