The attentionworthy, the craveworthy and perhaps the occasional unsavory, in and around Columbus, Ohio..capital city...sleeper hottie of the Midwest.

Happy Tours Los Angeles / Images by Michelle Maguire, with words by Aaron Beck Montgomery, Alabama, 2009 / Photo by Michelle Maguire Blimp Rizzy Clutch by Michelle Maguire / Photo by Stacy Newgent / Styling by T'ai Rising-Moore Las Vegas, 2010 / Photo by Michelle Maguire Hanna Hoffman Lookbook, Summer 2013 / Photo by Michelle Maguire / Styling by Sally MacLeod Gladys / Layout + Design by Michelle Maguire Portrait by Michelle Maguire

The girl can make an ordinary yard bush look like a dream come true (serious.) Wait, back up. I have to tell you that I’ve been in love with Michelle’s work before I ever knew her name. It wasn’t until a friend emailed me her portfolio site last year, that I realized the framed photos I’d been drooling over in the Wexner Center Store, and the album cover I’d smiled at in a record shop the week before could all be traced back to her.

Come to find out, Michelle isn’t just a photographer. In addition to her background in Art Librarianship at The Ohio State History of Art Department, Michelle is an artist through-and-through. Often, I’ll find that we’ve been drawn to similar things—and what a thrill for any creative—it’s as if I’ve been allowed to slip on on a new pair of glasses and admire those things with more clarity. Whether photographing a jewelry line, street art, or travels with her husband…creating original Blimp Rizzy clutches, designing a themed newspaper, or capturing the mundane adventures of family members (you must follow her on Instagram for Aunt Doll alone), there’s something bewitchingly natural, yet carefully crafted about Michelle’s approach.

Michelle agreed to let me ask her some questions. So let’s get on with it—The Q’s with Michelle Maguire!

Q. In your bio, you describe yourself as highly organized (lucky you!) I have to work at it. Let’s imagine you were to appear to me in a mysterious dream and divulge the secret to being organized. What would that secret be?

I am organized in that I like to arrange things by like items. I think that’s why it made sense to me to become a librarian. And I make a lot of lists. And I love to prioritize. But I have giant piles of things everywhere. Organized piles. But giant ones. My mom and husband like to talk about how I can really tear up a room. The secret is this: make yourself some piles, shake your head in disbelief at their overwhelming height from across the room, and then go out for pizza. Those damn things can be tended to tomorrow.

Q. In your bio, you say you love to collaborate (lucky you!) It doesn’t come naturally to me. Let’s imagine you were to appear to me in a mysterious dream and divulge the secret to collaboration. What would that secret be?

There are a lot of things that I like about the nature of collaborating: such a project typically has an end in sight which is exciting to work towards; being exposed to someone else’s process and habits is always really interesting to me and results in the gleaning of some new skills; the human behavior side of it is great and fascinating. And my feeling is if it was a rewarding working relationship that last time around, then why not keep it moving on to the next thing, and so on…hopefully picking up others who are good fits, too, along the way. When it works, it’s so nice to be invested in something with a partner or a team. 

But there’s so much that goes into finding someone you work well with — not only is it crucial to share a similar (and/or complimentary) aesthetic but also to be able to get along really well with that person, to spend long hours with each other, under pressure (especially if there’s a client involved), when you’re hungry, and often tired, and then on top of all that, hopefully your skill sets compliment each other’s. Like everything, I think, it’s best to not really ever be looking for such a person or thing. But when you spot it by accident, grab that old bastard tight and don’t let go. I work with my friend Sally MacLeod as much as possible. I feel really comfortable taking risks with her, and we always feel like an equal, unified duo. It feels so good to bounce ideas off of each other — fleshing things out, giving things some time and space to evolve and take shape. I also really love to join forces on projects with my husband Aaron Beck. We go out, I make images, and he writes about the goings-on surrounding the gathering of those images. We both notice and are drawn to so many of the same things, but he was born to put those feelings and sentiments and run-ins into vibrant, funny, observant, thoughtful words. Whenever I read his account of something that we’ve witnessed together, I think “that is EXACTLY how it happened. That dude’s hair WAS a giant bit of steel wool!”

Q Can you describe your very first memory of making something?

I’m standing on a chair — I’m probably 5 — assisting my grandma with her weekly pizzelle production. My grandpa is parked at the kitchen table playing a game of solitaire. Every now and then I look over at him and he winks at me.

