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Cover Story: Going With the Gut

New direction, new venue, mural project breathe life into Visual Fringe

By Steven Rosen · May 21st, 2008 · Cover Story
  Karen Brasier's sculptural work
Karen Brasier's sculptural work "Blue Pendant" will be featured in Visual Fringe.

Visual Fringe is revving up for an improved and exciting 2008 after what organizers acknowledge was an off year.

The hope is that this year will develop a visual arts audience for the Cincy Fringe Festival. While there's always been a Visual Fringe, in 2007 it consisted only of Main Street galleries staying open late to show their already scheduled work.

The Visual Fringe committee put out a call for submissions and selected 11 artists who work in painting, sculpture, photography and mixed-media. There were about 20 applicants. Additionally, three local artists -- Matthew Dayler, Danny Babcock and Eric Lowenstein -- will be creating a mural during festival hours along the south exterior wall of Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine.

The mural will depict a theater's interior with some surprise elements.

The mural is an especially important addition.

"As I looked back at the history of the Fringe Festival, Visual Fringe has needed help," says Eric Vosmeier, associate artistic director of Know Theatre of Cincinnati and Fringe Festival's producing director. "I wanted to do something to give it life and prominence, to get it out to the people. This will be a way to turn the making of the mural into a performance in itself."

This is also the first year that Matt Steffen, who runs Enin Productions and does design work for Know Theatre, is chairing Visual Fringe. He and a group of Art Academy of Cincinnati professors chose the participating artists, whose work will be on display during festival hours at two galleries inside the Academy.

The work will first be on display 6-9 p.m. Tuesday at the Art Academy during the Fringe Festival's kickoff party.

"We didn't have an actual definition as to what constituted 'Fringe,' " Steffen says. "We just went from the gut and selected that which grabbed us."

All the artists are from Greater Cincinnati. One, however, will be only a two-day resident when the festival begins. Former UC student Karen Brasier, whose sculptural work consists of painting on clothes and twisting them into forms, will have just moved here from Texas.

In her artist statement, she says she sees her arresting work like "Abdominal," "Blue Pendant" and "Green Pendant" as evolving from a painterly aesthetic as well as an architectural sense of material, scale and structure.

"The results are objects with an eerie sense of both scalelessness/fantasy and familiarity/comfort," she writes. "Domestic or utilitarian materials, objects and craft techniques are used, referred to and made irrelevant all at once."

Another Cincinnati artist, Kim Rae Taylor, will have painting and sculpture united by an unusual theme: the bulbous red "snoot" she's been inspired to create, and deconstruct, from her remembrances of stuffed toy muzzles.

The other artists and their chosen medium are: Mandy Burrow (mixed media); Velvet Jang, David Anderson, Darren Parr, Karma Nutter and J. Michael Skaggs (photography); Chris Riley and Caroline Thomas (painting); and Brandi Sanchez (sculpture).

One other unusual artwork, described as mixed-media, will be part of both Visual Fringe and the theatrical performances. Marty Eichhorn's "Untitled Contemporary Landmark," located inside the Art Academy, will be a destination for Inner:City, a site-specific audio installation offering small-group guided iPod tours of the festival's participating sites.

VISUAL FRINGE is presented at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, 1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, beginning Tuesday and continuing daily through June 7.



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