An ode to the forgotten Pink Lady

My mom has gifted me at least three copies of “Grease” in my lifetime. I own zero now. I probably sold the DVDs at some point while taking care of my long line of Kenickies.

That’s OK. I can recite the movie by heart because I was incredibly obsessed with it as a child, teenager, young adult and quarter-life crisis adult.

Not obsessed in that weird theater kid way, though. The songs were fine but I didn’t, like, have the “Grease” soundtrack in every room of the house and I don’t know the sock hop dance number.

In hindsight (because who can pick this up about themselves as a kid?) what I really liked about “Grease” was the Pink Ladies and the different ways they were girls.


Rebellious friends running the halls of Rydell, the Pink Ladies gave me a unique place to consider the different ways to be feminine, to be a girl.

I was never interested in Sandy except that her story was what introduced me to all these other interesting people. That was probably because her life was too unattainable for a redhead with bad teeth. Girls like me didn’t get boys like Danny Zuko.

Also, as I got older, I realized Sandy was the type of girl who would bitch to the sluttiest friend she had about her all-encompassing fear of being labeled a slut for making out with a strange guy the night before when said slutty friend has just told her about fucking a strange guy the night before. Ugh.

Sandy Two-Shoes

When I was very young, I enjoyed Frenchy (who was totally the prettiest, right?). The Frenchy actress was on the Thomas the Tank Engine show in the ‘90s and I also watched it all the time. Kids’ interests are so associative.

But Frenchy was dumb. And I was not. So I always just felt for her like I would a best friend (she would have been a good one… flipping off those other cheerleaders… thanks, French).


Marty Maraschino, like the cherry, was eh. She was desperate with a leechy personality built on soggy expectations but redeemed herself in the final scene when she shows Sandy how to smoke a cigarette supa dupa sexay.


My girl for the longest time was Rizzo.

I always liked the leading lady’s best friend because that’s who I was in real life. One quarter good looking, three quarters personality/ possible mental health issue.


Rizzo was all vulnerability haphazardly masked in sexual rage. Tough stuff on the outside but a total kid when the going got tough, when the sex and problems got real. She was such a wannabe hardass.

Now that I could relate to.

But for all her flaws Rizzo would never give up who she was for a Danny Zuko type. Plus, who wanted a dude like Zuko? A guy who would change his personality at the drop of the hat like that? (Oh, yes, the Lackluster from Down Under, that’s who.)

I always crushed on Kenickie.

Yeah. I’ll take that Hallmark card, thank you very much.

kenicke hickey

Kenickie was wild and raw and scared of all the right things and handled them in all the wrong ways.

I loved it. And I loved Rizzo for loving it. That kind of attraction I could understand. Not the we-met-at-the-beach and-hung-out-for-two-days-and-shall-now-be-in-love-for-ev-er shtick.

White doves still poop orange slime.

I have a feeling the writers really liked Rizzo, too, or at least understood how dynamic of a character she was. Who did the movie pan to when the Principal McGee said on the final morning announcements that someone in the school might one day be the next Eleanor Roosevelt?

Rizzo, bitch!

Now… who are we missing… what was her name…



Oh, Jan. If you say Jan was your favorite Pink Lady you’re lying. Or you played her in your high school’s version of the musical.

Google search “Jan +Pink Ladies” and only the first three links are actually related to the character. The Google image search results for the same prompt don’t have ANY images of her or the movie.

That’s too bad. Here’s why.

If you did, indeed, play Jan in your high school’s version of “Grease,” you were probably the fifth best person who tried out for Sandy. However, if “Grease” were made today, Jan would be the main character, portrayed by Zooey Deschanel or Lizzy Caplan.

Her name would probably still be Jan.

Jan is super “awkward” in “Grease.” But because “awkwardness” had decades yet to become an attractive attribute of which to aspire–“Awkward” is like a nice, ironic wine–Jan is just a secondary character. Her quirkiness is evident but not gratuitous; her trashiness endearing.

Eating Twinkies with a dessert wine after nailing the impression of a hygienic cartoon beaver? That is manic pixie dream girl gold to film writers today! That scene could just be the trailer for the next Zach Braff movie.

Jan totally would be an example of 1970s’ manic pixie dream girls if not for the fact that, since no one back then appreciated the kind of character on screen, they couldn’t, didn’t sensationalize her. So we viewers are treated to sweet baby Grease-us’ funniest little diamond in the rough without her baking cupcakes and dancing in the rain and referencing great pieces of literature or partaking in hokey singalongs.

Well, I guess there were hokey singalongs.

The manic pixie dream girl thing seems over. It and the anchor-tatted mermaid it rode in on have been identified and thus become predictable, outdated. But Jan in this modern day context is a fun thing to consider on one’s 500th viewing of the movie.

