The Pizzuti Collection: Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of month

Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of month

The Pizzuti Collection: Explore 18,000-square-foot gallery space for free on first Saturday of monthThey say art is in the eye of the beholder. And when that beholder’s eye belongs to your own child, it’s fun to see her facial expressions when roaming around a contemporary art museum.

I saw awe, joy and utter befuddlement upon my daughter’s face as we explored the Pizzuti Collection in Columbus’ Short North Arts District. Rosie’s unique eye for art influenced my own, as I found new appreciation in quirky pieces, such as a headless, silver figure made out of a tube of paint, as we explored the museum on the first Saturday in October.

“This is my favorite,” Rosie said of the paint-tube man at Pizzuti’s monthly event called the Family Day Series. On the first Saturday of each month the museum is open free of charge to families, who also can partake in an art-inspired scavenger hunt from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided tours are offered at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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“I think it’s a great opportunity to take the family out to see and do something new and exciting,” said Mark Zuzik, programs coordinator.

The first Saturday of the month also is the Gallery Hop in the Short North, as most in Columbus know, making Pizzuti’s event the perfect prelude to a full day of exploring dozens of galleries along High Street.

The Pizzuti Collection, which opened in 2013, offers rotating exhibits of works belonging to real estate developer and art collector Ron Pizzuti and his wife, Ann. The couple has amassed thousands of pieces over four decades of collecting. The non-profit exhibition space spans three floors in an 18,000-square-foot revamped building, with more art outside in the sculpture garden.

The Pizzuti Collection is located at 632 North Park St., Columbus. For more information, visit

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The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shop

Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shop

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopI find the most memorable adventures to be hands-on experiences. And, they’re even more memorable when I get to make a keepsake along the way.

Such was the case when I tapped the letters of my family members’ names onto a bronze heart while making a necklace for myself at the Smithery in Grandview Heights. The shop offers metal-smithing classes for adults and children, as well as has a gift shop full of neat handmade creations by local artisans.

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopI participated in a “Make and Take” workshop that included choosing a charm, stamping it with decorations and threading it onto a chain. It took about 30 minutes to complete my project, and it cost less than $20.

I chose to embellish a precut heart charm for a necklace. Other options included making a pet tag or a key chain.

Once I selected my charm, I was instructed to tape it to a metal block to prevent it from slipping. I used a brass hammer to firmly tap the ends of metal pegs that had raised shapes and letters on the opposite ends. Doing so left imprints on my metal heart.

I picked from a variety of metal stamps including letters, numbers, punctuation marks and familiar shapes.

The Smithery: Make memorable, metal trinkets at Grandview shopThe hardest part was deciding what to create. I decided to squeeze three names onto my charm. My first attempt revealed a crooked “m.” But I quickly decided that any imperfection added personality and confirmed that it was handmade.

I finalized my piece by adding a few flowers. I also learned I could quickly make my piece look aged by filling in the indented metal with black, permanent marker. I was pleased with my final product, now one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

The Smithery is located at 1306 Grandview Ave. For more information on workshops, visit or call 614-867-5780.

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Paper Moon Art Studio: Put your imagination to the test at interactive gallery

Put your imagination to the test at this interactive gallery

Paper Moon Art Studio offers art classes for adults and children in the Columbus community of Clintonville. I found out about this fun studio while attending a children’s birthday party with my kids.

Owner Kristen Marra Marek led party guests in the making of a variety of crafts, including paint-splattered posters and cardboard puppets. Marek, who has a degree in art education from Ohio State, has a knack for engaging children in the creative process.

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One craft had the children circling around a piece of poster board. Each child held onto a section of the board as Marek squirted on colorful globs of paint. The children were challenged to cover the surface of the board without letting any paint spill off.

Squeals of joy ensued as the children moved the board around, and the result looked like the spin-art creations I made as a child at the fair.

