0 Comments · Wednesday, June 4, 2014
At a luncheon/press conference Thursday
in New York, the FotoFocus Biennial will announce details of its 2014
activities in Cincinnati for this year’s Oct. 8-Nov. 1 run.
by Alexis O'Brien
54 days ago
Posted In: Visual Art
at 11:19 AM | Permalink
If you’ve been to the Cincinnati Art Museum recently, and
specifically since March 22, you’ve probably found yourself lingering among
portraits in a corner of the second floor. (Up the grand staircase and in Room
212, the space now designated as the museum’s photography gallery.)
And it might’ve been Jean Renoir’s doing. The filmmaker’s
honest, sideways smirk that’s good at whispering you in to laugh at life at or
For me, he was the one whose 77-year-old face, through the
gap of a narrow doorway, led me in to look upon his ruthlessness magnified, given
new life by Richard Avedon and brought to light by Brian Sholis, the museum’s
new curator of photography.
“It wasn’t until the 1970s when museums started taking
photography seriously,” Sholis says. “The art world stopped writing it off as
so mechanical and lacking real talent, so museums like this one began acquiring
a lot of it.”
Which explains the 4,000-field, photographical rundown Sholis
was sent before moving from New York to Cincinnati to take his curatorial
position in 2013. The database was a list of every museum-owned piece of
photography, and while studying it, Sholis noticed a pattern: two
recognizable names in one row, repeated. An artist by an artist. Portraits of the Artist. You see where
this is going.
“For people who don’t know much about the history of
photography, they’re given another chance to connect here, and I wanted my
first exhibition to be as welcoming as possible,” Sholis says. “Here, there’s
twice the chance of hitting upon someone a visitor could recognize.”
Out of four-dozen artists-by-artists photographs, Sholis narrowed
his exhibition selection to 14 of them, presenting Frida Kahlo by Bernard
Silberstein, Picasso (with his son Claude) by Robert Capa and Miles Davis by
Lee Friedlander, among others.
The dancer in me was especially drawn to modern mover Merce
Cunningham by Barbara Morgan, who took Cunningham’s photo like he crafted his
dances — with good faith in chance.
She shot the double-exposure by retrogressing her film after
an initial shot and snapping Cunningham again in another position, not
realizing the two bodies as one image until they’d been developed, much like
Cunningham frequently rolled a die to dictate his movements and their
And while, like the individual pieces themselves, the idea
of the exhibition is stimulating and timely (I don’t need to tell anyone about
the portrait-in-the-form-of-iPhone-selfie phenomenon), the placement of the
pieces is also noteworthy, and very thoroughly Sholis-thought-through.
The Mexican artist portraits are grouped together alongside
a couple of painted face performers; partners in work and life, John Cage and
Merce Cunningham share an intimate space on a portion of the gallery’s west
wall; and Miles Davis is situated alone and dominantly, glaring over onlookers
while avoiding awkward eye contact with Renoir (after being moved when Sholis
saw the staring contest).
“These are more than just casual snapshots even though they
look that way,” Sholis says. “These are kind of dialogues between the artists
themselves and their creators, the photographers.”
And, of course, you.
Upcoming Weston exhibits feature two bold approaches to photography
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 26, 2014
While Anita Douthat and Charles Woodman
both create photography-based or light-based art, their approaches are
dramatically different. So, too, is their work — except for a common
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
There’s a secret behind Amy Hildebrand’s photography — a secret that I was never able to guess when we first met. As she peered through her camera lens and
snapped images of my boyfriend and me with ease, she asked us to share
our memories. Eventually, she shared some of her own and her secret came
out. Hildebrand was born blind due to
Local photography site Capture Cincinnati focuses on Cincinnati's best features
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 15, 2013
This winter I upgraded my point-and-shoot
camera to a mirrorless Sony NEX. Finally having a nice camera to use, I
googled “photography contest” and came across a curiously titled site
called Capture Cincinnati.
The Hilton Brothers' photography focuses on fresh and natural collaborations
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The Hilton Brothers — photographers
Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg — have arrived in Cincinnati with
food on their minds. They don’t specify that it needs to be organic, but
it might as well be. The term pops up repeatedly as the New Yorkers
discuss their natural, open-ended approach to life, art and
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I hope the inaugural FotoFocus, which has
formally concluded although related exhibits still are up around town,
was successful by the standards of its organizers, and that they are
eager to plan for the next one in 2014.
by Steve Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 12:38 PM | Permalink
From now on, when anyone mentions “Octoberfest” in
Cincinnati, I’m going to think first of FotoFocus. This year, its first, it has
clearly established itself as an artistically meaningful and rewarding addition
to Cincinnati’s cultural calendar. The next is planned for 2014.
It is also, like that other
Oktoberfest (which actually occurs in September), fun. No, it doesn’t have
the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, but it may have come up
with something even better in Contained:
Gateway Arts Festival, which opened last Saturday and continues with
limited hours through Nov. 3.
