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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Danielle Voirin presents self-portrait series at Iris BookCafe
0 Comments · Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Photography shows in cafes can be chancy
as to quality and depth. Those at Iris BookCafe and Gallery, curated by
William Messer, regularly break this rule. Messer, in exhibitions
presented quarterly at Iris since fall 2008, is himself an experienced
curator with an international background and a photographer in his own
A pivotal decade in photography explodes at Cincinnati Art Museum
0 Comments · Tuesday, February 9, 2010
It's hard for our generation to imagine controversy over color photography. In a day and age when many art schools have shut down their darkrooms in favor of digital, color is taken for granted. The Cincinnati Art Museum's 'Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970–1980,' opening Friday, explores when several artists changed the face of art photography forever.
Cincinnati Art Museum highlights Winogrand's photography
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 27, 2009
‘Garry Winogrand would move fast through the streets, see things happening, maybe across an intersection, would move to that area, firing off his Leica, the wide-angle lens essentially pre-focused, moving with the camera, the energy, the kineticism of the street coming through.”
Michael Wilson displays 'small things' at the Weston Art Gallery
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I've seen Michael Wilson's photographs of major musicians like Over the Rhine, Lyle Lovett, Phillip Glass and B.B. King and start asking questions. He's so humble about his work it's almost unnerving. "See, at the Weston Gallery, they’re calling it a mid-career retrospective, which is probably as good a term as any," Wilson says. "For the most part, it will be drawn from 30 years of work that would have been done just for myself. Personal work."
David Rosenthal has high hopes for his newly opened Prairie Gallery
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 25, 2009
David Rosenthal, talking in the bare-bones middle room of his new Northside gallery, says, "I'm hoping to provide a place where photography can be done by lots of people and can reach into different areas in lots of different ways."
Art Beyond Boundaries Gallery celebrates the magic of photography
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"The theme of 'Houdini's Box' is all-encompassing," explains Jymi Bolden, director of Art Beyond Boundaries Gallery. He put this exhibition together to showcase a diverse range of photographers working with film and digital techniques in what he calls "a magic act."