Tracey Scott Wilson's plays keep people talking about race in America
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Tracey Scott Wilson, whose recent play Buzzer
opens this week at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (it’s onstage
through April 19), once said in an interview, “The biggest issue we have
in this country is race, and it’s an issue that Americans don’t talk
by Steven Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 08:58 AM | Permalink
One of my favorite Cincinnati artists is Rondle West, whose "assemblage sculptures" round up all manner of strange found objects (often toys) and adheres them, sometimes like appendages, to the surfaces of "host" objects. They can look like something ready to start walking or like shelving that has been attacked by miniature aliens. The finished work often has a monochromatic, other-worldly appearance.I was hopeful his association last year with Miller Gallery would lead to a large, dramatic, high-profile one-person show, but it didn't. Now, the 2014 piece "My Date With Barbie" has turned up in an unexpected but welcome place, the front window of Electronic Arts at 1428 Race St. It's just the right touch of creative weirdness needed for an OTR store window, and it's great to look at its pinkness as other buildings reflect on the glass and add their own richness to the view. Definitely worth a visit.
Jimmy Baker and Terence Hammonds on their inclusion in Crystal Bridges’ upcoming survey of American art
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Cincinnati-based artists — Assistant Professor of Painting at the Art
Academy of Cincinnati Jimmy Baker and Rookwood Pottery artist Terence
Hammonds — are included in the upcoming Crystal Bridges national survey
of contemporary American artists, State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now.
by Steven Rosen
at 09:16 AM | Permalink
It is with sadness that we report the death of one of Cincinnati's great art patrons, Lois Rosenthal, at age 75. This notice was in today's issue of The New York Times:ROSENTHAL--Lois, 75, on July 20, 2014, died peacefully. She is survived by her husband Richard, their children Jennie (Allan) Berliant and David, her grandchildren Elizabeth and Andrew Berliant and Eva and Mae Rosenthal, and her brother Harvey (Mary) Reis. An activist, environmentalist, supporter and participant in organizations that defended the oppressed, the hungry, and the disadvantaged, she initiated many programs and activities. From the Ohio Innocence Project which has exonerated 17 wrongfully convicted people, to the Fresh Produce initiative at the Freestore Foodbank, and the Rosey Reader Program which has provided books to over 30,000 Cincinnati Public School children, grades K-3, to foster a love of reading, to her creation of Uptown Arts which provides free classes in art, music, acting and dance to five-ten year old city kids. During Lois' 28-year tenure on the board of the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, she and her husband established the Rosenthal New Play Prize which produced 15 world premier productions, several nominated both for the Pulitzer Prize and produced in New York. As a member of the Board of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Lois and Dick endowed the museum to allow free admission in perpetuity. Lois was also a member of the Board of The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. There, once again drawing on her compassion for those with little or no voice, she envisioned, championed and funded Invisible: Slavery Today, the world's first museum-quality, permanent exhibition on the subjects of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Along the way, Lois wrote a weekly consumer column for the Cincinnati Enquirer for 10 years, had a call-in radio show, and wrote features for several national magazines. Among her seven books, Living Better was a Book of the Month Club selection. Lois relaunched Story magazine in 1989 with her husband. In five of the 10 years she edited Story, it was nominated for the National Magazine Award for short fiction. In two of those years Story won the prestigious award. Like the founders of Story-- Whit Burnet and Martha Foley-- who first published the works of today's marquis writers, Lois first published stories by Juno Diaz, Elizabeth Graver and Nathan Englander among others. Mother, wife, friend to many, Lois Rosenthal transformed organizations, intellectually and with creative determination. We're all better for her high standards, her dynamic personality, the impact she made on so many lives, and her contagious enthusiasm for doing good.There will be a memorial service in the Marx Theater at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 15.
by Alexis O'Brien
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 28, 2014
I’ve been a theater critic for almost
three decades. I’m an optimist: I routinely attend shows hoping to be
pleased or surprised. Doesn’t always happen, of course, but I keep going
back. Maybe that’s a little crazy, but I’ve kept at it for all these
years because our Cincinnati theater scene gets better and better, and I
want everyone to hear about it.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 14, 2014
I don’t have the bandwidth nor does CityBeat
have enough space to write often about community theaters — groups of
volunteers who produce and perform in shows, often for audiences in a
specific neighborhood — but that’s not because they don’t do a good job.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 16, 2014
You won’t find cutting-edge material
onstage at the Carnegie. The theater’s managing director Joshua Steele
has mastered two elements: He collaborates with a wide array of local
theater artists and companies, and he produces works that are, by and
large, familiar fare.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:17 AM | Permalink
The three-week run of the tour of Wicked wraps up this Sunday at the Aronoff Center. It's a faithful reproduction of the Broadway hit, with performers who can give you the experience of seeing the original, a kind of prequel to The Wizard of Oz. (Tickets, $38-$188: 513-621-2787, but each performance has a pre-show lottery; if your name is pulled, you can buy a ticket for $25). If you've already seen this one, I suggest you check out one of the great new productions on local stages.Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati has offered another powerhouse season this year, but I'll venture to say that The Mountaintop is aptly named: It's at the peak. It's an imagined story about Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before he was assassinated. I'll venture to say that you've never seen him in quite this altogether human light, as portrayed — dare I say wholly embodied — by Gavin Lawrence. And then he's visited by Camae, a sassy maid who evolves into something so much more as he contemplates the meaning of his life. The always watchable Torie Wiggins takes on this role, and it might be one of her best performances yet at ETC. The Mountaintop won London's Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2011, and in my opinion, it's one of the best productions we'll see here in Cincinnati this theater season. Through April 6. (Tickets, $25-$43: 513-421-3555).I caught up with the Cincinnati Playhouse's production of Pride and Prejudice at the Playhouse earlier this week. (It opened a week ago, but I was out of town.) It's a faithful rendition of Jane Austen's beloved novel, gorgeously staged and costumed. It has a big cast, so all the characters, quirky and memorable, are present and accounted for — a few actors need to play more than one role. If you're an Austen fan, I suspect you'll like this one; if not, you might find it kind of uneven, since some characters come across as cartoons (especially Elizabeth Bennet's meddlesome, garrulous mother and the arrogant Lady Catherine de Bourgh) while others are more naturalistic. Kate Cook's Lizzie has all the right notes (she ought to, as she's played the role several times elsewhere) and Loren Dunn's Mr. Darcy, while a bit slow out of the gate, eventually captures the character's aloof charm. Director Blake Robison has done a good job with an interesting adaptation that has scenes that flow swiftly one into the next, sometimes with overlapping elements that recall past moments. Through April 5. (Tickets, $30-$80: 513-421-3888).Back in the early 1980s, the musical A … My Name is Alice had a long run at New York City's The Village Gate. Northern Kentucky University is producing its version of this collection of songs focused on the paradoxes women face — beauty, strength and heart. The show, created by an array of comedians, lyricists and composers, has 20 songs. It's being staged by Corrie Daniely, the newest faculty member in NKU's theater and dance department. Through April 30. (Tickets, $8-$14: 859-572-5464).
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Blake Robison wants the Cincinnati
Playhouse in the Park to be at the forefront of Cincinnati’s cultural
conversation. “It’s our responsibility to bring the best theatrical
material, both old and new, to our community," he says.