CityBeat Blogs - Visual Art http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-37-28.html <![CDATA[Contemporary Arts Center Announces 2016-17 Season]]> The Contemporary Arts Center announced its 2016-17 exhibition season last evening during a special presentation to its Board of Trustees and media. At the same time, it also previewed several performances scheduled for that same season. (There may still be another art exhibition added.)

The biggest takeaways from the announcement are that the CAC is striving for diversity in the artists it will show next year, and that it doesn’t believe painting is passé in Contemporary art. 

The first show, indeed, features one of Britain’s greatest living painters, Glenn Brown. 

“We wanted to celebrate painting,” says Steven Matijcio, CAC curator. “I think because it’s been the preeminent medium of the past, sometimes it gets secondary status in today’s art world. Glenn Brown makes very few works per year because he spends so much time on them. If an Old Master were living today, he would be that person.”

Here is the list of shows, edited from a CAC press release. A fuller story will appear in next week’s The Big Picture column in CityBeat.

GLENN BROWN

Sept. 9, 2016 to Jan. 15, 2017:

Organized by the Des Moines Art Center; Curated by Jeff Fleming

This is the first solo museum exhibition in the United States to survey the work of renowned London-based artist Brown. Painting steadily for the last three decades, Brown crafts paintings with an immaculate, almost supernatural level of detail and fluidity.

ROE ETHRIDGE: NEAREST NEIGHBOR

Oct.7 2016 to March 12, 2017

Organized by FotoFocus; Curated by Kevin Moore

The exhibition leads the programming for the 2016 FotoFocus Biennial, which explores the theme of the Undocument in photography. Nearest Neighbor is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. and will present over 15 years of photographs.

NOEL ANDERSON: BLAK ORIGIN MOMENT

Feb. 10 to June 18, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

Noel Anderson is a Louisville-born artist and a professor at the University of Cincinnati, presently working in New York City. He is known for complex investigations into the evolving makeup of black-male identity translated through a variety of textiles — from old rugs to digitally produced tapestries. 

UGO RONDINONE: CHROMAphile

May 5 to Aug. 27, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Raphaela Platow

This exhibition will celebrate a new iteration of the Swiss-born, NY-based artist Ugo Rondinone’s color spectrum series that congregates his art, the gallery architecture and every visitor to the space as collaborators in an all-encompassing experience. 

NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY: THE PREDECESSORS

July 14 to Oct. 20, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center & Tang Museum, Skidmore College; Co-Curated by Ian Berry & Steven Matijcio

When Njideka Akunyili left Lagos for the U.S. at age 16, she detoured from her initial plan to be a doctor to pursue painting and tell another side of Nigeria’s story. She fuses painting, drawing, collage and the use of transfers — a typically Western printing process that involves transferring ink from photographs using solvent. 

JANE BENSON: HALF-TRUTHS

July 14 to Oct. 20, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

The story of two Iraqi brothers who escaped from Baghdad in early 2002 becomes a vehicle for British-born, N.Y.-based artist Jane Benson to explore the social reverberations caused by geo-cultural separation. The artist uses music to tell the story in a dual-channel video entitled Finding Baghdad (Part A), which serves as the show’s centerpiece. 

THE I-71 PROJECT

October through November, 2016 

Organized by the CAC, MOCA Cleveland and Columbus Museum of Art; Curated by Anne Thompson

The I-71 Project is a collaborative venture uniting three major art centers across Ohio to present art on billboards that confront the theater and confusion of elections in the U.S. It is organized by artist, writer and 2015-16 Missouri School of Journalism Fellow Anne Thompson, who successfully organized a similar project called The I-70 Sign Show. Some of the key artists will include Mel Bochner, Marilyn Minter, and Kay Rosen.

  • Here are the three performances that Drew Klein, performance curator, announced:

RADHOUANE EL MEDDEB: 

JE DANSE ET JE VOUS EN DONNE A BOUFFER

(I DANCE, AND GIVE YOU SOME TO EAT)

November 17-18, 2016

Here, Radhouane is immersed in his loves of dancing and cooking, creating and celebrating a bridge between the two. Seated before his couscous maker, he prepares a meal and dances with all the grandeur, generosity and poetry inspired by these two arts.  Between tomato concentrate, zucchini, carrots and cinnamon: a leap, a glance, a suspension or a rupture. Between the semolina and a chassé croisé, the dish simmers. This dazzling choreographic offering evokes all the senses in an almost synesthetic experience, the audience seized by the scents drifting through the air and captivated by the movement infused with generosity and poetry.

JAN MARTENS: SWEAT BABY SWEAT 

January 19-20, 2017

In Sweat Baby Sweat, Martens zeroes in on the most clichéd theme in dance: the relationship between a man and a woman. He traces the arc of their lifetime together in this physically demanding and intimate examination of a couple that just can’t let each other go. 

NAPOLEON MADDOX: TWICE THE FIRST TIME 

February 22-24, 2017

In the performance Twice The First Time, Maddox will dance, sing and rap the story of Millie-Christine, conjoined twins born into American slavery in 1851, into the 21st century. They were aunts of Maddox’s grandmother. 

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<![CDATA[Animated Films with Insects]]>

When I lived in Los Angeles, one of the most unforgettable events I attended was a screening of films by the 20th-century Russian animator Ladislaw Starewicz, who used insects in his amazingly inventive animated films. (He also used puppets.)

He placed the insects into various settings and then shot the stop-motion films frame by frame. A Jazz/New Music group called Tin Hat Trio played a live score to accompany the visuals.

Lo and behold, the Mini Microcinema on Tuesday (April 19) is presenting Starewicz’s films in the auditorium of Covington’s Carnegie. And there will be a live score played by Little Bang Theory, a group led by Detroit composer Frank Pahl. They play children’s instruments and toys.