I thought about Jan, briefly, after I watched “Gravity” this weekend. Sandra Bullock plays mission specialist (read: not a full-time astronaut) Dr. Ryan Stone. Stone is stranded in space after her crew’s mission gets bombarded by space debris and alien poop.

OK, not alien poop.

The last hour of the movie, basically, is just Bullock/ Stone trying to survive. Without giving away too many character developments, it struck me afterward–once I came back to earth (buh dum chi) from the pure visual and sonic joyride “Gravity” whips you around on–that it was interesting that the movie followed a female astronaut.

Having a man save himself seems like a more obvious writing choice, especially in 1) a major blockbuster and 2) a movie about space. Everyone knows girls don’t like science!

Sexual tension between Bullock and co-star George Clooney is nill. Refreshing.

Dr. Stone’s sadness, of which we learn about in the most unclumsy of ways, stems from a very human, universal experience of loss, one both a man and a woman could feel. Her trauma is not related to a sexual relationship with a man. Refreshing.

“Gravity” is also not a Girl Power promo piece. No one and nothing preaches “I’M… YEAH ME OVER HERE!… YEAH, I’M AN ASTRONAUT… AN ASTRONAUT WITH A VAGINA!!!!!!!” It’s just an awe-some human story told with a woman. Gender held no gravitas. Say it with me: Refreshing.

I love the dual role fictional characters’ lives, stories, worlds play. When done well they are at once the greatest of escapes but agents for social, cultural change. They help you forget about yourself for a few hours but, if you’re willing to listen, reveal parts of your person previously unearthed.

Even Sandy.

Internet Wins of the Week: Sept. 9 edition

1) New music. New to me at least. My rate of discovery for new music typically puts me about six to six and a half months behind schedule of the cool kids. I have had trouble lately finding music I like. It’s hard because I used to rely on music that released a lot of anger for me… but I’m not really angry anymore… or music that awesomely expressed lady sads… but I’m a more mature kind of lady sads now (best remedy for this so far has been Solange). And, at age 27, irony in music to me is when an emergency broadcast system alert interrupts my oldies station’s Led Zeppelin song. Here are two musicians I “discovered” (I love when average people say that) this week that I’ve been enjoying:

“The Brothers Nylon” by The Brothers Nylon. Instrumental. Exciting. Funky. Complex.

Laura Mvula. Songstress. Powerful. Sensual. Catchy.


2) Larry Smith’s TED talk about failure. I’m a TED talk junkie, if you couldn’t tell from my previous Wins of the Week entries. After I watch or read the depressing news each morning, I go to TED’s topics page and pick a talk I think will make me feel better about the state of humanity. It almost always works. This one left me particularly motivated and thoughtful. Smith, an economist, humorously outlines all the things we tell ourselves about our careers–cop outs, scape goats, excuses–that lead us down a road of work we are lukewarmly passionate about. I think I have made all of these mistakes but never thought about them as mistakes, such as not going after a job in order to be a better lover, friend, family member. Still wrapping my mind around this one…


3) A hilarious grammatical error. As a writer I am prone to grammar snobbiness; however, I try to keep it in check and not be a word-nerd-asshole when people make a mistake. This poster’s misuse of the word “bread,” though is too funny to pass up. Forget the water… there must be something in the bread! Also, people who usually say shit like this are the same type of people who argue that Mexicans should learn English or get out of ‘Merica. So, laugh on, readers. Laugh on.

southern bread

10 Questions: For recovered addict bartender/ inspiration Michael Bishop

“You should write a book,” I said.

“I would love that,” Michael said.

“What would you call it?” I said.

“Dolly Parton Saved My Life,” he said.

Adorable baby Michael on the right.
Adorable baby Michael on the right.

Unfortunately that book title has already been taken, Michael said after I swooned.

“By some housewife.”

It would be a clever title to introduce Michael’s story, though. His heart is sweet but the dark part of his soul used to be thirsty and strong. In his 20s and early 30s, he fed it with alcohol and, eventually for a short period of time, meth.

“You spent your 20s…” I started.

“Wasted!” he said. “Higher than christ!”

Shooting the shit with angels.

Michael. Not sober.
Michael. Not sober.

When you’re addicted, nearly nothing is sacred. Actually, for most addicts, nothing is sacred. But for Michael, Dolly was. He refused to listen to her when he was drunk. Embarrassed. He knew she, his idol, would be disappointed in his actions… his refusal, inability to take care of himself.

If Michael’s potential book title were more accurate, it’d be that these guys saved his life:

1_Michael_With Andrew

1_Micael_With Virginia

These are Michael’s best friends, Andrew and Christopher, who has been by Michael’s side for 15 years.

One day they showed up at Michael’s door with a few other of his friends.

And his mother.

It was an intervention. Michael remembers the tears. The letters. The cigarettes. The dealer that was sitting in his living room when they walked in. The urge to take one last hit before he went to rehab (“If I’m going down, I’m going down big”). The sickening sea of hurt and fear in his mother’s eyes… a sea in which he had been drowning for more than a decade.

Michael Bishop has been sober since Dec. 27, 2010.

He turns 40 in November and goes to AA three times a week. Some days he hates it and the people who are there, but it has become a necessary part of his routine. AA is as important to his health as sleeping and eating.

Earlier this year Michael studied to become an intervention specialist. He wants to help addicts recover and move on and live happily; one of his awesome ideas is to have a sober tent at Columbus’ Pride festival for attendees who wish to celebrate but are looking for trigger-friendly activities.

Most of all Michael just wishes to do good with the rest of his life. He knows addiction survivors–and to some extent people who have loved/ love addicted people–are connected. They need each other. They can spot each other. They can help each other.

Plus, now he can listen to Dolly whenever he wants.

Dolly loves you, baby.

Following is a Q&A with Michael about the details of his addiction and recovery. (Editor’s note: There are more than 10 questions here so this headline is misleading. Got a problem with that? Get your own blog.)
Do you remember the first time you got drunk?
I don’t know if I remember the FIRST time I got drunk, but I remember sneaking beers when I was in junior high and high school, I started sneaking into bars around the age of 19 and drinking with people I didn’t now as a means to find myself. Growing up gay in the late 80’s/ early 90’s was very different than it is now. Homosexuality was not as accepted as it is today and it seemed, at least to me, to be the only way to be around people that were like me.
1_Michael_High School
Was alcohol immediately an issue for you or did it build up into a problem?
I don’t know that I would classify it as an immediate problem, although I believe that any and all underage drinking is an issue; however, my personal insecurity led to more drinking to try to fit in… with friends, people around me and relationships I was so desperate to form. I achieved the exact opposite, I lost friends, I didn’t fit in, people didn’t want to be around me, and I couldn’t maintain any sort of personal relationship.
Why do you think it became a problem for you?
I honestly believe that alcoholism and drug addiction is hereditary, but I also believe that my surroundings played a VERY large part in my addiction. In my eyes, it was “just what people did,” and I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to practice any sort of moderation or responsibility. That being said, while environment was a key factor, I also take full responsibility for my choices. No one forced me to do the things I did.
What does life feel like for an alcoholic who is living in his addiction?
What’s ironic is that I think most people drink to forget feelings, or to not feel at all. The crazy thing is, you then open yourself up to an entirely different wave of emotions. I felt lost, sad, ashamed, scared and hopeless for many years. At many points in my life of addiction, I didn’t see a way out, didn’t think I deserved better and began to believe that my life was going to end leaving a very sad and pitiful legacy.
What was the saddest moment for you as an alcoholic?
I don’t honestly think I can pick just one. Many people in recovery speak of their ROCK BOTTOM. I hit that bottom more times than I care to remember, each time thinking that things couldn’t get any worse, only to find out that as long as I chose NOT to heal my life… things could, and did, get much worse. My addiction cost me jobs, friends, homes, belongings, freedom (I was in jail twice) and most importantly my belief in myself. My family and friends tried desperately on several occasions to help, through conversations, ultimatums, and formal interventions. I wanted to stop at several points in my life, but I didn’t have the faith in myself that I truly needed to be sober.
What finally made you get help getting sober and how did you get sober? 
There were several defining moments of sobriety for me, and several lengths of sobriety that all unfortunately ended in relapse. My best friend Andrew organized a formal intervention on December 5, 2008, as I was weeks, possibly even days, away from dying as a result of my crystal meth addiction. At that time I truly believed that I wanted the nightmare to be over, but I found myself trying to stay clean for others and therefore relapsed. On December 27, 2010, I ended up in ICU after an overdose and a pretty serious fall. I decided that I was ready to commit to a life a sobriety, and ready to do the difficult work it would take to achieve it I didn’t want my two best friends and my mother watch me die. I have been sober since December 27,2010.
What has been the most rewarding thing about living as a survivor of addiction?
There isn’t one thing that I can say has been the most rewarding as there have been monumental victories and tiny blessings along the way that have motivated and inspired me to continue on the path I am on. Knowing that my mother sleeps at night without worrying is amazing. Knowing that my friends and family respect me, trust me and are proud of me is something I could never put a price tag on. I went to Savannah in January of this year to begin my training and certification process as an interventionist, and THAT is one of my proudest moments. I have done things I never thought I could, and I have accomplished things that I never thought I would, and to be able to say that I am PROUD of myself is probably the greatest gift I could have ever given myself. So many people come up to me to tell me how proud they are, how I inspire them and motivate them, and those words are things that I hold close to my heart every moment of every day.
What is the most difficult part about being a survivor?
I think the most difficult part of being in recovery is learning not to put myself in a dangerous situation, and knowing when to remove myself from a situation that might become dangerous for me and my recovery. No one is responsible for my recovery but me. I think it takes a great amount of strength and determination to maintain sobriety, it doesn’t get ‘easier’ as time goes on, I have just taken the tools given to me and made them part of my behavior. I believe that I have a choice in everything I do… And my choices are what make me stronger… every day!
Is it difficult to meet people but not drink, especially while working in a bar?
Probably the most difficult decision I made was to keep working at my job in a bar atmosphere. Most experts would say that that is a HUGE mistake and a VERY dangerous environment for someone in recovery to be in. In fact, the statistics and odds are DEFINITELY not in my favor, but many of the people I work with and around have been instrumental in my process, so I feel that I am blessed to be surrounded by love and support on a daily basis at work and at home.
The LGBT community does have a large population that gravitates to the nightlife atmosphere, but that is by no means a representation of the entire community. I have friends that don’t ever go out and are still just as active. I think modification is a key factor. I chose not to remove myself from that environment, so it is my responsibility to adapt to it when present.
There is a huge population of sober LGBT people, and I am fortunate enough to have contact with many of them on a regular basis!
I have also learned that complete honestly is my best friend. When out and about, I can say “I don’t drink” because I don’t. If the question as to why arises, I am MORE that open about my life and my history and I find that most people in the LGBT community are extremely supportive.
1_Michael_with Union family
Is addiction something you battle daily? 
Yes, addiction is something that I deal with on a daily basis. That is the key to sobriety: There is no cure and there is no endgame. It’s about constantly maintaining, learning, educating and sharing. Sobriety is a living thing and I have to feed mine every day. At the beginning I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to do it, but I have learned that the gifts I have in my life could never, and would never, be bought with another drink or drug.
How do you find peace now when you crave something?
I find peace in everything around me, and I have learned to not take the little things for granted. A short phone call or text from someone is what brings me peace. Reading and educating myself brings me peace. Reaching out to someone else that is struggling brings me peace. I’m a very spiritual person, and I find that taking the time to give thanks to the power that has allowed me to continue my journey is key! Humility is a wonderful thing. I find strength in words, actions, music and all the sights that enter my life on a daily basis. When I am feeling the weakest, I find that nothing heals me like a good ol’ Dolly Parton song and a hug from someone that I love.