Another craft had them dressing cardboard puppets in fabrics and objects found around the studio, such as bells, beads and buttons. My daughter chose to dress her puppet in summery fabrics. She drew a face and glued on a necklace. My son made his look like a robot by gluing on lots of tinfoil. The projects tested their imagination and their ability to use a glue gun, which they easily mastered.

A great way to sample the studio’s offerings and supplies is at a monthly family event aptly called “2nd Saturday Family Nights.” Parents and kids can stop in from 5-8 p.m. to work on a themed art project. The cost is $25 per family. Advanced registration isn’t required, but calling ahead to reserve a spot is good idea since space is limited.

The Paper Moon Art Studio is located at 4145 N. High St., Columbus. For more information, call 614-332-9149 or visit

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Columbus Children's Theatre Thrifty Thursday

All seats just $12 on Thursday nights

If you’ve got kids, and those kids like to watch plays (a likely eventuality), then check out what Columbus Children’s Theatre has to offer.

Located at 512 N. Park St. near the North Market, Columbus Children’s Theatre offers discounted tickets to its performances every Thursday. “Thrifty Thursday” tickets are just $12 apiece for all ages, compared to $15-$25 for tickets on other days. This once-a-week bargain presents a great opportunity for those not familiar with the theater company a chance to become acquainted with its fine productions.

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The theater was founded in 1963 with a mission to offer theatrical instruction to children throughout central Ohio. In addition to about eight productions a year, the theater offers a professional touring company that performs at schools around Ohio, as well as acting classes and workshops for children as young as three.

I took my family to see “Pinocchio” on a recent Thursday. The 50-minute show was the perfect length for a school night. The show started at 7:30 p.m. I arrived 30 minutes beforehand to secure a parking space. I pumped $2 into a meter in front of the theater.

The venue has three sections of stadium-style seating, with the actors positioned on the ground in the center. All seats provide good views.

Four versatile actors from the theater’s touring company performed the popular play about a wooden puppet that dreams of becoming a boy. They made it appear as though there were many more cast members as they moved about the theater, changing costumes and character voices.

My children were enraptured by the performance, especially when they asked for audience participation. My daughter, Rosie, delighted in joining two other girls on stage. At one point she was led behind a curtain, only to reappear with donkey ears on her head. She, along with Pinocchio, had been turned into a mule because she was playing too much and not doing her school work.

The cast members stayed afterward to sign autographs on playbills and pose for pictures.

Performances normally take place at the Park Street location, except the springtime productions, which move to bigger, more-accommodating venues.

Upcoming shows in the 2015 season include:

Feb. 12-22
“Healers in the Forest,” an hourlong show about a farm boy who discovers fairylike children with the power to heal that’s suggested for ages 4 and older.

March 12-29
“Fancy Nancy: The Musical,” a 75-minute show adapted from the children’s books by Jane O’Connor Minutes that’s suggested for ages 4 and older.

April 9-29
“The Emperor’s New Clothes,” a 50-minute William Goldsmith adaptation suggested for ages 3 and older.

April 30-May 10
“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” a two-act musical based on the animated film suggested for ages 5 and older and performed at the Lincoln Theatre, 769 E. Long St.

The box office is open one hour before shows. No concessions are sold at the theater and no food or drink is permitted inside. For more information, call 614-224-6672 or visit

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Walk through a work of art in downtown Columbus

There’s a magical place in downtown Columbus that gets better with age.

The Topiary Park, a 7-acre landscape with 54 figures made of bronze frames overgrown by yew trees, has nicely taken shape since the attraction opened in 1992.

Figures of women with parasols and men with top hats have become pleasantly plump with greenery, and sculptures of dogs, a monkey and a cat have fattened since I’ve last seen them. The attraction, located at the Old Deaf School Park at 480 E. Town St., is a great place for quiet reflection or a fine backdrop for family photos.

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My family and I visited the park on a cloudy day, the perfect kind of weather for taking pictures of flowers and landscaping. We began our adventures by stopping at the nearby visitor’s center, where we picked up an information sheet before taking our self-guided tour.

