CityBeat Blogs - Visual Art http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-37-28.html <![CDATA[Lessons from 'Lightgeist']]>

One of the best things about Cincinnati’s current urban renaissance is that older spaces — some unused or even previously unknown — are being reinvented for new purposes. Churches and firehouses become brewpubs and restaurants, office buildings become apartments, underground tunnels become tourist attractions.

Since artists are sensitive to their surroundings, a group called Near*By has lately begun to use such spaces — sometimes — for special-event exhibitions. Happenings, sort of.

In its press release, Near*By describes itself as “an untethered curatorial collective that seeks to bypass the art institution, working as liaison between artists and pluralistic audiences. We aim to create ephemeral and interdisciplinary exhibitions that connect art with location and meld curatorial and artist practices while blurring the boundaries between installation and white cube.”

I’ve missed some of the previous events, although I’ve heard that Andy Marko’s attempt to launch his guerilla campaign to become Cincinnati’s Minister of Performance Art (why not?) was amusing at Fountain Square last October. And High Art, an event held atop the Carew Tower also in October, almost avoided a rainfall. Near*By’s first event, last May’s Moon Show, proved very sagacious — it was based on a premise the Apollo 11 moon landing was a staged event; the movie Interstellar plays with (and upends) that premise, too.

But I did make last week’s Lightgeist at Over-the-Rhine’s Rhinegeist brewpub and it was great. Rhinegeist has the open space of an old-fashioned upper-floor school gym (maybe a couple of them) and looks like one, too, although not too many school gyms would have huge metal brewing tanks for beer.  

Actually, the space was part of the old Christian Moerlein brewery’s bottling plant, which was in business from 1853 until Prohibition. The building’s rebirth as a craft-beer business has been one of the Cincinnati revival’s bigger success stories.

For Lightgeist, Near*By invited 17 artists/artist groups to show work for just one night throughout the space. There were familiar names and new ones, many with connections to alternative galleries or the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. The theme was “dematerializing” the image, which resulted in some fine video and sound work especially.

Lightgeist started at 7 p.m. and, according to Maria Seda-Reder (a Near*By member as well as a CityBeat arts writer), some 300 people came to witness the work during the next three hours. (Other Near*By members include Jon Auer, Chris Reeves, Loraine Wible, Joe Hedges and Anastasiya Yatsuk.)

It was a party atmosphere with plenty of beer, but the audience was there to see the work. And there were people of all ages, revealing that there is growing curiosity about local contemporary art — a necessity for any city trying to have an urban renaissance.

I didn’t take detailed notes on everything, but Charles Woodman’s debut of his “Wavelength-pure signal, no camera” screen image was involving, and Alice Pixley Young’s projection of bird-like moving images against and past an arrangement of physical objects was deeply moving. Caroline Turner and Ian Anderson’s ghostly pinprick of white light on an eerie background was a work deserving of more time.

Lightgeist was the latest evidence that this has been a great year for presentations of video and film art here — DAAP’s Electronic Art program and screenings at Weston Gallery, Manifest, FotoFocus and Cincinnati Art Museum’s Eyes on the Street.

In the last half-dozen years, we’ve had quite a few ambitious artist coops and collectives start up bricks-and-mortar galleries/performance spaces but fail to keep them going. (Semantics is the most notable exception.) So Near*By’s idea is a good one — use the surplus of fascinating spaces around town for one-off events. It’s not a substitute for having more permanent contemporary spaces, which we need, but it’s an important part of any art scene.

Near*By is planning 2015 events now — some of which may involve collaborations with galleries.  There will be more coverage in CityBeat.

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<![CDATA[Rhinegeist Lights Up Tonight with Projected Video]]>

Another historic Cincinnati building is being artfully illuminated. This year's past LumenoCity light mapping to a live orchestra on Music Hall was more popular than ever, and tonight the NEAR*BY Curatorial Collective is doing something similar at Rhinegeist.

Rhinegeist brewery is housed in the skeleton of an old Moerlein bottling plant. And starting at 7 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 20), 17 artists and collaboratives will be exhibiting projected video, sculptural and environmental installations in/on the structure's architecture. The interdisciplinary works will demonstrate how contemporary artists currently embrace the dematerialization of image and how that manifests in a non-traditional art space. The name Rhinegeist literally translates to "ghost of the Rhine," and according to the curatorial statement, "Though often intangible, light and art can likewise be said to haunt or inhabit space."

Participating artists include Brandon Abel, Jen Berter, Nicki Davis, DAAP Clay & Glazes, headed by Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis (featuring the work of Olutoba Akomolede, Christine Barron, Amanda Bialk, Michael Broderick, Linnea Campbell, Catherine Gilliam, Theresa Krosse, Sarah Maxwell, Megan Stevens, Christine Uebel, Allison Ventura & Victoria Wykoff), Lizzy Duquette, Sam Ferris-Morris, Mark Governanti, John Hancock, Joe Ianopollo, Maidens of the Cosmic Body Running, Andy Marko, Alice Pixley Young, Play Cincy, Lindsey Sahlin, Caroline Turner, Justin West, C. Jacqueline Wood and Charlie Woodman.

