In 2016, our Visiting Filmmaker program brought 24 filmmakers to the Film/Video Theater to introduce new work and talk with local film lovers, from the local (Gabrielle Burton) to the internationally acclaimed (Whit Stillman, Kelly Reichardt), to the once-overlooked (Julie Dash), to the simply indescribable (hello, Bruce McClure). That's a lot to keep up with, so in case you missed anything, here's a list of 2016 Visiting Filmmakers with new work available for the small screen. And since some of them are coming up in year-end award conversations, you can use this to get a jump on your pre-Oscar watching.
Jem Cohen, Counting: Cohen's 15-chapter film is now streaming on Vudu and iTunes, and is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Cinema Guild.
Steve Reinke, Rib Gets in the Way: Reinke's work from the 2014 Whitney Biennial is viewable for free on Vimeo.
Barbara Kopple, Harlan County USA: You can get the award-winning 1976 doc on disc from Criterion. Kopple also has a new series of short documentaries on the American workforce now streaming on Vimeo, made in partnership with the nonprofit WorkingNation. And her 2016 film on the late, great Sharon Jones is available for paid streaming on multiple platforms, including Amazon and Vudu.
Whit Stillman, Love & Friendship: The latest from the director of Metropolitan is currently garnering critics' awards for its Jane Austen-adapted screenplay, and streaming on Amazon. It's also widely available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Gabriel Mascaro, August Winds and Neon Bull: Both films are now streaming on YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.
Nicholas Rombe, The Removals: This sci-fi feature from Columbus micro-budget producer Two Dollar Radio isn't just streaming via Flix Premiere, it's available on gloriously retro VHS.
Penny Lane, Nuts: Lane's animated documentary is now messing with viewer's perceptions on Amazon.
Frederic Tuten, Possession: The screenwriter's unforgettable 1981 collaboration with director Andrzej Zulawski hasn't always been easy to find, but right now you can pick up a limited edition, extras-filled Blu-ray set from Toufaan.
Kirsten Johnson, Cameraperson: We'll be surprised if this one doesn't end up with an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature. Be prepared—pre-order the Criterion Collection release, due out February 7.
At North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, the inspiration for our current exhibition Leap Before You Look, risk was the name of the game. The whole venture involved financial risk. The artists who studied and taught there took audacious creative risks. Becoming a racially integrated campus—in the South, in the ’40s—was, you guessed it, a risk.
Like Black Mountain, the Wex has always welcomed and encouraged risk in all its forms—creative, cultural, social, intellectual, and beyond. Throughout the Wex’s 27-year history, our equally adventuresome members have been along for the (sometimes wild) ride, all the while helping make the whole thing go.
With all of this in mind, our “Take the Leap” membership acquisition campaign began to take shape, riffing off the show’s title. We pulled a diverse range of new and longtime members into the effort to tell their stories, and to get their pictures taken with silly string and shiny objects. Boy, were they ever game. Herein are a few interview outtakes and add-ons, plus photos and behind-the-scenes footage.
On the town (and on the road): Jessica Burton—whose exuberant, leaping image adorns the walkway just outside the Wex entrance—came to Columbus from Texas three years ago to work for fashion retailer Express. An explorer at heart, she became a Wex member soon after and is now co-chair of the GenWex Advisory Council for young professionals. During her travels, she appreciates the reciprocal free admission she gets at museums around the world with just a flash of her Wex member card.
“How cool is it that if you're traveling and have some spare time, you can plan a museum visit and have a fun experience, just as you would at the Wex!” In addition, she says, “I have always been wowed by the jazz artists and programming that the Wex brings to Columbus.”
She also enjoys exhibition openings: “Celebrating the unveiling of a new exhibition at the Wex is always a great time. It's fun to see people throughout the community come out and enjoy previewing the exhibition while mingling over food, drinks, and conversations. One of my favorites!” The Wex “has been such a fantastic part to my life here. What I like most about supporting the Wex is that I am able to be involved and give back to a community and organization that has already given so much to me.”
A Family Affair: Kate, Ted, and Will Bauer have been members since 2013—or, in Will’s case, since birth. The Upper Arlington couple met at a pre-party for the first Off the Grid fundraising bash in 2010, and Kate remembers well how the evening unfolded later at the Wex.
“The Hood Internet came in from Chicago and we danced the night away. We got separated at one point during the evening and kept missing one another, so our mutual friend ran interference, texting us both when we came by looking for one another. So Off the Grid, for me, is something truly special….It’s the best time you’ll ever have in the coolest venue imaginable.”