The park is a sculptural interpretation of Georges Seurat’s Post-Impressionist painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.” It’s the only known topiary representation of a painting.

I remember the large artwork composed of tiny brush stroke dots from the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” As a teenager I relished seeing the oil painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Visitors can see the work from the artist’s view by standing on a hill near a bronze plaque. The tallest figures, measuring 12 feet, were placed in the foreground, giving the scene depth of field.

A local sculptor named James T. Mason envisioned the attraction. The project took shape in 1988 as James built bronze frames and planted the shrubs. His wife, Elaine, sculpted the topiaries and trained other gardeners to help with trimming. Hills were added later, along with a pond representing the Seine river in Paris, with boats and water lilies.

The park is maintained by Columbus Recreation and Parks and the Friends of the Topiary Park.

The visitor’s center, gift shop and restrooms are located in a nearby chateau-style gatehouse.

The park is the site of a family concert series called PBJ & Jazz, which occurs from noon-1 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month from June through September. Outdoor movies also are shown on select dates from July through September.

(Be advised, though, that the park also is a resting spot for a variety of downtown’s denizens.)

Admission is free. Hours are from sunrise to sunset. On-street parking is available. For more information, visit or call 614-645-0197.

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Connect with your children while creating works of art

For some time now I’ve been wanting to take my two young children to a paint-your-own pottery studio so they could create whimsical keepsakes with their mommy and daddy.

But it wasn’t until a friend of mine gave me a gift certificate to the Clay Café Pottery Studio in Grandview that I finally made the time to give it a try.

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I’d heard enough about these kinds of places to know what to expect. Basically, you select an unfinished ceramic object off a shelf and paint it to your liking. Then you turn it over to the shopkeeper to have it fired – or baked – in a kiln. A few days later your artwork is ready for pickup.

But little did I know what a bonding experience making artwork would be for our family. It took only an hour to complete our two projects, but seeing 4-year-old Rosie and 2-year-old Max delight in painting, while getting full attention from their parents, was time and money well spent.

Our experience started with little Maxie choosing a race car-shaped bank to paint. It sat on a shelf alongside other ghostly white objects called “greenware.” I was glad Max chose quickly because having him mill around the delicate ceramic pieces made me nervous for fear he’d grab and smash them. And, at roughly $16 apiece, that would be a costly accident.

Rosie had a tougher time picking her object from a decent-sized selection of all-age appropriate items including butterflies, ballerinas and blossoms. She ultimately settled upon a cute, two-piece cupcake trinket holder. A cherry-topped lid adjoins with the cupcake’s base, and now serves as a great place for Rosie to stash her collection of plastic gems.

Our family sat at a ceramic-topped table beside a window overlooking an outside garden of pretty zinnias. The space looks like a cafe, with mix-matched tables and chairs upon a black-and-while checkerboard tile floor.

Daddy teamed with Rosie to paint the cupcake purple and pink, while I helped Max slap blue, orange and yellow paint onto his race car. We all added “sprinkles,” or tiny dabs of paint, to our finished creations. Then I penciled the kids’ names onto the bottoms of their artwork.

The end result lacked luster, but Mike and I knew that after the baking process, the paint would become more vibrant and glossy.

Five days later we returned to retrieve our creations from a shelf of finished projects. They looked fantastic! Now the trick will be keeping them safe and in one piece at home.

“We can always make them again if they break,” Rosie says.

The Clay Café is located at 1644 W. 5th Ave. in Grandview. Hours are noon-9 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday; and noon-5 p.m., Sunday.

For more information, visit

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Children and art museum blend beautifully thanks to planned programs

Two-year-old Max dips a paintbrush into blue watercolor and dabs the paint onto the frontside of a blank postcard. The little artist then blends in orange, purple and black.

