October 2012 might seem a long way off, but in the museum world that’s almost like tomorrow. And Cincinnati’s art museums, major galleries and related arts institutions are already at work planning for the city’s first FotoFocus. The plan is to highlight photography as an art form in all sorts of innovative ways, from high-profile museum shows to temporary pop-up galleries.
Imagine walking through the rooms of the Cincinnati Art Museum, farther and farther toward the back, then entering a small back gallery and finding a black hole. It sounds like something out of Jules Verne. Yet, that is the effect upon the viewer from walking up to George Bellows’ magnificent “Excavation at Night” painting, tucked away in the Heekin Gallery.
One of the stranger artworks on display at Contemporary Art Center’s current Where Do We Go From Here: Selections From La Coleccion Jumex is a urinal. It is seemingly ready to use, planted right out in the open on a gallery wall. If not for the fact that on close inspection it is too sculptural and painterly to have any functional purpose, it might actually get used.
Cincinnati Art Museum has an important new exhibition on display through Jan. 2 called Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman. Organized by Benedict Leca, curator of European paintings, sculpture and drawings on the occasion of the cleaning/restoration of the museum’s own Gainsborough portrait of “Ann Ford (Mrs. Thicknesse).”
Berry van Boekel has raised song lists to the level of an art form — and a very demanding, conceptual one, at that. His show at Oakley's Country Club Projects, 'Top 100 2009,' is his list (in order) of his most meaningful music-listening experiences of the past year.
Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb's all-time hits record on Sept. 11, 1985, with his 4,192nd hit. It was such a momentous occurrence in baseball (and Cincinnati) history that even the art world took notice. That year, knowing Rose would break Cobb's seemingly enduring record, the Cincinnati Art Museum commissioned Andy Warhol to create a portrait of Rose.
On my trip last week to New York City, I bypassed the blockbuster shows at the major art museums in favor of secondary shows and institutions. Secondary in visibility, maybe, in America's busiest arts city, but not in quality. In fact, every institution — in different ways — was pushing its own envelope in order to offer new, provocative ideas about the art it displays.
A couple Saturdays ago, I went on an Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati-sponsored excursion to Columbus, Ind., a city just 90 minutes away that has developed an international reputation for its Modernist architecture. Besides the buildings, I was particularly moved by the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans in the city's downtown.
There's an inherent competitive aspect to making art professionally — at some point, somebody else has to like your work more than the next person's or you'll never get any attention. So, dubious as I was about an elimination-style reality show devoted to art, I had to acknowledge the premise did make sense when I learned about Bravo's new 'Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.'
The Indianapolis Museum of Art has always had one of the most beautiful settings of any Midwest art museum, but it's also had a secret: a wilder, rougher 100 acres of unused woodlands, meadows and a lake. It eventually came up with the idea of an art park that would commission international artists to create temporary site-related projects, and on June 20 it opened 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park.
I had thought the Cincinnati Art Museum was counting on its exhibition Walker Evans: Decade by Decade as its summer draw. After all, the show has an ambitious thesis — that Evans is probably the greatest American photographer of the 20th century — and is the brainchild of James Crump, hired as the museum’s curator of photography and just named chief curator. It turns out the museum has decided to package that show with a number of other, simultaneous exhibitions and events under the banner See America.
The Contemporary Arts Center had to delay its Ernesto Neto: Dancing Allowed show — originally scheduled for last March — as part of its various budgetary restraints. It opened May 22, along with Pat Steir’s painting installation Water & Stone, and we can be glad the CAC didn’t have to cancel it.
For art museums, one effect of the Great Recession has been to reexamine priorities — try to do more with the collections you already have, saving money on importing prestigious but costly traveling shows.
For the 2010-2011 exhibition season, Cincinnati Art Museum’s three major shows will be in-house-curated and highlight its own collection — borrowing to fill out a show, but not define it.
Last weekend's Art Chicago, with about 150 international galleries displaying (mostly) contemporary art in their individual booths, is the best way for us Midwesterners to get a handle on what's new and important in the art world regionally and around the world. It was held at the city's massive Merchandise Mart concurrently with NEXT: The Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art.
As the sustainability movement gains ground — in food production and dining, in transportation, energy use and housing — another front is emerging: sustainable crafts. Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Miami University Art Museum, sustainable metalsmith Gabriel Craig of Houston will speak on “Crafting Activism in an Age of Ambivalence.” That will be followed by an exercise in conceptual jewelry-making called Performance: The Pro Bono Jeweler at Shriver Center’s West Patio 11 a.m.-5 p.m.