The one-night only exhibit kicks off at 7 p.m. and will go until 10 p.m. It's free and open to the public. Rhinegeist is located at 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. Get more information about the event or NEAR*BY and their mission to create ephemeral and interdisciplinary exhibits that bypass the art institution here.

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<![CDATA[At FotoFocus Show, Michael Keating Remembers His Elderly Neighbor]]>

I wish the “sunroom installation” that is part of Michael Keating’s current Shadow & Light exhibition at Kennedy Heights Arts Center (through Saturday) could move straight into a museum afterward.

It could serve to anchor a fuller, larger look at the noble project this veteran Cincinnati photojournalist (formerly with Cincinnati Enquirer) undertook to chronicle the final year in the life of an elderly neighbor, Clyde N. Day. Day, of Lakeside Park, Ky., died in 2011 at age 104. It deserves the widest possible audience.

Keating had long known Day, and the project was both a way to honor Day’s life and also show just how difficult life can be for the elderly. After Day’s first wife died, he remarried. His second wife preceded him in death by several months. 

In the installation, which is in the former sunroom of the building at 6546 Montgomery Road that houses the arts center, Keating has placed Day’s dresser with memorabilia from his long life. And on the walls are photographs from the project.

Two black-and-white images really capture Day’s final months, in their quiet way. One, reproduced as a wall-sized, mural-like adhesive print (in two sections), shows Day painstakingly making his bed. Light seeps through the windows’ curtains, spotlighting the stand-up crutch he has left in the room to have hands free for this task.

It’s a mundane task, but the photograph conveys the sense of heroism, a sense of determination, with which he does it. And our perspective — we seem to be in the distance, looking slightly downward — makes us feel we’re watching something profound.

Other, smaller photographs are on another wall, ink-jet prints mounted on thick gator board. In one, a companion to the mural, we see Day in this same bedroom, sleeping on a small hospital bed with railings. The headboard of his other bed is propped against a wall — the mattress gone.

It’s a melancholy image when compared with the other, since you can see how one’s choices shrink as old age moves to its inevitable conclusion. Still, the room itself is comforting with its floral-print wallpaper. It’s a touch of the familiar and the secure.

Since Day’s death, Keating has helped start the Clyde N. Day Foundation to contribute to causes related to child safety, education and the arts. You can learn more about it, and also find more of his photos, at clydendayfoundation.org. This work is important.

 

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<![CDATA[Manifest Gallery's FotoFocus Shows Were Powerful]]>

So many FotoFocus-related shows overlap and then close in October that it’s hard to get to them all or even write about in a timely fashion those that I do get to see. But I didn’t want to let Manifest Gallery’s Neither Here Nor There juried group show of photography and video work and its separate but related Leigh Merrill video installation, both of which closed Oct. 24, to go unrecognized. For Neither Here Nor There, the quality was overall quite high and some of the work has stayed with me now for several weeks long after I’ve forgotten other shows.

New York-based artist Gloria Houng won the $1,000 Best of Show prize for her “Standard Double (Feet),” one of a series of eerie shots made in a bedroom that in some way incorporate images of an apparently absent person’s presence into the scene. The results cause a double-take among viewers, but the work is too elegant to be jokey or gimmicky. She infuses the commonplace with mystery.

The London-based Emma Charles, whose short films explore “the dialogue between time and the city,” contributed the mesmerizing, 17-minute Fragments on Machines. Short sequences, some with poetic narration, take us out on the streets and sidewalks of the city and up close to the exteriors and (most ominously) interior infrastructure of buildings. There is beauty and alienation, especially as we look closely at the rows of servers that power modern office buildings. You can watch it here.

And Leigh Merrill’s video installation Drive Thru is a deadpan looping look at the flat barren architecture of suburban sprawl, except the places were created by her digitally assembly of parts from individual photographs and images. The result highlights the strangeness — and questions what draws us as people to seek or support such development in the first place.

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<![CDATA[BLDG Adds to Covington's Murals with Art Collective FAILE]]>

Adding to the ever-growing number of public art murals in Covington, Ky., BLDG welcomed the Brooklyn-based street art collective, FAILE in October to complete a massive painted Pop art installation in their torn collage style that spans three walls and either side of Sixth Street.

BLDG, the locally grown art gallery/branding firm, is responsible for numerous murals around Covington including (but not limited to) 10 recognizable black and white characters done by The London Police on notable Covington landmarks and businesses, as well as the current COV200 mural project for the city’s bicentennial celebration, which will involve more than 20 murals by the time it’s completed. 

