Good Design in Hard Times

Before last night, I thought murals were just really cool works of public art. I didn’t perceive them as portals through which communities could stage improvement revolutions. But during the opening reception of Good Design in Hard Times at Whetsone Public Library, I learned a few things.

“A mural can be a transitional way to project the future,” said Eliza Ho, co-founder of the nonprofit group ALTernative. She and her husband Tim Lai presented about four Columbus projects they helped manage that are small in scale, but soaring in community impact. They founded ALTernative last year to benefit neighborhoods through art and design and to offer a platform where people can share ideas.

SoHud Murals
A graffiti-ridden wall at the southwest corner of Hudson and Summit Streets is now a panorama of bright painted trees, thanks to Wild Goose Creative and a slew of local supporters. The first piece of the SoHud Community Mural Project, it was unfurled last September by artists Jon Stommel and Travis Czekalski. ALTernative has proposed a second mural at the former Hudson Theater, which is covered in graffiti and has been abandoned for decades. Its “secret garden” design and surrealist pink stairways spark hope for a renaissance of the building.

Ohio Bird Mural
Inspired by the passion of the Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum and Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed, this Glen Echo Ravine installation transforms a vandalized bridge underpass into an educational bird sanctuary. It will spotlight 20 Ohio bird species and feature 15 custom bird “abodes.” The project is set to be unveiled on July 14 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Glen Echo Park.

Dinin’ Hall
With more than 100 food trucks and carts roaming our streets, Columbus has become a mobile food mecca. Dinin’ Hall is a groundbreaking street food hub concept that will bump the phenomenon to a sleeker level. Offering a communal space where people can enjoy food truck delicacies, it simplifies ordering and minimizes lines. The 1,300-square-foot space at the loading dock of 400 West Rich in Franklinton is scheduled to open in late April.

“This is all about using design as a solution,” Tim said. Good Design in Hard Times will be on display at Whetstone Library through the end of April.