Do you think we as a society should treat addiction differently or do you have any thoughts on how we could better handle or help addicts?
I think we are making some wonderful headway in the field of addiction research and treatment. There is ALWAYS more that can be done… as long as there are still people suffering from this disease, there is work to do. I think that society is really coming along with recognizing that addiction IS a disease and not just a matter of willpower or weakness. I think that there are certain celebrities that have used their platform to raise awareness and I applaud their actions. I could go on and on about the media and “reality shows” and their role, but that’s another conversation. I think addicts need to be treated just like anyone else that is fighting every day to find their way and find their light…. with love, respect and kindness.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned from recovery?
I have learned hundreds of thousands of valuable lessons since I began this journey, and I hope to learn hundreds of thousands more.  I think some of the most important things that I have learned are that I deserve all the good things that come to me, that I can do anything I put my mind to, and that if I use my voice, and my gifts to help someone else find THEIR voice and THEIR gifts… than I am TRULY living my life the way it was meant to be lived.
What do you want to do with what you have learned in your recovery?
I don’t hide that fact that I should have died on several different occasions during my life. What I have learned is that I am STILL here for a reason and that there are lessons for me to learn and lives for me to touch. I hope to take the gifts that I have been given and use those to inspire and motivate people to find their light… life is a journey, and the day I stop learning is the day I die. I believe that I have so much work to do, and so much good to do… and if I leave this earth having helped ONE person change their life for the better, then my life was worth it all. I truly believe that there are MILLIONS of my brothers and sisters out there, some suffering, and some succeeding, and I know that I am connected to all of them on a greater level. I pray for their healing and victory every day.
1_Michael_Today alone

10 Questions for an Artist: Street artist Stephanie Rond

The first Stephanie Rond artwork I ever saw was this one:

"Pin the Tail on the Donkey" by Stephanie Rond
“Pin the Tail on the Donkey” by Stephanie Rond

A Facebook friend had posted the image. I reposted, having never heard of Rond but loving the piece. Total honesty: I did not think she was from Columbus. I had yet to see, in my four or five years of living here, any feminist art by a local. Coming to Columbus by way of the super liberal Kent, Ohio, this fact was something I was keenly aware of. Thus, I just assumed…

Then, by a series of fabulous events–most of which involved getting trash wine wasted, smoking American Spirits and me eating all the fancy cheese she brought for hangtime before she could get any–we became good friends.

Rond’s work has a voice I long to hear. I love a lot of work by artists in town, but her pieces seem made for me. They are challenging but nurturing. They don’t make me feel angry, they make me feel vindicated. They make me remember that abuse–of power, people and/or prerogatives–can be overcome if we stick together and demand better. And they straddle the line between radicalism and understanding that everyone has fucking problems, a quality my favorite outlooks on social struggles share.

