Long Live the Arts - A Guide to the First Quarter of 2022
Written by Amelia Jeffers
Compiled by Jessica Metcalf
Few industries have been hit by the Covid pandemic more than the arts. From the complete shutdown of live performances and fundraising events for more than a year, to a cautious return to in-person activities, budgets have been decimated and organizations and private ventures have relied on a combination of government relief (when available) and the generous support of the community. Yet the strong foundation of the Columbus arts scene has tenaciously supported its own - with an incredible lineup of exhibitions and performances on tap for the new year, despite the unprecedented challenges of the past 24 months. Read on for a glimpse into upcoming opportunities to appreciate and support our vibrant arts community.
One of the nation’s top professional companies, BalletMet, welcomed a return to an enduring central Ohio holiday tradition with live performances of The Nutcracker at the Ohio Theatre in December. In mid-February, the Davidson Theatre at the Riffe will host the timeless ballet, Giselle, choreographed by Artistic Director Edwaard Liang. Rounding out the first half of 2022 are Cinderella, the classic ballet, and Director’s Choice, a series of short ballets choreographed by the top names in ballet will offer a terrific opportunity for ballet enthusiasts as well as neophytes.
The Columbus Symphony is offering a robust schedule, welcoming back the annual Russian Winter Festival, a program that celebrates the great Russian composers. Conducted by Music Director Rossen Milanov, the first half of the festival is scheduled for January 7 and 8 and will include Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s piano suite, Pictures at an Exhibition, and Stravinsky’s acclaimed ballet and orchestral concert work, The Rite of Spring. The second half runs January 21-23 and highlights Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring American-Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan.
Don’t be discouraged if your favorite show sells out, there are also tickets available for dress rehearsals for Columbus Symphony shows. In February, fans of the Symphony have the choice of Puccini’s La Bohème, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (with an exciting program curated by guest conductor and pianist, William Eddins), and Pablo Plays Dvořák featuring Pablo Ferrández, prizewinner of the Tchaikovsky Competition on cello. In March, experience a multi-media event featuring the Columbus Symphony Chorus accompanied by projections of the famous illustrations of Dante’s The Divine Comedy by French artist Gustave Doré for the seldom-heard Liszt's Dante Symphony. Guest conductor Carolyn Kuan and pianist Vijay Nekatesh close out the first quarter of the new year with Schubert's Symphony No. 9, "The Great".
The current Opera Columbus season began in December with a nod to the first opera presented by the Columbus company in 1981: Tosca, a three-act opera sung in Italian with English surtitles, directed by Eve Summer and conducted by Tiffany Chang with new, original costumes by Neil Fortin, and an original set constructed by Opera Omaha and Boston Lyric Opera. As part of Opera Columbus’ commitment to support emerging works and talent, Fellow Travelers will run from February 25-27, conducted by Kelly Kuo, a youthful opera professional who has been praised as “a leader of exceptional musical gifts, who has a clear technique on the podium and an impressive rapport with audiences.” The opera centers around the love affair of two men during the McCarthy era of the 1950s and the “lavender scare,” a witch hunt and mass firings of gay people from the United States government. Looking ahead, mark your calendar for the June production of La Traviata, performed in partnership with Out of the Box Opera at a Downtown Columbus hotel.
We catch Broadway in Columbus mid-season with four productions remaining in the season and two add-ons for season ticket-holders. CATS, the record-breaking musical spectacular by Andrew Lloyd Webber, will be performed at the Ohio Theatre from January 11-16. On February 8-13, Come From Away, a musical written by Tony nominees Irene Sankoff and David Hein, and helmed by this year’s Tony-winning Best Director, Christopher Ashley, is based on a true story of 7,000 stranded airline passengers from the tragic 9/11 event and the small town in Newfoundland which welcomed them in. In mid-March, BEAUTIFUL: The Carole King Musical, the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, is a two-time Tony Award winning musical and Grammy Award winner for Best Musical Theater Album and an optional add-on for Broadway in Columbus season passes. The last feature in the Broadway in Columbus lineup this spring is Pretty Woman: The Musical, with direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell from March 29-April 3.
Columbus has no shortage of music venues that attract local and national talent. Whether you prefer the smallest of spaces like Natalie’s, larger concert halls like the Bluestone on Broad, or the company of thousands in settings like Nationwide Arena, options for live music abound this winter and spring. A quick office poll indicates that the SLC team is looking forward to the Elvis Birthday Celebration at Natalie’s in Grandview, the Jazz Art Group and the Pharez Whitted Quartet at Lincoln Theatre, The Punch Brothers contemporary bluegrass quintet in concert at the Southern Theatre, and Keith Urban in concert at Nationwide Arena.
Visual arts lovers shouldn’t miss the expertly-curated Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art. The assemblage of more than 140 works of art by the artists who influenced Van Gogh affords museumgoers rare insight into what spurred the Dutch artist’s own visionary work and includes a number of exceptional pieces by the master himself. The Columbus exhibition, with significant works by Van Gogh’s acclaimed 19th-century contemporaries including Paul Gauguin, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Utagawa Hiroshige, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, is on display through February 6, 2022, and is co-curated by Steven Naifeh, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Van Gogh specialist, and David Stark, CMA’s chief curator emeritus. Naifeh loaned 61 works from the personal collection he shared with his co-author and late husband Gregory White Smith (together they wrote the 2011 best-selling biography “Van Gogh: The Life”).
The King Arts Complex can be counted on for a variety of diverse art programs. On January 13, the Elijah Pierce Gallery will re-open after an extended Covid-closure with works by Nat Orr, a self-taught artist who focuses on the beauty of women through explosions of color and intricate details.
From the private gallery scene, industry experts have assembled an array of choice offerings. Rebecca Ibel and her team are featuring the work of Ohio-born New Yorker, Kurt Lightner, whose works have been included in exhibitions at PS1 MOMA, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and Queens Museum. Even as he prepares for the 30th anniversary of the Outsider Art Fair at New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion, Duff Lindsay is offering a selection of complex, dramatic works by Columbus artist Ashley Pierce at his eponymous Short North gallery. Veteran leader of the gallery scene, Hammond Harkins hosts Small and Wonderful 2020, through January 17, featuring dozens of art from popular names like Denny Griffith, Aminah Robinson, and Paul Hamilton (catalog available here).
For more ideas about what to do in the arts, or to search by interest, date, or type of art event, visit and bookmark the Greater Columbus Arts Council website, columbusmakesart.com for the most up-to-date information about what’s happening in the arts across the city.