Art Review: A celebration of new beginnings at the relocated Sarah Gormley Gallery

A rainbow dances on the pavement outside the recently moved Sarah Gormley Gallery, nestled in the city center on the High Street between Long and Gay streets. Often a symbol of hope and renewal, this cheerful addition to the gallery is not a planned installation, but rather a chance marker that you have arrived at the beginning of Restart).

Sarah Gormley Gallery, previously located in the Short North, opens its new downtown location with an exhibition celebrating a new chapter for the post-COVID gallery.

“We all had to figure out how to be resilient…it’s a pretty broad idea,” says Sarah Gormley of the exhibition’s title and theme. “I wasn’t going to be too prescriptive with it, but you know, it was kind of like the gallery renaissance.”

As we collectively still recover and heal from the last few years of COVID and lockdown, the gallery itself and the work within is buzzing with refreshing energy. Twenty-eight artists from the gallery’s roster – spanning mediums from photography to painting to beadwork – are on display from September 17 through October.

Gormley states that Restart) is one of the most difficult installations she has done, due to the size of the work represented and the range of mediums present.

Inside the new Sarah Gormley Gallery at 95 N High St.

“A lot of my artists are local and seeing the range of talent is really powerful,” she says of the exhibit. “It’s a celebration of what’s good about Columbus.”

Many different voices and stories are represented on the walls of the gallery, yet each piece has space to engage with the viewer while remaining in conversation with the other works present. Hanging sculpture by Virginia Kistler Mushroom gills, Kerfed 02with its tendrils that cross space, is delicate and airy, creating a perfect contrast to the weight of Alan Cottrill’s 400 pound bronze sculpture Face-to-face which indeed invites a private conversation between the two works. Katie Davis is aptly named Palpable party is presented so that the viewer can feel the vibrations of the lined silhouettes and the textures of the lace remind the viewer that there is a celebration going on.

Alan Cottrill’s 400 Pound Bronze Sculpture”Face-to-face“and Virginia Kistler’s hanging sculpture”Mushroom gills, Kerfed 02

The gallery itself is built to accommodate a variety of gatherings, with the space consciously divided into distinct yet cohesive spaces that can benefit the art on display as well as any planned social gathering. In Restart), a new work by Kyla Zoe Rafert—a year in the making—is intentionally hung alone on a wall that divides the ground floor into two defined areas. This choice allows Rafert’s meticulously detailed painting to take center stage by allowing the negative space on the wall to mimic the negative space found in his work. What could be an overwhelming experience filled with a dizzying array of loud and colorful patterns is allowed to breathe with plenty of room to collect before moving on to another work of art.

Each work of art exhibited in Restart) has a unique story to tell, inviting the viewer to pause, examine and contemplate what a new beginning can mean. Gormley is aware that her new gallery is in a neighborhood that is at a different stage of growth than the Short North. But she aspires to create a new destination for art, culture and celebration in a place that reflects her vision with new restaurants, cafes and other art galleries within walking distance.

"A celebration of diversity" by Daphne Pulsifer
“A Celebration of Diversity” by Daphne Pulsifer

When asked what she hopes to see in a year, Gormley said, “I look forward to welcoming more people to SGG and being part of the excitement of seeing this neighborhood become a destination. Hopefully next September Thursday evening Speck will be packed and I will invite people to see a wonderful display while they enjoy a glass of wine and wait for their table.

In some cultures, a rainbow can symbolize the promise of a new future. Coming out of the inaugural exhibition at Sarah Gormley Gallery’s new Downtown location, the metaphor is clear. A new beginning takes place, once again.

Restart) is on display at the Sarah Gormley Gallery, 95 N. High St., through October 29, 2022. The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit sarahgormleygallery.com.

All photos by Ashley Steward

Sarah Gormley Gallery has found a new home at 95 N High St. in downtown Columbus, Ohio - Photo by Ashley Steward
Sarah Gormley Gallery has found a new home at 95 N High St. in downtown Columbus, Ohio