FAILE artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller sent a crew of two studio assistants to begin the initial layout for the piece, which involved pouncing an outline of the design onto walls with cheesecloth bags filled with powdered pigment. Unfortunately for their studio assistants who had come to do the initial legwork, whenever it would rain (and before they could trace a more permanent outline with Sharpie), a storm shower would come and wash it all away. 

Despite some less than ideal weather conditions during the two-week installation process, the artists themselves came into town the final two days of painting and were able to finish the grand installation by Oct. 23, when I met up with them at Arnold’s amidst a full table of BLDG employees, headed by Lesley Amann. 

Amann recently stepped in as partner at BLDG after the founder — her husband, and the driving force behind BLDG’s commitment to public art — passed away a year ago this month. Lesley said that the FAILE mural was one of the last projects Mike began before he got sick and when I asked Miller and McNeil, “Why Covington?” McNeil echoed that sentiment. 

According to the artist, a large factor in FAILE’s involvement was due to, “getting to know these guys and wanting to pull through for them and represent.”

Project leaders unveiled the new three-wall piece to the public on Oct. 23 and the mural included such iconography as the FAILE dog and a cat burglar on the opposing wall, as well as a visual reference to some of the collaborative’s newer works, which depict classic American muscle cars.

Patrick Miller puts their artistic approach in simple terms.

“Our work has always been about making images that people can find their own narrative in and relate to in their own way. It’s always more fun for us to see the way people react to the work — the kind of stories they make up about it. Whenever you’re doing public work, that’s the beauty of it: It’s meant for anyone to come see.”

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<![CDATA[Claire Wesselmann Discusses Husband Tom's Art]]>

Beyond Pop: A Tom Wesselmann Retrospective opens to the general public today at Cincinnati Art Museum, with an Art After Dark Halloween costume party from 5-9 p.m. part of the celebrations for the late native-Cincinnatian, New York-based Pop artist.

But last night, members of the museum’s Founders Society level ($1,500-$50,000) got a special opening that included Wesselmann’s widow (and frequent model) Claire discussing her husband’s work with Jeffrey Sturges, studio manager for the Tom Wesselmann Estate.

The presentation started with Matt Distel, the museum’s adjunct curator for Contemporary art, praising the exhibit’s installation — especially the work of chief perparator Kim Flora. “You would hardly know how difficult and heavy those pieces are — they look like they float off the wall,” he said.

I would agree — some of Wesselmann’s complex pieces as gigantic canvases, some are shaped canvases with three-dimensional elements, some are assemblages with sculptural elements, and he did a series of “metal paintings” (oil or enamel on cut-out aluminum) that had to be difficult to handle and mount. None looks graceless or awkward in the gallery spaces.

Next, Claire presented the museum with a gift — one of Wesselmann’s metal paintings, “Barn Near Hilltop Airport.” And she explained how much her husband wanted a U.S. museum retrospective while he was alive, revealing that he saved important works for such an occasion and even prepared a speech in his diary.

She read an excerpt: “I loved being alive even though I buried myself alive in my work.”

(He died in 2004 at age 73. While he had European retrospectives, this is the first in the U.S./Canada. It has already been in Montreal, Richmond, Va., and Denver — this is the last stop. Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts with the Estate’s assistance organized the first two stops; Cincinnati the last two.)

During her conversation with Sturges, Claire offered some insights into her husband’s work. One of his great early Pop innovations, the use of cutout images from billboard advertising posters as collage elements in his paintings, came about for practical reasons.

As a poor artist, he could get those for the asking — he wrote to companies to send them. And he knew how to get them free, too. “At that time, they took down subway posters and threw them in the can,” she said. “So then Tom came along and took them.”

She also revealed that Tom loved the Abstract Expressionist art in vogue in the mid- to-late 1950s, when they were attending New York’s Cooper Union college together. But he knew he needed to do something new. “Abstraction was the thing he really wanted to do, but he took another path,” she said. “But he came back to it.”

As Tom moved through different themes in his work, in the 1990s he started turning to abstraction in his metal paintings. A picture of one, 1993’s “Claire’s Thigh,” was shown at the presentation. “I like this very much, minus the title,” Claire said.

During the question-and-answer period, there was also discussion of Tom’s infatuation with Country and Western music. He wrote more than 400 songs and some were recorded. One, “I Love Doing Texas With You,” was played softly in the film Brokeback Mountain. The retrospective has a small display devoted to his music, although no way to hear any of it.

Claire said when she and Tom would visit his parents in Cincinnati from New York he’d listen to country music on the radio. “He’d take the car and we’d go driving and he’d flip on the country stations,” she said. He’d say, ‘I like the stories.’”

Visit www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org for exhibit details. ]]>
<![CDATA[The Search for a "Holy Grail" Photo at a FotoFocus Show]]>

Brian Powers, the Cincinnati librarian who has done exhaustive work researching King Records history, thought he had found a “Holy Grail” photo — of the West End record store that Syd Nathan owned before starting King.

He knew it had been on Central Avenue, but didn’t know what it looked like.