That house is a time capsule and a really powerful, nostalgic, cozy place for me. My grandpa’s been gone almost 2 years and my grandma moved out of it a few months ago and is now staying in a nursing home. I’m having a hard time accepting that it will one day soon cease to exist.

Q What’s the point of taking pictures, anyway?

Photography is a constant exercise in seeing and choosing, in pointing out, in combining color, shape, form, texture. It keeps me feeling nimble and it makes my heart beat fast. 

For me, taking pictures is being out in the world, and being out in the world invites things, allow things, to happen, which is exhilarating. It is a means of gathering stories…the challenge of trying to capture the spirit or personality of a person, place or thing is always a great thrill.

Q If your house was on fire, and all you could save was a Blimp Rizzy bag-full of personal belongings…what would you stuff in that pretty little bag and run with?

I hate this question! Probably these rainbow trout filets from our fridge that need to be cooked. They’d fit.

Q What is your favorite person, place or thing about Columbus, Ohio?

The L-ball water tower atop the roof of the Lazarus Building downtown. It’s a real Jetsons beauty.

THANKS MICHELLE!  <3 L

Learn more about Michelle Maguire:
Website / Instagram @pandahandler  / Blimp Rizzy / Happy Tours

Over the weekend, I happened upon a back-alley flower shop cooler clean-out in Clintonville, and walked away with a huge bouquet of blooms and berries (including a few Ranunculus from the bucket pictured above). With that, the gray sky had met its match. Flowers on Orchard Lane is officially a new favorite spot of mine.
Cash &amp; carry stems ranged from $0.50 to $1 each! You&#8217;ll be able to find the same deals on Saturday mornings (&#8216;til around noon) this spring, continuing on into Clintonville Farmers&#8217; Market season—which begins April 26th.
Flowers on Orchard Lane can be found just west of High Street, off Orchard Lane. 

Over the weekend, I happened upon a back-alley flower shop cooler clean-out in Clintonville, and walked away with a huge bouquet of blooms and berries (including a few Ranunculus from the bucket pictured above). With that, the gray sky had met its match. Flowers on Orchard Lane is officially a new favorite spot of mine.

Cash & carry stems ranged from $0.50 to $1 each! You’ll be able to find the same deals on Saturday mornings (‘til around noon) this spring, continuing on into Clintonville Farmers’ Market season—which begins April 26th.

Flowers on Orchard Lane can be found just west of High Street, off Orchard Lane. 

Poop Art at Lafayette and High St. Happy Monday!

Poop Art at Lafayette and High St. Happy Monday!

An old advertisement. Uncovered in January at Rich St., during the demolition of 221&#160;S. High.

An old advertisement. Uncovered in January at Rich St., during the demolition of 221 S. High.

Pictured above: Portia’s Vegan Café in Clintonville.

I’ve had the hungies like crazy this month; gonna go ahead and blame it on freezing temperatures, cabin fever, stuck cars, endless gobs of poorly-plowed snow,  busted tires, a busted coat zipper, and…I could go on. I did grow up in northern Illinois, which—in theory—sets the stage for greeting winter as this thing you just accept and get on with until its over. (My family once made a trip out to the grocery store for a loaf of bread in a blizzard. In a GEO METRO.) But oh, how my pride in those snow-filled roots have snapped this February. This month, I think of shoveling, of course, in regards to snowy walkways…but moreso in regards to my mouth, along with heaping amounts of bourbon, pizza, and cookies.

Last weekend, I switched it up a bit by taking a long walk in said gobs of poorly-plowed snow, and also entertained my mouth with a couple of vegan treats at Portia’s Café on Indianola. While I myself am not vegan, my husband is lactose intolerant, and any restaurant where we have a large menu to order from is noteworthy. (Whole World Natural Bakery & Restaurant is a long-standing favorite.) While vegan fare won’t satisfy everyone’s taste buds, I do invite you to experiment with it.

What did I try at Portia’s this time around?

  1. Coffee with a Mushroom Harvest booster. This powdered blend of 14 different mushroom varieties added a subtle, earthy flavor (with a little grit) to my morning buzz. Nothing fancy; just a little something different, and I’ll have it again. ($3.50, zero hallucination.)
  2. Vegan chocolate mousse. Made with raw cacao, avocados, dates, maple syrup, and vanilla. Damn. As a Jell-O, mousse, and pudding fan, I crave this version on a regular basis now. I’m curious to emulate some version of it at home…but I know where to go for a quick fix. Vegan dessert can be delicious! ($6)

Happy shoveling, guys.

