This past year had its ups and downs for
the visual arts. The major museums had good shows, but nothing that
captured the public imagination on the order of 2010’s Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand at Contemporary Arts Center or Wedded Perfection at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Material Witness at downtown’s
Weston Art Gallery is all about the physical. The stuff of hardware
stores — plywood, drywall, insulation — remains exposed in the work. If
there’s a common thread, it’s the artists’ “careful and considerate
material choices,” guest curator Matt Distel says.
According to Mary Heider, the curator of the current A New Reality
exhibit at Covington’s Artisan’s Enterprise Center, artists take
“pieces and parts … and create from them something not previously
conceived.” It’s hard to imagine a more elegant statement on the nature
of visual art, and it’s the premise upon which the show rests.
When does an age-old craft like knitting
become hip fiber art, street art and performance art? When it’s
practiced by the Cincinnati BombShells yarn bombers, approximately 15
women ages 25-65 with sassy alter egos, Jackie O sunglasses and platinum
This is an old museum with benefits
bestowed by several generations of collectors, some of them inspired.
But is this the best way to see these works? The installation flies in
the face of accepted museology — not necessarily a bad thing — but I’m
uncertain if it accomplishes its stated aim: to bring people and art
My dream is to see some new museums — maybe even one right here in Cincinnati — devoted just to video art. I’ve mentioned this before to arts
professionals, including curators, and have heard the reasons against:
video art is an integral part of the contemporary-art world and
shouldn’t be separated.
Carmel Buckley is an artist infatuated
with line and uncertainty. An associate professor at Ohio State
University and a native of England, Buckley is enjoying her third
Cincinnati exhibition in a little over a year. Featuring a series of
drawings and etchings along with freestanding and wall-mounted objects, Prints and Sculpture
at Clay Street Press in Over-the-Rhine is a retrospective look at her
creative output from the early 1990s through the present day.
The cardboard 3-D glasses supplied for
Brian Stuparyk’s work will make the comparison clearer. Put them on and feel
like a kid, knowing that this art show is fun and different. A visit
feels like an afternoon at the movies. Though
there are just three small rooms to see, remember that the artists’
themes are perception and time. It’s possible to get lost awhile.
The promotional material for the Cincinnati Art Museum’s new Art Deco: Fashion & Design in the Jazz Age does something I haven’t seen before in the world of art-museum marketing: It headlines, “From the Curator that brought you Wedded Perfection.” Pop culture does that a lot — “from the director of Jaws”
— but fine-arts institutions?
Last fall, as the economy continued its downward spiral
and arts organizations laid off staff, Tatiana Berman started to map out
plans for a new arts festival in Cincinnati, and this week — defying
the odds — the Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts debuts,
aligning an impressive array of artists with the city’s major performing
ensembles and arts venues.
Darren Goodman plays with fire. It’s part of his artistic
medium of choice — he blows glass. His extraordinary, downright gorgeous
results are now on view in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s biennial 4th
Floor Award exhibition, this year titled Trial by Fire. It’s up through year’s end.
Sara Pearce had the world — many worlds — at her fingertips, but her fingers couldn’t feel. The former Enquirer arts reporter
had volunteered for a buyout from the paper in September 2008 and wanted
to become an artist herself. She’d finally create collages from the
antique world maps, fashion magazines and other papers she’d collected
Ken Burns believes his new three-part, 5½-hour Prohibition
series, to be shown on public-television station WCET at 8 p.m. Sunday
through Tuesday, contains many revelations about the disastrous era when
America banned booze.
Could art be the missing link? Oxford, Ohio, native John
Bavaro would probably say yes. His current exhibition in the Duveneck
Gallery at the Carnegie Center Visual and Performing Arts Center in
Covington uses both traditional and digital painting to examine the
similarities between humans and non-human primates. The exhibition is a
sort of homecoming for Bavaro, who left Cincinnati in 2001 for a faculty
post at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania.