COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — This week, art and high-profile artists will be the center of attention on the Columbus State University downtown campus.

Two shows – one featuring Columbus artist Bo Bartlett and the other featuring actress-turned-artist Kate Capshaw – will debut this week at the Bo Bartlett Center on Front Avenue.

There is an artist talk Wednesday night at 6 in the CSU Riverside Theater off 10th Street. The show opening will be Thursday night at 6 in the Bo Bartlett Center. Both events are open to the public.

Many of the works in Bartlett’s exhibit – called “Earthly Matters” — were done during Covid. Capshaw’s portrait work – entitled “Unaccompanied” — deals with an extremely uncomfortable topic – young people dealing with homelessness.

“This is the first show we have had in this space of my work like this since the center opened in 2019,” Bartlett said on Tuesday. “And the show originated at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston — ‘Earthly Matters.’ And this show is of paintings primarily done during Covid.”

Bartlett’s paintings deal with powerful issues of the day.

“These paintings are about how it feels to be alive in these times,” Bartlett said. “There’s aspects of ecology, global warming, and climate change, the social ills of the day flood in – homelessness. All of these aspects are part of the issues we are dealing with day to day in these times. Earthly matters is a show that encompasses all of that.”

Capshaw has worked to capture – in striking portraits – a difficult social issue.

“‘Unaccompanied’ is a project that Kate began in 2016,” Bartlett said. “There was an artistic outgrowth into her inquiry into the invisibility of youth experiencing homelessness. She went to youth centers around the country, starting in LA. And interviewed and had homeless youth, unaccompanied youth, pose for her paintings.”

Capshaw is the wife of famed Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg. But, as Bartlett points out, this is about her talent and social commentary through her art. Capshaw is not unfamiliar with Columbus. She studied here in privately under Bartlett in 2017.

“The show is about the paintings,” he said. “It’s about the people in the paintings, and about Kate’s artistry. Whether or not other people come, whether or not Hollywood friends come or family come is beside the point in a sense that the show is about the work and Kate’s paintings, which are glorious.”

The Capshaw show runs through May 12.

Michael McFalls is the interim director of the Bo Bartlett Center and he said it was a great opportunity to put Bartlett and Capshaw’s work side by side.

“While the two artists will be presenting alongside each other, Kate’s work diverges significantly from Bo’s,” McFalls said. “Unaccompanied shifts the viewer’s gaze to a more intimate, individual experience. This multidisciplinary exhibition allows community members and students to have a deeper conversation about race, class, and the homelessness crisis.”

Artist Amy Sherald will moderate a talk Wednesday night when Bartlett and Capshaw talk about their work. Sherald gained notoriety when she did the official portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama.

“The story goes that when Amy Sherald was a little girl she saw this painting, which was exhibited in the Columbus Museum,” Bartlett said. “And she saw the figure, the large standing figure, and decided it was a figure like she had never seen in a painting before. And with that figure in the painting, she realized she wanted to be an artist. Amy Sherald is going to be here and she’s going to be talking with us in a conversation about ‘Unaccompanied’ and ‘Earthly Matters.’ Amy Sherald making a homecoming. Happy to have her back in town. Columbus native Amy Sherald.”