There was something magnetic about Manifest Gallery when I walked into it late last Thursday afternoon.
And it wasn’t the space, designed to be charming with its recently opened art shows, the echoes of my slow-moving footsteps and the lost keystrokes of someone at a nearby office desk.
It was the well-curated combination of two resident artists hiding away behind those things — tangled in freshly minted work, upcoming moves and new things to create.
Nicholas Mancini and Jeremy Plunkett were in their neighboring studios sifting through iTunes and working on their prospective projects when I found them in the building’s back half. They were thinking about their past year in Cincinnati, and the artwork that was a result of it.
“Immediately it’s like this last breath and now I’m almost lost as to where I’m going to go,” Mancini says. “Your work is going there up to this point and now it’s out there. You’re done with it, and now it’s up.”
The two resident artists (plural for the first time this year), who are both painters from life (though they both work in other mediums too), opened their end-of-the-residency exhibition MAR Showcase May 30.
Mancini’s portion of the show is made by a compelling collection of moments painted perceptual remnants in his show Vestige, and Plunkett’s by an intimate, meticulously detailed collection of photorealistic light paintings in his show Container.
“I always find myself very attracted to what’s called the sublime feeling, and I try to get there with my work and it’s always been a theme,” Plunkett says. “Can I represent light in the most pure, realistic way?”
Plunkett is the type of artist who will trick you (cause you to triple-take a work until you realize it isn’t a photograph, but a humanly rendered painting), and one whose extraordinary attention to detail made me wish I knew something as preciously as he does his 6-by-4-inch, light-through-plastic-bag paintings.
Also hewn with oil, Mancini’s work balances Plunkett’s beautifully. Emotional abstractions of figures, still life and portraits reminded me first of some sweet melody, without any close look at or step up to. Full of fleeting pleasure and the sunset’s best colors, his work is briefer, shattered, and is able to catch you just in time to fall as you do.
“There’s a painting in the show that I did of my microwave and it’s like this thing, this moment,” Mancini says. “There’s this moment in a day where you go to open it and you go to put your coffee in because it’s been sitting there all day and it’s cold now, and you stop yourself and this thing you look at everyday becomes something else. And actually, I kind of like that way of thinking about it. When something becomes something else.”
After studying in several different art programs, graduating in 2010 and traveling through Norway and Italy for a year and a half, Mancini came to Manifest from his hometown of Swampscott, Mass. Plunkett came from Milwaukee after having earned his MFA at Ohio University, teaching art classes for a couple of years and then breaking from art to focus on cycling, before he again began craving a space that would enable him creatively.
Which is exactly what each of them got.
“They showed a high degree of commitment to a vein of work which showed strong intellect, a relationship to the broader history of the practice without being derivative, and a consistency that promised a trajectory that could be boosted by immersion an intense one-year program like ours,” says Jason Franz, Manifest executive director. “Based on their solo exhibits at the gallery I can say this has proven to be so true, as I am delighted with the results of this first set of MAR showcase exhibitions.”
Just before I left their studios, Plunkett caught me to tell me something I’d forgotten to ask him: that he and Mancini would leave the city with something beyond their new collections and everything that came with delving deeply into themselves during such a precise stretch of time. They’d leave with the memories and results that come from a shared residency, city and companionship that pushed and pondered and grew together as they did.
Leaning in the doorway between their two workspaces, Mancini merely turned up the corners of his mouth, nodded in agreement and then walked back to his blank canvas.
MAR Showcase features an artists' gallery talk at 5 p.m. Saturday and closes June 27. Manifest Creative Research Gallery, 2727 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, manifestgallery.org.
Old embraced new in a powerful way when Cincinnati’s oldest art institution, the Cincinnati Art Museum, purchased a new piece from local, contemporary artist Courttney Cooper this week.
"Cincinnati Map" is now part of the museum’s permanent collection and skillfully depicts the buildings, streets, and roadways that make our city one Cooper never tires of drawing. A piecemeal of 8.5-by-11-inch repurposed papers, "Cincinnati Map" is a Bic pen line rendition of downtown Cincinnati that Cooper worked on for a year and brought to life by memory alone.
