WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Steven Rosen 10.22.2014 12 hours ago
Posted In: Visual Art at 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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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.
 
 
by Steven Rosen 10.17.2014 5 days ago
at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Two FotoFocus Shows Not to Miss

Hard to believe, but we’re halfway through October, the main month of the FotoFocus Biennial. (Some FotoFocus-related shows run longer.) So this weekend is really a great time to get out and see some of the shows — fotofocusbiennial.org has a full list. Find CityBeat's full FotoFocus preview here. Two that I highly recommend, and that I’m afraid might be overlooked because of bigger museum shows, are Emily Hanako Momohara’s Heirloom — at Downtown’s Weston Art Gallery — and David Benjamin Sherry’s Western Romance at a temporary space at 1500 Elm St. in Over-the-Rhine. Momohara’s show is up through Nov. 30 but Sherry’s ends Nov. 1. Both use color wonderfully to make you focus on objects and/or landscapes close-up — so close-up they have a transporting, transcendent effect if you can spend enough time with them. Sherry, an L.A. artist recently featured on The New York Times Magazine’s cover, uses color in a psychedelic way, achieving the effect he wants during processing. It gives his Western mountain and desert landscapes a glaze — a “purple haze,” in the case of “Putting Grapes Back on the Vine” — that turns physical geography into a state of mind. There are also in the show black-and-white prints by masters of Western photography — Ansel Adams, Carleton Watkins — to acknowledge Sherry’s debt and also proclaim a change. Momohara, who taught photography at the Art Academy of Cincinnati but now is relocating to China, is using Heirloom to explore ideas about her Okinawan and Japanese ancestry. These distinctive still photographs and photograph-like videos isolate and deeply contemplate objects related to or inspired by that. The vertically formatted pieces — like the fantastic “Gathering” video, which looks at luminescent, open-mouthed koi as they crowd around the water’s surface — seem to be moving forward a grand narrative, like scrollwork. And the more horizontal pieces, like “Mask #1,” revel in mystery through the way illuminated objects occupy space in an otherwise dark ground. To me, these two shows are among FotoFocus’ very best — and I especially hope Momohara returns at some point with something much more extensive.   
 
 
by Steven Rosen 10.15.2014 7 days ago
Posted In: Visual Art at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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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.
 
 
by Steven Rosen 10.08.2014 14 days ago
at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Key FotoFocus Events Begin Today

Today starts the key stretch of FotoFocus Biennial activities at Memorial Hall, which begin at 8 p.m. with Triumph of the Wild, a show of animated firms by Martha Colburn accompanied by music from Thollem McDonas, Tatiana Berman and the four-person Constella Ensemble.On Thursday, programming at Memorial Hall turns to the theme of Photography in Dialogue. At 1 p.m., the film Gerhard Richter Painting will be screened followed by a response from Anne Lindberg. At 3:30 p.m., FotoFocus Artistic Director Kevin Moore and Contemporary Arts Center Director Raphaela Platow will discuss the FotoFocus show at CAC, The One-Eyed Thief: Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs. And at 5 p.m., there will be a forum on another FotoFocus-sponsored show, Vivian Maier: A Quiet Pursuit.On Friday, Memorial Hall activities center on Landscapes. At 1 p.m., the film Somewhere to Disappear, With Alec Soth screens, followed by a response from Matthew Porter. At 3 p.m. is a conversation with photographer Elena Dorfman and 21c Museum Hotel curator Alice Gray Stites. At 4:30, photographer David Benjamin Sherry — the subject of a FotoFocus show — will be in conversation with Elizabeth Siegel. And at 6 p.m., Jeff L. Rosenheim, photography curator at Metropolitan Museum, lectures on "Shadow and Substance: Photography and the American Civil War."On Saturday, the subject is Urbanscapes and events get underway at 1 p.m. with the film Bill Cunningham New York, followed by a response from Ivan Shaw. At 3:30 is a forum on street photography with three curators — Moore, CAC's Steven Matijcio and Cincinnati Art Museum's Brian Sholis. At 5 p.m. comes a discussion on the Fotogram project at the ArtHub, which opens today in Washington Park. Participants include its architect, Jose Garcia. And the big event gets underway at 8 p.m., when John Waters presents This Filthy World. Sunday offers three forums, starting at 1 p.m. when Jordan Tate and Aaron Cowan discuss the FotoFocus show Inpout/Output with artist Rachel de Joode. At 2:30 p.m. is a conversation with Fred and Ruth Bidwell on Bidwell Projects and Tate's Transformer Station, Cleveland art project. At 3:30 p.m., there is talk about film with Moore, Colburn and Kristen Erwin Schlotman.Attendance at Memorial Hall events requires a passport ticket, which cost either $25 or $75, depending on benefits ($15 for students), and are available at www.fotofocusbiennial.org.
 
