Covington Gallery Leaps for Junk/Art
If you're the type of person who saves random objects just in case they might be useful some day, LEAPIN LIZARD's R3: Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose is definitely the art exhibition for you. From old silverware to bottle caps to discarded circuit boards, this show will demonstrate how what is generally perceived as junk is really art waiting to happen.
Be ready to enter what will probably seem like a Dr. Seuss illustration: sculptures made from kitchen appliances melded with a French horn, clocks made from coffee tins, mirrors fashioned out of antique silverware and jewelry made from typewriter keys, to name a few. In all, the exhibition showcases work created with found, recycled and discarded materials by more than 20 artists, including David Michael Rice, Bruce New, Rod Willis, Glenda Miles, Randel Plowman, Helen Zajkowski, Paul Tribble, Christian Schmit, Sandra Small, Glenda Miles, Jacqueline Slone, Rosemary Topie, Kelly Evans, Alicia Murphy-Rodriguez and Jill and Lizz Godfroy themselves, as well as national artists Roger Wood, Mark Orr, Adam Farcus, Laura Beamer, Fred Conlon, Connie Verrusio, Mark Brown and Tripp Gregson.
After all, Leapin Lizard is all about the eclectic.
"We like to say we offer a mix of fine art, functional works and frivolities," says Lizz Godfroy, who co-owns the Covington gallery with her mother, Jill. "We began (the gallery) to give emerging artists an opportunity to show their work along with those who were already established."
The result: art potluck. The space, a renovated 1880s Methodist church, is impressive: high, lofty ceilings and stained glass lend an air of sanctuary. Upon entering, your eyes are immediately met with a wide mix of media, styles and colors. Pulled in every direction, it's hard to know where to start.
It's easy to get lost as you amble around two floors of paintings, sculptures, photographs, ceramics, jewelry and curiosities made by more than 150 national and regional artists. Don't come if you're in a hurry.
Having spent an entire year converting a church that, according to Godfroy, looked more like a 1970s rec room than an art space -- faux wood paneling, layers of old, worn carpet -- it's no surprise that she would come up with the idea for a recycled show.
"Finding pieces of what people think are junk, taking them and combining them with other things, boom, you have a great piece of art," she says. "It's cool to take material that you wouldn't think to use and finding a use for it. It really transforms the object into something different. I've always been drawn to that kind of work."
The opening reception for R3 is 6-10 p.m. Thursday with live music by singer/songwriter (and exhibiting artist) Kelly Evans along with refreshments. The show runs through July 31. The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday at 726 Main St., Covington. 859-581-2728. (See Art.) -- ELIZABETH WU
WEDNESDAY 27 -- FRIDAY 29
In this last year of his life, CHARLIE HARPER, who passed away June 10, had been everywhere from the Contemporary Arts Center to a deliciously illustrated book by renowned designer Todd Oldham to an upcoming exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum. A surprising, but not too surprising, venue for his graphic paintings and prints is the LLOYD LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, a pharmaceutical and science research center at 917 Plum St., Downtown. For the Lloyd's first-ever art exhibition, they chose the Harper Studios, which includes Charley, his wife Edie and their son Brett. Harper's work fits well in the library, as the artist was always preoccupied with capturing nature and wildlife in his work. The exhibition was scheduled to close this weekend, but the library has agreed to extend it through September for the sake of Cincinnatians who aren't quite ready to say goodbye. Included in the show are two of Harper's most famous books, The Golden Book of Biology and Beguiled by the Wild.
The often painful, emotionally fragile lives of fractured families have been fertile ground for novelists for a long time now. WILL ALLISON knows this as well as anyone. His debut novel, What You Have Left, tells the three-generational story of the Greers, a rural South Carolina family dealing with loss, love, liars, NASCAR, video-poker addicts and suicide. Propelled by Allison's spare, straightforward prose, What You Have Left looks at the often uncomfortable circumstances of facing one's past mistakes and the peculiar tapestry of American lives in the late-20th century with keen insight and genuine feeling. Allison discusses his novel at 7 p.m. Thursday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. 513-396-8960. (See Literary.) -- JASON GARGANO
THURSDAY 28 -- SUNDAY 01
Comedian HEATH HYCHE hails from Birmingham, Ala., home of many a defunct pro football team (six in all). "Every time we have a league they have a competition to name the team," Hyche says. "And we're called 'The Magic City,' and I say call them the Birmingham Magicians, because they're going to disappear!" While that's a great line, it's not indicative of Hyche's act, which he describes as "a one man, highenergy sketch comedy show." He adds, "I play all the characters, I have little vignettes, little scenes that I perform." There are no impressions in the set. "I don't really do impressions," he says. "I do all original characters." His favorite part of the show is his Elvis impersonator character Kevin. "The back story is he didn't know that he was going to get to perform, so in this emergency situation his estranged ex-wife Carol is running the light and sound cues. And they're very fortunate because the booth is exactly 50 feet from the stage and that is the exact distance she has to keep from him at all times." Hyche performs Thursday-Sunday at The Funny Bone on the Levee. $15. 859-957-2000. (See Onstage.) -- P.F. WILSON