"Courttney Cooper is one of the most ambitious and compelling artists working in Cincinnati,“ says Matt Distel, CAM adjunct curator of contemporary art. “His work not only speaks to Cincinnati but also addresses more universal concepts about how people experience their environment.”
Grown out of Northside’s Visionaries + Voices studio and gallery, "Cincinnati Map" was shown in Cooper’s first museum show at the Cincinnati Art Museum last year and will now be exhibited there as curatorial opportunities for it emerge.
Visual Arts Exhibition Season:
Memory Palace (Sept. 12, 2014-Feb.16,
Curated by Steven Matijcio
On the occasion of the CAC's 75th anniversary, this exhibition will present memory as soft, malleable clay. Rather than renewing the supposed fixity of facts, Memory Palace will revel in remembering as a creative act: highlighting the way our recollections shift actual histories into imperfect, obstructed, quintessentially human legacies.
Confirmed artists for this landmark exhibition include Louise Bourgeois, Spencer Finch, Mike Kelley, William Kentridge, Guillermo Kuitca, Jun Nguyen- Hatsushiba, Hans Op de Beeck, Dennis Oppenheim, Katrin Sigurdardottir and others to be announced. The CAC's extended community will also contribute to this project as we gather your stories in a variety of formats, from video interviews to forensic sketches. In turn, the CAC is commissioning reconfigurations of the organization's unofficial archives by artists like MK Guth, Nina Katchadourian and Kerry Tribe. This effort culminates in the CAC Lobby, where artist Pam Kravetz will orchestrate community-centric projects including a television show, carnivalesque games and a monumental memory quilt.
Taiyo Onorato and
Nico Krebs: Blockbuster (Sept. 12,
Curated by Kevin Moore
The Swiss-born, Berlin-based duo Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs respond with humor and wit to various traditions of modernist architecture, documentary photography and the heroic travelogue. By pecking at such constructions, the artists reveal a more whimsical, ironic and subjective vision of the structures and technologies that shape the ways we see and live. And while much of their practice is photographic, the artists' engagement with other media — film, sculpture, sound — sheds the artifice of objectivity to celebrate eccentric reconstructions of the world around us. This is the first major museum exhibition for Onorato and Krebs in the United States, presented by FotoFocus.
Duke Riley and
Frohawk Two Feathers: Based on a True
Story (Oct. 10, 2014-March 22, 2015)
Curated by Steven Matijcio
History's once unquestionable integrity has eroded over time, with as much fiction, interpretation and imagination revealed in the pages of our esteemed libraries as actual facts and events. Twisting fact, fantasy and fabrication into an outsider's view of western civilization, this exhibition brings together two artists who have turned historical fiction into a habitual calling. Boston-born Duke Riley marries what he calls "populist myth" and "reinvented historical obscurities" with field research, participatory craft and museological display. Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based Frohawk Two Feathers is an artist, historian, and self-described "myth-maker" who re-imagines 18th century colonial history through a fictive cast of slaves, revolutionaries, militiamen and aristocrats.
Anne Lindberg and
Saskia Olde Wolbers: Unmade (Oct. 10,
2014-March 22, 2015)
Curated by Steven Matijcio
Artists Anne Lindberg and Saskia Olde Wolbers dissolve the familiarity that accumulates with time, habit and space. Lindberg pushes drawing on and off the page, obsessively inscribing lines that evade both resolution and definition. Dutch-born, London-based Wolbers orchestrates a cinematic fantasy with equal enigma. By submerging handmade sets into water and coaxing narratives to masquerade as reality, she melts the seemingly digital polish of her films with painterly contingency. The ensuing dialogue between the artist's works softens the geometry of the gallery space, obscuring hard lines and sharp corners to float towards a mysterious horizon.