There will be a reception starting at 6 p.m. and the performance gets underway at 7 p.m. It is free. This is the last event for the Mini during its residency at The Carnegie. It should be a rewarding one. For more information, please visit www.mini-cinema.org.

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<![CDATA[Slice of Cincinnati]]>

With both the Contemporary Arts Center and the Cincinnati Art Museum now offering free admission, and more galleries popping up in Over-the-Rhine and Camp Washington, there’s never been more opportunities to see fine art (for free) in Cincinnati. However, the best-kept secret of Cincinnati art lies in the Art Academy of Cincinnati. That’s right — let’s go back to where many artists get their start: art school.

From the complex layers surrounding everything around us to the concepts on concealing, revealing and everything in between, students at the Art Academy are exploring many realms this spring in their senior thesis shows.

The thesis shows are the final requirement for students of all majors to graduate from the Art Academy, exhibiting the culmination of their work completed over their academic career there. What makes the students’ exhibitions interesting is their creative freedom to center them on any theme or subject they choose.

For many students, it is their first exhibition and introduction into the professional art world. For many gallery visitors, it is a look at the youngest and newest talent in the art world. In addition to displaying their work, students are responsible for all other aspects of the exhibitions, such as lighting and publicizing their event.

“The thesis show is crucial to every student,” says Aaron Broughton, whose work is featured in the thesis show THIS/THAT. “It's that instance at the end of education that says, ‘Look out world, I'm here to fuck shit up!’ ”

THIS/THAT, which closed tonight with a reception from 5-8 p.m., has no prevailing theme; instead, it is a combination of solo shows for the six students represented. The eclectic sample features fashion design, photography, painting, sculpture, video and more.

“The school teaches us a bunch of tools, figuratively and literally, then gives us a bunch of opportunities,” Broughton says. “Then we learn to put in the hard work to make them worthwhile. It's prepared me to seek what I want and grab any opportunity I can.”

Art Academy Professor Jimmy Baker says it is important not only that the students create work, but also for them to learn to put their work into the world for criticism and public engagement.

As each exhibition remains on display for only one week, visitors can see the Art Academy transformed into a new world to explore each week from March through April. The rich curry of mediums and topics explored give viewers a little bit of everything, such as Katie Barnett’s fusion of plant displays into sculpture, Leslie Hacker’s series of pillows printed with images of nudes or Morgan Greer’s exploration of hair with braids forming into intricate designs and sculptures.

“I feel like our seniors have a real interesting interdisciplinary senior year,” Baker says. “Sometimes we have people who may be majoring in sculpture but making video, we have people who are designers but might end up doing performance.”

While you will probably never be disappointed with a visit to any art exhibit in Cincinnati, be sure to make your way to the Art Academy this month to catch some innovative and thought provoking art from Cincinnati’s freshest up-and-coming talent. The last senior thesis show, Zenith, runs until April 29.

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<![CDATA[Friday Night Sights]]>

There are so many good art events going on this coming weekend, I wish I could clone myself in order to attend everything without going mad or (maybe worse) hangry. And it’s noteworthy to mention that much of the work being shown Friday evening emphasizes the art-going experience over the exhibition of objects.

San Francisco-based Cincinnati-native conceptual artist Tom Marioni gave a lecture at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning and held a participatory performance called Art History, Philosophy and Dirty Jokes at The Littlefield this past Tuesday. 

Marioni, who weaves conviviality into all of his work is perhaps best known for his ongoing social art, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art, which he’s been enacting since 1970. West-coast conceptualists like Marioni have long investigated public actions as an alternative to the creation of an art object. 

Tonigh, Marioni will be present for an opening of his more object-based art (in this case, dry fresco, drawings and bronze sculptures) at Carl Solway gallery, and his work seems like an interesting counterpoint to the very tangible, stitched work of up-and-coming artist Elsa Hansen (b. 1986). Hansen, originally from Louisville, Ky., cross stitches 8-bit portraits of famous subjects like R. Crumb and R. Kelly, or pop cultural events like when Olympic diver Greg Louganis hit his head on the springboard in 1988, and — like Marioni’s work — Hansen’s relies on wit and humor. 

Both the Art Academy and UC will have exhibition openings of their students’ thesis work Friday evening. Caliber, the AAC’s senior thesis exhibition will feature the work of six students, while the Contemporary Arts Center hosts the work of 15 MFA students from DAAP.

I had the chance to speak with DAAP grad Mary Clare Rietz regarding her ongoing social practice project On The Map|Over-the-Rhine involving what she terms “aesthetic action”. 

Rietz and fellow collaborators like social practice artist and AAC professor Anissa Lewis have been working on this project together for several years, engaging unlikely stakeholders from the neighborhood (long-time residents, new residents, developers and business owners) via creative mapping, guided walks, performances, and story sharing. Rietz’s project is informed by a key concept in social network theory, “the strength of weak ties”, i.e. the idea that a network is strongest when people connect across differences.

The artist calls OTR a “highly dense, close-quarters place where development is creating diversity but not always connection,” so the potential to connect across difference is ripe here; and Rietz’ decades of experience working in community organizing give her a unique set of skills to respond to these disconnects. 

Through conversation and strategic engagement, On The Map|Over-the-Rhine asks the question:  Are people who feel connected more likely to work together toward goals that meet the diverse needs and interests of all?

To that aim, the artist has had events happening all week in the lobby of the CAC, and Friday evening Rietz will put on yet another creative community building project, WHO DO YOU WANT TO MOVE?, which will invite viewers to witness and participate in creating connections between unlikely OTR stakeholders, forged though dance. 

The participatory performance/procession will start at Buddy’s Place in the heart of OTR at 13th and Vine streets and move to the CAC, where more performances will be put on for museumgoers at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Finally, contemporary avant-garde performance art by experimental sound artist Guillermo Galindo and interdisciplinary artist, DAAP professor Mark Harris, opens Friday night at Wave Pool in Camp Washington. 

Inspired by John Cage’s words describing music as “a purposeless play,” Galindo and Harris will each perform during the opening night, and the objects left behind after each performance will act as the exhibition in the gallery space — reemphasizing the experience of the performance as the true art form.

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<![CDATA[Matthew Kolodziej's Paintings at Solway Look But Aren't Purely Abstract]]>

Upon first encountering Matthew Kolodziej’s wonderful artwork at Carl Solway Gallery’s Patch Work: New Paintings show (through Saturday), you might think he’s reviving the colorfully splattering, helter-skelter Abstract-Expressionist style of Jackson Pollock. But first appearances can be deceiving.

He explains, in answer to an inquiry, that he starts the paintings by putting together photo collages of places he’s seen that are in a state of transition. He then puts those through an illustrator program that turns them into line drawings, often with altered images.

These are projected onto a canvas and traced out with brushes. He uses a combination of modeling pastes and acrylics applied with putty knives to build up the paintings. He sometimes traces over lines with heavy gels to create a raised surface where paint can be filled in.

So there are concrete origins, actual images, to his work — it isn’t non-objective. You can see they’re rooted in some kind of place, and you can establish a perspective that gives definition and even a sense of kaleidoscopic movement to the canvases.

This is most clearly and thrillingly evident in the fantastic “Shanty,” an acrylic painting. As you study its mosaic-like structure, you begin to sense you’re getting an overview of a crowded town on a mountainside, like in Rio, with a beltway of trees and strip of water beyond (at the top of the canvas).

It’s a breathtakingly beautiful painting, and the show has other excellent ones, too, like “Blaze” and “Diode.”

Kolodziej is an art professor at University of Akron. One hopes there will be more shows of his demanding, rewarding work at Solway.


For more information, visit solwaygallery.com.

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<![CDATA[Slice of Cincinnati: Wave Pool]]>

Surrounded by books, pamphlets and zine titles such as Noodle Doodle Coloring Book, never date dudes from the internet and How to Talk to Your Cat about Gun Control, Luke Kindle looks up from his nook in Wave Pool art gallery to cars whizzing past the window through the Camp Washington neighborhood.

One half of the husband-and-wife team that founded the gallery, Cal Cullen, enters the gallery with a mug of coffee for Kindle. Her 18-month-old daughter Alice toddles not far behind, ready to run around the gallery. The furry pink rug underneath the swinging pink monkey sculpture is calling her name.

Skip Cullen joins his family in the gallery and tells me that Alice is obsessed with the furry pink monkey piece, otherwise known as “Not My Circus” by Pam Kravetz. Watching Alice run and dance around the gallery, it seems to be the most whimsical playground a toddler could ask for. It is also the site of Wave Pool’s current exhibit, Cincinnati 5: Artists Impacting the Community.

The exhibit complements the newly released book of the same title by Emily Moores, which explores the practice of five local visual artists and highlights their connections to the city. The gallery features new works from each of the artists, not only as a glimpse into their studios, but also as a celebration of the local visual arts community.

Skip says the goal of Wave Pool is to elevate the arts scene in Cincinnati. The contemporary art fulfillment center hosts eight exhibits per year, which pair local artists with national and internationally recognized artists. The center consists of art studios, a woodshop and other spaces community spaces that can be rented out for private events.

Wave Pool is also the site of a small shop of quirky reading material. In addition to art books that complement the exhibitions, there is an array of humorous titles to choose from. “We also wanted to be a weird, indie book place,” Skip says.

Kindle, a fine arts student at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning, tells me he plans to reads all of them over the summer when he isn’t busy with school.

After meeting as graduate students at DAAP, the Cullens say they always had the dream to open a gallery together. While they lived in San Francisco for five years, they came back to Cincinnati to start the gallery. The couple agrees that there are not enough opportunities for local artists in Cincinnati, and they started Wave Pool to create more.

Despite being located in an old firehouse, Cal and Skip say what makes Wave Pool unique is the artist in residency program, which pays two artists per year to engage with the community in a unique way. The residency application is open to everyone, and the committee chooses artists based on how they will engage the community.

This year’s artists in residence are Sam Ihrig and Anna Riley from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Valerie Molnar and Matt Spahr from Richmond, Va.

Ihrig and Riley will bring their RIAS Studio (Research Institute of Analog Sampling), a project based on the origins and production of glass, to Wave Pool in May. RIAS Studio will explore the intimacy between maker and material and material and place through creating glass pieces specifically for Wave Pool from regionally and locally harvested materials.

The studio will also host a community workshop in which participants can join a geological expedition to identify and collect materials to create glass. They can then create their own formula in the studio and keep their unique Ohio glass.

Molnar and Spahr will transform Wave Pool into a plant rehabilitation center in July. People can leave their plants in the studio for as long as they’d like, while the plants may be groomed, repotted, fed and given other comforts for optimal happiness — such as appropriate humidity, lights and music. The team will also host workshops and lectures on plant care, yoga, guided meditation and other activities to help struggling plant owners.

Cal says Wave Pools looks for experimental art, such as interactive pieces. The gallery looks for work that pushes the envelope of what people believe is art. “Because we are a nonprofit, we’re all about education through art,” she says. While other galleries may look to feature artwork that sells, Wave Pool is dedicated to facilitating the interaction between artists and the local community. She adds that although Cincinnati has many disparate arts communities, Wave Pool is a space where any artist can feel supported.
For more information about WAVE POOL, visit wavepoolgallery.org.

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<![CDATA[Slice of Cincinnati: Cincinnati Art Museum's Conservation Department]]>

It’s the 15th century, and remnants of the Middle Ages hang over Europe as it unknowingly waits for the Renaissance. In the dim candlelight somewhere in Spain shines an altarpiece painted to depict the lives of St. Peter and Jesus Christ along with images of the Virgin Mary and other saints. With its impressive strokes of paint and gold and silver leaf, Lorenzo Zaragoza’s “Retablo of St. Peter” is remarkable to behold.

More than 600 years later, the altarpiece rests under the skilled hands of Cincinnati Art Museum’s chief conservator Serena Urry. With only the clack of museum visitor’s shoes disturbing the quiet peace, the setting resembles the serenity of the piece’s original home.

Zaragoza’s piece has stood the test of time, more or less. While it has been admired by thousands of Cincinnati Art Museum visitors since the museum purchased the piece in1960, it was taken off exhibit in 2010 due to its poor condition. It is now back on exhibit through April 24, as visitors can watch Urry bring the retablo to life again through cleaning all 18 of its panels.

It’s a two-in-one exhibit, giving visitors an insider’s look at the work done by the museum’s conservation department while they view and learn about the piece. Established in 1935, the museum’s conservation department is one of the oldest in the country. Since then it has grown from one part-time paintings conservator to four professionally trained conservators, each of whom have their own specialization in paintings, paper, textiles or objects. The department is in charge of conserving the museum’s entire collection (with the exception of works that are on loan to the museum).

Urry proposed the exhibit because the retablo needed to be treated before it could go back on view in the galleries. However, this is no small task — the retouching is not expected to be complete for another few years. On view in the exhibit is only the first step of the process: cleaning and consolidating.

“Museums usually put conservation on view to the public when the work of art is simply too big to remove it from the gallery or garden,” Urry says. Before the retablo was taken off exhibit, it was the only piece in the room it occupied.
Conserving a work of art like the retablo first involves examining them closely under infrared and ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light reveals differences on the painting’s surface that are not visible to the naked eye; infrared light reveals what is underneath the paint on the ground layer.

Urry says determining the full condition of a piece of art before beginning its conservation treatment is the hardest part of conserving art. The two most important tenants that guide painting conservation are reversibility, which ensures that nothing will be done to the work that cannot be removed later, and dissimilarity, which means suing conservation materials that are not found in the original painting.

Of course, Uri’s conservation efforts are not the first for the retablo. With a piece of art this old, it is common for there to be many years of retouching — the first effort to conserve the retablo may have occurred around the early 1500s. It is believed that the central sculpture of St. Peter was created to replace the original lost piece.

Urry’s work includes using a variety of solvents, hand tools and a hot air gun to remove the effects of older retouching campaigns, such as discolored varnish and wax. This includes a layer of wax added by the Art Museum in 1960 to contain flaking. Since then it has become clouded with dust and grime, and the wax tinted to match the gold leaf of the painting has discolored to a greenish metallic hue.

After cleaning, painting conservation also involves structural treatments, such as modifying or replacing the canvas, its lining and stretcher. There may also be surface treatments done to conserve paintings, such as filling losses of paint, toning the fillings and adding layers of varnish.

“All of the paintings in a multi-piece work like this should be worked on together to ensure consistency,” Urry says. “The gallery space gives me an opportunity to have all of them on view as they are conserved.”

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<![CDATA[Remember This Artist's Name: Ato Ribeiro]]> One of the most remarkable artworks I saw in Cincinnati in 2015 — in terms of its beauty and the painstaking effort that went into its creation — will soon leave town.

It was in a rear area of the Brick 939 pop-up market in Walnut Hills. It’s already no longer on view and just waiting to be sent back to its artist. But I have a feeling we’ll be hearing much more from that artist — Ato Ribeiro — responsible for the monumental-sized portrait, “Edith Motte Young, Forever,” made through a charcoal-erasing process on brown paper.

It is a 13-by-9-foot drawing of the Detroit artist’s great-grandmother. At that size, you immediately wonder if the image deserves the space devoted to it.

It does, indeed — the woman’s eyes look upward, hopefully and compellingly. She seems, in her vaguely Modernist apparel, to be both of our relatively recent past and timeless. And the work seems both authoritative and fragile, given the use of (crumpled) paper.

Communicating by email from Detroit, where he is working on his M.F.A. at Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Bloomfield Hills, Ribeiro explains his process.

 “(It) consists of applying a few flat layers of charcoal across each sheet of brown paper before crumpling each sheet into a little ball in order to work the creases into the paper,” Ribeiro says.

“These creases create the sense of a discarded object. After unraveling the paper, I would use a kneaded eraser to erase out my image's details, one little section at a time. There were no drawing tools involved in my process.

“Over the last 5 years, my work has gravitated towards the use of discarded natural and found objects as my preferred choice in materials. The reason the brown paper feels the way it does is because this was paper that I collected (close to the beach) while in Ghana a few months ago, where the tropical weather tends to get pretty humid. This easily accessible paper (in Ghana) is commonly used by students to cover their academic textbooks, protecting them from damage.

“Through the reductive process of charcoal erasing to create my subjects, I attempt to highlight several members of my African-American history (whom I use as role models in my life) while addressing the struggles that African-Americans face relating to the preservation of much of our culture. Also the work is intentionally not fixed so that viewers who do decide to touch the piece would become aware of the how easy it is to erase/remove part of our 'history.' ’’

Exactly how this piece came to be shown here — where it was on display Nov. 27-Jan. 3 — is an interesting story. A fellow Cranbrook artist from Cincinnati, Ingrid Alexandra Schmidt, heard of the opportunity and arranged for Ribeiro to present his work.

“Though I have never spent an extended amount of time in Ohio, Edith Motte Young ended up moving her family to Oberlin, Ohio in 1929 (where my grandfather went to Oberlin High School and Oberlin College before becoming a pilot),” Ribeiro says. “So I thought it would be a little poetic to send the piece of her back in that direction. Thus I applied and was later accepted.”

Ribeiro is at work on a Forever Young series of family portraits — Young is his mother's maiden name. When it is finished, one hopes to be able to see it in Cincinnati. From the work shown here, his series is a remarkable and inspirational display of love and respect (and artistic ability) from a young man to his family.

Meanwhile, the Brick pop-up shop and the organization behind it — MORTAR, which is out to empower residents of Over-the-Rhine and Walnut Hills through entrepreneurship — should be proud of giving Cincinnati a chance to see this fine artist.  For more information about him, visit atoribeiroart.com.

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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Art Museum to Screen 'Dior and I' Movie Sunday]]>

As a perfect accompaniment for its current High Style: Twentieth-Century Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection exhibition, the Cincinnati Art Museum is offering a free screening of the new documentary Dior and I this Sunday at 2 p.m.

The film, by director Frederic Tcheng, shows the high-pressure process by which new designer/creative director Raf Simons prepares to debut a line of clothing at Fashion Week.

Tcheng’s previous fashion documentaries include 2008’s Valentino: The Last Emperor and 2011’s Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel.

The screening is part of the monthly Moving Pictures series. It occurs in Fath Auditorium and no reservations are needed. There is a parking fee for non-members.

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<![CDATA[FotoFocus Takes its Mapplethorpe Symposium on the Road]]>

After a successful symposium here last month, FotoFocus is taking its Robert Mapplethorpe presentation, The Perfect Moment: 25 Years Later, on the road. (The Cincinnati symposium was called Mapplethorpe +25.)

In observance of the 25th anniversary of the unsuccessful obscenity trial in Cincinnati of the Contemporary Arts Center following the exhibition of The Perfect Moment there in 1990, FotoFocus will sponsor a panel discussion at 7 p.m. at New York’s cutting-edge New Museum, 235 Bowery.

It will be moderated by Kevin Moore, FotoFocus’ New York-based artistic director, and feature Amy Adler, law professor at New York University School of Law; Jennifer Blessing, senior photography curator at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; and Britt Salvesen, curator of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at Los Angeles County Museum. The latter three were on a panel in Cincinnati.

Further information about FotoFocus can be found at fotofocuscincinnati.org. Additional information about the Mapplethorpe + 25 symposium can be found at mapplethorpe25.org.

 

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<![CDATA[Tom Wesselmann Street Banners Offered for Sale]]>

If you’re looking for a way to honor Cincinnati-native Pop artist Tom Wesselmann in your front yard or in your home or office, you might be interested in one of these 30-by-89-inch museum street banners from the popular Wesselmann retrospective, Beyond Pop Art, that came to Cincinnati Art Museum last year. They have just been offered for sale at betterwall.com for $499 each; there are 74 available.

Alas, the banners are not actually from the Cincinnati stop on the traveling show. They are from the previous one at the Denver Art Museum. Our art museum did not use street banners to promote the show.

The banner features a reproduction of a very lovely large painting — oil on shaped canvas — that Wesselmann created in 1967, “Seascape #22.” It is based on his observations of women sunbathing in Cape Cod. He concentrated on the foot kicking up from the beach.

Wesselmann, who died in 2004 at age 73, studied at both University of Cincinnati and the Art Academy of Cincinnati before going to the Cooper Union in New York City. He began showing his work in New York in the early 1960s and became most famous for his Great American Nude series.

Better Wall specializes in selling surplus street banners from art institutions, such as Denver, Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum and more.

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<![CDATA[Beyond the Books]]>

I must confess, driving by a library and seeing a silhouette of a rhino through a window is pretty cool. But that was nothing compared to the large giraffe that nodded its head at me just a few feet inside the entrance of the main branch of the Boone County Public Library, in Burlington, Kentucky. Both are part of the 18-station Robot Zoo that moved into the library just six weeks ago, and will be staying for the next five months.

The Robot Zoo, a 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibit, displays a variety of huge robot animals including a giant squid, bat, platypus, rhino, chameleon, grasshopper and giraffe. Finding all the stations takes a bit of exploring since they’re scattered around the library, but after watching the large creatures move, I have to say it’s pretty cool. As I walked around I marveled at how each exhibit showed the unique traits of the animal, highlighting fun facts about their anatomy. “You kind of watch and see everything going on and then read how that ties in,” says Shawn Fry, assistant director of the Boone County Public Library. “That’s where the kind of learning is snuck in.”

Becky Kempf, Public Relations Coordinator, says the exhibit provides a lot of fun for kids. “It’s not going to be quiet here for the next few months,” she jokes after handing me the list of stations. Fry says the library is always trying new ways to engage the community. “[We’re] always looking for new ways to use our space, to bring people in, to excite people,” he says. “Right now STEM programming — the science, technologies, engineering [and math] — is the thing, a very exciting thing. This is a way to incorporate that.”

According to Kempf, the Robot Zoo exceeds the library’s wish list for a new program. “Our mission is to provide life-long learning opportunities for all ages,” she says, “so whether it’s through books or the research help that we provide or bringing something like this in…it’s right down our alley. It fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do.” Fry says the branch is lucky it’s big enough to house the exhibit, and describes the challenges of moving the parts inside. “The giraffe, I think, was the hardest,” he laughs, “and it’s kind of the entrance for the whole thing.”

