Things to remember: featuring Duarte’s art and spoken word poetry

I’ve been interning at the MAC for months now, and nothing stands out as much as the night of the Into the Sky and Layers of Life gallery opening. The entire building was buzzing with excitement and congratulations for Todd Camp, whose colorful abstract canvases were hanging in the gallery, and Richard Duarte Brown, whose art spans many mediums and even more walls. I was in awe at the sense of community, the sense of gratitude and togetherness. Both Camp and Duarte are valued men in the Columbus arts scene. They have each given back to the local community through arts programs and by working at the King Arts Complex. The artists’ appreciation for each other was obvious, a brotherhood fostered by creativity and community.

As I travelled through the hallways, I recognized the people in Duarte’s works; they were the people supporting him that night. His subjects were his friends, his family, and his community members, and it was delightful to watch as they searched, found, and pointed themselves out in the artwork. It became an emotional night for all, with a line of admirers awaiting their turn to thank Duarte for his impact on their life. I spoke with many of the night’s spoken word poets, performers, and subjects, and they were all beaming with pride for Duarte, contributing to the magnetic atmosphere that has been taking over the MAC lately.

Donte Woods-Spikes is Duarte’s main subject; many works featuring him can be seen on the main floor on the walls outside the gallery. One of the larger pieces, Evolution of Donte, shows Donte among the many faces that have influenced him throughout his life. Duarte masterfully transforms the canvas into a visual timeline of Donte’s growth from childhood to the man who is currently working to “pass the brush,” signified by his outstretched hand with several paint brushes. Across from the work is another, titled Pass the Brush, which is a focused, heroic portrait of Donte. He is holding paintbrushes again, but the painting itself also includes paintbrushes that are glued to the canvas and then painted over. “Every single time I see a painting of myself it reminds me of how he visualizes me. I remember every positive word he has said and every claim of success he has spoke into my life. It really does leave a imprint on my life to know that somebody saw me for who I am and took the time to show me how much I matter. The only way for me to truly respect the influence Duarte has had on me is to make sure I do the same thing for the upcoming generation below me,” says Donte.

Pass the Brush is a movement that Duarte and Donte are passionate about. The two met at the Central Community House and have been working as a team to impact children’s lives since. Donte shared, “My role in the Pass the Brush movement is to simply continue being my authentic self, which requires me to continue to spread love to people and make sure I care for those in need. Now the only thing left for me to do is find another person to pass the work on to that I trust as much as Duarte trusts me. We both use our Artistic gifts to find ways to invest in the community that we belong to.”

Donte is now pursuing film making and has spoken on stages like TEDxColumbus and the National Charter School Convention. He takes the impact Duarte has had on his life and uses it as motivation, as a guide, for how to represent others in his own creative work. “When I create videos of people I try to make sure that I tell their story and show the world that whoever that person is—regardless of their status or where they come from, whatever it is they did in the past or present—they are capable of being someone important. Society has a way of putting much emphasis on the negative things that people do, but not investing the same amount of energy into the positive things someone has done. When a person has an opportunity to see themselves as someone important, they begin to act as if they are. Duarte reminds me of that every time he connects with someone and paints them.”

I was also taken aback at the spoken word poetry that came from the open mic portion of the evening. As an English major and lover of words, I was in awe at the craft and performances of Kentrell Skeens and Barbara Fant. I spoke with both about their relationships with Duarte and how their lives have changed due to the presence of him in their communities. They both smiled like Sharon, the subject of Duarte’s piece Counterfit Madison canvas, in the MAC’s lobby: widly and proudly.

Barbara met Duarte several years ago through Transit Arts. She describes Duarte as one of the sweetest and most genuine people she knows. “Duarte and I always have had true and deep conversations about faith and how God communicates with us through our art. Our art is oftentimes a reflection of not just our relationships with people, but also our relationships with God. Duarte has really taught me to not be afraid of my voice, to truly show up where I am in all of my authenticity. Duarte paints the world, and I feel that I do a very similar thing, only I paint with words.”

I recommend visiting the MAC while the exhibit is still up (through March 18th). It’s an emotive, spiritual, eccentric collection that exemplifies the connections a community arts center aims to create. I’m very thankful for the time I’ve spent at the MAC this fall, especially the people I spoke with and learned from the night of the gallery opening. I’ll surely be back, and I hope to see you there. 




On View: Review- The Annual Faculty and Student Show

Walking through the corridors and into the Main Gallery at McConnell Arts Center, one can see the impact art has on both the center’s instructors and students. The Annual Faculty and Student Show has been on view at the MAC for the past month and will be open through October 15th. It is clear that the instructors at the MAC cultivate careful and expressive art in their students. The exhibit features many kinds of art, from layered watercolors and bold, geometric canvases, to pottery and impressionist-inspired works.

