by Steve Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 10:43 AM | Permalink
Having wrapped up a very busy first (extended) weekend of
FotoFocus activities, I’m humbled by the fact that I only got to a portion of
the exhibits and events occurring under the month-long, regional photography
Before it’s over, more than 70 shows and related special
events — like this Wednesday’s concert at the Emery Theatre by Bill Frisell/858
Quarter, featuring musical portraits inspired by photographer Mike Disfarmer’s
work — will have taken place. I’m wondering if FotoFocus, like the National
Park Service, should have a passport that can be stamped at each site of a
sponsored activity. (Quite a few exhibits will continue past October – check here for
“Umbrella,” by the way, is an apt word to use in one
respect. Sideshow, the thoroughly charming outdoor kick-off party that took
place Friday night, was bedeviled by rain and cold temperatures. As a result,
attendance was small. That was disappointing because the alleys of downtown’s
Backstage Theatre District had been turned into a colorful, imaginative,
Fellini-esque carnival for the evening, with handmade booths, games of chance
and photography opportunities.
A stage with a theatrical backdrop served to host A Hawk and
a Hacksaw, a New Mexico duo — Jeremy Barnes on accordion and Heather Trost on
violin — whose music had an East European/Middle Eastern flavor and whose
musicianship was impeccable. They would have fit well at MidPoint. In fact, the
Backstage Theatre District would make a great outdoor venue next year for
MidPoint, which, as Mike Breen pointed out, needs a stronger downtown presence.
On Wednesday, I attended the preview opening of Doug and
Mike Starn’s Gravity of Light in Holy
Cross Church at the Mount Adams Monastery. I had gone a couple weeks earlier
for a test, which I described in last week’s Big Picture column,
where the noise and flying sparks from the giant carbon arc lamp’s scared me
even as the magnitude and, well, gravity of the monumental photographs that its
light illuminated astonished me.
On my second visit, with maybe two dozen other guests
present, Gravity of Light wasn’t
quite as scary — not when you see people using the carbon arc lamp’s brilliant
white light to read their smart phone email. Ah, technology! But it’s still a
profound exhibit — a major installation that uses photography as an intrinsic
part of a created environment – and I can’t imagine that anyone interested in
contemporary art or FotoFocus would want to miss it. And afterward, you’ll want
to discuss what it means.
Two other exhibits I attended over the weekend were Anthony
Luensman’s TAINT at the Weston Art Gallery and Let's Face It: Photographic Portraits by Melvin Grier, Michael Kearns and Michael
Wilson at Kennedy Heights Art Center. Luensman is one of our most talented
local artists, especially ingenious with installations involving sound and
light, but I didn’t get a clear indication of how or why the presence of
photography (and video) is supposed to crucially matter in this mixed-media
The Kennedy Heights exhibit had some remarkable large-scale
black-and-white portraits by all three accomplished local photographers. Grier
and Wilson, in their Giclee prints made from film negatives, got remarkable
expressiveness their subjects like “Robert” and “Tony” (Grier) and “Thomas” and
“Lamayah” (Wilson). Those Wilson photos, and some others, frame the pupils of
their subjects’ eyes with a tiny white square, a stunning effect. In several of
his large Giclee prints from digital photographs, Kearns achieves clarity of
detail so rich (on “Chuck,” which is Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver, and “Andre”) that
you could stand there and count every strand of the subjects’ hair. I don’t
know who Andre is, but the way he is posed with head slightly upward and a
triumphant smile emerging from a mouth that appears to be missing some teeth
makes him heroically human. It’s a meaningful show.On Thursday, I attended the Cincinnati Art Museum’s
reception for Herb Ritts: L.A. Style,
the Getty Center-organized show of the late photographer’s black-and-white
prints. Beautifully installed, this exhibit features Ritts’ fashion and
celebrity work, as well as his stylized, erotically charged studies of the nude
male and female torso. The show doesn’t so much chart his “progression” from
high fashion to high art as it spotlights the connection between fashion and
art. It also underscores that the eternal human quest for perfection is about
the body as much as the mind. (Kathy Schwartz will have more on this show soon.)
For opening weekend, the art museum’s Chief Curator James
Crump — also FotoFocus’ co-chair — brought to town Paul Martineau, the Getty’s
curator for the Ritts exhibit, and Charles Churchward, a magazine design and
art director who knew Ritts and has written Herb
Ritts: The Golden Hour.
Martineau, it turns out, is at work on a major Robert
Mapplethorpe exhibit to be presented by the Getty and Los Angeles County Museum
of Art in 2016. (Getty Research Institute and LACMA recently acquired some
2,000 of his photographs, and the Getty already had acquired the archives of
Sam Wagstaff, Mapplethorpe’s collector/lover.)
Martineau told me it might travel. Cincinnati would be a
perfect venue for it — Crump has made a documentary about Mapplethorpe and
Wagstaff, the authoritative Black White +
Gray. Is it too early to start a Facebook campaign to bring that
Mapplethorpe exhibit to Cincinnati? Any volunteers?
Watch for Contributing Visual Art Editor Steven Rosen’s FotoFocus blog postings all month. Contact him at email@example.com.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Doug and Mike Starn's photography-related installation Gravity of Light involves a carbon arc lamp with light so brilliant it could cause eye damage if you stared at it unprotected.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
It’s appropriate that Project Obscura at
Northside’s Prairie Gallery opened before FotoFocus officially kicks
off Oct. 5. After all, the camera obscura (Latin for “dark chamber”) led
to the modern camera.
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.
Onstage, visual arts and lit
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 29, 2012
FOTOFOCUS might be taking over many local arts venues this fall, but local theaters, galleries, dance companies and others have another full slate of thoughtful entertainment in store.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The most profound and beautiful art
installation of recent years in Cincinnati — an inspiration for what
public art here can be — was Shinji Turner-Yamamoto’s 2010 “Hanging
Garden.” It continues to have an afterlife.
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 10, 2012
When FotoFocus — the new citywide
celebration of photography and lens-based art — occurs in October, there
will be so many artists and venues involved it will be hard to choose
which to see and when. While I am looking forward to all of it,
one photographer I am particularly eager to see isn’t that famous, but
has certainly made an impact. Nancy Rexroth, who will be presenting new
work from her landmark Iowa project, is sharing with Judi Parks and Jane Alden Stevens a show called Landscapes of the Mind: Metaphor, Archetype and Symbol 1971-2012 at YWCA Women’s Gallery. It opens Oct. 5.
by Jac Kern
Arianna Huffington, Uta Barth in town
Arianna Huffington is speaking as a part of SmartTalk ConnectedConversations tonight at the Aronoff Center. The media queen will discuss how she became "fearless in love, work and life" (a phrase taken from the title of her 2007 bestseller). Huffington has made her mark as an author of 13 books, co-founder of The Huffington Post, Republican-turned-liberal and even the voice of a character on The Cleveland Show. Get 'em, girl! Tickets to this insightful femme-fest are still available here.In quirkier event news, did you know there's a monthly meet-up of the Skeptical Society of Cincinnati where the group introduces a professional scientist to the public? Cincy Science Cafe is a casual gathering (usually at a bar) where the community can learn about interesting discoveries being made by area scientists. Tonight the crew meets at Glendale's Cock & Bull at 6 p.m. Go here for details.Gearing up for October's exciting FotoFocus exhibition, the organization presents a lecture tonight with Los Angeles-based photographer Uta Barth. Barth is known for her painterly photos, employing unconventional methods to create a whole new way of viewing photographs. Barth has been awarded with numerous grants and fellowships and has most recently exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago. She's a pretty big deal. The Cincinnati Art Museum hosts this FotoFocus lecture tonight at 7 p.m. Find more information here.Wednesdays are extra sexy at Northside Tavern — Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke takes over the back room this night each week. For those unfamiliar, STLBK is just how it sounds — the ultimate karaoke experience. You provide the vocals (and preferably hot dance moves) while a live band accompanies you. Be a Rock Star for, like, four minutes! Check out the group on Facebook. SexyTime for details and the song list. STLBK kicks off at 9 p.m.As always, there are plenty of live shows, theater productions and ongoing art exhibits to check out tonight. See our music blog and full To Do list for more.
Arts organizations and events are adapting to the tough economic climate
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 31, 2011
“I've had the opportunity to learn patience,” says Tod Swormstedt, founder of the American Sign Museum. He’s talking about a problem that other Cincinnati arts organizations and supporters of planned festivals, theater renovations and other projects have to share — how to raise money as the Great Recession grinds on.