Overall, I really enjoyed the Cincinnati
Art Museum under Aaron Betsky, the director who announced his
resignation Jan. 2 and will stay until a replacement is found. But there
were a couple weaknesses that ought to be addressed by a successor,
with the support of the trustees.
New exhibitions director Matt Distel’s
first big show at The Carnegie gallery in Covington, Ky., which opened
last week, is important in its own right as well as for what it says
about Distel’s curatorial desires for the institution.
The Cincinnati Art Museum lately has been
concentrating on what it calls “node” shows — small-to-medium-size
exhibitions and gallery changes highlighting its collection or local
angles. The bigger shows with a
national/international focus will return in a year or so when the new
Western & Southern Gallery for special exhibitions is complete.
The opening of a new show can be a tense,
contentious time for an artist. Doubts arise: “What do the public and
critics think? Does this show really work?" But at the Contemporary Arts Center’s recent opening of her show by every wind that blows, Diane Landry was above all that. Literally.
Shawn Patrick Tubb’s Master of
Architecture thesis at University of Cincinnati’s College of Design,
Architecture, Art and Planning was to develop a reuse for Downtown’s
Modernist landmark, the Terrace Plaza. Except for some arcade-level
shops, it had closed to the public as he was beginning his work in 2008.
Grand Rapids, a city of less than 200,000
people in western Michigan, isn’t quite ready to be considered one of
the Midwest’s great art centers; Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit’s art
museums are not yet in danger of being eclipsed by Grand Rapids. But with its annual ArtPrize — a
festival-like art exhibition and competition that occurs in late
September and early October — it has come up with a citywide visual-arts
event like no other in the way it’s captured the public imagination.
Artists have long had an interest in
serial imagery — repeatedly painting or making prints of such objects as
haystacks (Monet), numerals (Jasper Johns) or flowers (Warhol). For the
artist, it isn’t a rote, repetitious action — seeing how color, light
or perspective changes the way you see an object makes one artwork as
different from another as, well, night and day.
The current Martin Tucker: Remembered
exhibit at the DAAP Galleries on the University of Cincinnati campus
spotlights a local artist — a retired art professor who died this year —
whose work showed a keen eye for the seductive, colorful quality of
American consumer culture.
A recent trip to Los Angeles museums left
me exhilarated at the scale and imagination with which major
contemporary artists are using non-traditional materials. But the return here, followed by thinking
about past and upcoming shows and activities, had me wondering if our
younger artists have enough opportunities to ever make a similar impact
with their work.
I have this recurring dream in which I go
out for a walk or drive in Cincinnati and every place I go and
everything I use to get there, from my feet to a car or bus, has been
decorated or designed by ArtWorks.
Public art in cities is becoming a mass-participation event, as the recent LumenoCity event at — make than on — Music
Hall shows. Add that to ArtWorks’ wall murals and some of the “street
art” projects presented by Contemporary Arts Center — Shepard Fairey’s
citywide poster project and whatever JR has planned for his upcoming
In its two years in existence, the Contemporary Arts Center’s performance season — curated by Drew Klein — has grown in importance, if not become equal in interest to the museum’s exhibition season. Now, Klein has announced the third season.