Moreover, girl’s innovative. She started curating a couple dollhouse galleries with miniature contemporary art. A dollhouse was always on her list of wants as a little girl, so why not? What has resulted is an exploration of scale, gender, desire, space and collaboration. (Each presenting artist is also in charge of setting up the “house” with tiny decor Rond gives them. It’s really fun to click through and see how each artist accomplished this task.)

Then! By a series of even more fabulous events, I became the proud owner of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”


It arrives.
It arrives.
A happy art and fancy cheese lover.
A happy art and fancy cheese lover.


I don't make Freudian assumptions about the artist about them, but I always love to see how artists sign their works.
I don’t make Freudian assumptions about the artist about them, but I always love to see how artists sign their works.


Ladies and gentlemen, Stephanie Rond.
Ladies and gentlemen, Stephanie Rond.


Cats love art, too!
Cats love art, too!
Skully just loves trash wine.
Skully just loves trash wine.

It is special to me that this is the first piece of art I have ever owned (by disposable income restrictions, not choice). It is special to me that it is the first piece of Rond’s that I ever saw. To me, “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” speaks to the struggle to define one’s own femininity (or masculinity, for that matter) and the unique concerns of female artists. Here’s a rough stream of consciousness of what I see when I look at it:

Woman —> Beautiful —> God, it takes a long time to get ready —> I love getting ready —> I love that women are beautiful and it’s socially acceptable to use all the tools at our disposal to get ready/ beautiful —> I also love women who do nothing to get ready and think they are beautiful. —> Do we feel pressured to use those tools? —> I guess we do as girls —> But as a woman, wearing makeup is more for me than for anyone else —> Why do we hate when men wear makeup? —> Ugh. Well. —> Would I like it if my boyfriend wore makeup or corsets? ————-> NO. —-> Remember when emo kids in college wore eyeliner to macroeconomics class? Because one can not properly assess the GDP without Cover Girl. —> I think that was my least attended class of college. In fact, I think it was called microeconomics. I never took macroeconomics. —> Speaking of kids. —> Am I going to have any? ————> Yes. Eventually. —> Look at these kids. Four of them, like me and my siblings. —> Are these these women’s children? Or do they represent her as a child. —> I think they are her children. —> I think she was an artist. Or wants to be an artist.  —> Art is literally what she sees when she looks in the mirror. —> It’s a man painting. —> Her daughter is holding the same painting that she sees in the mirror. The boys are the ones actually painting, though. —> Is she passing on her artist dreams to her children because she wants to or because she has to? —> How do you choose your life? —> At what points is life a choice? —> At what point are we responsible for our own happiness/ unhappiness? —> I like the blindfolded boy. He seems like trouble. —> I like boys who are trouble. —> Are the children painting the way they see their mother? —> How did I paint a picture of my mother while outside as a child getting in trouble? —> What dreams of hers do I have inside me? —> Are they really my dreams? —> The boys are so far apart from one another. —> I wish the boys found it easier to confide in one another like these little girls appear to. —> Maybe the mom is still an artist. —> Maybe this is a hopeful painting of everything a woman’s life can represent. —> Everything my life can represent? —> Choices.

And scene.

In a belated What’s Up Columbus post (she was our July show’s second guest), here are Rond’s 10 answers to 10 questions for an artist.

What kind of art do you make and why?

I make street art, paintings and miniature worlds.

My goal is to create work that serves as a springboard for meaningful political conversation. I want to challenge the boundaries of stereotypes and provoke the questions: What is art? What is the proper space for art?

"Curious Cat" by Stephanie Rond
“Curious Cat” by Stephanie Rond

How do you make your street art?

For my street art I hand cut stencils and use spray paint. For my temporary “street gifts,” I spray on paper and wheat-paste the images onto walls. For permanent pieces I spray directly onto the wall. All my work is sanctioned. I believe in art karma, so I always ask permission.

"Save the Bees, Save the World" by Stephanie Rond. This is a new commission for the outside of The Crest restaurant in Clintonville.
“Save the Bees, Save the World” by Stephanie Rond. This is a new commission for the outside of The Crest restaurant in Clintonville.
"Clothes Line II" by Stephanie Rond
“Clothes Line II” by Stephanie Rond

What are your thoughts on the Columbus art scene? What are it’s advantages and/ or disadvantages?

In the past decade, the DIY arts culture in Columbus has grown and thrived “underground.”  Currently, creatives are exploding everywhere in our city and opportunities abound for beginners to the well known.

Within the arts community, we have learned that the best way to succeed is to work collectively in order to lift us all up. It makes me proud to be part of a large artist community that values collaboration and mutual success. The Art and Artists of 614 on Facebook, founded by Walter Herrmann, is a good place for anyone interested in the local visual scene to get a flavor of what the city has to offer.