Daniel Arsham: Erasing The Present (March 20-Aug. 16,
Curated by Steven Matijcio
The work of prodigious Cleveland-born artist Daniel Arsham is said to "make architecture do all the things it shouldn't." Blurring the lines between theatre and hallucination, some of his best-known works appear to melt the solidity of gallery walls, such that they appear to be dripping, folding, oozing or absorbing furniture. In more recent years he has begun to cast aging media devices — including cameras, film projectors and microphones — from granulated materials like volcanic ash, sand, crystal and crushed glass. This is the first large-scale Ohio exhibition for Arsham, who became widely known (at the age of 25) when asked to design a stage set for the legendary Merce Cunningham.
Albano Afonso: Self-Portrait As Light (March 20-Aug.
Co-Curated by Steven Matijcio and Alice Grey Stites
For Brazilian artist Albano Afonso light is the elusive, but no less essential element that makes painting, photography, film and vision itself possible. Through photographs, installations, projections and luminous objects he gives light a sculptural presence, and measures its ability to both elucidate and obscure. Such affect is spoken through the language of art history, as Afonso reformulates time-honored traditions of portraiture, still life, vanitas and landscape. This will be Afonso's first major exhibition in the United States, and it will extend across the CAC and 21c Museum Hotel.
James Lee Byars and
Matt Morris: the perfect kiss (QQ)* (April
17-Sept. 13, 2015)
Curated by Matt Morris
Throughout his life, American artist James Lee Byars (1932-97) framed his work with elusive notions of questioning and perfection. Both his enduring marriage and his flirtatiousness with German artist Josef Beuys (whom he sent lyrical letters and objects) serve as fodder for an exhibition that is both art and exchange. the perfect kiss (QQ)* is both a curatorial and creative undertaking for Morris, who will develop an installation of works by Byars in conjunction with a number of his own artistic interventions. The exhibition's title references a 1974 artwork by Byars, while also speaking to the 25th anniversary of Robert Mapplethorpe's exhibition The Perfect Moment.
Titus Kaphar: The Vesper Project (April 17 – Sept.
Co-Curated by Titus Kaphar and Steven Matijcio
Marrying appropriation, archaeology and iconoclasm, Kaphar's work sifts through the racial politics of art history. The Vesper Project is a massive sculptural statement in which his paintings are woven into the walls of a 19th century American house. It is the culmination of a five-year engagement with the lost storylines of the Vespers, a 19th century family who "passed" as a white family in New England even as their mixed heritage made them "Negro" in the eyes of the law. In this project, the members of this family and their histories are intertwined with Kaphar's autobiographical details, posing broader cultural questions of identity and truth.
Taylor Mac: An Abridged Concert of The History of
Political Popular Music (1939 – now) (September 2014)
Taylor Mac (who prefers the pronoun ‘judy’) is a “ragingly original and bracingly radical [and] best cabaret performer” from New York (TimeOut). The Obie Award-winning playwright, actor, and singer-songwriter transforms into a bedazzled creature who leads us into a decidedly personal history of music, ideas, and ways of being — in a hilarious and healing performance ritual. Mac delves deep into the history of political music for this performance, the latest in judy’s series of concerts exploring the last 240 years of popular songs in America. Funny and moving with a sweet, powerful voice, judy has the bantering skills of a veteran drag artist.
Ben Frost: A U R O R A live (October, 2014)
Ben Frost’s music is about contrast, influenced as much by classical minimalism as by punk rock and metal. It has a visceral presence, felt as much as heard. Muscular yet cerebral, ambient yet urgent, Frost’s compositions merge guitar-based textures, musique concrète samples, and building-shaking amplified electronics into sweeping digital soundscapes. A U R O R A is the Australian producer’s fifth album. The music leads the audience towards a bleak place filled with synthetic forms, decaying objects and metals devoid of emotion, exploring blinding luminescent alchemy; not with benign heavenly beauty but through decimating magnetic force. In 2010 he was awarded the music protégé in The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative and spent two years learning from and working with music producer, theorist, and composer, Brian Eno. Last year Frost debuted his first opera, The Wasp Factory, based on the Iain Banks novel and produced “The Enclave,” a multi-channel video and sound installation that premiered at the Venice Biennale.
