CityBeat Blogs - Visual Art <![CDATA[A Thousand Words ... Or A Few Awesome Ones]]>

I am (in addition to the faceless name behind some CityBeat blogs) a photographer... more specifically a photojournalist. I don't say this lightly.---

For me it's not a hobby. I have several large student loans and a disgruntled girlfriend who would agree with me. Before I came to CityBeat, that was my official title. I say this because I want you to know that I've seen a lot of photographs. Many of these photographs were terrible, some were cute, a few were spectacular. It's rare for me to get excited about a photograph that I haven't taken. I have to get excited about my shots (someone has to).

So here's the deal, Justin Quinnell is a "famous" pinhole photographer. That's like saying he's the world's best weaver or that he knows more about flyfishing than anyone else. Pinhole photography isn't exactly a high-profile field. This is because it involves a box or a can, a very small hole, some film or photo paper, and a really long amount of time to make one picture. Sometimes making a pinhole photo only takes a few minutes, or in Justin's case, over six months.

Justin made a pinhole camera, strapped it to a telephone pole, and left it for six months. The resulting image shows the path of the sun each day as it rose slowly in the sky as the days became longer in the spring. The bridge in the photo is the England's Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol.

People say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Some are just worth a few really good words like "awesome," "spectacular," and "inspiring." Quinnell's father died half way through the exposure. He says that he can pick out the exact place the sun was in the photo when his father passed away. Inspired yet?

<![CDATA[Defining Contemporary Art]]>

The term "contemporary art" is supposed to have a specific — if changing — meaning. Originally, I first heard of it as a term for defining the seriously ambitious and new art of the post-World War II era, thus differentiating itself from the modern-art era, with its various movements, that preceded it in the earlier part of the 20th century. And by "new," one meant new in ideas, in material, in aesthetics and subject matter (or lack of). Some 60 years on, contemporary art increasingly means art of more recent times, or of artists alive today, or even art of the 21st century. That's legitimate change — evolution. But meanwhile, like such words as "loft" and "jazz," the term also has been co-opted as a cool-word marketing tool. Too often, people call any recent art "contemporary," as if it refers to the date a piece was created rather than the inspiration behind it.

To try to make sense of this, and to give those interested in art the tools to understand that contemporary art is more than just a commercial catchphrase, the Art Academy of Cincinnati has organized an ongoing series, "Making Sense of Contemporary Art," that is free and open to the public. This Sunday (Nov. 23) at 2 p.m., Matt Morris (an art critic for CityBeat) and Jean Feinberg (a critic and former curator) will be discussing the subject at the Academy, 1212 Jackson St. in Over-the-Rhine. Each will speak for roughly a half hour, with room for Q&A and then a reception.

<![CDATA[Scribble Jam Inspires Exhibitions]]> Cincinnati Art Museum’s China Design Now and Contemporary Arts Center’s Maria Lassnig and Carlos Amorales shows have been at the top of the list for contemporary art followers for quite some time. But now that they're both open and (hopefully) seen, it's a good chance to turn to some smaller but interesting gallery shows around town.---

While CityBeat has positively reviewed the Lynda Benglis retrospective at Carl Solway Gallery, the second show there — the meticulously detailed, folksy-fantastical narrative paintings of Tom Shelton — is well worth your attention, too. His show is called History Lessons: Paintings and is up through Dec. 13. Visit for info.

At Creative Gallery (1315 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine), Matthew Dayler is celebrating some new wall drawings and screened printed panels that he's worked on with graffiti artists Gamble, Five and Erabik. The opening reception, which coincides with Scribble Jam, starts at 6 p.m. Friday and the show is up through Nov. 14.


Also touting a Scribble Jam connection is group show Up in the Air at AVS Gallery (315 W. Fourth St., Downtown). Featuring work by 40 graffiti artists from around the country, the AVS show will have a special event from 7-10 p.m. Thursday, featuring live graffiti art and DJs playing House and Techno. The show stays up through Oct. 30; visit for more info.