It was in the Hebrew Union College/Skirball Museum FotoFocus-connected exhibit Documenting Cincinnati’s Neighborhoods, which features George Rosenthal’s photographs, taken in the late 1950s, of the West End before I-75 construction would dramatically alter it. Rosenthal’s photographs, owned by Cincinnati Museum Center, hadn’t been shown at least in 50 years, if ever.

Visiting on the exhibit’s opening day, Oct. 22, Powers saw one Rosenthal photo of a Central Avenue record store at 1567 Central Ave. Just a small storefront with a homey screen-door, it had what looked like neon signs that announced “Records All Speeds” and then listed the choices: Spirituals, Classics, Pops, Rhythm-Blues, Bop, Hillbilly & Western.

You can also partially see some letters and the initials “CO” at the top of the signs. Some additional written information was on a window, and another sign offered television sets for $29. Nathan wouldn’t have still owned such a store in this time period — he started King in 1943 — but might it have carried on the same location, more or less unchanged, with someone else in charge?

Powers told Henry Rosenthal, the late George’s son, about his hunch. And in his opening remarks, Henry mentioned it. Henry was particularly proud because he owns the desk that James Brown kept at King Records’ headquarters in Evanston. “It’s my prize possession,” he said.

Among the Rosenthal family members at the opening, besides Henry, were Jean Rosenthal Bloch, George’s wife; daughter Julie Baker; George S. Rosenthal and Roger Baker, George’s grandsons; great-grandson Clay Baker, and cousin Ed Rosenthal. With several hundred in attendance, it was an important moment in recognizing Rosenthal’s work.

Alas, when Powers (who didn’t attend the reception) later started researching, he saw the record store in this photo wasn’t where Nathan’s was located.

“Syd’s shop was at 1351 Central Ave.,” he said via E-mail. “The shop in the photo is at 1567 Central. It was called Mo-F-A Co. It’s listed as a TV repair shop. It was owned by a guy named Ted Savage, who seemed to have lived there with his wife.

“It looks like Syd handed over his store to Ike Klayman around 1945 to 1946. I don’t see 1351 Central listed after 1949. It may have been torn down by then. It’s where Taft football field is now.”

Powers added that he has seen a photo of a record store owned by Klayman, but believes it is at a different location

So the search for a photo of Nathan’s record store goes on, but meanwhile this very evocative one is now — finally — available to be seen.

The exhibit, which looks at what life in Cincinnati was like in the West End and Downtown before much was torn down for controversial “urban renewal” from the 1960s to 1980s, both in terms of their architecture and the conditions of the poor, also features powerful photos by Daniel Ransohoff and Ben Rosen.

It is up through Dec. 21 at the Skirball and Jacob Rader Marcus Center on the HUC campus, 3010 Clifton Ave. Go here for details.

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<![CDATA[Lectures Highlight CAM's 'Eyes on the Street' Show]]>

Last night, British photographer Paul Graham presented his FotoFocus-sponsored lecture at Cincinnati Art Museum. Graham’s work is in two of FotoFocus’ featured exhibitions — the museum’s Eyes on the Street and the Stills show at Downtown’s Michael Lowe Gallery. Eyes on the Street is up until Jan. 4; Stills closes Nov. 1.

Graham’s work is related to but updates classic street photography in that, based on what he said last night, he seeks out subtle shots rather than what he calls “clichéd” or obviously dramatic images. He tries to build haiku-like, enigmatic visual sequences that in their small details cumulatively provide insight. (That said, he did show slides from a recent series that features rainbows.)

It’s a difficult task not always easily evident to the viewer, but he expressed his purpose eloquently last night and repeatedly mentioned those whose work inspired him — Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand. For those moved by his work, there’s a Where’s Waldo quality to “reading” the smallest details — the color of a tie or T-shirt, the positioning of a pedestrian on a street, the relationship of the camera angle to a storefront sign, the choices in focus.

This is particularly noticeable in his recent The Present series of New York street life, from which the Cincinnati-displayed photos come. “It’s the theater of the street, the theater of life coming at you,” he said. He also prefers that his framed prints be mounted on a gallery wall close to the floor, to approximate sidewalk level. But he acknowledged last night that the Stills show did not do that, and he enjoyed being able to see his photos at more normal eye level.

His The Present photos in Eyes on the Street capture the results of bold action or drama, a rarity for him, in that a woman has fallen on the sidewalk while others move toward her.

Meanwhile last night, the museum’s associate curator of photography, Brian Sholis, distributed announcements of two additional events connected to the current Eyes on the Street show: a Nov. 5 panel discussion at 7 p.m. about Eyes on the Street at Niehoff Urban Studio, University of Cincinnati, 2728 (Short) Vine St.; and a Nov. 19 conversation at 7 p.m. on “Art and Privacy” featuring Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and civil-rights lawyer Alphonse Gerhardstein. It’s at the museum’s Fath Auditorium.

