Experience Columbus Tells Story of Resiliency Through Multi-Event Art Activation

Sponsored Content from Experience Columbus

Author: Curt Wagner       

Columbus art

Experience Columbus’s art project began at PCMA EduCon in July, and will continue at two more PCMA events before being unveiled at Convening Leaders 2023 in Columbus. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

Experience Columbus launched its own version of the Olympic torch run during PCMA EduCon 2021 on July 7-9 in Phoenix. But instead of different people carrying a torch around the country, EduCon attendees — and those who will take part in in-person PCMA events in 2022 — will help create an original art mural that will be unveiled at Convening Leaders 2023, which will take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

When Columbus team members were thinking about their EduCon activation, they realized the conference might be the first in-person event in months for many of their clients and peers due to the pandemic. They wanted the activation to focus on mental health and wellbeing. So, someone suggested, why not create a paint-by-numbers?


The paint-by-numbers project was created by Columbus artist Jeremy Jarvis. (Courtesy Experience Columbus)

After all, to quote the late artist Bob Ross, host of TV’s “The Joy of Painting”: “Every day is a good day when you paint.”

The Columbus team liked the idea of an art project “because painting can be very soothing, a great form of expression,” said Amy Frazer, director of the Chicago regional sales office for Experience Columbus. “And it can be very therapeutic — a stress reliever.”

The DMO reached out to local artist Jeremy Jarvis, whom they had worked with previously when Columbus hosted the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) 2019 Annual Meeting & Exposition, where he helped in the creation of a mural that now sits in the Columbus Community Center.

For the new mural, Experience Columbus wanted to “almost tell the story of the pandemic and how it affected our industry,” Frazer said, while also highlighting Columbus’ vibrant arts scene during Convening Leaders 2023 with its installation in a highly visible spot next to another mural at the convention center. Like its past partnership with Jarvis, Columbus intends for this to be a community service project as well as something benefiting meeting attendees.

The mural is meant to represent hope, unity, and resiliency, Jarvis said. He landed on the idea of a triptych, with each section representing one of the words, and thought about what images would continue across all three parts. One of those images will be a flower in the bud stage, representing hope, and then depicting it as it bloomed fully in the final panel. He researched flowers to find the perfect fit for the project and came up with the lotus.

“First of all, it’s a beautiful flower with a beautiful bloom, but it’s also a flower that kind of represents … new beginnings and rebirth,” he said. “So, I thought those were some really amazing pieces of symbolism.”

Columbus Educon

Artist Jeremy Jarvis (in orange shirt) helps an EduCon attendee get started painting on of four panels he designed that will be combined to create a giant mural to be completed over two years. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

Jarvis prepared four paint-by-numbers panels, each one 4 feet tall by 3 feet wide, to be painted by EduCon attendees. In the future, he will bring panels to PCMA Convening Leaders 2022 and to EduCon 2022 before the big reveal in Columbus in 2023.

Jarvis was on site in Phoenix to explain his process to attendees, and to encourage them not to worry about messing up — he will be touching up all the pieces. One of those EduCon attendees — who said she appreciated hearing directly from the artist and came back to the activation multiple times — was Kara Dao, CEM, senior director of client engagement and operations for JDC Events.

“I just enjoyed it because it was the opportunity to have organic conversations,” Dao said. It was relaxing, she added, and after a year-and-a-half of being unable to meet in person, “it was a necessary thing.”

“You’re not emotionally and mentally equipped to take on the deluge of interactions that are required in a face-to-face event coming out of a pandemic,” she said. “Having that moment to just sit down and empty your brain and be still was mentally super, super valuable.”

Dao said after listening to Jarvis explain the sections EduCon attendees were working on, she could picture at least part of the final mural, which will be made up of 24 total panels — eight 4’x 3’ panels make up one section of the triptych. And she is excited to see the final product.

“I’m pumped. … How exciting to see the labors of love of everyone,” she said. “I can’t wait to see it, but I’m okay with waiting because I’m excited at the opportunity to paint more.”

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