The Art Boom of Zanesville, Ohio

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Zanesville is a special place. It has vast history, heartland charisma, and a deep sense of community. In the six years I’ve been visiting my husband’s hometown, I’ve felt the white-hot hum of a cultural revolution. The area once known as “Clay City” and “Pottery Capital of the World” is now drawing attention for its burgeoning art scene. Passionate and tireless downtown artists have been opening their hearts and their studios on the first Friday night of each month in an effort to jolt the creative pulse of the city. 

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Now in its 10th year, the First Friday Art Walk represents more than 300 artists. It was founded by the Artist Colony of Zanesville (Art COZ), a visionary organization responsible for launching this growing movement. The Artist Collective is a vibrant micro-community of artists that will be the featured studio at tomorrow night’s First Friday. Artists Carrie “Butterfly” Turner, Natasha Oliver, and Joleen Kinsel opened the collective last May on the fifth floor of the historic Masonic Temple

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“Our goal is to share unique art with people in Zanesville and expose them to new concepts,” Carrie said. “Everyone in our space loves sharing ideas and creating art together.”

Carrie hosts monthly art classes at her studio. She quit her job in February to pursue her dream of being a full-time artist. 

“I always encourage people to follow their dreams and go after what they want, so I better be willing to put myself out there and lead by example,” she said. “Art is a way to escape everyday life when needed. It can make a difference, and it’s my objective to show you how.”

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The collective, which includes its three founders and eight other artists, specializes in interactive art, community projects, and installation art. It teaches emerging artists how to organize shows and hang pieces. It also knows how to generate some (healthy) controversy. More than 500 people attended its tasteful yet slightly daring Erotic Show last winter. 

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Tomorrow evening from 5:00 to 8:00, the collective will host a reception to showcase the work of  Jessica Bradley, as well as guest artists including Justine Murasky, Holly Murphy, Dede Parker, Jim Parker, Zane Prindle, Jason Smith, Erica Tabet, and Joel Weston. All ages are welcome, and guests are invited to pick up a brush and contribute to the community tree mural. 

The fifth annual Y-Bridge Arts Festival also takes place in Zanesville this weekend, with more than 70 visual and performing artists. 

“I’d like Zanesville to be an art destination,” said Carrie. “I’d love to see art on every corner.”

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Photos of artwork in various studios at the Masonic Temple during July’s First Friday Art Walk.