It was produced by the Requiem Project, which is managing
and hoping to restore Over-the-Rhine’s Emery Theatre (where there is a Mike
Disfarmer photo exhibit that I blogged about last week). Saturday’s
opening was hampered by cold weather that kept attendance small on the grounds
of Grammer’s in Over-the-Rhine. (Grammer’s is a place that’s probably seen
quite a few Oktoberfests in its day.) But the weather didn’t dampen the
creative imagination that went into the event.
Using 11 trailer-size steel shipping containers as gallery
walls, artists displayed their photography and video-based work, some
interactive, as visitors wandered in and out. The standards were quite high and
one project — David Rosenthal’s “Everything at Home Depot (Series)’’ — struck
me as outstanding.
Installed in vertical pieces on fiberboard along the interior
sides of the container, the color heat-transfer prints set out to do what the
title suggests. In this environment — with the container’s metal sides, the
wood floor and glaring fluorescent lights – the whole project looked just right — a melding of the artistic and the industrial, the soulful and the soulless.
If this is part of a larger series (as the title suggests), it deserves to be
seen in total. But one hopes future showings will get an environment as cool as
In a corner of the grounds, behind one crate and out of
direct view, a band played suitably spacey music. After awhile, musicians moved
atop a crate to play music with a pronounced electronic component. Meanwhile,
video projections were displayed high off the building’s sides — you could see
the images when approaching the site and it was really exciting.
The whole festival, itself, worked as an art installation. It will be open again this Friday from 6-10 p.m.
(it’s ideal at dark), 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 3 by appointment at email@example.com.
It’s definitely worth a visit, even if not that easy to get to.
Another show you need to see — partly because of its
excellence and partly because it’s in a space rarely open to the public — is
the Using Photography exhibit at
downtown’s Michael Lowe Gallery. He is a private dealer, so it’s a treat to see
his elegant, uncluttered two-floor gallery open to the public. Drawing on his
own collection, he’s put together a show that
works as both top-notch fine-art photography and as a historical exhibition.
In this case, the history that the show addresses is that of
the conceptual/performance art world of the 1970s. Pivotal names in
international contemporary art’s development are represented here — Marina
Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Gerhard Richter, Michael Kelly, Ed Ruscha, Gilbert and
George and many more.
With the richness of work represented, and it way it
stretches our definition of photography and time-based art, it’s one of
FotoFocus’ best shows. To just pick one piece, I was especially moved by
Christian Boltanski’s five touched-up photographs comprising 1974’s
“Anniversaire,” or “The Birthday.” I am used to the French artist’s solemn,
sobering, heart-rending installations that use photography to remember the
Holocaust. They are so strong you wonder if they must drain the artist of all joie de vivre. Yet here he is happy in
this work, and the meaning of that happiness is revelatory if you know his history.
Even if you don’t, it’s a generous and warm piece.
This show originally was going to be open just briefly, but
Lowe has agreed to stay open noon-4 p.m. weekdays through the end of the month.
His gallery is at 905 Vine St. Plan a downtown lunch trip around it.
Meanwhile, only up through this Thursday is Photogenus at the Reed Gallery inside
University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning.
Put together by Jordan Tate, DAAP photography professor, and gallery director
Aaron Cowan, this looks at how today’s international artists use photography in
a digital age.
It’s a nice companion to Lowe’s show, as one chronicles
breakthroughs from the 1970s (some of which we’re still trying to understand)
and one shows how today’s international artists are using photography to make
new breakthroughs. Much of it is quite out-there and left me quizzical about
individual work’s obscure intent and technique.
But some were very striking, like Anthony Lepore’s pairing of a photo
(an archival ink print) of a salt field with a piece of carpet of roughly the
I had written earlier about how eager I was to
see Nancy Rexroth’s photographs at downtown’s YWCA Women’s Art Gallery as part
of FotoFocus. The show consists of previously unprinted images from her
influential Iowa project of the early
1970s — she used a toy camera to capture fleeting glimpses of everyday life in
There was always the chance the black-and-white work had
been left unprinted for a reason all these decades, but I’m happy to report
it’s an excellent, evocative show — underscoring just how strong a body of work
Iowa is. Besides the ghostly “Clara
in the Closet, Carpenter, OH,” previously published in CityBeat, I also loved
“House Vibration, Dayton, OH, 1976,” in which the blurry focus produces an
unsteady image that makes one think an earthquake is occurring. It’s a great
metaphor for the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of life. This show will be up
through Jan. 10 — Rexroth shares the space with Judi Parks and Jane Alden
Stevens. Watch for Contributing Visual Art Editor Steven Rosen’s FotoFocus blog postings all month. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 10, 2012
The nurse who was the famous receiver of the lip-locking
depicted in the iconic 1945 “Kissing Sailor” photo from Times Square
symbolically marking the end of WWII attests she was actually manhandled
against her will by the sailor, who was a complete stranger; by modern
standards, that’s an instance of sexual assault that’s been glorified. WORLD -2
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 5, 2012
The young women photographed in Another Me: Transformations from Pain to Power have
all been victims of kidnapping or outright sale of themselves into sex
slavery. One is as young as 8 years old, none are more than 22. Rescued
and placed in the Sanlaap Shelter in Kolkata, they found returning to a
self they had lost hard going.