Go here for more information.

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<![CDATA[Tyler Shields Returns to Cincinnati for Miller Gallery Show]]>

American photographer and firebrand Tyler Shields makes his return to Cincinnati for a Miller Gallery exhibition as part of the ongoing FotoFocus Biennial.

This is Shields’ second appearance at the Miller Gallery in conjunction with FotoFocus, first appearing in 2012 with Controlled Chaos. This year's exhibit – Provocateur — opens tonight and he’s been shooting in various locations locally throughout the week.

Of all the superlatives to describe Shields and his work, “provocateur” might be most suitable of all. He’s gained a level of notoriety for his past exhibits and photo shoots, including a 2011 exhibit that substituted paint for the fresh blood of 25 rich and famous celebrities.

Shields has successfully merged the world of art with celebrity, similar to fellow rebel-rouser Andy Warhol. He’s taken racy and playful photos of Lindsay Lohan, Kathy Griffin, Abigail Breslin and the entire cast of Revenge.

His work can also be seen as a companion to Jay Z and Kanye Wests’s Watch the Throne, using the medium of photography to exhibit grandeur, fame and the excesses of materialism. His works have seen the destruction of a $100,000 Hermès Birkin bag and the detonation of a vintage Rolls Royce — all in the name of art, of course.


His latest Cincinnati exhibit yet again pushes his subjects and the limits of what photography can be. His exhibit takes risks, but also presents the germination for pensive and reflective thought.

But of all the superlatives and excessive descriptors for his work, nothing beats seeing the real thing. Make sure Provocateur is a part of your 2014 FotoFocus experience.

The opening party takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. at Miller Gallery (2715 Erie Ave., Hyde Park) and continues through Nov. 8. Go here for more information.

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<![CDATA[FotoFocus Talk Spotlights Lexington's Photographic Heritage]]>

If the assault of Mitch McConnell ads has you thinking Kentucky must be the most hopelessly unprogressive state ever, a FotoFocus Biennial-related lecture last Sunday provided another take on the Bluegrass State.

The speaker, who also presented slides, was the veteran Lexington photographer Guy Mendes, who with Carey Gough has the exhibition Blue Roots and Uncommon Wealth: The Kentucky Photographs at Over-the-Rhine’s Iris BookCafe, 1331 Main St., through Jan. 25. His presentation, organized by Iris’ photography curator William Messer, was at Mr. Pitiful’s bar, close to Iris.

Mendes, active in Kentucky arts, public television production and higher education since the late 1960s, has been collected by Ashley Judd, Willie Nelson, Maker’s Mark (he’s very proud of that) and the New Orleans and Cincinnati art museums, among others. At Mr. Pitiful’s, he made a compelling case for Lexington as a center for progressive creative thought — in photography, especially — that has had a broad influence on our times.

As a college town (University of Kentucky), Lexington maybe has been better known for its basketball than its radicalism, but Mendes made it seem like it could hold its own with Berkeley, Calif., Ann Arbor, Mich., or Madison, Wis., in any history of counter-cultural hotspots.

His presentation focused on a group he became part of in the late 1960s, the Lexington Camera Club, active from the 1950s to the early 1970s (and recently revived). While, like other camera clubs it attracted its share of hobbyists, it also had stalwart support from open-minded professionals with an experimentalist bent.

Mendes mentioned and showed slides of work from the Camera Club’s first golden era. The accomplishments of these now-deceased members was impressive — Van Deren Coke (who went on to become director of the George Eastman House); Robert May, who specialized in multiple exposures; James Baker Hall, a poet (and former state Poet Laureate) and photographer whose haunting series of images featuring collaged family photos may have been a way to deal with his mother’s suicide when he was a child.

One Camera Club photographer, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, has become recognized since his 1972 death as one of America’s most memorable — and spookiest. His black-and-white shots of children and adults wearing masks in strange settings are still unsettling.

Lexington was restive in the anti-Vietnam War days, and Mendes published an underground newspaper called Blue-Tail Fly and was involved in protests. And as he became friends with local writers Wendell Berry and Ed McClanahan, his literary and photographic worlds began to merge. (Both still are active today.)

In Mendes’ show at Iris, those two figures are in probably the two most striking photographs. One is a 2012 portrait of Berry, on a farm in Henry County, with his horses Nip and Jed grazing behind him. It’s sheer happenstance, but the horses’ placement is such as to create the illusion is that their heads extend from his shoulders. Messer refers to them as “horse angel wings,” and it’s a great tribute to Berry, an environmentalist as well as a writer. The photo gives the elderly man a heavenly glow.

McClanahan is involved in the weirdest photograph in the show — 1972’s “The Fabulous Little Enis & Go Go Girls of Boots Bar.” This photo (in a tarted-up version) accompanied McClanahan’s article about this colorful musician in Playboy. It depicts the left-handed, backwards-holding guitarist Little Enis and a chorus line of scantily clad women outside the bar.

The late Carlos Toadvine’s stage name “Enis,” Mendes told his audience, was a play on the nickname given to Elvis Presley as “Elvis the Pelvis” — you get the point. Mendes said Enis was a fabulous guitarist but the working-class Boots Bar was a tough place for scruffy, hippy-looking artists like McClanahan and himself in 1972. On their first visit there, McClanahan and Mendes, were greeted by a flying beer bottle. (On the Internet, there is a photo of long-haired college-age young men admiring Little Enis’ act, so maybe the bar got a little safer with time.)

The Iris show also features color photographs of Kentucky music-related sites by Gough, who considers Mendes a mentor.

Lexington’s impact on the arts is fascinating in other ways, too. The writer Bobbie Ann Mason attended UK, as did the great character actor Harry Dean Stanton. (There is now a film festival there in his honor.) Walter Tevis based his novel The Hustler on a pool hall there. Punk icon Richard Hell was born and raised there, as was Cincinnati artist/composer Jay Bolotin.

There must be something in the bluegrass. It’s captured in Mendes’ photographs.

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<![CDATA[FotoFocus' Sharp, Smart Programming at Memorial Hall]]>

The centerpiece of the FotoFocus Biennial’s programming was its five days of events at Memorial Hall — films, panel discussions, lectures and a Saturday-night performance of This Filthy World by John Waters.

As the Wednesday-Sunday events coincided with other key FotoFocus events — the excellent Screenings exhibit of short art films curated by the biennial’s artistic director, Kevin Moore, was at Lightborne Studios during the same period — it was hard to attend everything.

But what I did attend was really rewarding — thought-provoking discussions about photography that centered on ideas and thus were of interest to everyone. In fact, that’s a point I think needs to be made about FotoFocus as it seeks to grow its following: It isn’t a narrow-focused event for photography professionals; it’s for anyone who likes the visual arts. That should be everyone.

Here are some of the highlights of what I was able to attend:

A panel discussion on FotoFocus’ Vivian Maier: A Quiet Pursuit exhibition, about the secretive Chicago street photographer whose work has only recently been discovered since her death. One guest was Howard Greenberg, the New York fine-art photography dealer who represents John Maloof, the Chicago owner of much of Maier’s archives of unpublished work. Regarding a current dispute with another party over who has the right to print and sell her work, Greenberg said he and Maloof were close to an agreement with the city of Chicago-appointed attorney for the Maier estate to let sales of prints resume while the dispute proceeds, since the income would benefit the estate.

A conversation with photographer Elena Dorfman, whose recent Empire Falling project documented old Rust Belt quarries but then manipulated the images into something slightly ethereal, offered stimulating ideas about how post-industrial ruins have become melancholy pilgrimage sites — accidental earthworks to rival “Spiral Jetty” or “Lightning Field.”

Friday night’s keynote lecture on “Shadow and Substance: Photography and the Civil War,” by Jeff L. Rosenheim of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was fantastically involving. He was an engaged and engaging speaker. For instance, he explained why there are so few actual photographs of battles – with both sides blasting away, sometimes imprecisely, at each other on battlefields, few photographers wanted to set up their cumbersome equipment along the dangerous sides to capture the action. But once a battle was over, it wasn’t so difficult to document the bodies on the ground.

A panel discussion on the growth of Instagram, tied to a FotoFocus-sponsored “Fotogram” project for which Instagram photos were fed into a screen at the temporary ArtHub structure in Washington Park, had food for thought. Jose Garcia, the ArtHub’s architect, somewhat jokingly characterized Instagram selfies as “a cry for help.” And Nion McEvoy, chairman and CEO of San Francisco’s Chronicle Books, observed that new technology — with its emphasis on swiftly delivered virtual transmissions rather than carefully crafted physical objects — has been met with a healthy, growing counter-movement encompassing vinyl records, locavore-oriented slow foods, letterpress printing and more. And, he said, Chronicle Books’ main business is still print.

John Waters drew a big crowd to Memorial Hall — FotoFocus had sold 200 more passes than seats (a pass was good for all Memorial Hall events, not just Waters) and was worried. Fortunately, not every passholder came to his Saturday night show — there were some empty seats on the sides. His show lived up to its This Filthy World title, as he joked about seemingly every sex act known to the human race (and maybe some known only to aliens).

But he also made humorous references to artists — he’s an art connoisseur — and some of his political observations had the kind of shocking in-your-face bite reminiscent of Lenny Bruce. For instance, on abortion, he said (and I paraphrase a little, since I didn’t take notes), “If you’re not going to love your child, don’t have him. I don’t want him to grow up to kill me."

Afterwards, he signed objects for fans and then joined a small group of FotoFocus organizers, supporters and guests for a late dinner on the Memorial Hall stage. As fate would have it, he sat next to me. Charming man.

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<![CDATA[Some of the Best Films in Town Are at FotoFocus’ Screenings]]> Since they’re not playing at a multiplex, or even an indie theater like the Esquire, you might easily overlook some of the best films in town right now. They’re in FotoFocus’ Screenings program, curated by its artistic director Kevin Moore and showing at Lightborne Studio, 212 E. 14th St. in Over-the-Rhine 11 a.m.-8 p.m. today through Sunday.

This is basically a program of shorts presented in a comfortably spacious room (usually a studio) fitted with big sofas. But two hour-long (approximately) films are continuously alternating in a smaller second room, also decked out with sofas. The one I saw on Thursday, Rainer Ganahl’s 2013 El MundoA Classical Music Concert, was a transfixing achievement both film and music. It’s really worth seeking out.

The filmed, staged concert takes place in a Spanish Harlem discount store going out of business – everything is drastically on sale and looks picked-over, as if waiting for a dumpster to clear it out. Previously, the building was a theater and you can see traces of its former-life ornamentation.

The heat must have been turned off for this event. The concertgoers Ganahl has brought to the place are dressed warmly – one woman looks ready to explore the Arctic at intermission.

In the middle of this stuff there is a grand piano. There, during the course of the film, two pianists play – one an accompanist and another a sublime soloist. There is also a young violinist (Rachel Koblyakov) and two operatic singers. The most spectacular presence is the older diva Ok-Cha Lim, wearing the reddest possible formal dress with a red wrap around her shoulders and wrists. She dramatically sings arias from Madame Butterfly and Tosca.

The film is split-screen, so you watch the performers do their pieces on one side while another camera wanders around the crowd and the store itself, stopping to inspect the goods. It’s an intimate enough space you can see the crew moving in and out of the frames. You can’t help but think about how, on one hand, capitalism churns out so much disposable stuff while on the other hand art produces timeless beauty. Or, how art can enrich any environment.

For more information, visit www.fotofocusbiennial.org.
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<![CDATA[FotoFocus Is Bringing John Waters to Town]]>

Filmmaker/provocateur, humorist, art collector and all-around pop-cultural icon John Waters is coming to Cincinnati on Oct. 11 as part of the opening-week programming of the FotoFocus Biennial 2014. He will be at Memorial Hall, performing This Filthy World about his long, rewarding career. Additionally, Waters' photograph "Inga #3 (1994)" is part of a FotoFocus exhibition, Stills. The theme of FotoFocus is "Photography in Dialogue."

FotoFocus has released this (edited) list of other Memorial Hall events for its first week of programming:

Wednesday, October 8

Performance by Berlin-based filmmaker Martha Colburn, with a Cincinnati ensemble led by Tatiana Berman and the Constella Ensemble

Thursday, October 9: Photography in Dialogue

Film: Gerhard Richter Painting (2011)

Featured speakers: Gallerist Deborah Bell, New York; Gallerist Howard Greenberg, New York; Director and Chief Curator Raphaela Platow, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Art Critic Richard B. Woodward, New York; and FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore.

Friday, October 10: Landscapes

Film: Somewhere to Disappear, with Alec Soth (2010)

Featured speakers: Curator and Art Dealer Damon Brandt, New York; Artist Elena Dorfman, Los Angeles; Artist Matthew Porter, New York; Artist David Benjamin Sherry, Los Angeles; Associate Curator Elizabeth Siegel, Art Institute of Chicago; Museum Director Alice Stites, 21c Museum Hotel; and FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore.

Keynote Speaker: Jeff L. Rosenheim, Curator in Charge, Department of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on photography and the Civil War.

Saturday, October 11: Urbanscapes

Film: Bill Cunningham

Featured speakers: Architect José Garcia, Cincinnati; Curator Steven Matijcio, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Photography Director Ivan Shaw, Vogue, New York; Associate Curator of Photography Brian Sholis, Cincinnati Art Museum; and FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Moore.

Sunday, October 12: Forum

Featuring presentations and panel discussions by local participants, such as Artists Jordan Tate and Aaron Cowan.

For complete details about the FotoFocus 2014 Biennial visit here.

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<![CDATA[ArtWorks Launches Mural Walking Tour]]>

As Downtown and Over-the-Rhine continue to see a growth of walking tours related to the revived inner city's heritage (especially its brewing heritage) and architecture, a new one will soon be offered dedicated to its ever-growing collection of public murals.

ArtWorks, which is responsible for many of those murals (including a just-finished one at Eighth and Main streets dedicated to Cincinnati-born Pop artist Tom Wesselmann), will launch the tours in October as part of its Mural (Celebration) Month. They will continue into November, and then take a break. Beginning in 2015, they'll run April through November. Reservations will be needed for the tours, which will run 90 minutes and cost $20 for adults.

Artworks also is looking for volunteers to guide those tours. If you're interested in either, visit artworkscincinnati.org where information will be available soon. Bus tours are being discussed, too, once streetcar construction is completed.

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<![CDATA[Conserving a Pneumatic Dress at the Cincinnati Art Museum]]> Recently at Cincinnati Art Museum, Mary Baskett wore this very colorful and exciting "pneumatic dress" designed by Naoki Takizawa for Issey Miyake's 2000-2001 fall/winter collection, while textile conservator Chandra Obie discussed the very complicated but successful effort the museum has completed to restore and preserve the dress, which had started to leak air.

Baskett owns it, but it had been on display (and inflated for an extended period) at the museum's 2007 exhibition Where would you wear that? The Mary Baskett Collection. There have been discussions but no formal commitment about donating this dress to the museum. If that happens, it's doubtful it would be worn again.

Obie's discussion was sponsored by the museum's popular and rewarding Art 360 program, which gives a group a chance to learn more about specific pieces of art. The next Art 360 program is Aug. 23 at 2 p.m., when the museum's Mary Claire Angle — assistant director of school-based learning — will discuss Donald Judd's "Untititled" minimalist sculpture. Event is free; reservations required at 513-721-2787.

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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Expands Access to LumenoCity Series]]> The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has announced expanded access to their forthcoming LumenoCity series at Over-the-Rhine’s Washington Park after initial tickets sold out in 12 minutes.

At last year’s inaugural LumenoCity, a total of 35,000 spectators were dazzled over the course of two nights as Music Hall was lit up with three-dimensional graphics, bringing OTR to life with a visual and musical spectacle.

When tickets for a trio of concerts on Aug. 1-3 became available to the general public in June, CSO clocked more than 300,000 visits to its website, and the event capacity of 37,500 over three nights was reached in 12 minutes.

CSO has unveiled plans to make the groundbreaking concert experience open to an even larger number of Cincinnatians, streaming each concert live on the web at lumenocity2014.com and broadcasting to nearly 900,000 households throughout the region.

“From day one, LumenoCity has been guided by a spirit and character of equity, access and generosity,” said CSO President Trey Devey. “Demand for the event far exceeds the capacity of the Washington Park viewing area.”

“Now, we’re able to make this free event available on television, radio, live simulcast sites and the worldwide web. It is our goal to reach as many people as possible with LumenoCity and highlight the extraordinary creative energy of our community.”

90.9 WGUC, Cincinnati’s classical public radio station, will broadcast the performance live on Friday, Aug. 1, which will open LumenoCity up to listeners who can eye Music Hall from hilltops or rooftops. Public television station CET will air the event on Saturday, Aug. 2.

In addition to live Internet streams, the third and final performance will be simulcast at Fountain Square and Riverbend Music Center on Sunday, Aug. 3. Additionally, CSO will issue 5,000 free tickets for a dress rehearsal on Thursday, July 31.

CSO is also putting 3,300 newly released tickets for the trio of shows up for grabs, which will be issued for free via a drawing. Patrons may register at lumenocity2014.com, but those who already have reserved tickets will not be eligible.

The 2014 LumenoCity concert performances will begin at 8:30 p.m. each of the three evenings with John Morris Russell conducting the Orchestra as the Cincinnati Pops. After a brief intermission, Music Director Louis Langrée will lead the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The visual effects will accompany a live 40-minute CSO program featuring works from Copland, John Adams, Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Borodin.

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<![CDATA[CAC Offers Extended Thursday Hours for Summer]]>

Fresh off its 2014-2015 season announcement, Downtown’s Contemporary Arts Center adds a new promotion to its calendar of exhibits, performances and special events.

Night Museum gives visitors a chance to check out the CAC during evening hours every Thursday. From 5-9 p.m., guests can view the latest exhibit, shop the CAC Store, enjoy a cash bar and mingle with other art appreciators. Admission is $7.50; $5.50 for seniors, students and educators; and free for children under 5 and all members. Paid visitors can park for free Thursdays in July at the Central Parking Garage (36 E. Seventh Street).

This week's Night Museum coincides with a special event from One Night One Craft, the CAC's DIY workshop series. Chef Trinidad Mac-Auliffe of Raw Intervention will demonstrate cool recipes — literally — highlighting dishes prepared without heat. Munch on raw creations, then try making some of your own fro 6-8 p.m. One Night One Craft continues Mondays through July.

The CAC is typically open until 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and offers free admission from 5-9 p.m. Mondays. Find more info here.

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<![CDATA[Matters of our Art: Manifest Gallery's Artists in Residence]]>

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.

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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Art Museum Purchases Courttney Cooper Map]]>

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.

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<![CDATA[CAC Announces 2014-15 Season]]> The Contemporary Arts Center today announced its upcoming visual arts exhibition season, as well as several events in its performance schedule. Here is the release, edited for length:

Visual Arts Exhibition Season:

Memory Palace (Sept. 12, 2014-Feb.16, 2015)
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, 2014-Feb.16, 2015)
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, 2015)
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. 16, 2015)
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. 13, 2015)
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.

Performance Season:

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.

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