“It’s been really interesting… seeing, in all kinds of ages, the enthusiasm in watching them build it,” adds Fry. “There were kids that came in today [Monday] that were all excited; they’d been waiting…and they were excited.” I don’t blame them; it was almost like walking through a quiet, indoor zoo, without having to dodge wayward geese or worry about sunburn. I observed the grasshopper twitching its antennae and peeked in its open side at the glowing innards, revealing the 10 sections of the abdomen. The rhino, a declared work-in-progress, pursed its large lips, emphasized to show how their texture helps trim its grassy food while the bat creaks from its upside-down perch in the corner.

Fry may say the exhibit is geared toward kids, but he and I both saw adults exploring too. “We kind of didn’t know it would be this cool,” Fry says, laughing. “Regardless of age, we’ve gotten lots of positive feedback.”

The Robot Zoo will be at the Burlington branch through Feb. 28, 2016. Admission is free, thanks to community sponsors, and the exhibit is open during library hours.

Other Boone County Public Library Events:
Ghosts of Rabbit Hash: Oct. 10 – Get a tour through the tiny town and hear about its haunts.
Herbs and Supplements: What’s right for you?: Oct. 13 – Learn about what natural healers and supplements are healthy or harmful.
Concert at the Library: Oct. 23 – Whiskeybent Valley performs at the Main branch.

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<![CDATA[CAC Announces the Death of Founding Member Peggy Crawford]]>

The Contemporary Art Center today announced that founding member Peggy Crawford died on April 18 in Santa Fe, N.M., where she had been living. She was one of three women who founded the CAC's precursor, the Modern Art Society, in 1939. She was able to come to the CAC last September to celebrate its 75th anniversary — an exhibition of her photography was part of the observance.

Here are excerpts from the CAC press release:

Contemporary Arts Center Director Raphaela Platow fondly recalled the impact that Peggy Crawford made on so many: "Mrs. Crawford’s life is an inspiration to me. As a young woman she was one of the three women founders of the Contemporary Arts Center (called Modern Art Society at the time), an institution she initiated, against all odds, in a moment in time when the Great Depression was still shaking the world and the second World War was about to erupt. It is so easy not to do something, to shy away from a great idea because of the many obstacles and hurdles in the way, a lack of resources, or fear of failure. But Peggy Crawford and her two companion co-founders created the Modern Art Society in 1939 because their lives urged them to do it. Mrs. Crawford applied the same passion, tenacity, and energy to her different life pursuits and I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to meet her and to spend time in her presence."

Born in 1917, Peggy Frank graduated from Smith College. In 1939, along with Betty Rauh and Rita Rentschler, she founded the Modern Art Society in Cincinnati, Ohio, which would become the Contemporary Arts Center.

The three founders had little  or no formal museum experience. For a year, their "office" consisted of a portable typewriter set up in a living room. At the start, the society had staunch backers and hard workers, but they had very little money and had only a borrowed gallery space in the basement of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

During the first year, the founders raised $5,000 to produce six exhibitions, each with a catalogue. Their first exhibition, Modern Paintings from Cincinnati (Nov.-Dec. 1939) showed their early commitment to showcasing up-and-coming local artists. 

The fledgling Modern Art Society mounted new and often controversial exhibitions, published catalogues, encouraged local artists and helped promote contemporary art collections and education. Between 1940 and 1951, the Modern Art Society exhibited such artists as Pablo Picasso (1940), George Grosz, Paul Klee and Alexander Calder (1942), Fernand Leger (1944), Rufino Tamayo (1947), Jean Arp (1949) and other new artists in abstraction, Surrealism, modern architecture and contemporary design. One of the highlights of this time was the Cincinnati showing of Picasso’s "Guernica" in 1940 because it represented the first and only time the important work was shown in the Midwest.

Peggy Frank married Ralston Crawford, a painter and photographer, who preceded her in death.

She is survived by two sons, Neelon (Susan Hill), and John, along with a stepson, Robert (Eldrid Crawford).

A memorial service was held at Kingston Retirement Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. April 30, 2015.

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<![CDATA[National Endowment for the Arts Offers Grant to CAC]]>

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will make a $50,000 grant to Contemporary Arts Center to help mount a survey exhibition of Korean-American artist Do Ho Suh in 2016. The CAC will also produce a catalog on the artist.

In a press release, CAC Director Raphaela Platow said, “We are delighted to have received this recognition from the NEA, it is a true vote of confidence to the quality of our curatorial program and the continued strength of this institution, as one of the oldest non-collecting contemporary art institutions in the country.”

Do Ho Suh: Passage, curated by the CAC's Steven Matijcio, is set for Feb. 12 to Sept. 11 of next year.  Suh, who moved to the U.S. in 1993, makes life-size fabric replicas of his homes. The CAC expects that, in Passage, his work will imaginatively complement Zaha Hadid's bold architecture.

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<![CDATA[FotoFocus Sponsors Upcoming Robert Mapplethorpe Symposium]]>

Last night before photographer Roe Ethridge's FotoFocus Lecture at Cincinnati Art Museum, FotoFocus' Artistic Director Kevin Moore announced the organization is co-presenting a two-day symposium on photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's work with the Contemporary Arts Center on Oct. 23-24.

It will mark the 25th anniversary of CAC's presentation of The Perfect Moment, the retrospective of Mapplethorpe's work that prompted conservative elements — led by then-Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. — to pursue criminal charges for alleged obscenity. (Some of Maplethorpe's work in the show was sexually graphic.) A Hamilton County jury cleared the museum of all charges.

Specifics for the symposium have yet to be announced, although indications are speakers from around the country will be invited. Also not yet announced is what, if any, works by Mapplethorpe will be shown and in what context.

Information should go on on the FotoFocus site when firm.

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<![CDATA[Call Board: Theater Seasons ]]> Every year, BROADWAY IN CINCINNATI brings to downtown Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center a series of touring shows that got started in New York City. This year marks the 20th year shows have been presented at the Aronoff. Today the presenters released details about what’s in store starting September and running through May 2016. There will be several recent Tony Award-winning productions coming our way: Kinky Boots (winner of six awards in 2013), Pippin (winner of four awards in 2013), Newsies (its score and choreography won awards in 2012) and one of the longest running Broadway revivals of all time, Cabaret (which won eight awards back in 1966 and more for much-lauded revivals in 1998 and 2014). Here’s the lineup:

Motown The Musical (Sept. 8-20) is the story of how Berry Gordy journeyed from being a featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music entrepreneur who founded Motown. His label launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more. The show premiered on Broadway two years ago and had a run of more than 700 performances.

Pippin (Oct. 13-18) was an early work by Stephen Schwartz, who made his name with shows as varied as Godspell and Wicked. Pippin began a five-year run in 1972 with a production that won five Tony Awards. It’s had several well-received Broadway revivals: The most recent in 2014 (now touring) was recognized as the season’s best revival with its extraordinary acrobatics, magical feats and great songs. It’s the story of a young prince in the Middle Ages on a death-defying journey to find meaning in his existence. His choices include a happy but simple life or a big flash of glory. With a clever circus filter, the show uses spectacular choreography — and features great songs such as “Magic To Do,” “Glory,” and “Morning Glow.”

Cast of the national touring production of Pippin
Photo: Terry Shapiro

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
(Nov. 24-Dec. 6) arrives right before Thanksgiving to kick off the holidays. It’s about two showbiz buddies who put on a production in a picturesque New England inn and find romance in the process. The tunes from this show are icons in the American Songbook (“Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “Sisters” and “Blue Skies”) as well as seasonal numbers like “Happy Holiday” and, of course, the title song.

Kinky Boots (Jan. 5-17, 2016) was named the best musical of 2013 by the Tonys, and it landed six more trophies (it had 13 nominations), so it’s a certified hit. (In fact, it’s still running on Broadway and a London production is in the works.) Maybe you remember the 2005 movie it’s based on about a struggling shoe factory that “reboots” itself to manufacture footwear for drag queens. For the stage version, it’s been tricked out with an upbeat score by Pop star Cyndi Lauper

Kinky Boots
Photo: Matthew Murphy

If/Then (Feb. 2-7, 2016) is a 2014 Broadway musical about living in New York today — and contemplating the possibilities of tomorrow. The show’s creative team made its mark with Next to Normal (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award); that show was a big hit (and revival) for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. If/Then follows two possible life paths for Elizabeth (played on Broadway by Idina Menzel), and it paints a moving portrait of the lives people lead, as well as the lives they might have led.

Newsies The Musical (March 1-13, 2016) was a 2012 crowd-pleasing musical based on a 1992 Disney film. It recounts real events from 1899 when a bunch of orphaned and homeless boys who hawked newspapers on street corners stood up to the power elite, personified by Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World. Their spunk and tenacity — aided by Gov. Theodore Roosevelt — resulted in a compromise that made a difference for the hardworking kids. The show has a great score and eye-popping choreography, both of which won Tony Awards.

Cabaret (May 10-22, 2016). It’s hard to believe but this show has been around for just about a half-century, winning awards every time it’s been staged on Broadway. The production coming to town is from the 2014 New York staging by Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall and American Beauty, and Rob Marshall (whose film of another Kander & Ebb musical, Chicago, was the 2002 Oscar-winning best picture, and who recently dazzled musical theater lovers with a fine rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.)

While the Broadway in Cincinnati season (sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and presented by TriHealth) is great news — the presentation of so many recent Broadway hits is a step up from several seasons with shows that hadn’t even made it to Broadway — but there’s lots more theater that’s been announced recently. Here are some quick rundowns:

The musical theater and drama programs at UC’S COLLEGE-CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC have announced mainstage productions for 2015-2016. David Edgar’s epic drama Pentecost will be at Patricia Corbett Theater on Oct. 1-4; the same venue will be the site for a coming-of-age comedy by Eugene O’Neill, Ah! Wilderness (Feb. 11-14, 2016). Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 musical Carousel will get a big-stage production at Corbett Auditorium (Oct. 20-Nov.1). The most exciting CCM news for 2016 is that the program has obtained the rights for one of the first university productions of American Idiot, based on Green Day’s Grammy-winning album of the same name. The show, nominated for a Tony as 2010’s best musical, will be presented at Patricia Corbett Theater (March 3-13, 2016), staged by Aubrey Berg, the musical theater program’s chair.

The 2015-2016 academic theater season at NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY has also been announced. It will start with Ken Ludwig’s theater-based comedy Moon Over Buffalo (Sept. 24-Oct. 4, Corbett Theatre), and continue with Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (Oct. 20-25) in the Stauss black box theatre. Back at the Corbett Theatre, Ahrens and Flaherty’s whimsical musical, Seussical will be staged (Nov. 12-22). For 2016, productions will include the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart 1930 comedy, Once in a Lifetime (Feb. 18-28, Corbett Theatre); George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion from 1913 (March 29-April 3, Stauss Theatre), later adapted into My Fair Lady; and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s fairytale mash-up, Into the Woods (April 21-May 1, Corbett Theatre).

North of Cincinnati at Springboro’s LACOMEDIA DINNER THEATRE, 2015 marks the 40th anniversary season at Ohio’s only combination theater and restaurant. It’s already under way with a staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific (through May 3), followed by The Addams Family (May 7-June 28), The Little Mermaid (July 8-Aug. 30), The Church Basement Ladies Last Potluck Supper (Sept. 3-Oct. 31) and A Christmas Story (Nov. 4-Dec. 31) for the holidays. The venue also presents a lunch-and-learn series for kids (featuring The True Story of the Three Little Pigs) and a concert series featuring an Elvis impersonator, music in the style of the Van Dells and a family of Gospel singers. Info: http://www.lacomedia.com.

A bit farther away and in the more or less the opposite direction, ACTORS THEATRE OF LOUISVILLE will begin its 2015-2016 season with August Wilson’s Seven Guitars (Sept. 1-20), then Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale (Oct. 6-25). Having seen The Hypocrites perform a daffy version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance early in 2014, I’m glad to hear that the inventive group will return to re-imagine H.M.S. Pinafore (Nov. 17-Dec. 13). Early in 2016, Actors Theatre will stage two shows already familiar to Cincinnati Playhouse audiences: Amy Herzog’s comedic drama 4000 Miles (Jan. 5-31, 2016) and Rick Elice’s Peter and the Starcatcher (Jan. 26-Feb. 17, 2016), a show that’s currently onstage locally at our own regional theater. The 40th anniversary of the venerable Humana Festival of New American Plays runs March 2 to April 10, 2016, typically featuring a half-dozen world premieres. Actors Theatre also presents two holiday-related shows for 2015: Dracula for Halloween (Sept. 9-Nov. 1, 2015) and A Christmas Carol (Nov. 24-Dec. 23, 2015). Info: http://www.actorstheatre.org.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.
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<![CDATA[Rondle West Piece Finds New Home]]>

One of my favorite Cincinnati artists is Rondle West, whose "assemblage sculptures" round up all manner of strange found objects (often toys) and adheres them, sometimes like appendages, to the surfaces of "host" objects. They can look like something ready to start walking or like shelving that has been attacked by miniature aliens. The finished work often has a monochromatic, other-worldly appearance.

I was hopeful his association last year with Miller Gallery would lead to a large, dramatic, high-profile one-person show, but it didn't. Now, the 2014 piece "My Date With Barbie" has turned up in an unexpected but welcome place, the front window of Electronic Arts at 1428 Race St. It's just the right touch of creative weirdness needed for an OTR store window, and it's great to look at its pinkness as other buildings reflect on the glass and add their own richness to the view. Definitely worth a visit.

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<![CDATA[REVIEW: 'Figurative Folklore' at Covington Arts]]>

Selena Reder, a former contributor to CityBeat's visual arts coverage, has curated the current Figurative Folklore exhibition at the City of Covington's gallery at 2 W. Pike St. It's devoted to six artists whose figural work tells a strong narrative. Particularly noteworthy at the show is the work of two artists who do three-dimensional work.

Ken Page brings a sense of fun an visual playfulness to his "Hole in the Wall," a sculpture that is like a small wall shelf. On that shelf a boy — carved and painted — has apparently cut a circle out of the painted "brick" wall behind him and is attempting to "roll" it away. It is not a kinetic piece, thus the necessity for those air quotes as the sense of movement is illusory. It's quite well done.

The absolute standout of this show is Stephanie Cooper — who has six pieces, some quite large. These are wood sculptures with added elements. I hate to call them carvings, as that implies folk art and these use folk art as a reference point to build from.

Her "He Who Sups With the Devil Needs a Long Spoon" features a dapper, well-dressed man at a dining table (he looks a bit like Ronald Reagan) holding a spoon. You can hand-crank the spoon to get some movement. And "Hermes" — a large piece with a height of 76 inches — is a scary wooden figure from whose head sprouts a tangle of twigs and roots, like a bird's nest.

Her other contributions, too, are good.

This show is on display through March 27. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. You may find a note on the door to call a city employee to come and unlock the place (a number is provided), but it's worth it. And the employee's office is just a short distance away — I waited at most five minutes for her arrival.

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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Artist Shinji Turner-Yamamoto Attracts International Attention]]>

Shinji Turner-Yamamoto's 2012 Global Tree Project: Hanging Garden — two trees suspended by wire inside Mt. Adams' deconsecrated (and crumbling) Holy Cross Church — is now generally recognized as one of the high points of public art in Cincinnati in recent years.

In addition to proving inspirational for us in terms of what large-scale, site-specific art can be and what local artists can accomplish, it also has attracted ongoing international attention for him.

The latest development is his inclusion in an exhibition, About Trees, opening this fall at the Zentrum Paul Klee museum in Bern, Switzerland. For his site-specific work in the museum's main hall, he will work with a dying linden tree on the museum grounds.

The exhibit — part of a trilogy of related shows that continues into 2017 — is dedicated to the tree as a motif in international contemporary art. Turner-Yamamoto finds himself in some very impressive company. Others with work in the show include Paul Klee, Carlos Amorales, Louise Bourgeois, Paul McCarthy, Ana Mendieta and Shirin Neshat.

Meanwhile, a large-scale photograph of the Hanging Garden installation was commissioned by Caroline Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, for the ambassadorial residence in Tokyo as part of the Art in Embassies Program.

Also, he will have a show at the Weston Gallery here next year.

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<![CDATA[FotoFocus Lecture to Feature Roe Ethridge]]>

The FotoFocus Lecture and Visiting Artist Series at Cincinnati Art Museum will feature photographer Roe Ethridge on March 25 at 7 p.m. 

According to FotoFocus, Ethridge — who works in both commercial and fine art photography — draws upon the descriptive power of photography and the ease with which it can be accessed, duplicated and recombined. He is considered a post-Modernist. 

His work has been shown in such venues as MOMA/PS1, London's Barbican Center, Carnegie Museum of Art Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, the 2008 Whitney Biennial (2008); and the Museum of Modern Art. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

His presentation at the museum is free and reservations are not required, though parking for non-museum members is $4. More info here.

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