Most Tuesday nights find Art Party co-founder, Tona Pearson at Art Party’s studio at 400 West Rich so that is where we chose to meet for this interview. Tona (her hubby, Randal, was her partner in crime in the group’s inception!) is a self-proclaimed workaholic. And after interviewing her, I would have to concur!!
Tona (pronounced like Donna with a “T”) is a soft-spoken artsy lady who wanted to find a way to bring artistic friends together outside of the bar scene. So, she and Randy invited 12 people over to their Clintonville home to create, share, chat and encourage each other. They met once a month and the group grew every month until there were 40+ folks dropping by! Since their home isn’t huge, Tona approached the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resource Center (CRC) on Lakeview to see if the group could meet there. Happily, the CRC is supportive of the arts and has opened it’s doors for the group’s monthly meetings for the last 4 years. In addition, Art Party has a studio in Franklinton’s 400 West Rich studio warehouse. Many members meet there each Tuesday to create and hang out. Tona and Randy have purposely promoted a very laid back. open and relaxed atmosphere for the Party…many members of this group are also members of Cap City Creatives because Tona believes that all art groups should work together, not be divisive, to promote the arts in Columbus. Her idea must be right on as Art Party now has about 275 members. Right now that group has about 30 paying members ($25 per year) who receive many benefits such as being able to participate in show and getting discounts on events. The group meets on a monthly basis at the CRC to create, converse, hang out and eat/drink (this will always be free and completely open to the public). I attended their meeting in July and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and overall open-ended format. Definitely a group that would be fun to hang out with again.
Now you’re probably wondering why Tona considers herself to be a workaholic…well, could it be that in addition to being a mom to 3 daughters and an artist, she runs a home-based day care for preschoolers, runs a maid service for a small number of people, has a part-time writing job for a pet website and home schools her youngest daughter!! Of course, she finds time in this busy schedule to create amazing art and encourage other artists, including her newly creative hubby…Randal is quite the artist himself even though he is a ‘newbie’. Most of his art is ink drawings/paintings and sculptures.
A Clintonville native, she was encouraged to explore her creative streak by her “adoptive” family, a childhood friend’s family that included a grandfather who was an artist. Her bio grandfather was also an artist and float maker so she was surrounded by art/creativity. She says she created because she was driven to, not particularly to sell her art…that was just a bonus! Her art varies from painting to mixed media and often incorporates insects due to her fascination with entomology. She indicated that she does quite a bit of commissioned work using others’ photographs. The night we met, however, she was going to attempt to do her own photography of a model posing for her first in a series of reverse gender Catholic saints paintings. She hopes to create at least 4 paintings for this series and has chosen to begin with Saint Sebastian.
She did start a degree in library science but found that she was more interested in interacting with others and creating that being in book stacks. She never finished a bachelor’s degree but eventually would like to accomplish this when life slows down (I wonder if her life will ever slow down???)
Because she describes herself as “hideously” introverted, she totally identifies with so many other artists who don’t feel confident in their artistic expression. Therefore, in the near future, she views her role as a mentor to those folks. Many lovingly call her Mother Hen because she pushes so many artists to promote themselves. However, she does take this role seriously and believes that this is her calling as much as her art work. Her hope is that Art Party will also take on that role for the artistic community becoming “more than itself…to become a hub” for aspiring artists. Eventually, she would love to see the group have it’s own brick and mortar business but for now, she is happy to welcome and encourage artists from the Columbus area.
This month is particularly a busy one for the group. They participated in their first Urban Scrawl using Tona’s youngest daughter, Madda, as their model/focal point. Paid members will have the opportunity to display their works at MadLab for 6 weeks beginning this weekend. The Party also was significantly involved in this year’s CrestFest in Clintonville (last weekend) and next week will be involved in a show to take place in downtown Zanesville at the old Masonic temple in the TAC Gallery. (https://www.facebook.com/events/336078329858300/?fref=ts) On September 7th, the group will have a booth at the Clintonville Music and Arts Festival at Whetstone Community Center (I’ll be vending there too!). In October, the group will once again be involved in the Clintonville pumpkin patch festival featuring lots to entertain children including the “inner monster” camera and games. There will also be a food drive where anyone who brings 5 cans of food receives a free pumpkin for carving. And to top it all off, there will be members’ art displayed at the Crimson Cup on High Street with the first installment on September 8th. Art will continue to be rotated on a monthly basis until at least the end of 2013. Whew! I am so impressed by all this group is doing/planning!!!
As you can see, both Tona and Art Party are going to be busy in the coming months!
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this energetically funny but humble lady. I think she and the Art Party will continue to thrive and inspire the artistic community in Columbus and the surrounding area and I’m pleased that I had the opportunity to get to know her a little better.
For more information about Tona’s works: