CityBeat Blogs - Visual Art http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-37-28.html <![CDATA[Cincinnati Art Museum to Host MetaModern Show]]>

Delving into Modernism’s relationship to today’s Contemporary artists, Cincinnati Art Museum in 2016 will present the traveling show MetaModern. It is organized by Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in collaboration with curatorsquared of Winter Park, Florida, and Boston. In Cincinnati, it will be curated by Amy Dehan, Decorative arts and Design curator, and Matt Distel, adjunct Contemporary curator.

According to the website of the Krannert, where the show opens on Jan. 30, the participating artists “adopt the actual vocabulary of the modern movement to question the content of style and its relationship to history. Their work challenges the tenets of modernism head-on. Some of them recast iconic forms in materials that inherently question the precepts of the originals.”

Among the 20 international artists are several familiar names to Cincinnati Art Museum visitors — Jill Magid, whose videos are in the current Eyes on the Street exhibit, and photographer James Welling, subject of a 2013 exhibit. Other participating artists include Terence Gower, Conrad Bakker, Edgar Orlaineta, Gabriel Sierra, Kendell Carter and Fernanda Fragateiro and Barbara Visser.

In Cincinnati, the curators plan to borrow Mid-Century Modern design objects and graphic works from local collections to show with the traveling exhibit’s new art that, in essence, comments upon the older work.

Thus, the show here will connect Modernism with today’s (Postmodern) Contemporary art. The local curators also hope the show educates the public that Cincinnati has a strong tradition of support for Modernist art, design and architecture, which is now enjoying a revival

The tentative dates for the Cincinnati exhibition are June 18 to Sept. 11, 2016. Other cities planning to present the exhibit are Scottsdale, Ariz., Orlando, Fla., Palm Springs, Calif., and Marquette, Mich. (home of Northern Michigan University).

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<![CDATA[Important New Art Film Coming to Cincinnati Art Museum]]>

National Gallery, the latest film by the great American documentarian Frederick Wiseman, will get a free screening at Cincinnati Art Museum at 1 p.m. on Jan. 25, 2015. No tickets or advance reservations are required.

Typical of Wiseman’s inquisitively reportorial and humanistic work, this carefully and thoughtfully takes viewers inside the world of London’s National Gallery — one of the world’s finest museums. The film is three hours long.

Wiseman, who is 84, has been making films that carefully examine societal institutions — cultural, social, educational, medical and political — since his 1967 landmark Titicut Follies, about life inside the Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane in Massachusetts.

His much-lauded more recent films — which did not have a showcase theatrical screening in Cincinnati — include last year’s At Berkeley and 2009’s La Danse, about the Paris Opera Ballet.

That National Gallery will be presented in a theater here — the art museum’s auditorium holds some 300 — shows the ambition of the museum’s associate photography curator, Brian Sholis, to offer more and a wider variety of films as part of his programming.

A lower-profile (compared to National Gallery) presentation last Sunday of a new documentary about digital photography, Harvey Wang’s From Darkroom to Daylight, brought a surprisingly good turnout of 55 people to the art museum’s library. 

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<![CDATA[Cincinnati Art Museum's Popular Curator Benedict Leca Gets Promotion]]> Benedict Leca, a much-liked curator of European Art at Cincinnati Art Museum whose departure in 2012 to become chief curator at Hamilton, Ontario's, Art Gallery of Hamilton prompted protest, has moved again. It's a promotion. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment at Cincinnati was organizing Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman. Here are a few paragraphs from the press release from the Redwood Library & Athenaeum of Newport, R.I. It is especially notable for the fact the erudite Leca use the term dix-huitièmiste to describe himself in a quote — how many other museum directors would do that?

Edwin G. Fischer, M.D., President of the Board of Directors of the Redwood Library & Athenæum, announced the appointment of Benedict Leca, Ph.D., as its new Executive Director, effective January 15, 2015, following a competitive national search.

“This is tremendous news for the Redwood,” stated Dr. Fischer, “An expert in 18th-century art, history, and material culture, Benedict is uniquely qualified to move the Library into the national spotlight as a center of thought and culture. He has a wealth of experience and is extremely well-suited to lead this 268-year old cultural institution.” 

As Executive Director, Leca will articulate and advance the Redwood’s historic mission as a hybrid cultural institution with “nothing in view but the good of mankind.” Building on the Redwood’s unique position as a catalyst for dialogues about education across periods and disciplines, Leca’s work will focus on fully realizing the opportunities inherent to the athenæum model through an expanded array of public programs, forums, and exhibitions—both on-site and on-line—that will foster networks of intellectual exchange locally, regionally, and around the world. 

Prior to his current tenure at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario, as Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs (2012-14), Leca was Curator of European Painting, Sculpture and Drawings at the Cincinnati Art Museum. 

He was the first Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in the French Paintings department at the National Gallery of Art in Washington (2003-2007), and served on the staff of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (1999-2000). Mr. Leca also currently holds the position of Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History in the School of the Arts, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. 

Mr. Leca has curated many important exhibitions: Charles-Nicolas Cochin: Draftsman of the Enlightenment (2003); Rembrandt: Three Faces of the Master (2008); Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman (2010—2011); Monet in Giverny: Landscapes of Reflection (2012); The Painter Pictured: French Nineteenth-Century Paintings and Portrait Photographs (2013); the current The World is an Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne, executed in partnership with the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (2014-15), and the forthcoming Illuminations: Italian Baroque Masterworks in Canadian Collections to be held at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, in 2015.

(Thanks to Judith H. Dobrzynski's Real Clear Arts blog at http://www.artsjournal.com/realcleararts/ for alerting us to this story.)

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<![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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