Columbus is centrally located between Atlanta, New York, Philly, Indiana, Cleveland, Chicago and many other communities with thriving art scenes. All these cities are a one-day drive, which makes showing broadly possible.  This central location gives Columbus artists the ability to build a regional presence. The challenge for artists to move to national recognition, however, is that we have to “compete” for attention with the artists who are actually living in the largest cities where “being discovered” on a national level happens.

What do you do while you make art? 

I listen to music and audio books. My favorite music genres to listen to are punk rock, riot grrl, heavy metal, alternative rock, hip hop and music my friends give me as gifts. I love listening to both fiction and non-fiction audio books. I also enjoy This American Life on NPR.

Light it Up Sister by Stephanie Rond
“Light it up Sister” by Stephanie Rond

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned from the art that has been shown in your miniature dollhouses?

I’ve been pleasantly (un)surprised how serious the artists take their shows. This reinforces my belief that no matter the scale, art is art. It has also been interesting to hear from the artists how challenging, yet rewarding working on a small scale can be.

What attracts you to street art and what do you think is the biggest hurdle facing women who want to make street art?

I’m attracted to street art for several reasons, one because I believe that art should be for all to experience, two it combats advertising and marketing schemes and three it is not a product to be bought or sold.

The biggest hurdle facing women who want to make street art is the same that faces women in most careers; it can be frustrating to play in the “boys club.”

"It's a Sign" by Stephanie Rond
“It’s a Sign” by Stephanie Rond

 Street by Stephanie Rond

Do you wish to see your art effect feminist change locally? How so?

Of course! I plan to affect change not just locally, but nationally. I want to make visuals that open conversations about the inequalities that are real and exist. When people recognize the reality and discuss it, then change can happen.

How do you balance creating art with all the curatorial work you do?

It’s not easy. Curatorial work is much more than just putting a show together, hanging it and opening the show. It involves lots of meetings with artists and galleries, identifying artists, emails, phone calls, PR, etc. This often cuts into painting, which for my process, often requires days in row of concentration. I’m most successful at it when I schedule that time in advance by blocking my calendar, but the creative process also requires spontaneity and inspiration. I’m still trying to figure out this balance.

"Squish" by Stephanie Rond
“Squish” by Stephanie Rond

Do you have a schedule or system set up that works for you?

I use three things. My phone calendar, a huge chalkboard in my kitchen where I list everything that needs to get done and a small pad of paper on my studio work table so I can empty my head while doing studio work.

What advice would you give to an artist starting out that you’ve found invaluable?

I advise artists to keep working and not worry about what everyone else thinks. Keep striving to refine your technique. Make sure you are critical of yourself and always seek knowledge so you can continue to grow.

Three artists, living or dead, that you would invite to a dinner party.

I would invite contemporaries because I’m interested in their views on current society. The Guerrilla Girls, Henry Rollins and Margaret Atwood. I think Henry can roll with the ladies.

Five must-see movie picks from filmmaker Max Groah

Danger! Intrigue! Social commentary expressed by zombies thwarted by pot!

Meet Max Groah.

Groah is a member of Backward Slate Productions, a collective of Columbus filmmakers. He is the first guest of the July edition of my show with Justin Golak, What’s Up Columbus, and the director of “Bong of the Living Dead.”

You can guess what the movie is about from the title, but, alas, as with the best drugged-up comedies, bong water runs deep.

Here’s how Groah described the movie:

“The story follows a group of lifelong friends trapped in their house during the zombie apocalypse. Just like any other self-respecting zombie movie, we just have more interesting characters. It’s really a character piece. They are thwarted by internal conflicts just as much if not more than the zombies outside, because those zombies aren’t much of a threat … at first. In this world pot acts almost like a bug spray turning fast vicious sprinting ghouls into slow lumbering, more traditional zombies. So until the pot starts running out, our stoners are not even aware of the fact that everyone else around them, who doesnt smoke, is failing in the zombie apocalypse. That kinda brings in the social allegory. All the people who look down upon smokers, the douchebag boss, or the perverted high school coach, the crabby old man neighbor, or bitchy christian mean girl–they get killed and eaten while the ‘worthless’ stoners thrive. [George A.] Romero used zombies as a metaphor for consumers, we just brought pot into the equation.”

(Backward Slate Productions also produced a popular Sad Kermit vid. If you didn’t love the collective for making a zombie pot movie, then you will after watching the beloved frog smoking cigs and singing  Johnny Cash/ NIN’s “Hurt.”)

Groah loves movies and has an acting background. Also, a rare breed, he still rents from an actual movie rental store. His vid rental store of choice: Video Central on Bethel Road. That kind of dedication creates a vast knowledge of movies, so I asked him to pick five movies that are not necessarily his favorites but ones he thinks you should pop into your DVD player soon. Pot Popcorn optional.


