Moviegoers enter a theater usually to be transfixed by a film that allows them to briefly escape their own reality. However, the Gateway Film Center takes escapism a step further with a gallery art space that allows local artists to create immersive worlds inspired by their favorite films.
Funded by grant money from the Puffin Foundation West and the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the film center gives Columbus artists a $1,000 stipend to create film-related multimedia art installations displayed quarterly in a gallery space adjacent to the movie auditoriums.
Scott Vezdos, director of communications, said the film center began developing the gallery series about four years ago after receiving the grant.
“That was initially a way for the film center to be able to support the arts and local artists, but then to also be able to expand the experience off of the screen and into our walls,” Vezdos said.
Vezdos said the only prerequisite for the artists, who are selected through an application process, is that they must be Columbus or Central Ohio-based.
“When we encourage artists to apply for an exhibit, we ask them what the basis of their show is going to be, what their influence is going to be and how it relates to the medium of film,” Vezdos said. “It can be separate pieces or based around a particular theme.”
The current exhibit, entitled “Worlds Collide,” is by Columbus artist and musician Benjamin Lamb. The installation features ink paintings on wood panel cutouts and uses mash-ups of characters and scenes from popular ‘80s movies like “The Shining” and “Empire Strikes Back.”
After an opening night launch party for the exhibit, all works go on sale to the public.
Eddie McLees, a ticket center associate for the film center, said the exhibits often inspire viewers to approach her about purchasing pieces.
“I have seen some amazing movie-based art that has absolutely resonated with people,” McLees said. “They will just on the spot be like ‘how much is that? I need to have that.’”
Outside of the financial benefits, Vezdos said the gallery helps artists garner public exposure.
“We have roughly 400,000 people that come through the film center in any given year,” he said. “That’s a lot of eyeballs on their work.”
Jake Heckman, a third-year in sociology and a film center member, said the exhibits help the theater stand out.
“Every time I ever went there, right away it’s something that catches your attention,” Heckman said. “Not often do you go to a movie theater and see a real intimate connection with the art.”
Vezdos said the film center occasionally puts on group shows where multiple artists contribute to a specific theme the film center selects.
The current exhibit, a group effort, centers around the film center’s “Hitchcocktober” series, featuring famed director Alfred Hitchcock’s films for the duration of October.
“We just want to be able to support the local artists and support the creative economy here in Columbus, in addition to having a really cool space that ties different mediums of art together,” Vezdos said.
Despite the attention and business it drives to the theater, Vezdos said the primary focus of the gallery is to provide opportunities to local artists.
“The artist community in Columbus is a really talented pool,” he said. “They’re proud to be able to showcase their work for a three-month period of time.”