Artbeat 2013 will be vastly different from the previous editions that highlight the arts in Columbus.
This year, there's a theme -- Arts in the Streets.
It kicks off today at 11 a.m. in front of the Bradley Theatre, 1241 Broadway.
One of two walls is erected in front of the former box office under the marquee. The other will be in Dinglewood Park across the street from the side parking lot of Locos Pub and Grill on 13th Street.
The Before I Die Wall is actually a giant blackboard created by New Orleans artist Candy Chang. Chang did her first Before I Die Wall in her hometown on an abandoned house in her neighborhood after Hurricane Katrina. The project, she said, is to remember what is important to you.
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will be the first to write on the wall downtown, followed by the students of Downtown Magnet Academy and the St. Luke School.
In keeping with the Arts in the Streets theme, from 4:45-6 p.m. in front of the W.C. Bradley Co. Museum, 1017 Front Ave., a stage will be set up and will feature the Jordan High School Jazz Group, Kendrick High School Choral Group, an excerpt from "Rent" by the Columbus State University department of theater, River Road School STOMPers and the Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus accompanied by the "live sculptures" of the Wynnton Arts Academy.
The Springer Opera House's Theater Academy Stilt Walkers will be there, along with face painters and sidewalk chalk art for children.
From 6-8 p.m. featured artist Sarah Kent Butler's art exhibit, "Visions & Fissures," opens inside the museum. The exhibit will be open until April 17.
Hannah Israel is on the Artbeat committee and is very excited about the Before I Die Wall.
"I hope it will engage the community to talk about the environment and art and what it means to have public art," she said.
In other cities, the writings have ranged from whimsical to serious and profound.
"We're starting Artbeat 2013 with huge expectations," Israel said.
While Israel, a CSU art professor, and co-chair Richard Baxter, the CSU dean of the college of fine arts, are part of the planning committee, they both stress that Artbeat is not a CSU event. It's a community event.
"A community this size can have a two-week period of high quality arts events," Baxter said. "The arts community and the city government can all see how to build a model that's sustainable. We want Columbus to be the cultural city of the South."
Artbeat was limited to the downtown area last year. This year, it's moving into MidTown. Eventually, it will become a city-wide arts event, Israel said.
People need to know that the last two weeks of March is reserved for Artbeat, Baxter said.
The featured artist
Sarah Kent Butler is "excited and honored" to be the 2013 featured artist of Artbeat.
A young artist at 27, she's just beginning her career.
A Columbus native, Butler eared her bachelor's degree in studio art from Wake Forest University in 2007 and her master's degree in visual arts from Clemson University in 2012. The exhibit is the basis of her master's thesis.
Even though this is her first solo exhibit, she was part of the 2012 National Wet Paint MFA Exhibition at the Zhou B Gallery in Chicago that featured emerging artists.
Right now, she's working with Hannah Israel in CSU's Corn Center for the Visual Arts' Illges Gallery.
Because she's a young artist, this exhibit has just eight of her paintings. One is on loan since she sold it to an art professor at Clemson, and she hopes to keep the collection intact so she can show it again.
She uses elements of realism and abstraction in her paintings. This series is inspired by early Renaissance artists, she said.
Like many young artists, Butler is also influenced by digital technology.
She calls her work spiritual and some of the images makes the viewer think of religion.
Butler said she used to paint from life. Now, much is from her imagination.
"I'm truly excited about these paintings," Butler said. "I've been painting since I was 8. I've been really hard on myself. But I kept pressing."