On the day of their engagement, they went on an Ohio State “history walk,” beginning with a stop right in front of the Wex entrance where that fateful text occurred. Now that they’re parents, Kate and Ted love the Zoom: Family Film Festival—and other opportunities at the Wex to have fun with Will.
“I could go on about the programming for all ages,” Kate says. “I encourage every person to take advantage of this amazing gem in our city, one that we are beyond lucky to have.”
The “whoa” factor: German Village couple Tim Morbitzer and Giancarlo Miranda, Wex members since 1994, recall why they were first drawn to the Wex.
“We travel a lot—primarily for fun,” Morbitzer says. “We used to find ourselves in these major cities looking at the arts and cultural offerings and we'd say, ‘Wow, if we lived here we'd do all of this.’ Then we realized that we actually have a ton of similar programming here with the Wexner Center.” He adds, “It’s not unusual for the Wex to have someone associated with the piece—director, actor, artist—in attendance or lecturing along with the presentation. That's pretty huge, and we are fortunate to have a resource that rich and that deep right here in Columbus, and so accessible.”
They are most looking forward to Off the Grid. “I wish we could say something to make us sound more sophisticated, but we love that event. We've gone almost every year since it started.” As for other programming, “We have seen movies at the Wexner Center that have blown us away.” Some of the best films they’ve seen over the years have been the member-only screenings. “And one of our favorite things to do is choose a movie at the Wexner Center that we know little about, make an evening of it, and walk away saying to each other, ‘What was that?!’ To us, that's the sign of a great film. The same applies to the Wexner's live performances. A ‘WHOA’ during or after a performance means we've had a memorable experience.”
And one more thing: “We always make sure to hit the Wexner Center Store for holiday shopping because they have things you can't get anyplace else in the area—so the discount certainly helps!”
Everything and more: Jeff Smith and Vijaya Iyer, members since 1999, are creative partners behind the best-selling Bone graphic-novel juggernaut (it’s being made into a movie) and Cartoon Crossroads Columbus. The German Village residents enjoy a wide range of Wex offerings with their membership.
When asked why they first became members, Iyer says, “Honestly, it may have been the bookstore. It’s an amazing shop!” Smith notes that they both “love seeing movies by master filmmakers, like Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo in high definition. It’s the way you should do it! Watching great movies that we usually view on a small TV up on a real screen with an audience is a revelation.”
And among his favorite events was the 2008 exhibition Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms. “I’m a pop culture nut, and Warhol understood it before anybody else. The Wex exhibit had everything I ever wanted to see, and much more.” Iyer loved the 2014 exhibition Modern Cartoonist, focusing on graphic novelist Daniel Clowes. “Not only is Dan’s work seminal to the alt/underground movement in comics,” she says, “but the Wex really showed its commitment to comics as a living art form.”
Footnote: The photographer for this campaign, Nathan C. Ward, became a member this fall, too. It’s never too late to take your own leap and join us, if you haven’t already. Or consider entering our Black Mountain-themed Instagram contest this month to win a membership. Or, consider a gift membership for a friend or family member you think might enjoy free gallery admission, member discounts, exclusive access, and first dibs on tickets. After all, ‘tis the season to pay it—leap it?—forward.
Photography by Nathan C. Ward. Videography by Erica Anderson, Creative Services Director at the Wex.
Alexandra Davis, Public & University Programs Intern
Alexandra Davis is a fourth-year undergraduate student at The Ohio State University. In May 2017, Ally will receive a dual-degree with honors in Theatre, B.A. and Strategic Communications, B.A. She’s the co-president of This Is Happening: a play-reading club, and a member of several committees within the Department of Theatre, in addition to interning with the Wex’s Public Programs team. Below, she shares her experiences and interactions during the final in-gallery performances for Leap Before You Look.
The month of December began on a high note at the Wex with the Ohio State student-led performances of Reimagining Black Mountain, in conjunction with the exhibition Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957. The typically quiet galleries of the Wexner Center were filled with sounds of music, storytelling, and laughter.
Created by Jennifer Schlueter, Associate Chair of Ohio State’s Department of Theatre, and her group of nine students, the performances ranged from a reenactment of a Black Mountain College faculty meeting to interactive performance art throughout the galleries that invited audiences to contribute stories, truths, and found text. The students involved included undergraduate and graduate students from the Departments of Theatre, English, and Dance.
Cece Bellomy, a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Department of Theatre, planted herself in Gallery B for her piece Black Mountain Pedagogy. In this, she asked those who approached her to write her a story. After reading the text out loud, Bellomy then offered a modification to the text, such as, “Would you rewrite this as science fiction?” or “Can you rip this apart and write it again from memory?”
“This is one of the first times that I’ve done a performance art piece,” said Constance Hester, a fourth-year undergraduate student in theatre, who usually finds herself in the director’s chair. “There was a lot of research involved that shaped what we did next. We found a lot of similarities and differences between our lives and the lives of artists at Black Mountain College and that pushed us in our work. Particularly with Ohio State’s theatre department, the biggest similarity with Black Mountain College is the emphasis on doing the work, rather than just learning about it.”
The pieces were performed in three cycles for attentive and engaged audiences. Most of the performances at least partially relied on audience interaction.
“Sometimes it can be really challenging in our world to find artistic inspiration, or to feel like you have agency to create something meaningful. Being in an art museum and witnessing (and taking part in) of-the-moment theatre is inspiring,” said audience member Joe Kopyt, an MFA Actor in Ohio State’s Department of Theatre. “I think the performances tonight definitely reflected the ethos of the college, and it’s really rare to find creative communities like that in today’s society.”
For more photos from the event, search the hashtag #blackmountainNOW or follow the ensemble on Instagram at @blackmountainnow.
Joy Sullivan is a Columbus-based educator and poet. Currently, she serves as a Museum Education Fellow for the Wexner Center for the Arts. With a masters in Poetry from Miami University and a teaching license from Ohio Dominican University, her academic work reflects an interest in gender studies, social justice, and community development. She is passionate about her neighborhood of Franklinton, equality in education and facilitating local writing workshops in the community. Joy worked with Dr. Melissa Crum, an artist, author, researcher, and founder of Mosaic Education Network, LLC, and Wex educators Dionne Custer Edwards and Tracie McCambridge, on our recent event, "Ready. Set. Shift: An Interactive Workshop & Participatory Dialogue on Education". She shares the experience here.
On November 5th, educators, writers and stakeholders gathered for a conversation surrounding educational and learning environments at the breakout session, Ready Set Shift. Inspired by the exhibit Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, and under the leadership of Melissa Crum, participants created break-out dialogue sessions. Each group dialogued about the remaining obstacles and challenges inherent in the educational system and examined multiple tiers related to implementing solutions for improvement and change.
First, Melissa sparked dialogue at the base level. She approached the foundation of the issue by posing the question, “What is the purpose of education?” Answers waxed from philosophical to pragmatic, from weighty to blunt. Responses included:
Education provides a passionate, critical lens for how to be in the world.
Education is the liberation of the self through collaborative growth and exchange.
Education is the enlightenment of perspective in order to create positive progress in the world.
Next, the discussion centered around direct obstacles blocking education’s goals and purposes. Melissa asked each group to consider the the hindrances inherent in the educational infrastructure affecting both students and teachers. The top three responses that emerged were:
Lack of resources/necessities for quality classroom accessibility.
Corruption of system tied to inequality in economic, racial, and class structures.
Lack of relevance for students engagement and increased focus on standardization.
Finally, Melissa encouraged participants to offer a “harvest” of key points of the dialogue She moved the group into problem-solving and offering pragmatic solutions at a local and national level. Highlights from that conversation included:
Enable students to live critically, interrogate and analyze themselves and the world in which they live.
Help individuals find a sense of larger empathy for both the self and the greater world.
Create allied communities where students can both thrive and contribute.
Introduce trauma-sensitive approaches in the classroom to aid struggling students and reorient teachers’ approaches.
The workshop was intended to be a catalyst for conversation and sustainable change. While there is no easy solution, the workshop was a reminder that there is an engaged local community invested in the next generation. Beyond solidified goals and a focus on solutions, the workshop also provided a key connecting point for educators and community leaders to listen, dialogue and partner with one another in striving towards a stronger model of engagement and education.
Salami Dreamin'uses the eye-popping, hand-printed images of Columbus artist Michelle Maguire and the written anecdotes of her husband, Aaron Beck, to form a portrait of Michelle's blunt, funny, completely unimpressed, Italian-American Aunt Doll, an 84-year-old Canton, Ohio, native who loves cursing, cured meats and the NFL. According to Michelle, "The gist of her story is, enjoy every chicken wing while you holler at the Cleveland Browns on your gigantic analog TV, because we aren’t here forever." Michelle shared more about the book with her friend Erica Anderson, the Wex's Creative Services Director. It's available at the Wexner Center Store, along with original prints by Michelle, as part of the State Line selection of Ohio-made products.
Erica Anderson: I don't know many people who wake up and decide to make a book on their own. A 'zine, maybe, but a 68-page, hardcover, signature-sewn book with 14 silkscreen and litho prints, and letterpress printed copy?! It's just wild to me! What made you aim for a project this large-scale and ambitious?