Raising Arizona

“Yeah it’s funny, but there’s a lot more going on here in the second offering from the Coen brothers. It brings a quirky action, drama, coming-of-age and delves into the mental subjective a bit, allowing viewers to use their imagination.”


The Great Escape

“Because no one watches old movies anymore! This is one with an all-star cast led by Steve McQueen really holds up and is the true story of an elaborate tunnel escape from a POW camp in WWII.”


In Bruges

“I know you dont like Colin Farrell, BUT you will after this! It’s a hitman on the run after a botched job in a fairytale town … or is it a shit hole?”


Observe and Report

“Looking for something a little lighter? Observe and Report is funny as hell, until the end when it gets very dark very suddenly. But the soundtrack is great and Michael Pena rocks.”


Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

“Last but not least is the best movie you’ve never seen. NO ONE has seen it for some reason. To me, the title says it all. This thing is epic. It’s Princess Bride meets Natural Born Killers.”

10 Questions for an Artist: Painter W. Ralph Walters

I’m writing this after having spent 20 minutes falling down the Google-Image-Search-Rabbit-Hole of one of W. Ralph Walters’ favorite artists, fantasy painter and technique all-star Todd Schorr. Then I went down the Glen Barr rabbit hole… Sexual cartoon rabbit holes!

However, Walters’ art is deserving of its own rabbit hole and you can find it at 400 West Rich. I first met Walters a month or so ago to interview him about the first show he curated, a robot-themed art show at Gallery 831. Walters’ work, which he makes at the Franklinton space’s studio 228 alongside fellow Art Party group members, struck me in its realistic detail. And also its naked aliens.

Walters is a skeptic fascinated with myth. A Skully to the world’s Mulder. It’s not so much that Walters wants to believe, but he is fascinated with what people DO believe and why. The act of believing is so intimate an experience, yet it is something we all share, just like needing food and water. You believe water is over this way. You believe a god that rides a striped, fire-eating pegasus around the sun put it there. Etc. Belief can say so much about us even when it says nothing at all. You believe in God. Yet, I don’t know if that is just because you were raised that way or because you have looked inside yourself and chosen to believe in God.

Learning one’s basic beliefs is like taking the first step down an individual’s rabbit hole.

I love Walters’ work for how surreal and escapist the scenes are in their content; however, they are meticulously researched and are often loaded with hidden visual messages. Religion, extra terrestrials, mole people–anything human beings believe or have believed is fair game for inspiration. The paintings themselves are like ancient relics beckoning with a graceful undead finger to figure out the puzzle. (If you see Walters around while looking at his work, ask him for the secrets. He’s a super nice sage and listening to him tell the story of his work is almost better than looking at it… almost.)

As far as big projects go, Walters is working on a series of goddess of war paintings that he hopes to have slayed by the end of the year. I can not wait to see it and hear more from this talented Columbus voice. I believe!

Martian Genesis
Martian Genesis


The Baron
The Baron

What kind of art do you make and why?

I really lacked direction as an artist for a very long time until I got a job doing illustration for Paranoia Magazine, a conspiracy theory magazine previously based in Rhode Island, now San Diego.  Being a skeptic, I may not have believed some of the content of the articles I illustrated, but the idea that no matter how farfetched an idea may have seemed, that there were dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of people who believed it intrigued me. What people choose to believe fascinates me. I’m also a fan of Byzantine and Renaissance iconography, so the idea that I could relate a belief I found utterly fascinating through my art intrigued me. That’s really the focus of the majority of my work now — illustrating belief.


What medium and tools do you prefer and why? 

I use acrylics because I’m a clumsy bastard. I will invariably stick my forearm in a painting, so if it doesn’t dry quickly, I’m going to muck it up. I do a lot of album art for doom metal bands as well, so I’ve got deadlines that oils wouldn’t suit. I started painting on Masonite because I found out Glenn Barr used it, and I love it so much I rarely paint on anything else.


When do you make art and why?

I’m doing this for a living at present, so if I’m awake, there’s a good chance I’m making art. Between commissions and trying to create art for my own satisfaction, I’m always busy.


The Lamb of Revelations
The Lamb of Revelations


Where do you make art?

Mostly at the Art Party Columbus Studio at 400 West Rich. Getting a studio there has been the best thing ever for my output, not just because I have a specific place to go that encourages me to work, but it’s also being around so many creative people. I feed off that energy.


What are your thoughts on the art scene in Columbus, both positive and negative? What needs improvement? What are you looking forward to? Anything in particular about Columbus made it difficult to be an artist here?

