The charge to local arts leaders and CityBeat writers was simple yet also complex and difficult: What is the one thing you would change or add to the local arts scene to make it better? Well, maybe it wasn't worded quite so bluntly, but that was the point. There are plenty of exciting things happening locally in the arts; what should be next?
Over the next few months area museums and galleries are presenting a variety of outside-the-box fare, including quilts, wedding dresses, motorcycles and even an installation made of trees. The Taft Museum, Cincinnati Art Museum, Contemporary Art Museum, Country Club, Manifest Gallery, Carnegie Center, Weston Art Gallery, Carl Solway Gallery and Thunder-Sky Inc. are pulling out all the stops for patrons.
Last year, the Taft Museum of Art embarked on a new series of exhibitions called Keystone Contemporary. The goal is that each exhibition would feature one local emerging artist who's been invited to respond (directly or abstractly) to the Taft's collection, the historical house, its interior décor or perhaps even other special exhibitions on view at the museum. Local artist Kristine Donnelly has installed the latest example.
The Art Academy of Cincinnati celebrates the first and hopefully not the last 20 years of a program that is one of a kind in the Tristate. '20 Years/20 Artists' showcases the work of artists who have received a city of Cincinnati Individual Artist Grant. With the city trimming its budget, the grant program met the axe.
From the exterior, Northside House, the new gallery that just opened on Colerain Avenue, looks exactly the way its name sounds: a nondescript red-brick house on a residential street. I accidentally drove past it. Within the weathered walls of this 1880 shotgun-style house, however, awaits an unusual experience for those adventurous enough to visit.
News that a great artist has died always raises the stakes for me; the responsibility of creating moving art and important discussions surrounding it is more immense, because there is one less innovator sharing the weight. Thom Shaw — one of Cincinnati's best known and most admired contemporary artists — passed away on July 6, 2010, due to complications from diabetes.
Food and art have interesting commonalities in the way they are carefully prepared, the way they affect our senses and, perhaps most of all, the attention we pay to them when we find them strikingly beautiful. Because of the actions associated with cooking and eating, food lends itself to performance. This is just what the local performance art group Pones Inc. has done with its most recent work, Rub, Dredge, Fry (Repeat).
Full Art Spectrum wants to bring mash-up techniques to the fine arts. This Friday at the Downtown Coffee Emporium the group will hold its first public event in which musicians and writers respond to visual arts on display there. There will be three paintings, each the product of three artists who are members of Full Art Spectrum. The artists worked individually — the first painting a layer, followed by the second, then the third — with sometimes-surprising results.
Although Cincinnati Form Follows Function — an organization for enthusiasts of Modern design and architecture called CF3 for short — has only been in existence since 2004, it already has come up with a potentially famous photograph of the city. It's a panorama taken from Bellevue Hill Park in Clifton Heights. And the success of it gives CF3 something special to celebrate at that very park this Saturday.
When not showing the late Raymond Thunder-Sky's "outsider art" oeuvre, the gallery named for him aims to promote expressive work in the same spirit, regardless of the artist's background: self-taught, art-school graduates, with or without diagnosed disabilities. The current show features Antonio Adams and Tony Dotson, neither of whom have any formal art training.
With more than 25 artists, Country Club's current exhibition serves as a massive visual "think tank" that questions the relevance of traditional art methods (the painstaking use of physical materials and handmade objects) in a world where life increasingly is experienced through mass-produced items and virtual communications. 'Pictures and Statues' continues through July 31.
The house in your head — the one nobody can foreclose on — is probably an element of the internal life of each of us. But what happens when six artists zero in on explicitly externalizing their visions of such a place? The results are 'The House in My Head,' which fills downtown's Weston Art Gallery through Aug. 29.
A single iconic quote from scholar W.E.B. DuBois inspired Tavis Smiley to begin a monumental quest to present the most comprehensive examination of "the African American imprint" on American society. When DuBois asked, "Would America have been America without her Negro people?" the question wasn't quite so simple. Smiley's resulting exhibition is on view through Jan. 2.
Cincinnati Art Museum's 'Walker Evans: Decade by Decade' opens with a rather bold statement that Evans is "probably the single greatest American photographer ever to have worked in the 20th century." An introduction like that certainly raises the stakes for an exhibition. I don't feel that, taken alone, the show proves he was the "single greatest" of the last century, but I also don't believe that's the show's objective.
In her new installation-sized project done especially for the Contemporary Arts Center, artist Pat Steir attempts to unify her splashy, drippy vocabulary of painting techniques with the cool, detached personality of Zaha Hadid's architecture. Steir manages to expand the basic language of the building, but one doesn't feel directed through the entire experience. I watched a number of viewers make it only halfway down the space before stopping, as if unmoored and lost at sea.