Nils Frahm with Dawn of Midi (November 17, 2014)
Since his early childhood, Nils Frahm has been immersed in music, particularly in the styles of classical pianists before him as well as contemporary composers. Today Frahm works as an accomplished composer and producer from his Berlin-based Durton Studio. His unconventional approach to an age-old instrument, played contemplatively and intimately, has won him many fans around the world. Frahm displays an incredibly developed sense of control and restraint in his work, catching the ear of many fans. The recognition of his immense talent has been steadily growing thanks to his previous solo piano works, include Wintermusik (2009) and The Bells (2009), and Felt (2011). Last year, he returned with the celebrated new album Spaces, a collection of pieces that perfectly expresses Frahm’s love for experimentation and answers the call from his fans for a record that truly reflects what they have witnessed during his concerts.
And it might’ve been Jean Renoir’s doing. The filmmaker’s honest, sideways smirk that’s good at whispering you in to laugh at life at or with him.
For me, he was the one whose 77-year-old face, through the gap of a narrow doorway, led me in to look upon his ruthlessness magnified, given new life by Richard Avedon and brought to light by Brian Sholis, the museum’s new curator of photography.
“It wasn’t until the 1970s when museums started taking photography seriously,” Sholis says. “The art world stopped writing it off as so mechanical and lacking real talent, so museums like this one began acquiring a lot of it.”
Which explains the 4,000-field, photographical rundown Sholis was sent before moving from New York to Cincinnati to take his curatorial position in 2013. The database was a list of every museum-owned piece of photography, and while studying it, Sholis noticed a pattern: two recognizable names in one row, repeated. An artist by an artist. Portraits of the Artist. You see where this is going.
“For people who don’t know much about the history of photography, they’re given another chance to connect here, and I wanted my first exhibition to be as welcoming as possible,” Sholis says. “Here, there’s twice the chance of hitting upon someone a visitor could recognize.”
Out of four-dozen artists-by-artists photographs, Sholis narrowed his exhibition selection to 14 of them, presenting Frida Kahlo by Bernard Silberstein, Picasso (with his son Claude) by Robert Capa and Miles Davis by Lee Friedlander, among others.
The dancer in me was especially drawn to modern mover Merce Cunningham by Barbara Morgan, who took Cunningham’s photo like he crafted his dances — with good faith in chance.
She shot the double-exposure by retrogressing her film after an initial shot and snapping Cunningham again in another position, not realizing the two bodies as one image until they’d been developed, much like Cunningham frequently rolled a die to dictate his movements and their sequences.
And while, like the individual pieces themselves, the idea of the exhibition is stimulating and timely (I don’t need to tell anyone about the portrait-in-the-form-of-iPhone-selfie phenomenon), the placement of the pieces is also noteworthy, and very thoroughly Sholis-thought-through.
The Mexican artist portraits are grouped together alongside a couple of painted face performers; partners in work and life, John Cage and Merce Cunningham share an intimate space on a portion of the gallery’s west wall; and Miles Davis is situated alone and dominantly, glaring over onlookers while avoiding awkward eye contact with Renoir (after being moved when Sholis saw the staring contest).
“These are more than just casual snapshots even though they look that way,” Sholis says. “These are kind of dialogues between the artists themselves and their creators, the photographers.”
And, of course, you.
When I interviewed Raphaela Platow, the Contemporary Arts Center’s director/chief curator, several weeks ago for this week’s CityBeat story about the institution’s 75th anniversary, I asked about some of the highlights of her tenure.
One was the 2008-2009 exhibition of abstracted and intense figurative paintings by then-octogenarian Austrian painter Maria Lassnig, who was little known in the U.S.
Platow had arranged for the show to travel here from London’s Serpentine Gallery, and it was presented as Lassnig’s first major solo U.S. museum show. It meant a lot to Platow, who as a native of Germany had been familiar with Lassnig’s work, and she was emotional addressing the audience on opening night. (The first CAC show Platow curated, work by Carlos Amorales, also opened that night.)
