by Steven Rosen
On Monday, Cincinnati Art Museum announced the resignation of James Crump, its chief curator and photography curator. He arrived at the museum in 2008. A press release said he would "pursue independent projects." The press release also included high praise for Crump from Aaron Betsky, museum director: "We are so grateful for the great work James has done here in Cincinnati. His exhibitions and acquisitions have made us a center for photography, and we look forward to building on his extraordinary achievements."One of those achievements, the exhibition James Welling: Monograph, just opened Feb. 2. Crump was also a leader in the organization of last year's multi-venue FotoFocus photography festival, and Cincinnati Art Museum sponsored two of its biggest shows — Herb Ritts: L.A. Style and Doug and Mike Starn's Gravity of Light.The museum said an interim chief curator will be named soon. Recently, the Italian art-book publisher Damiani launched a new line of Damiani / Crump books. It begins in March with Empire Falling, photographer Elena Dorfman's study of Midwest rock quarries.
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 27, 2012
If you drive to Columbus by Dec. 30, you can see a photography show — Annie Leibovitz
— that serves as the culmination to the journey through
celebrity/fashion photography begun by three FotoFocus-related museum
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
If Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Herb Ritts
could have a drink together, they’d find so much to talk about that the
drinks might just keep coming. The Cincinnati Art Museum’s total
collection of Toulouse-Lautrec prints (43) and posters (eight) fill
niches at right and left of the Great Hall balcony entrance to Herb Ritts: L.A. Style, providing that sensuous outlay of black and white photographs with an historic backdrop.
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.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
On Monday, Todd Pavlisko conducted his
commissioned artwork — a video piece he’s calling “Docent” — in which a
retired military sniper fired a secured high-powered rifle inside the
first floor of the Cincinnati Art Museum.
by Steven Rosen
Posted In: Visual Art
at 02:44 PM | Permalink
The firing of a high-powered rifle inside the Cincinnati Art
Museum, sending a bullet past masterpieces through the first-floor Schmidlapp
Gallery and into a block of bronze in the middle of the Great Hall, will occur
on Monday, museum officials said.
Todd Pavlisko, the New York-based, locally born artist who
proposed the project, will be at the museum Friday for final planning and
discussions. (CityBeat will interview him for a story in next week’s Big
The museum has refused to allow press — or the public — to
witness the actual event, for security concerns, according to Director Aaron
Betsky. It also won’t say what time it will occur. The male sharpshooter who
will fire the high-powered rifle from a mounted stand also doesn’t want to be
identified. The museum normally is closed to the public on Monday.
A spokeswoman said the museum will be on “lockdown” for the
event. Those who will attend the actual shooting include the artist and the
sharpshooter, Betsky and Chief Curator James Crump and several others. A
Cincinnati police officer also will be present, a requirement of the City
Council ordinance permitting the event.
According to an earlier press release, which did not set a
specific date for the actual rifle shot, Pavlisko’s project is an outgrowth of
his work with photography and video. This will reference the work of Harold
Edgerton, whose photographs capturing bullets passing through fruit and
droplets of milk have become masterpieces for making visible that which the
naked eye could not see. Pavlisko’s idea is to contrast the flight of the
bullet with the timeless nature of the masterpieces on display in the
Schmidlapp Gallery. (The bullet will be 12 feet from any actual artwork.)
High-speed cameras and video equipment will document the
shot, and the resultant work will be on display May 25-Sept. 22 in a show
called Crown. So, too, will the
36-inch cast brass cube, or what remains of it, as the bullet strikes it.
0 Comments · Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Shooting outdoors separated photographer Herb Ritts from
studio-based New York peers. In addition to Malibu and El Mirage, Ritts
used a rooftop studio. He established a fun, “organic” working
environment, enabling him to cajole his subjects and develop an
“anti-glamour” style of celebrity photography.
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.
1 Comment · Wednesday, September 19, 2012
When Sarah Vanderlip — winner of
Cincinnati Art Museum’s first Marjorie Schiele Prize — arrives here for
the Sept. 29 opening of her show, it will be an Ohio homecoming, a full
circle of sorts, for the California artist.