Though emerging out of (and getting great support from) the Americana scene -- which is as big if not bigger in Europe than it is in America -- ROBBIE FULKS' songwriting has always had the ability to transcend any easily categorizable "genre." Good songs are good songs, and Fulks has such an effortless presentation that those good songs seem to just fall out of his pockets every time he reaches in there for something. In the way that Bob Marley's writing skills made him more than just a "Reggae artist," Fulks' songcraft puts him above any sort of quick and easy pigeonholing. His live shows have long been another key component of his appeal: A charismatic, funny and comfortable presence under stage-lights, even if you don't necessarily care much for his music you'll leave a live show dutifully charmed and definitely entertained. Feeding off of that golden live vibe, Fulks' latest CD, Revenge!, is a "live" record, but unlike any you've heard before. The two-disc collection features one disc of acoustic performance and one with a blistering, more rockin' live band, capturing both the energy and charm of Fulks' two personalities and running the gamut of styles from eccentric Hillbilly cuts to a strangely straightforward version of Cher's hit, "Believe." The catch? Instead of just running a "greatest hits" set and recording it, half of the tracks on the CDs are new songs. Fulks comes to the Southgate House Friday, so don't let Revenge! be just a substitute for the real-deal live show. 859-431-2201. (See Music.) -- MIKE BREEN
A few weeks back, unsung Cincinnati Soul music legend Kenny Smith made only his second live appearance in decades, turning Northside's Gypsy Hut into an early '70s speak-easy with authentic old-school soulfulness wafting through the air in place of cigarette smoke (damn smoking ban!). On Saturday, The Hut gets a similar dose of bowel-rumbling Funk and R&B as Nashville 10-piece Soul machine THE DYNAMITES take over the club, joined by veteran singer Charles Walker, whose genuine take on the music comes natural because he's been recording since the '60s for labels like Chess and Decca. The band is one of the leaders of a new-school of retro Funk and Soul, which -- like the "Neo Soul" movement a few years back -- seems to have come about because audiences are craving something less processed and more straight-from-the-gut. (Another leader of this renaissance is Brooklyn's Dap-Kings, who struck gold when they were asked to back Amy Winehouse on her recent blockbuster breakthrough album.) The Dynamites have all the pieces in place, with a sound that recalls a powerhouse performance at the mid-'60s Apollo Theater. Listening to their recent release, Kaboom!, you'll catch more than a whiff of James Brown-styled Hard Funk, with bleating horn charts and a groove so tight and impetuous you can't help but move with it. In fact, with the Godfather of Soul gone, The Dynamites' free show Saturday might be the closest you'll get to experiencing the kind of jubilant, emotional and sweaty live performances that made Brown a legend. 513-213-6008. (See Music.) -- MIKE BREEN
SATURDAY 30 SUNDAY 01
THE TAFT MUSEUM OF ART's current exhibition, Hiram Powers: Genius in Marble, has somewhat eclipsed the smaller show there, Around Town: 19th Century Books on Cincinnati (pictured). While Powers is a household name by now -- or should be -- the books on display at the Taft hold far less of a powerful position. Books? In an art museum? It might be difficult to appreciate the fine art of the book, especially if you haven't yet taken a peek at the exhibition. The books included here come from the museum's own collection as well as from personal collections. Each work was published here and relates in some way to our city in the mid-19th century. Enter this exhibition to find not only a sweeping sense of Cincinnati history but also a new appreciation for book illustration, binding and printing. The exhibition continues through Aug. 19. 513-241-0343. (See Art.) -- LAURA JAMES
If you're going to see New Stage Collective's staging of RADIANT BABY, the area premiere of a recent musical about graffiti artist Keith Haring (see the review on page 46), you might consider attending the performance today. In addition to the ambitious production -- which features a cast of 18 -- you can stick around afterward to hear the show's composer DEBRA BARSHA, who's come in from New York City to kick off "Collective Perspectives." This is a series of post-performance conversations that NSC plans to offer in conjunction with its productions in its new theater space at 1140 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine. When Barsha's show began at New York's Public Theatre in 2003, its score -- blending Pop, Funk, Disco and Soul -- was a high point. She'll be discussing her re-creation of '80s music with director Alan Patrick Kenny, actor Adam Standley (who portrays Haring) and music director Steven Mulloy; local arts supporter Jeff Syroney will moderate the conversation. Radiant Baby has had just two productions, both in New York City, so this production is a rare treat to see it before most of the world takes it in later. Couple that with a chance to hear from this composer, and you can really be on the cutting edge of new musicals. 513-621-3700. (See Onstage.) -- RICK PENDER
TUESDAY 03 WEDNESDAY 04
The singular, eclectic neighborhood of Northside continues its celebration of diversity, creativity and all-round badass-ness with the NORTHSIDE ROCK 'N ROLL CARNIVAL & 4TH OF JULY PARADE & FESTIVAL. The festivities kick off Tuesday with a pre-4th cavalcade of entertainment from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Hoffner Park, featuring live music from The Hiders, Bad Veins and Buffalo Killers (among others) to the theatrical hijinks of Cloven Hoof Theatre and Barnyard Burlesque to several "off-stage sideshow" performances, including an event proclamation by MC Soft J of CityBeat foes The Spurzz. The 4th of July Parade kicks off at noon Wednesday, offering up the typical array of unique partakers: the Village Green Garden Extravaganza, Shake It Records Karaoke Fantastique, XYL Scooter Club, Lawn Chair Ladies, MoBo Bicycle Co-Op and, of course, a Creative Entry Contest. And that's not all: A 1:30 p.m. post-parade festival at Hoffner Park includes performances by Baoku and the Image Afro-Beat Band, Jibri and Comet Bluegrass Allstars, The Taste of Northside and kid-friendly activities courtesy of Happen Inc. Oh, and it's all free. myspace.com/northside3and4. (See Events.) -- JASON GARGANO