Portia’s Café Menu / Map

Trapped In A Room With A Zombie: Columbus Edition

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Take a date. Take your coworkers for a team-building exercise. Go solo. Either way, you’ve got to experience Room Escape AdventuresTrapped In A Room With A Zombie. Yesterday, I took the red line down to the Fine Arts Building in Chicago to do this thing with three friends (and eight strangers).

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Why I’m telling you: the room is coming to The Columbus Idea Foundry in Columbus, Ohio on February 14th, and will run throughout the year.

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Lisska Bar's vintage sign Booths along the west-facing windows I heart that old Pepsi menu sign Chips and pie One other patron at the bar, one at the Lotto machine

I want to give you a little peek inside the Lisska Bar & Grill at 2665 E. 5th Avenue.

Rewind. Until relocating to Clintonville a couple of months ago, my German Village apartment allowed me at least five easy ways to drive to and from my job’s east-side location. This commute (outside of taking the highway) did involve several sketchy eastbound/westbound streets that have seen better days (and therefore require caution). Enter E. 5th Avenue. I do recommend following this road from the Short North, all the way over and around the airport for some sight-seeing. An odd mix of urban, rural, and industrial sights dot the path.

So I asked my husband to drive over to the Lisska for a drink one weekend last December. Duh, THAT NEON SIGN pulled me in with full-on mothership force. The kitchen was closed by the time we showed up at an off hour on Saturday. Thus, the place was quiet; the bartender was friendly, no-nonsense, and politely fighting a light cold while holding down the near-empty bar. We ordered two Johnnie Walker Reds and a can of Bud Light each. (Don’t show up looking for a fancy liquor shelf.) In fact, Lisska feels like my grandma’s house had a casual tryst with its neighborhood bar & diner, and popped out a love child on the east side of Columbus. A pool table bumped up against the wall next to some booths also served—charmingly—as a table for the house television set. I became engrossed in a conversation with another patron about cameras, and didn’t really retain too much information about the bar its self. I gather that it’s been around in some form or another since the 1930’s.

I would love to go back and experience the diner crowd. Some Yelpers have given some more insight into the bar’s food scene, which I find helpful in wanting to go back. These photos are merely details captured on a quiet day. Looking for the full picture? I suggest stopping over to The Lisska Bar for yourself. Map

<3 L

Rubino&#8217;s Pizzeria, 2643&#160;E Main St, Columbus, OH
Instagram @iluvcolumbus #signsofcolumbus

Rubino’s Pizzeria, 2643 E Main St, Columbus, OH

Instagram @iluvcolumbus #signsofcolumbus

Stewart's Folly, a.k.a. The Round House in Logan, Ohio The Round House, side view. Vintage rolling rock can (1970's?) out on the property. View through the top. Cushions crushed under the first floor wreckage. Gambles Hiawatha bicycle rotting in the garage. Imprint of a former staircase leading to the first level. Newspaper from 1984. No more garage door. And that's the first floor completely caved in.

It’s no secret that one of my favorite things about life in Ohio’s capital is the proximity to beautiful countryside. Some 50 minutes southeast of Columbus—where friends often escape for a quick canoeing or camping getaway—stands the Round House of Logan, Ohio (map).

A remarkably accessible token of Roadside America, I first read about the odd concrete structure on forgottenohio.com and illicitohio.com. Originally built between 1971 and 1973, the Round House–which was never wired for electric—was conceived as a prototype for residences built to withstand tornado and hurricane activity. Dubbed Stewart’s Folly (after the man who made it), the home has fallen deeper and deeper into disrepair over the past decade. Now missing: the front doors, all windows, the garage door inscribed with a warning to all trespassers, and…the first and second floor. The vintage couch and television set I’ve seen in old pictures are probably still wedged somewhere inside that pile of concave wood formerly known as the first floor. 

What I do recommend:

  1. Driving by and gawking, because the Round House totally looks like the Death Star!
  2. Comparing older pictures of the structure (see links below.)
  3. Visiting in fall and winter, when the view is better and there are less bugs to contend with.

What I don’t recommend:

  1. Being a jerk and causing more damage to the property.
  2. Stealing stuff from the premises.
  3. Climbing inside the wreckage and wrecking yourself.

Previous posts about the Logan Round House can be found here: Forgotten Ohio, Illicit Ohio, Roadside America, Artificial Owl, Youtube, Ohio Abandoned Houses by scottamus on Flickr.

To Love Somebody, Lydia Loveless - Photo by Blackletter/Patrick Crawford