Columbia participates in ‘Tartan Arts in the Avenue’

By Ivana Hester

Colossal golf balls served as canvases for several Columbia students, alumni, faculty and staff members whose artwork is displayed on Michigan Avenue in conjunction with the 2012 Ryder Cup, an international golf tournament played Sept. 25–30 in Medinah, Ill.

The exhibition, “Tartan Art on the Avenue,” began Sept. 15 as part of a larger campaign developed by the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Illinois PGA Foundation to raise awareness and funds for various courses, said Eric Schmidt, executive director of the Ryder Cup’s Magnificent Moments campaign. The exhibition will feature adorned golf balls 3 feet in diameter until Oct. 10.

“The main point is to create a sense of inclusion for the city of Chicago,” Schmidt said. “We want to leave a Ryder Cup legacy here in Chicago after the matches depart.”

Thanks to a previous partnership with public relations firm Henson Consulting, the college was chosen to work on the project alongside other Chicago artists, according to Stephen DeSantis, director of Academic Initiatives, the office responsible for reaching out to potential participants in the Columbia community. “Hearts a Bluhm,” which was displayed in the 623 S. Wabash Ave. Building last semester, was a similar initiative for which artists painted 5-foot-tall hearts.

“Last year we had about 72 Columbia artists participate,” DeSantis said. “This year we had maybe 10 or 12 due to the fact that it was summer and not a lot of students or faculty are around.”

Artists could have had the golf ball delivered to them or work in a studio provided by Ronald McDonald House Charities and The Illinois PGA Foundation. Participants were given time to create a proposal for their design and received a stipend for their work. All materials, including paint and utensils, were also provided.

Alumnus Nino Rodriguez and senior marketing communications major Taylor Linhart were two Columbia students who painted golf  balls for the exhibition.

Linhart partnered with her fiancé, Adrian Ion, on her piece. She and Ion to put a spin on the traditional city skyline by superimposing a colorful rendition of the city over a structured architectural layout.

“I thought it would be interesting to collaborate together with two very different painting styles—whimsical mixed with a geometrical and tailored style,” she said. “I’d thought it’d be nice to incorporate both.”

Their golf ball sculpture, “City View,” was placed a 505 N. Michigan Ave.

Rodriguez said he found out about the opportunity through an alumni newsletter and decided to submit a proposal that was later approved by Eric Schmidt and his team.

Rodriguez worked on the project with his 17-year-old son, whom he taught how to draw at a young age, explaining he wanted to share the experience with him.

Their ball, “The Animals in our Lives,” featured a design of cartoonish animals, but was not selected for display.

Rodriguez said he and his family were looking forward to seeing their work on Michigan Avenue, and  this was a huge disappointment for him and his son.

“I [still] want to thank the Ronald McDonald Foundation and the Ryder Cup for the opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “We met a lot of cool artists when working alongside them.”

“Tartan Art on the Avenue” has received a lot of media attention since its debut. According to the Chicago Tribune, the “Chicago’s Best” golf ball, designed by artist Jeff Budzban and signed by actress , was stolen just days after the exhibit’s installation.

The  artistic golf  balls are being auctioned off by Ronald McDonald House Charities and The Illinois PGA Foundation for $5,000 to $10,000, Schmidt said.

For more information, visit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana’s website, at