One such example is Jim Glover’s work; his canvases give off the sensation of walking alone in the forest and catching a glimpse of sunlight at just the right moment. Glover’s Barn Shed, Canyon Waterfall, and Aspen Dance are preoccupied with this moment of solitude in nature. Lighting is very important in his works. Chardonnay by his student Elizabeth Veldy also gives light importance, utilizing it to illuminate the main figure in her piece.

Joe Lombardo’s canvases are some of the largest in the exhibit. His scenes show cityscapes in bold color, with stoplights at the focus. “Stop-n-Go” recalls the feeling of cruising down a parkway in the city, with the skyline overlooking you on both sides. The colors he chooses to use in this canvas and his work “Two Reds” are cool colors; they make the city feel vibrant and youthful, full of an elusive vitality that one can breathe in if they were to walk along the streets. Between both Lombardo works is The Fisherman of Matalacha by Cynthia Davis, a student of Lombardo’s. Although her work is removed from the city, featuring two tough figures on a dock, the similar lighting and painting technique is apparent, connecting the canvases. The juxtaposition of the student and instructor works demonstrates the guidance provided by Lombardo, as well as highlights the student’s  learned technique.

Another moment of recognition between instructor and student work is the oil and panels of Fred Fochtman and Sean Farrell. Fochtman is an award-winning painter from Columbus, Ohio, who paints strictly what he sees, using direct observation to inspire his renderings of daily life. His student Farrell applies the same observation style to his work, “Hallway,” in which he displays a hallway leading past a bedroom and to a window. Both artists use organic colors and a style that isn’t too detailed, allowing the viewer to fill in the fuzzy, less-detailed parts so that they can recognize the scenes themselves.

Mary Pat Turner’s pieces are colorful and vivacious. Her three pieces displayed in the exhibit are filled with color and movement. While “Sibyl” loosely resembles a sunset, Ari and Sibyl is more 3D feeling, with the paint being applied in a more rushed manner, creating a loosely-Pointillist work. Her color choices evoke emotion with their warm complimentary tones and swirling application. The largest of her pieces, Mary shows baby angels (putti) among clouds and geometric figures that resemble sheets. The central figure’s slight smirk draws the viewer in. Her student Margaret Farley’s Tilly My Turtle is created with the same attention to bold colors. The water around the turtle contains bubbles that resemble the style of “Ari and Sibyl.” In the basement corridor, Debra Grantz Wolf’s Floral-ly evokes color in the same way.

The Main Gallery isn’t the only home to instructor and student artwork, though. The Corridor Galleries at the MAC are just as beautiful, with canvases and works of all sizes and subjects. There is My Great-grandmother’s Eyes by Marie Charvat instructed by Angela Gage, which pictures the face of a gorilla. It’s expression is complacent, its eyes glazed over, yet aware of the viewer. Angel’s Kiss by Priscilla McMaster instructed by Mary Pat Turner. The sitting area between the first and second floor houses a collection of smaller works, many of them featuring subjects found in the home: chairs, stools, lighting. These vignettes of domestic spaces hang alongside several portraits including “ani by Ann Kete, Michael by Jane Flewellen, and Ragib by Marianne Miller. The space’s most puzzling work is  Michelle Geissbuhler’s collage-painting Ruled by the Moon, Pulled by the Tides, which is a mystifying combination of hieroglyphic-esque markings, bold painted color in the form of a crab, and mathematical proportions (think the Golden Ratio) aligned with the structure of waves at the bottom of the work. It’ll surely make you contemplate the relation between color and form, math and expression, and time and place.

The works in the gallery prove that the McConnell Arts Center’s instructors are talented at both creating art and inspiring their students to do so. You can find more information about classes offered by the MAC at, and check out Into the Sky, the current exhibit on view featuring art by Todd Camp and Richard Duarte Brown until December 30.

What do the MAC and Brazil have in common?

Here at the McConnell Arts Center there are many opportunities to enrich your life. You can take classes about painting and drawing, ceramics, film, photography, ballet, and even have music lessons. By strolling through the Main Gallery and Corridor Galleries you can see artwork done by our instructors and their students (exhibit up until October 15th). The next exhibit features colorful cloudscapes by Todd Camp and vibrant canvases highlighting “spontaneous living” by Richard Duarte Brown. But one of the most valuable aspects of the MAC, and many other community arts centers, is the opportunity to bring neighborhoods together and cultivate positive experiences through creative arts.


I’ve been interning at the MAC for a few weeks now, and my time here reminds me of a TED talk given by Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas. Their talk, How painting can transform communities, isn’t distinctly about a community arts center, but their message can be applied to one. They discuss the peril of Vila Cruzeiro, a small, poverty-stricken community in Brazil. The two men transformed housing that was unfinished and unpainted on the outside into a large-scale work of art. They let their passion for the artwork guide their project, and it was beautifully successful. The artists describe the community working together like an orchestra, with everyone playing a part in a larger piece. You can do something just as impactful as Haas and Hahn have by taking classes at the MAC, attending one of our many OnStage events in the Bronwynn Theatre, or by volunteering! Visit for more information.