It’s weird living in a city that has an art school that doesn’t seem to do anything for the local art scene. It’s tragic, really. This has been a town that caters to “art” that one can match with their furniture, despite there being several astounding artists living in the city, like Alan Reeve, Charles Shipley Wince, Chris Tennant, Cyndi Bellerose, Tona Pearson, Roger Kent Grossweiler Jr., just to name a very, very few. I’ve found that the influx of art groups have started building a proper art scene here, because they’re creating their own opportunities. When you have more than 100 art groups doing this, suddenly, as a fan of art, you have multiple opportunities to see work you might not have otherwise. This is a good time to be an artist in Columbus because the old guard no longer has a stranglehold on what art reaches the public. 


Santa Muerte
Santa Muerte


What has been inspiring your work lately?

I’m a huge research nerd, and I had the opportunity recently to visit a buddy of mine who’s getting his graduate work done in Toronto. He, his friends (all of whom are Medieval studies students), and I went out drinking one night, and we had the best discussion about syncretic religion, ancient texts, historical fallacies, etc. I’m a very armchair level research nerd, so it’s always inspiring and invigorating to talk to folks who specialize in studying such specific subjects and know far more than I do about all of it. Nothing beats drinking with Medieval studies majors.


What advice that you’ve found invaluable would you give a new artist?

Keep working. Someone will always hate your work (and more often than not, that person will be you). Someone will always be better than you. Instead of taking it personally, consider it all constructive criticism, no matter the level of civility that criticism is delivered. If you want to do this for a living, or if you want to put your work out there for all to see, promote yourself. I’m astonished at the number of folks in this town that’ll have a gallery show they don’t promote. What’s the point in having the show in the first place if no one shows up?


The Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Stamford Bridge


What do you do while you work?

I sing.  Apparently, much louder than I thought.


Do you ever experience artist’s block?

Good Zeus, yes. Drives me nuts, because I tend to beat myself up if I’m not constantly working. I bury myself in research, go for walks, watch documentaries, anything to jar that productivity loose. Naps work occasionally as well.


Three artists, living or dead that you would invite to a dinner party:

Let’s see… Todd Schorr, because his technique is unparalleled; Frida Kahlo, because she was the first artist whose work astounded and haunted me enough that I decided I needed to be an artist myself (and because I have a mad crush on her); and Joseph Campbell. Research and the collection of knowledge is no less an art to me, and I could have talked to him for days on end.


Our Lady Of Guadeloupe (Virgin In Winter)
Our Lady Of Guadeloupe (Virgin In Winter)

The three best songs with the name Jackie in them

My favorite story about myself is, of course, one that I do not remember. Self-romanticized myths lead every great autobiography. I have had 26 years to inject my own bloated (pun! you’ll see…) self-congratulatory expectations into this story: The story of my being trained to produce poo in a potty.

It was a hot July day (not verified) in 1988 and my mom was totally pregnant (verified) when I learned that my older sister did not wear diapers.


Immediately, I refused to wear a diaper. Refused. I wanted big girl panties and I would have NOTHING ELSE. Not even “My Little Pony: Revolt of Paradise Estate” could calm me down.

Sounds like every parent’s dream, right? No sticker chart or Tootsie Roll-lookalikes to clean out of a tiny plastic “toilet” necessary. BUT, this July day, whilst my poor mother was sick from the beautiful and miraculous pile of goo gurgling in her belly, we were all in Detroit visiting family. My mom was alone with us girls in a hotel room. It was hot. We were far away from home. She was dealing with 24-hour morning sickness.

“Please, Jackie, just wear the diaper now and I’ll buy you big girl panties when we go home,” she said as she clung to the trunk of the hotel toilet regurgitating lunchtime’s Chi-Chi’s treat.

Does man willingly submit to serfdom when he learns means of attainable self-reliance?! Does man willingly eat salsa when free queso is available?! Does man willingly watch “Nashville” when he knows anything else is on TV?!


Mom shoved us girls in the car and off we went to buy me some stupid cotton underpants. She threatened severe corporeal punishment on my little white bootay if said cotton underpants got any sort of excrement upon them. They did not. And that was it. I was potty trained.

I love that story because it is indicative how stubborn I am, which has mostly been a blessing when applied to things like school, work and cyber stalking people I find attractive. I’m a pretty determined person.

Or perhaps I just don’t like sitting in my own pee. I guess we will never know.

So… that’s a little bit about me. Welcome to my blog. I plan to reference poop a lot less in future posts… my apologies if that’s what brought you here in the first place.

If what brought you here was the headline, here are my favorite songs with my name in them. Jackie proves to be a go-to stubborn character in songwriting as well. Or an adventurous drug-consuming character, also fans of cotton undies.

Come back soon!

“Jackie Blue,” by Ozark Mountain Daredevils

This song was recorded on a farm. I, too, was “recorded” on a farm. Dairy.

“Judy is a Punk,” by the Ramones

To be clear, Jackie is a punk and Judy is a runt. It’s Judy’s turn to cry.

“Walk on the Wild Side,” by Lou Reed

Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side and name your kid Jackie.