 
by Steven Rosen 08.21.2014 62 days ago
Posted In: Visual Art at 09:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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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 8Performance by Berlin-based filmmaker Martha Colburn, with a Cincinnati ensemble led by Tatiana Berman and the Constella Ensemble Thursday, October 9: Photography in DialogueFilm: 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: LandscapesFilm: 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: UrbanscapesFilm: 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: ForumFeaturing 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.
 
 
by Mike Breen 11.22.2013
 
 
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WATCH: The MidPoint Sessions featuring Indigo Wild

Columbus Indie rockers Indigo Wild star in latest video from The Queen City Project’s MidPoint Sessions

Over the past few weeks we’ve been sharing some great new videos shot at September’s MidPoint Music Festival by The Queen City Project. The clips feature performances from The MidPoint Sessions, a day party held during MPMF at Art Academy of Cincinnati in conjunction with FotoFocus’ Reverberation concert photography exhibit. The event showcased acoustic performances by four Ohio acts — Athens’ The Ridges (who curated the lineup), Cincinnati’s The Happy Maladies and Molly Sullivan and the star’s of today’s video debut, Columbus Indie Rock foursome Indigo Wild.  Indigo Wild formed in 2010 and, if the name sounds familiar, it may be due to the band’s frequent shows in Cincinnati. So far, the band has only issued one recording, the 2011 EP If By Sea, but for The MidPoint Sessions, Indigo Wild unveiled a newer song titled “Be Patient.” The band’s website says “Be Patient” “lays a stepping stone” to Indigo Wild’s first full-length release. Keep updated on the album’s progress and all things Indigo Wild at indigowildmusic.com.  Click here to view The Ridges’ MidPoint Sessions video and here for The Happy Maladies’ performance. And come back next Friday for the final MidPoint Sessions clip featuring Molly Sullivan. 
 
 
by Mike Breen 11.21.2013
Posted In: Local Music, Music News at 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Concert Photography Celebrated at Know

CincyMusic.com hosts a happy hour party featuring locally-shot live music photography

Tomorrow (Friday) at Over-the-Rhine’s Know Theatre of Cincinnati, a special photography collection will be on the display, showcasing some of the best work of local photographers who especially shine when shooting live music events.    In the spirit of the Reverberation: Capturing the Live Music Experience exhibit presented by FofoFocus at the Art Academy of Cincinnati this past September leading up to the MidPoint Music Festival, the photographers whose work is published at the great local music site CincyMusic.com have put together a collection of some of their favorite shots. The photos — by Jacob Drabik, Brian Bruemmer, Kelly Painter, Phil Dawson, Julia Huber, Matt Steffen, Mike Clare and Sarah McDermott — were all taken at club shows, festivals and concerts in the Cincinnati area (including ones from MidPoint and the Bunbury Music Festival).  CincyMusic.com hosts tomorrow's free event at Know, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. There will be light appetizers and the venue’s lower-level bar will be open for business. And if you're up for a little theatre afterwards, tickets are still available for Know's 8 p.m. staging of Bull, a play about adult bullying (timely!). Rick Pender reviewed Bull in CityBeat earlier this month, writing, "You won’t like anyone you see onstage in this savage tale. You’ll probably question your own enjoyment of the show’s dark humor and vicious actions. But the acting and staging of Bull make this a riveting piece of theater." Get tickets here or at the theatre if any remain.
 
 

Latest MidPoint Music Festival Updates

Plus, news on some of the many "unofficial" MPMF activities going down this week

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
It's MidPoint Music Festival week in Cincinnati! News on some of the festival's late-breaking additions, as well as a couple of the many "unofficial" MPMF events.   

Photographic Memories

'Reverberation' exhibit showcases evocative live music photography during MidPoint

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Might a picture be worth a thousand songs? It’s possible that a photograph, as much as an MP3 player full of tunes or a head full of memories, is the best way to recall attending a concert by a favorite act. Not just something shot far from the stage on your shaky iPhone, but rather the kind of image that an inspired photographer — with media access and lots of skill — can take up close.  

Lights, Camera, Action: FotoFocus14 Announces Plans

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 10, 2013
It was always the stated intention of FotoFocus Director Mary Ellen Goeke — and thus presumed fact — that the photography celebration would be a biennial event. Thus, it would be back in October 2014.   

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