Because of space considerations, not much about the Lassnig show was included in the story, beyond noting it as an example of CAC’s prescience, since MoMA-PS1 currently has a major retrospective of her work and calls her “one of the most important contemporary painters.”
Lassnig died last week at age 94. So, as a tribute to and remembrance of her, here are some excerpts from the interview with Platow (that was done before Lassnig’s death):
“I had a very personal relationship to the exhibition because I loved the work for many years,” Platow said. “It was really surprising to me she had never had a show in the U.S. I really felt she was one of most prominent female painters there is, and there are not that many female painters of that generation who are not part of the history, part of the discourse.
“In the area of painting, it was always the heroic male creating these amazing canvases, and here was Maria always struggling and staying her course. It meant a lot to me to present this first exhibition, and ever since then she won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, and PS1 now has a big show of her work. I’m happy we sort of spearheaded that.”
Lassnig did not come to Cincinnati for the opening of her 2008 show here. And as Platow recalled, it wasn’t all that easy even to get her paintings to town.
“We ended up taking a show that Serpentine in London put together because it’s extremely difficult to work with her,” she said. “She didn’t want her paintings to fly over ocean.
“We had to separate them out and put them on three different planes. She didn’t want all her work to be on one cargo plane. And she was extremely afraid of the work traveling overseas on a trans-Atlantic flight. It was very strenuous to get it here.
“I was so happy we did it, and it was a beautiful show and very meaningful for me.”
Read more about the CAC’s 75th anniversary here.
A diverse group of friends, family and various artist-types who knew and loved 1305 Gallery owner Lily Mulberry will gather together at several different events this coming weekend to celebrate the life of the longtime OTR resident/gallery owner.
Mulberry was diagnosed more than two years ago with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system, but she kept the gallery on Main Street open and running long after many neighboring galleries closed. The longtime OTR resident and arts advocate died at Jewish Hospital April 16 at the age of just 31 and is survived by her husband of almost seven years, Richard Applin. She is also survived by mother Jackie Mulberry of Woodlawn, Ky.; father Rick Faigle of Covington, Ky.; two sisters, Jesse Mulberry-Faigle of Covington and Johnna Mulberry of Ohio; and stepsister Danna Faigle of Michigan.
exhibition at 1305 Gallery featured Mulberry’s own work, and nine years
later — almost to the day — friends and loved ones will host an opening reception
for Thank You Lily: Part I, an
exhibition featuring the artist’s own work juxtaposed with pieces from her own
collection, including but not limited to artists who’ve shown at the
gallery. Lily’s friends Michael
Stillion and Melanie Derrick are curating the show and all proceeds will go to the
family. A donation can also be made to
the Lily Mulberry Memorial Fund at any U.S. Bank branch. Thank You Lily opens 6-9 p.m. Friday at 1305 Main Street, OTR. More information here.
Another celebration of Lily Mulberry’s life will happen this Saturday at her alma mater, Covington Latin School. Also hosted by friends (of which, Miss Mulberry had many), this gathering will include music, food and speeches of remembrance as well as a collaborative memorial art project. Celebrate Lily runs 4:30-7 p.m. Saturday at 21 E. 11th St., Covington, Ky. Details here.
Both events are free and open to the public.
The Contemporary Arts Center marks its 75th anniversary with the launch of its newly redesigned website, contemporaryartscenter.org.
By adding a timeline and a list of exhibits dating back to 1939, the updated site highlights some of the museum’s most notable attractions through videos and interactive learning. The historical timeline depicts an honest look at what Cincinnati was like in 1939 and displays the iconic artists that put the CAC on the map. In 1940, Picasso’s Guernica toured the Midwest for its first and only time and made a pit stop in Cincinnati. In 1963, the Pop art show An American Viewpoint was one of the first exhibitions of its kind. And in 1990, nearly 81,000 people visited the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition.
Along with the illustrated timeline and videos, the CAC site also offers lesson plans, exhibit brochures, audio files and slideshows about past exhibits. New features like online ticket admission and family visitor information have been added. After 75 years and hundreds of amazing artists, the Contemporary Arts Center has proven it’s still the coolest place in Cincinnati to spark your creativity and become inspired.