-Liv Birdsall


Jazz into the MAC Next Week

When a musician is that good, it’s enough to hear them perform on their own. But what about when four of some of the area’s most talented musicians join together to recreate music by Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington. Well, I don’t think I am capable of telling you just how good that would be.
Experience it for yourself at the MAC on Thursday, May 5 at 8 p.m. to see Jazz Through the Ages: The Friends Quartet. Four Columbus artists will join in playing their mastered instruments, attributing some of music’s most talented artists.

Tony Hagood will claim the piano. Hagood has played for audiences in China, Japan, South Korea, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and several Caribbean countries. In 2006, he won the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award.

Bradley Mellen will fiddle in on bass. Mellen received his masters in jazz performance from Purchase College in New York studying with musicians such as Todd Coolman. He is well-known to Columbus, performing in a variety of different groups.

Christopher Hoyte will be the saxophonist for the evening. Hoyte graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and since then most of his work has been intended for use in church context.

Finally, Zach Compston will bust out the drums. Compston is a versatile drummer who is also a percussionist and music director. Compston is currently Director of Education and Community Engagement at the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus.

If you’re looking for a night of some of the best local musicians performing some of history’s most renowned musicians, this is the place to be. And for only $12? Consider it a steal.

Below are the full list of musicians they will be covering, as well as some music of their own.

Louis Armstrong

Fats Waller

Duke Ellington

Thelonious Monk

Bill Evans

Horace Silver, Chick Corea

Dave Brubeck

Joshua Redman’s Elastic Band

the Bad Plus


Buy tickets here


By Theresa Wallenhorst

PR Intern

The Chocolate Cake Chronicle

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Elizabeth Ritz, Grandview Heights. “They’ll Never Find the Body”

Here’s one of many things I’ve learned since I started volunteering at the McConnell Arts Center:  you can rent rooms and spaces for your special events at the MAC. My stint at the reception desk has given me the opportunity to see folks preparing for association fund-raisers, social events, and meetings. This often involves delicious platters of food being carried right by my station at the reception desk, but that is another story.

The MAC theatre can be rented for concerts, performances, lectures or business.  The Main Gallery is also frequently used as an event space, and classroom spaces also work well for small meetings, workshops or birthday parties.

The variety spaces and facilities at the MAC can probably accommodate an event you’re planning. Get more information at Rent the MAC.

Oh, and when you plan that birthday party…I like chocolate cake.

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Sophie Ungless, New Albany High School. “Macarons”

Tam Dalrymple

Artwork pictured from the 2016 Governor’s Regional Youth Art Exhibit – Region 1. Currently on display at the McConnell Arts Center in the Main and Corridor Galleries. 

Because Volunteering at the MAC is cool

The other day I was talking with a friend about my volunteering at the McConnell Arts Center.

 “That’s cool,” she said. “That’s why I do it,” I replied. “So people will think I’m cool.”

 Let’s face it, we volunteer for things because we get something out of it, even if it’s just that cool fuzzy volunteer feeling. At The McConnell Arts Center you can get the fuzzy feeling, discounts on classes, free admission to MAC events, and more.

 When I am being very cool I’ll toss out a phrase like, “over at The MAC” or, “a class at The MAC.” This can prompt people to ask what “The MAC” is, which gives me an opportunity to enjoy another benefit of volunteering at the MAC: being in the know about so much of the arts scene in the Worthington area. What kinds of things are being planned for the Worthington Arts Festival this year? How about the Fourth of July? And like a good volunteer, I can point folks to The MAC Website for the latest information.


You can get information on how to volunteer at the MAC right here. And stop by the front desk on Thursday afternoons. I will be there, being helpful. Oh, and cool.


– Tam Dalrymple

Live Orchestra and Fashion Draws in a Night of Fun

McConnell Arts Center will host the premiere of Aller Au Cinema, a film dedicated to timeless love found in the movies, on Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m.

Aller Au Cinema is a film created by Elevate Pictures, which is a visual story-telling company dedicated to reminding individuals they are all part of humanity. The film is directed by executive producer and partner Jeremy Hughes, who helped create the company in 2008.

There are several factors that separate this film apart from others. The film is accompanied by a live orchestra conducted by Todd Maki, who is an international film composer featured in various television networks including The Travel Channel International.

Fashion plays a lead role in this cinematic performance. Showcased throughout the building and in the film will be fashion by Tina Marie Hughes, a local artist who uses intrinsic, beautiful details to create natural and organic textiles.

Following the film, people will gather at The Whitney House in downtown Worthington for jazz and drinks to celebrate the days of prohibition.

“Frankies” will be available for purchase as an add-on to your ticket, which can be used in exchange for bathtub gin.

If you’re looking for something fun, philanthropic and totally different, join us at the MAC next Thursday for a night of flicks and fashion. Tickets are only $40 AND proceeds from the event will benefit the American Cancer Society here in our community.


Theresa Wallenhorst

PR Intern

McConnell Arts Cente