Michelle Maguire: I was in the mood to really push myself and I wanted to learn how to build a book. But not just a book of straight photos—I needed the images to really pop, so I started playing around with them in Photoshop. I began to think in layers and about the photos becoming prints. So I started hanging out at OSU’s Logan Elm Press, and then the Libraries’ Conservation Unit, and then soon after met Floodwall Press. I’d continually lose my mind over the endless possibilities. I was excited about the tactile properties inherent with various printmaking techniques—the lightly “kissed” impression of letterpress and foil stamping, the matte finish and color vibrancy achieved with hand-mixed acrylic inks, and the way they sit on the surface of a cotton paper.
It all felt totally possible because I kept finding people whose skills I believed in, and they all agreed to help me make it happen. I learned so much from everyone who was involved in bringing this thing to life, and I still marvel at what we were able to pull off. We all have day jobs, so production happened on the weekends, and it was an enormous undertaking.
EA: Can you share some backstory on the firecracker of a lady that inspired this book?
MM: That firecracker is my Great-Aunt Doll: one of my grandma’s six younger siblings, the family wedding soup maker, die-hard NFL fan, and tidy keeper of an immaculate Canton, Ohio, Cape Cod. A lot of people see images of her beautiful white hair and think she’s this sweet old lady, but there’s nothing too sweet about her. She’s ready to take a shovel to the back of my head most of the time, and I’m one of the people she likes most.
Every time I’m over at Aunt Doll’s place, I take pictures, much to her annoyance. She’s not shy expressing her feelings about having a camera on her—she threatens to physically insert the recording device into my body, and then immediately forgets it was ever there in the first place. But that’s her attitude about most everything: she’s perpetually put out, and always mildly disgusted. She’ll cuss you out in one breath and in the very next, offer you a salami sandwich.
My grandma and Aunt Doll married a pair of brothers (my grandpa and his brother Phil). They claim to have tried hooking up a third sister with a third brother to make it a three-piece, but that one “didn’t take.” My childhood was spent being surrounded by this loud, boisterous group of Italian Americans, and it was fun.
EA: Tell us about Aaron's and your relationship as a creative pair, and how it influenced the genesis of the book.
MM: We were together the entire time the material was being gathered, so it felt only natural to work as a team to tell her story. Collaborating with Aaron was great. I knew if he was going to be involved that it would have a soul, the tone would be just right, and it would be peppered with both hilarity and tenderness. He really nailed it. The very best thing is to listen to my family erupt into laughter as they read it for the first time.
Aaron’s known Aunt Doll for 15 years now, and has spent most of that time trying to commit to memory her every word. I’m not sure she even sees him and me as two separate beings—together, I think we’re just one collective pain in her ass.
EA: I was lucky enough to be a sounding board for you during the creation of this book. Your courage and determination never ceased to amaze me. There were so many times that you could have settled, cut a corner, or given up. Any advice for those intrepid artists and designers who are called by some wild inner voice to do their own thing, their own way?
MM: I had a pretty clear vision of how I wanted it to look and feel (literally), and I’m lucky that I had such a great team to rely on for guidance. Printmaking is a thrill, and it’s important to embrace the medium’s qualities and allow it to do some speaking for you. Edition bookmaking is no small task. It made for an intricate working process at every step. For a year and a half we all chipped away at it. This is technical and tedious and will probably put most people (not you, though!) to sleep, but in order to have alternating types of paper for the text and image pages, it meant I had to tip-in a single sheet to each of the book’s seven signatures, over and over and over again throughout the entire edition, using hinges made from Japanese fiber paper and adhering them with wheat paste. It was worth it, and it created a beautiful visual separation for image versus text, but it took forever and a day and nearly drove me bananas.
My advice would be to go for it. Aside from a GCAC materials grant, we funded this book ourselves, which meant we were able to have total control. That’s huge. And it feels incredible. From the start, I thought, who knows, this may be the only time I get the chance to make a book. Let’s just blow it out of the water. That kind of thinking always leads to new things.
EA: What's next for Salami Dreamin'?
MM: A trade edition! A commercially printed, larger edition, with tweaked content and format, at a way more affordable retail price. Thus making this first hand-bound deluxe batch of 50 all the more special. I'm excited about creating another version of this book, one that is wider-reaching and much more accessible, and am now in the beginning stages of researching printers and exploring my options. I think it’s going to be a risograph-printed book this time around! I love thinking about all parts of the book being printed color-by-color/layer-by-layer all over again, this time much more loosely, and I'm totally excited. It feels good to keep going and to give people options. And I'm kinda hooked on making books.