FORM, a Cleveland-based creative services firm, designed the visual layout of the site.
Five years ago, Over-the-Rhine was considered one of the most dangerous and dilapidated neighborhoods in the United States, a title earned through a controversial analysis of the area’s crime statistics. Today it’s a different story, with Over-the-Rhine at the forefront of community revitalization, and Washington Park at the core of that progress.
At last year’s inaugural LumenoCity, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra brought in a total of 35,000 spectators over two nights to see Music Hall come to life through a visual and musical collaboration. The crowds alone were proof of the growth OTR has made as a neighborhood and the mark it continues to make on Cincinnati.
This year, the free concert experience will be expanded to three days – Aug. 1-3, rain or shine. The 40-minute, all-new visual performances promise heart-pounding music paired with stunning animation.
Using a technique called architectural mapping, three-dimensional graphics will be projected from trailers on Race Street onto the façade of Music Hall, quite literally shining a light on a cherished city landmark. Each performance will begin at 8:30 p.m. with John Morris Russell conducting the orchestra as the Cincinnati Pops. After a brief intermission, Music Director Louis Langree will lead the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the light show for the second time.
In an interview with CityBeat’s Anne Arenstein last year, Langree stated why he loved performing in Over-the-Rhine over other venues: “There’s a great sense of creativity and innovation you can feel. Washington Park is a great venue. I know that at one time it was a sketchy place but now it’s alive and thriving. To see so many thousands of people gathered to celebrate the city was marvelous.”
The visual elements for the concert’s second half are being developed by Brave Berlin, a world-class creative design and production company based in Cincinnati. Music to be featured in the second performance include Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” John Adams’ “Short Ride in a Fast Machine,” the fourth movement from Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, Elgar’s “Nimrod” and Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances.” Details of the concert’s first half with Russell and the Cincinnati Pops will be announced on a date closer to the festival.
LumenoCity isn’t just a collaboration between some of Cincinnati’s best music and art scenes, but a celebration of the city itself. In addition to the performances, organizers are planning an all-new LumenoCity Village with pre-concert performances, arts and crafts, and greatly expanded food and beverage services. Two additional speaker arrays are being added this year for improved sound coverage, as well as expanded restroom services. Performers from the May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Opera will also be showcased during the event.
The village will open at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 1, and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The designated viewing area inside Washington Park will be fenced in to ensure guest safety and comfort, and attendance within that designated area will be capped at 12,500 people each night. All are welcome, and this year’s concerts will be free to the general public, but ticketed. Advance tickets will be offered starting May 19 to CSO and Pops season ticket holders. Complimentary tickets will be available starting Monday, June 9, at 8 a.m. at lumenocity.com and will be issued until capacity is reached. For audience members without a computer or Internet access, a supply of free tickets will be made available to several of CSO’s partner organizations. In addition to the www.lumenocity2014.com website, the CSO has established a LumenoCity telephone information line at 513-744-3372.
The Cincinnati Art Museum announced today that Aaron Betsky will be stepping down as director of the museum. Betsky, who has worked as director at CAM for seven years, will leave the position once his successor is determined.
From the press release:
"The museum now has the programming and staff in place, and the financial stability that will allow me to openly pursue my next position," noted Mr. Betsky. "I feel that I have accomplished the goals that I and the Board had envisioned when I first arrived and would like to explore opportunities that may include or combine my academic interests and institutional experience."
The CAM Board of Trustees is assembling a search committee to find a successor. Betsky will assist in this decision.
"Aaron has effectively led the Cincinnati Art Museum through one of the most challenging periods in our history and did so while adding new facilities, growing our program, attracting record audiences, and raising money both for capital projects and our endowment," said Dave Dougherty, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. "He brought a vision, energy and acumen that will continue to serve the museum into the future."
Go here to read CityBeat's recent interview with Betsky, wherein the the director discusses changes and challenges at CAM.