by Steven Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 04:14 PM | Permalink
successful symposium here last month, FotoFocus is taking its Robert
Mapplethorpe presentation, The Perfect
Moment: 25 Years Later, on the road. (The Cincinnati symposium was called Mapplethorpe +25.)
observance of the 25th anniversary of the unsuccessful obscenity trial in
Cincinnati of the Contemporary Arts Center following the exhibition of The
Perfect Moment there in 1990,
FotoFocus will sponsor a panel discussion at 7 p.m. at New York’s
cutting-edge New Museum, 235 Bowery.
be moderated by Kevin Moore, FotoFocus’ New York-based artistic director, and
feature Amy Adler, law professor at New York University School of Law; Jennifer
Blessing, senior photography curator at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Paul
Martineau, associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los
Angeles; and Britt Salvesen, curator of the Wallis Annenberg Photography
Department at Los Angeles County Museum. The latter three were on a panel in
information about FotoFocus can be found at fotofocuscincinnati.org.
Additional information about the Mapplethorpe + 25 symposium can be found at mapplethorpe25.org.
by Steven Rosen
Posted In: Movies
at 02:10 PM | Permalink
Documentaries about photographers have the difficulty of making still photographs hold our interest in a medium that is about — obviously — moving pictures. The contemplation and meditation that successful still photographs elicit tend to get lost when your eyes and brain are trying to keep up with something traveling at 35 frames per second. It's like trying to admire an elegant home from a speeding train.A recent (and very good) film about a photographer, Finding Vivian Maier, solved that problem by turning the story of why she was so overlooked in her lifetime into a mystery. The current film The Salt of the Earth, about the questing, humanistic Brazilian-born photographer Sebastiao Salgado and directed by Wim Wenders with Salgado's son, Juliano, may be the best documentary about a photographer ever. Salgado deserves it, too — his years-long, book-length projects chronicling the hardships humans endure in their search for work (Workers) and safety from war and famine (Migrations), as well as his elegiac images of the earth itself (Genesis), mark him as one of history's most important photographers. And he's still active at age 71.Mariemont Theatre has just announced the film will be held over for a second week, starting tomorrow (Friday). The Salt of the Earth accomplishes its profundity by beautifully melding the best traits of film — tracking shots, close-ups, essayist commentary and interviews presented as monologues, color cinematography, music — with deep feeling for the subject and his work. Wenders presents Salgado's monumental black-and-white photographs superbly. He slowly shifts between them and his own filmmaking. It deserved the recent Academy Award nomination it received.Wenders is the German director of some classic narrative films (Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas) who, with his documentaries Pina and Buena Vista Social Club, showed he could find inventive and life-affirming ways to depict on film the work of other artists he respects. Wenders in The Salt of the Earth can be solemn when it's called for — Salgado's work at times makes you wonder if the human race is doomed to cruelty to hardship. But it's also optimistic, as when chronicling how Salgado has restored to health his parched, dying family farm in Brazil.We're fortunate that the Mariemont has elected to hold this film for a second week. I saw it last Monday and the crowd was small, so many of its intended audience might not yet be aware of it. It really deserves to be seen on a big screen. and it's rewarding for all those who take film and photography seriously.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 1, 2014
I was able to peruse Kirkland’s latest monograph — Douglas Kirkland: A Life in Pictures
— and what struck me, right from the start, was his voice.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 31, 2014
FotoFocus seems to be establishing
itself on the city’s arts calendar.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 19, 2014
For Eyes on the Street, Cincinnati
Art Museum’s contribution to the FotoFocus Biennial, curator Brian
Sholis set out to do something more than just display still photographs
and short films/videos that he liked.
Covington-based gallery/boutique owners crowdsource their art project, You & Me Across the Sea
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Hilary Nauman and Michael Boyd began
their joint artistic endeavors more than four years ago, when they first
Indiana University exhibits controversial artist’s explicit work
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Many of the black-and-white photos in Robert Mapplethorpe: Photos from the Kinsey Institute Collection are a frank exploration into sexual practices in
by Steven Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 12:20 PM | Permalink
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.)
show also features color photographs of Kentucky music-related sites by Gough,
who considers Mendes a mentor.
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
be something in the bluegrass. It’s captured in Mendes’ photographs.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Vivian Maier is the art world’s current
mystery artist du jour.