Seeking a Definition of Public Space
Part I of the series 'Profundity in Public Art'
by Matt Morris
The summer months are an ideal time not only to keep up with the exhibitions and programming that our active network of art museums, galleries, and organizations continue to offer, but to appreciate artworks that can be seen all over our city in outdoor settings and other public spaces. Amidst the ongoing assault to our senses that large-scale advertising and ill-considered design inflicts, there are sculptures and public works that are visual with intent, aiming to step bravely out of the conceptual safety of an institutional setting and to risk exposure and a much larger public response of misunderstanding, all for the sake of presenting a considered view at our urban core.
For the past several decades, Cincinnati has experienced an increase of nuance in its visual topography. On any walking route through the downtown area alone, it would be hard to avoid encountering some kind of public artwork, be they large-scale outdoor sculptures or the rashes of wall-painting projects executed by ArtWorks, such as the MuralWorks projects of the last few years. What in the 1950s and 1960s began as an embattled discourse to reassert humanism, creativity, and a pre-/post-modern sensibility in the urban experience is now compulsive. If buildings and architecture mediate between mankind and the environment as shelter and a structure within which cultural identities may be shaped and practiced, what can be articulated concretely as the role of large, outdoor public artworks in the city?
Pfaff: Next to Nature, Art
by Jane Durrell
The exuberance of Judy Pfaff's constructed paper at Solway gallery fed into the show's opening with the kick of champagne. "Drop-dead gorgeous " I wrote in my notebook, in less than art-crit fashion. Later, back to look again before reviewing, the intimacy of seeing the work as the only person in the gallery made for a different experience. Gorgeous, yes, but not just a pretty face.
Half the works on view are what Pfaff calls prints, produced in series of twenty to fifty, although the layerings and hand work involved must make each print subtly individual. Eight other constructions are decidedly one-of-a-kind, related to one another but insistently unique.
In the Wake of Tagore
by Selena Reder
Four exhibits explore the changing character of contemporary Indian art. The Phyllis Weston-Annie Bolling and PAC galleries partnered with ArtWorks Gallery and the Krohn Conservatory Butterfly Show to bring together the works of 14 contemporary Indian artists. Radha Chandrashekaran and Meena Vari are guest curators of 'Metamorphosis: Change and Continuity in Indian Contemporary Art'. The works examine globalization and its effects on people and the environment, the merging of the East and West and the blending of traditional Indian art with modernism.
Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951) is credited as the first modern Indian painter and founder of the Bengal School (La Plante). His followers broke from the aesthetics imposed on their culture by the British Raj. Their works are a revival of traditional Indian art but also the beginnings of modernism. Tagore's influence is unmistakable in the works of some of the artists featured in 'Metamorphosis'. Amitesh Shrivastava's acrylic paintings share a similar color palette with Tagore; the brushwork is soft and the colors are muted. Tagore drew from a number of influences including Japanese watercolors, ancient Greek frescoes and the Ajanta Cave paintings of India's second century BCE. During his lifetime, Tagore fought to preserve Indian culture in the face of the British Empire. It is interesting, then, to consider that much of contemporary Indian art is a battle to preserve this same heritage in the face of globalization.