When first walking into Little Fish Printing and Gallery, someone could easily be reminded of home. Once you get past the professional aspects of the space, the computers and screen printers, desks and little swivel chairs, there’s a certain warmth that envelops. Heartfelt in its honesty and beautiful earnestness, Little Fish carries a collection of works that rivals any other in the city. The reason behind this lies in its function to the community. While it is a full service gallery and professional screen printers, the true purpose of Little Fish is centered on its artists. A division of the Columbus Center for Human Services, Little Fish Gallery is the showcase space for their collection of artistic enrichment programs for those with developmental disabilities. Along with their studio space on the west side, Little Fish Gallery works with Little Fish Studios Columbus and Marysville and Open Door Art Studio in Grandview to help facilitate a welcoming, open space to encourage creative artistic expression. Students are taught in classroom-like facilities in 45-minute sessions with all of their materials free of charge. Lessons are extremely open ended, allowing artists their creative freedom and range between mediums, highlighting on painting, sketching, collage, and ceramics.

Reflecting the range of individuals helped by the organization’s programs, the scope of styles showed by the gallery is extremely varied. Playful cat mugs and Power Rangers prints lend a little lightheartedness while dramatic drip studies in color evoke Jackson Pollack or Norman Bluhm. Joshua Stewart, a manager at the gallery and an artist himself, stresses the importance of the authenticity the space has to offer.

“It’s more than just a painting class or an art lesson,” he said of Little Fish. “It’s a totally different kind of sensory experience and an outlet for expression.” An experience that may be hard to find for the artists on display, the gallery helps create space for an identity that is usually closed off to peoples with disabilities – painter, sculptor, artist.

A working gallery, for both the gallerists and the artists, over half of all the proceeds go directly to the artists themselves. The rest of Little Fish’s profits go to help pay overhead for the space and materials for classes, so students and their families never need worry about financial constraints as a roadblock to getting involved. Average prices for pieces range, on the lower end of $15 to about $300. As a full service screen printer, prints (of course) are also available and are priced at $30, a little more if you want them framed. However, if art on the walls isn’t what you’re looking for, Little Fish also has a great selection of gift merchandise, featuring their pieces on custom tee-shirts.

Offering just as much in terms of practicality as aesthetics, the printing side of Little Fish’s operations works at making their artists more accessible.

“Integration into the community is the main goal of what we’re trying to do here,” Stewart said. “It’s hard tackling everything we want to do because we’ve just opened, but cultivating a career path in art for our artists and promoting them locally is our main goal here.”

Already having had pieces in a handful of shops along High Street, Little Fish is looking to carve out their own space in Columbus’ art scene. Boasting an impressive line of shows for the year, including a ceramics exhibition for the fall, their openings feature easily relatable themes with a level of depth that art admirers are sure to find exciting.

Visit Little Fish in the Short North Arts District at 1254 N. High. For more information on their services, click here.

– Tyler Wilson