When he finally set his brush down for good, my son had created a beautiful postcard ready to be mailed to his Uncle David, who lives in California.

The art project was part of a program called 1st Saturdays, at the Columbus Museum of Art, 480 E. Broad St. Held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, it’s one of several activities at the recently renovated museum geared to engage families in the arts.

First Saturdays occur from September through May and are recommended for families with children ages 3-8. Activities include a hands-on craft, a live performance and free range of the museum’s exhibits, which include works by Renoir, Degas and Monet. The program is covered in the cost of admission.

My family of four visited on a Saturday in April, when the museum’s spotlighted artist was George Bellows, a Columbus native known for painting scenes of urban life and sporting events.

Bellows’ paintings inspired the postcard craft in an area called Derby Court, a cavernous space featuring a vibrant glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. We grabbed paints, stamps and stickers from a large assortment of supplies to create our postcards.

Afterward we headed to the auditorium to listen to a barbershop chorus belt out upbeat tunes, an American pastime also inspired by Bellows’ artwork.

Max and his 4-year-old sister, Rosie, liked the Wonder Room best, though. And it’s no wonder. The swankily decorated family space is filled with interactive displays that are intermingled with museum pieces, meant to serve as inspiration for guests to create their own works of art.

One station has kids assembling out-of-this-world animals out of wooden body parts with magnetic connectors. Another contains a wall full of common metal gadgets, such as silverware and door hinges, that can be affixed to a giant metal head to give it a face.

And yet another display honors American artist Alexander Calder, who created colorful mobiles inspired by the movement of the sun and the moon. Visitors are encouraged to construct mobiles by balancing bright shapes on metal bases.

The space provides plenty to do and makes a family visit to the museum worthwhile anytime.

A great day to bring older children is on Family Sundays, when activities are geared toward children ages 6 and up and admission is free. Coupled with free parking, located behind the museum, it’s a good deal.

The museum is open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday; and 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. on Thursday. The museum is closed on Monday.

Admission is $12 for adults ($6 with an AAA membership) and free for children ages 5 and younger.

For more information, visit

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Art in Public Places driving tour helps demystify Dublin’s unique sculptures.

Driving tour helps demystify Dublin’s unique sculptures

The first time I stepped inside Watch House in Dublin’s Coffman Park, I ran out terrified.

It was evening, and I could have sworn I just saw a dead cat hanging from inside the structure’s copper-domed roof. I later reasoned that the black blob I saw on the ceiling was probably a colony of bats, finding the small house set atop a circular earth mound the perfect home. Whatever it was, I didn’t quite understand this thing called public art.

Recently, while taking the Dublin Arts Council’s Art in Public Places tour, I finally understood.

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The self-guided driving tour consists of nearly two dozen installations commissioned by the city of Dublin and the Dublin Arts Council. A pamphlet containing a map and descriptions of each sculpture on the tour is available at the Dublin Arts Center, 7125 Riverside Dr. – or click here for an online map and details about a cell-phone tour.

As part of the tour I re-entered Watch House at 5600 Post Rd. To my surprise, I discovered that there really is a cat mounted on the planetarium-like ceiling. There’s also a curled-up dog. Both figures are cast in bronze and located alongside dozens of other familiar shapes, such as eating utensils and pieces of fruit all cut out of the roof.

The tour helped me see Dublin’s public artwork as less spooky and more unique. The city’s arts council developed its Art in Public Places program in 1988 to enhance the quality of life for Dublin residents as well as to establish a public art tour throughout the city. The tour reinforces the importance that art plays in the community and also demystifies some of Dublin’s more unusual public art installations such as Watch House.

Other installations include Field of Corn, 109 human-sized ears of concrete corn at the corner of Frantz and Rings roads; Leatherlips, a 12-foot-high limestone portrait of an Ohio Indian chief in Scioto Park; and Going, Going…Gone! a bronze sculpture that marks the passage of time through the imagery of baseball at Darree Fields.

Learn more at

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