With a winter like this, there’s only one thing you can do — put aside all thoughts about the cold cruelty of brutal nature and look toward something better and more caring: human-made art.
Below is a list of some of the more promising art shows of 2014 — both home and away.
Here are some local shows to see this year, in chronological order of their opening dates:
Hal Lasko: The Pixel Painter, Meyers Gallery/DAAP Galleries, Feb. 3-March 30: DAAP Galleries Director Aaron Cowan presents the first solo exhibition by Ohio-born Lasko, a career commercial artist who, after getting a computer in the late 1990s and being diagnosed with Wet Macular Degeneration, learned to use new technology to make art. He is now 98 and plans to attend the opening.
Threads of Heaven: Silken Legacy of China’s Last Dynasty, Taft Museum of Art, Feb. 7-May 18: This exhibit of spectacularly beautiful silk clothing from China’s Qing Dynasty comes from the Denver Art Museum. The collection was assembled in the 1920s and 1930s.
Hollis Hammonds: Worthless Matter, Reed Gallery/DAAP Galleries, Feb. 10-April 6: This artist, who is from Independence, Ky., and is now chair of the visual studies department at Austin, Texas’ St. Edward’s University, uses material that has been discarded or hoarded to create pieces that reference disasters and debris.
From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith, Cincinnati Art Museum, Feb. 22-May 18: When one thinks of the arts in New York’s Greenwich Village, the music, literature and abstract-expressionist painting usually get first attention.
But that spirit of avant-garde progressivism also extended to fashion. This traveling show presents 24 sculpted pieces of jewelry by African-American artist Smith, along with 40 pieces by his contemporaries, including Alexander Calder.
Buildering: Misbehaving the City, Contemporary Arts Center, Feb. 28-Aug. 24: Recently hired curator Steven Matijcio gets a chance to show his aesthetic in this exhibit that sees unsanctioned use of architecture around the world as a hopeful metaphor for the quest for freedom. Artists come from Colombia, France, Spain, Lithuania, Egypt, Mexico/Brazil, U.S.A. and elsewhere.
Crown, Cincinnati Art Museum, March 15-June 15: For this piece, Todd Pavlisko had a sharpshooter fire bullets down the museum’s Icons gallery while their path toward a brass cube was filmed. The finished work is a hybrid of installation/conceptual art, video and sculpture.
Charles Woodman: Passages and Anita Douthat: Under the Sun, Weston Art Gallery, March 28-June 8: Two experienced, talented Cincinnati artists get the chance to showcase recent work. Woodman, who teaches electronic art at DAAP, presents new video installations. Douthat, who specializes in eerily beautiful photograms, offers work from a series she began in 2007.
Rejoice!: A Retrospective of Avtar Gill, the Cincinnati Hat-Man, Thunder-Sky. Inc., April 25-June 13: This gallery, which is both devoted to and actively questions the very notion of “outsider art,” makes the case for the work of Gill, the beloved eccentric who wore handmade signs on his hat and who died last year.
Eyes on the Street, Cincinnati Art Museum, Oct. 11-Jan. 4, 2015: FotoFocus ’14 will be presenting multiple shows and events in venues all over town this fall, but this group exhibition seems — at this stage — to be the most eagerly awaited since it’s from the museum’s new photography associate curator, Brian Sholis.
Beyond Pop Art: A Tom Wesselmann Retrospective, Cincinnati Art Museum, Oct. 31-Jan. 18, 2015: Since shortly after the Cincinnati-born Pop artist Tom Wesselmann — creator of the iconic Great American Nude series — died in 2004, there has been talk of a retrospective coming here. Shows were in Montreal in 2012 and Richmond in 2013, but finally this version — which is also coming to Denver — is en route.
Those are in Cincinnati, but two within a day’s drive look really special:
Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art is presenting David Bowie Is — an examination of his impact on progressive visual culture as well as music — from Sept. 23 to Jan. 4, 2015. The retrospective was organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. There will be debate as to whether this show belongs at this museum, but the place will be packed.
From May 17 to Aug. 3, Columbus’ Wexner Center for the Arts presents the first major retrospective for one of the best of the contemporary graphic artists — Modern Cartoonist: The Best of Daniel Clowes. The traveling show is co-presented by Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum — itself a growing force among the state’s arts institutions.
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