Columbus Alive Jesse Tigges
Aug 27, 2015
The development of Urban Scrawl over the last nine years has led to more artists than ever participating in this weekend’s live painting event. Most importantly, it’s become a signature event for Franklinton.
“The thing we’re most excited about is the increase in the artists …[and] that more and more artists notice what’s going on over here and really want to be a part of it,” said Urban Scrawl chair Lauren Wilson, who’s organized the last four events and attended Urban Scrawl since its inception in 2007. “We’ve always seen Urban Scrawl as a tool for neighborhood revitalization, but it’s really taken a foothold this year.”
Urban Scrawl had a humble beginning when a handful of artists gathered at Dodge Park — the two-day event is now held in the parking lot of 400 West Rich — but the growing involvement and commitment from the artists facilitated substantial growth. That’s exemplified by the fundraising components, Art for Franklinton Fundraiser and George Bellows Grant Program, that provide support to neighborhood projects and artists, and thus to Urban Scrawl.
“With the launch of our Bellows Grant Program, it’s become this beautiful circle. The artists create these amazing art panels. Then those wind up in the Art for Franklinton Fundraiser, which then directly funds the Bellows program, [and that] goes back to artists and art projects for the community,” Wilson said. “The artists bring the vibrancy and that pioneering spirit, and with the quality of the work just going through the roof then rolling over into that grants program, I think it’s legitimized the whole operation. I think the success of the Bellows fundraiser has really inspired people to get out here, create more art and do a little something to give back. All total, we raised just shy of $20,000 [from sales of Urban Scrawl 8 panels at May’s Art for Franklinton live auction].”
The Bellows Grant Program presents a financial component that boosts Franklinton’s revitalization efforts through supporting individual artists’ projects — as well as group programs and organizations — that will have a positive impact on the community. The five 2015 Bellow Grant recipients will be announced Sunday afternoon.
While the Bellows Grant Program presents a viable financial addition, perhaps the best example of Urban Scrawl’s ascension from DIY, independent art event to one of the neighborhood’s most anticipated annual occasions is the sheer number of artists who submitted for 2015. Over 120 individuals submitted — more than double the 2014 submissions — and 65 will be live-painting Saturday and Sunday.
Along with the most participating artists in this year’s Urban Scrawl, a handful of other activities, some new and some returning, will be involved. Artists Wrestling League will bring their brand of live-painting-meets-Randy-Savage-theatrics for Urban Brawl, and the Columbus Parklet Project will design a mini-park that will be displayed in Franklinton after the event.
There is also an increased presence of food trucks planned, along with beverages from Rhinegeist Brewing, Watershed Distillery and Rambling House Soda. Beatbox performers and breakdancers will provide entertainment, and the music will be supplied by DJs (in lieu of live bands that have played at previous Scrawls). The event will harken back to its early days by erecting an outdoor skate park.
But the biggest draw is the artists, who’ve experienced a rise similar to Urban Scrawl and Franklinton. The arts community — and the creatives driving it — is garnering a fan base of its own, one that extends all over the city.
“Now so many of these artists have their own following and are gallery-represented. So it’s gone from independent artists coming to slap some paint on some panels in a park to these folks bringing their own fan base. People aren’t just coming for the event — they are coming to watch these specific artists. I think it’s great that the art scene in Columbus supports that kind of fan base,” Wilson said. “The bottom line is the growth is just a visible reminder that people, not just those living and working in Franklinton, but folks in the city as a whole are starting to believe in Franklinton, and are really starting to support it.”