Friday, May 27

After a pandemic hiatus, Lesbians Benefitting the Arts sponsors art show at Stonewall Columbus

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For the past two years of the pandemic, Lesbians Benefitting the Arts hasn’t been able to produce the events they’re known for, including the historic Ohio Lesbian Festival

But as of Friday, Feb. 25, Lesbians Benefitting the Arts is officially back in action.

Their sponsored art show and sale, Celebrating Transformation, is on display in the gallery at Stonewall Columbus, 1160 N High St. in the Short North Arts District.

“We wanted to celebrate the fact that we’re in transformation, not only macrocosmically in the world but also microcosmically as individuals who are finding ourselves in this time and place where we want to celebrate individuality and creativity,” said Helen Yee, board member of Lesbians Benefitting the Arts and one of the organizers of the Celebrating Transformation gallery show. 

One of the biggest goals of Celebrating Transformation is to highlight Black History and Women’s History Months by showcasing the work of a diverse array of women artists––including diversity in age, race, ethnicity, and artistic media. 

“We have artists as young as in college and artists who are in their 70s and many ages in between. We have a diverse cultural group of people, including artists from the Asian community, artists who are Egyptian, and African-American… We have seasoned artists as well as new artists, artists who are photographers, acrylic and oil painters, someone who does beaded work, plus vendors who make jewelry and candles,” Yee said. 

Featuring 15 artists, the Celebrating Transformation show is appropriately titled given the changes so many artists and creatives have undergone in the wake of the pandemic.  

“After two years, a lot of our artists have been suffering greatly,” Yee said. 

Yee and the Celebrating Transformation committee worked with Stonewall Columbus not only to secure the gallery space but also to negotiate a lower percentage of Stonewall’s cut on the sale of artwork. (It’s standard practice for galleries to take a percentage of artists’ sales.) 

“Stonewall is helping the artist community by allowing us to have our show in their beautiful space and showing their support by not taking so much of a percentage of what they would take from an artist normally,” said Yee. “They were so gracious about bringing down the percentage to 10% with this show so the artists can take more home when they sell their work.” 

Selected artworks from Celebrating Transformation will be for sale and Yee is excited to have already sold one of her paintings––even before the opening reception. 

“It’s so funny because someone was just going by in passing and said ‘I gotta have that piece of art,’ so we’re already selling artwork!” she said.

Along with fellow art show organizing committee members Suzie Simpson, Mary Jane Quick, and Jan Solari, Yee’s art will be on display as well. She studied art at Ohio Dominican University (then Ohio Dominican College), where the liberal arts curriculum exposed her to many different mediums. One of her professors, Mel Rozen, inspired her to try abstract acrylic paintings, which continues to influence her work today.

“I’ve been branching out into more cosmic, ethereal, astral visions in my paintings. I’ve been doing abstracts for a while and am going into different things now like astral projection paintings,” Yee said. “I also lived in Florida for six years and was very influenced by the ocean, so I have some ocean sceneries, rip curls, and beach paintings.” 

Yee is a new board member at Lesbians Benefitting the Arts, a legendary Ohio organization that has existed for over three decades. Their biggest annual event is the Ohio Lesbian Festival in September, which has been stalled due to the pandemic, so Yee and others are longing for those crucial, widespread connection points with the LGBTQ+ community at large.

“We’re hopeful and optimistic that the Ohio Lesbian Festival will happen this year. Not having the festival for the past two years, [Celebrating Transformation] is something that can bring people together for sisterhood, communityhood, and support. People are just wanting to connect,” she said. “Cross your fingers and toes that it can happen this year and there won’t be another variant.” 🔥 

Ignite Action:

  • Celebrating Transformation is free to attend and open to all. The gallery is open during Stonewall Columbus’ business hours or other times by appointment. The show is part of the Short North Gallery Hop, so be sure to stop in on March 5 from 4-8 p.m. for the opening reception, as well as April 2 from 4-8 p.m. for the closing reception. 
  • There will be vendors selling jewelry, candles, and other items at both receptions and there is space available for more vendors. Those interested can reach out to Helen Yee via email at helenhyee@yahoo.com.
  • Though viewing the show is free, donations to Lesbians Benefitting the Arts are appreciated. Not being able to have events due to the pandemic also means fewer opportunities to receive donations. As an all-volunteer-run nonprofit, Lesbians Benefitting the Arts relies on generous support to bring events like Celebrating Transformation to life and ensure the events’ success. Donate here

Photo Credit: Jan Solari

About Author

Mandy Shunnarah is a nonbinary, bisexual, Palestinian-American writer living in Columbus, Ohio. Their first book, Midwest Shreds: Skaters and Skateparks in Middle America, will be out soon. Read more at mandyshunnarah.com.

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