Written by Blake Blackmon
Images via Ben Redding
Our latest Five Things has been curated by Ben Redding, a seasoned artist with over two decades of professional theatrical and technical experience, who's newest project The Living Room debuts this weekend. Read our recent feature on Ben and The Living Room here, or explore the entire schedule of events over here.
Ben Redding is a Columbus champion and arts advocate we've been a big fan of for a long time. When we brought back our 5 Things series, we just knew he was someone we wanted to curate a list for us! Read on to discover Ben's recommendations.
ONE - Running into Mike Howard at Fountain City Coffee
Fountain City Coffee is usually an integral step to starting my day. Don’t know if I should be ashamed or proud that most times, when I reach the register, the cashier already has my order up on the screen. (Can’t help being a creature of habit) I like to go off-roading when it comes to eating local, so you can’t find my order on the menu. Large, iced, bourbon + vanilla latte, half-sweet, with an extra shot of espresso. It’s a solid jolt and the perfect bridge to happy hour. Many mornings, if I’m lucky and if he’s in town, I’ll see another habitual FCC goer, Mike Howard. Mike is one of those enigmatic types, singular and completely himself. Born in Phenix City in the gambling/juke joint heyday, Mike has led many lives. Veteran. Boxer. Velodrome champion and cyclist. Storyteller. Fashion icon. Father. Tea spiller… But of all those things, Mike is probably best known as a painter. From solo exhibitions at the Whitney and beyond, his contributions to the art world have been abundant and significant. What I love most about running into Mike is his happy attitude and adventurous outlook. His paintings are like his spirit, they make an impression and leave you feeling like anything is possible. (My favorite series of Mike’s? It's a tie between the Death series which explores assassinations and tragic loss in pop culture and history and his collection of hunters getting mauled by the animals they hunt.)
Two - Attending Rush South Music Fest and the ICF World Kayaking Championship in Columbus, GA
This event weekend was one of those that gave a young, hungry, Columbusite hope for a more expansive cultural landscape. With kayakers from all over the world and nationally acclaimed artists here in Columbus, it truly felt like a global event. It was unreal what the teams at Yalla PR, Uptown Columbus, Whitewater Express, and VisitColumbusGA were able to accomplish with these two events that weekend.
I will admit, I was unfamiliar with a lot of the artists at Rush South…(I lean more toward pop/r&b)…but MAN, listening to Maggie Rose belt out a cover of Whipping Post, some sick harmonies from The Lone Bellow and an unforgettable performance from Paul Cauthen was enough to make this pop princess dive into a southern rock frenzy!
The weather held out and made for a perfect weekend, not just to hang out and chill, but to be proud of who we are and to show off Columbus in a huge, meaningful way. I’m excited to watch the RushSouth Festival grow and feel indebted to the people paving the way for a more attractive, culturally-vibrant and artistically-inclined community. Congrats to everyone involved!
THREE - My cordless DeWalt Nail Gun
Of all the power tools that have ever tooled with power, the Dewalt Battery Powered Nail Gun is hands down my favorite. This baddie is a game-changer. She’s quiet, solid, has great battery life and has depth control features. I don’t know who I’d be today without her!
FOUR- Take-home meals from The Food Mill
I’ve been working pretty non-stop lately. Just one of those seasons of life! As someone who’s generally on the go, dinner is often an afterthought followed very closely by the fear of mounting dishes in the sink. A few weeks ago, I was treated by my mother to one plate of a 4 person take-home Family Meal from The Food Mill. We had seared salmon, sautéed spinach, whipped mashed potatoes topped with a white wine butter sauce… It was a five-star meal, fresh and hot right in my kitchen. I only used one dish (it felt almost sacrilegious not to properly plate this…) and a fork. It saved me time, saved me money versus eating out, and saved me the hassle of cooking and cleaning. It left me feeling good knowing that The Food Mill grows a lot of their own produce, sources local when they don't have something and gives back to the community every single day. Plus it was freakin’ delicious....
FIVE - The Living Room
The Living Room is an experiential art installation I’m whipping up over at King Gallery. I’m converting the space into a whimsical vintage-inspired den and programming it with a wide array of performances for about nights through Oct. 27 - Nov. 12. It’s small and intimate with a heavy maximalist aesthetic. About 3 - 5 acts are offered each night and range from poetry, instrumentalists, R&B, film screenings, funk, acoustic nights, book signings, punk, podcasts, play readings and so much more. I’m determined to create spaces and examples of what collaborative and supportive arts infrastructure could look like in Columbus. We love our local arts community, but we often struggle to provide structures that financially and artistically fulfill the needs of our local artists. The Living Room is an experiment and a challenge. We deserve more spaces to hang out and more places for artists to perform work that makes them tick.
For more information about how to attend The Living Room, visit the website at https://thelivingroomonhowardave.squarespace.com/ or