Art was alive and well on Thursday in downtown Columbus.
The more than 1,500 people who came through downtown for the first-ever City of Columbus + Friends Trunk-or-Treat extravaganza were abuzz with curiosity and excitement thanks in part to the Columbus Arts Council’s show-stopping trunk that was themed “Night of the Living Columbus Arts Council Gallery.”
Arts Council Executive Director Elley Coffin, who is also the City’s community coordinator, could be seen in full silver body paint mimicking a sculpture while her collaborator Patrick Kosmacek, a member of the City’s computer network tech team, stood scary still inside a picture frame dressed identically as Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh in his iconic self-portrait.
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Columbus Arts Council Executive Director Elley Coffin, front, and City of Columbus Computer Network Technician Patrick Kosmacek can be seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, outside the Community Building representing the Columbus Arts Council during the first-ever City of Columbus + Friends Trunk-or-Treat.)
“The Columbus Arts Council has been working really hard to get back into the public’s view. I wanted to do something that was art-related without being super cliché, so I tried to figure out ways where we could be more than just stationary artwork or something you see all of the time,” Coffin said. “I also wanted it to be interactive, so that’s how we came up with the idea of making the whole exhibit living artwork.”
The Columbus Arts Council, a nonprofit whose mission is to be "the center of creativity and imagination for the region; balancing arts, culture, education, and entertainment," has its gallery on the second level of the Columbus Community Building, 2500 14th St. Coffin has been steadily encouraging people to visit the gallery and thought being part of the trunk-or-treat would help with that effort.
During the trunk-or-treat on Thursday, Oct. 26, many kids and adults in attendance were talking about how impressed they were with the Arts Council display. A barefooted Coffin stood still as a sculpture before cleverly moving to give each kiddo a piece of candy. People walked by snapping photos and joined the fun themselves as part of a component where the public could get behind a photo frame for the ultimate Arts Council selfie alongside Coffin and Kosmacek.
“We are so happy people are finding us again,” Coffin said. “Seeing them so excited about our presence was extremely energizing.”
But it didn’t come easy. Coffin used sprayable foam insulation to create the hair for her costume. About 4 a.m. Thursday, she began the process of covering herself in silver body paint, adding in corn starch mix to give it a more aged and cracked look. The whole process took about two-and-a-half hours, she noted, not including some last-minute touch-ups
As for Kosmacek, his costume didn’t require as much time. A photo frame was purchased and they created a makeshift harness so he didn’t have to hold it up the whole time. Kosmacek, who participated in theater while in high school, enjoyed the challenge of being a painting.
“I tried to find a place to stare and tried not to blink, hold as still as possible,” he said, with a laugh. “It wasn’t too bad.”
The Columbus Arts Council is funded entirely by grants, sponsorships, memberships and donations. Coffin said she’s hopeful the organization can continue to blossom with continued support from Columbus.
Those interested can follow the Arts Council on social media, particularly its Facebook page, and visit its website, columbusartscouncil.org.
“This was a massive thing for us; we were shocked by how excited people were about our booth and being able to be part of it,” Coffin said. “We want to be able to offer all types of amazing programming for the community and this event is just an example of the outstanding level of work that we do.”
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