We see a lot at the Wex. With a steady stream of amazing programming there's usually something new to discover on any given day, plus we get to collaborate with local artists, support makers from around the world, work with students who may be seeing contemporary art for the first time, and generate a wide variety of events and programs to expand on the multi-disciplinary art we present. For our blog series on the Best Of 2016, several staffers offered to share a favorite moment in the building over the past year.
Marisa Espe, Curatorial Assistant
"For Super Sunday in March, my colleague Jean Pitman selected the artist group MINT Collective to create activities that complement Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada (I had a foot in both camps as one of the cofounders of MINT). Participants of all ages elevated the found objects from MINT’s facilities (remnants of our building’s former life as a meat processing facility) into a collaborative installation, imbuing once discrete discarded things with participatory, transformative spirit. Cooperation between large arts institutions and DIY spaces/collectives was valuable then but resonates more urgently as the year comes to a close, following the tragedy in Oakland. Both ends of the scale are essential for a healthy ecosystem, one that authentically supports and benefits artists, educators, and the public."
Michaela Nardo, Patron Services Coordinator
"I managed the box office for the Ry X performance that happened during our Fall 2016 season. Patrons had been calling in to order tickets and singing praises of the Australian musician while I had them on the phone. Many patrons started the conversation with, 'Have you heard his music?' I hadn't, but, after so many recommendations, I added 'check out Ry X' to my to-do list.
"However, when the night of the performance rolled around, I still hadn't listened to one of his songs. Some time after the rush of ticket buyers and will call patrons cleared, I snuck back into my office and played two songs from Ry X's album, Dawn. Taken aback (his music is seriously beautiful and transporting) I ripped off my headphones, grabbed a ticket, and ran down to the Performance Space just in time to hear the last three songs of his set.
"There were soft, flickering lights around the stage and long, jazz-style tables for the audience to sit around; coupled with Ry X's ethereal voice and soft, acoustic guitar-playing, the space felt warm, communal, and a bit otherworldly. The concert not only ended up being one of my favorite shows of 2016 but it inspired me to seek out other new artists, refresh my playlists, and rekindle my love for 'discovering' new music through traditional routes--like checking out a concert even when unfamiliar with the artist."
Melissa Starker, Creative Content and PR Manager
"In early September, I wasn't even two weeks into my new job at the Wex when controversy kicked into high gear around an upcoming member preview of Nate Parker's film The Birth of a Nation and allegations of sexual assault against the filmmaker. It was definitely impressive, watching multiple departments and institutional partners come together in no time flat to create a Director's Dialogue on Art and Social Change in response, but in terms of impact, that was nothing compared to the Director's Dialogue itself. As panelists Wendy Smooth, Joni Boyd Acuff, Leslie Alexander, and moderator Jennifer Beard carefully unpacked the layers of social issues the controversy touched on, they shared amazing insight into the true extent of cultural oppression affecting the non-white and the non-male, and illustrated how the burden of sensitivity and understanding often falls on the oppressed. This kind of deep dive into a complicated issue feels all too rare lately."
Kellie Morgan, Community Outreach and Marketing Manager
As Kellie noted, "With the diversity and volume of events happening at the Wex in twelve months time, I found it nearly impossible to choose only one favorite Wex moment from 2016." Here are two:
"Every September, the Wex hosts a huge party to welcome students and to demonstrate how tremendous a resource the center is for them. Due to the spirit of the fall exhibition, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, this year’s party allowed us to extend an invitation to multiple student groups around the Ohio State University’s campus to perform within the galleries. Watching many students come to the Wex for the first time for the Fall Student Party, and then seeing them come back throughout the semester and their time at OSU, is an amazing thing.
"In conjunction with Martin Wong: Human Instamatic, Thank Yoga, Lululemon and the Wex conspired for the first POGA (think “Pop-Up” + Yoga) event of 2016, held in June. It was great to see so many people incorporate the practice of viewing art, with yoga. The weather was a super close call, but we narrowly avoided a rain storm, and were able to hold the event on the plaza."
Helyn Marshall, Patron Services Manager
"I had the honor of managing the memorial for Senator John Glenn at Mershon Auditorium, at the Ohio State University. I was able to work with a great team of people in our House Management department and volunteer corps, as well as volunteers from the Glenn College and the Schott. Everyone came together to be part of something bigger, to serve in a celebration of a life spent in service.
"From a small town in Ohio came the world's fastest Marine, a stellar astronaut, and an honest politician - a true statesman. I was humbled and amazed and reminded of the potential for good that resides within each of us while listening to remembrances of the incredible life that this man gave as a gift to everyone fortunate enough to be his friend, and anyone who had the pleasure of meeting him for even just a moment.
"I cannot adequately express the impression made upon me, listening to the outpouring of love, of the stories of answering a call, of knowing of self, of honor and integrity. Senator John Glenn continues to be an inspiration to be bold, be kind, to help others, to give my best self, and to do better."
(Photos: Super Sunday, Clara Hirsch; Director's Dialogue, Maddie McGarvey; POGA, Kelsie Hunter; Glenn Memorial, Helyn Marshall)