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Columbus festival celebrates independent local artists

Chris Scullin / Lantern Reporter

With five stages, more than 50 musical acts and more than 45 visual artists, information kiosks about local businesses and a plethora of food stands run by local restaurants and food vendors, there were plenty of opportunities to discover something new at the fourth annual Independents’ Day festival.

The Independents’ Day festival took place Saturday in downtown Columbus between High Street and N. 3rd Street on Gay Street.

Independents’ Day is a celebration of the local art, music and entrepreneurship of Columbus. The free event, which began at noon and ended at midnight, was overflowing with creative expression in every way imaginable.

“My favorite part (of the festival) is all the weird people,” said local artist Jill Connor, whose artwork is comprised of many different colored pieces of tissue paper glued to a canvas. “You get a little bit of everyone. It’s great.”

The crowd was comprised of people of all ages. The crowd’s attire ranged from everyday street clothes to outfits that were so bizarre, they could have given Lady Gaga a run for her money.

Methods of self-expression were not limited to clothing alone. There was a large white tapestry that children were free to draw and color on. Another opportunity for self-expression was the “Paint Dance Floor,” which was one of the most interesting sights at the festival.

The night ended with a high-energy performance by Columbus’ own up-and-coming DJ/VJ group, roeVy. The two members of the group wore black gowns, hoods and masks that had red laser beams shooting out of their eyes. They performed in front of a screen where words and visuals were projected during the show.

The project was designed by 2010 OSU alumnus Jared Lindenau. Lindenau is the chair for the Independents’ Day Art Committee and the executive director of Cloudhaus, a group that promotes local artists and organizes benefits for the community.

As he stood next to the platform that was covered in paint, which had been smeared around by several barefoot participants, Lindenau said three gigantic eight-foot-by-eight-foot canvases had been crafted.

“We invited the public to dance on the canvases with us and then for us to create this sort of abstract imagery,” he said.

Lindenau said the canvases would be cut up and passed out to artists in the community to use in their paintings, which will later be sold for charity.

Like Columbus’ ComFest, which takes place at Goodale Park in June, the central theme of Independents’ Day is community.

“This focuses on the arts in a way that I think Comfest might not,” Lindenau said. “But there’s a lot of similarity between ComFest and what we see here … it showcases what a lot of the local talent can do without giant record labels or the conglomerate backing that a lot of your national acts kind of have. It also showcases the community of Columbus, Ohio. You know, it’s very specific to this city. We only invite local community members to participate here.”

This primary focus on community is what attracts many of the festival’s attendees.

“The best part is that it’s a grassroots effort and that it’s not commercialized,” said David Berkley, who lives just across the street from where the festival was held. “It’s like the real people who really support the city.”

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