Anytime Dept.'s New Camp Washington Gallery Has Ambitious Plans

Starting Saturday, Rebecca Steele and Lydia Rosenberg have a home in an emerging cultural district to showcase artists from South America, San Francisco, L.A. and here

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click to enlarge Rebecca Steele (left) and Lydia Rosenberg - PHOTO: Provided
PHOTO: Provided
Rebecca Steele (left) and Lydia Rosenberg

Last year in the book Queen City Records, I quoted the co-owners of Torn Light Records in Bellevue saying that, despite Cincinnatians’ tendency to complain that our city isn’t New York or L.A. (or any other arts and cultural hub), there is actually an amazing number of people trying to make Cincinnati into one of those cities.

The phenomenon of dedicated and creative people making Cincinnati into a cultural destination is thriving across all creative disciplines. Now, that cultural wave grows larger with the addition of Anytime Dept. to Camp Washington.

The artist-run gallery will open this Saturday at 3025 Colerain Ave. in the growing arts hub that is the neighborhood, alongside Chase Public, Wave Pool, a People’s Liberty Globe Grant storefront and the HudsonJones gallery. The space, which is being rented, currently has a Coca Cola sign that also says Camp Washington Food Market. It’s just north of Camp Washington Chili.

Anytime Dept. was established in Northside last year by artists Lydia Rosenberg and Rebecca Steele as a way to give emerging contemporary artists space to show experimental work and connect them with the art community of Cincinnati. They made an immediate splash by organizing the first Cincinnati Art Book Fair, which brought in participants from throughout the region.

Both are newcomers to Cincinnati — Steele lived in Portland, Ore. for 15 years after growing up here, and Rosenberg moved to Cincinnati to teach at the University of Cincinnati after living in Portland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. While the various places they have lived have a lot of exhibition spaces showing young artists whose work is engaged with larger national and international scenes, both say this does not exist in Cincinnati.

Until now. On Saturday, Anytime Dept. will present Companion Pieces, the first event in its new Camp Washington home. It will display the work of 45 artists from North and South America through July 1. The gallerists curated by inviting artists they have worked with in the past or would like to work with in the future, and those artists in turn chose additional ones. From 4-10 p.m., there will be an opening reception/barbecue/fundraising party.

“We think it’s really important for artists to support and provide space for each other, so that’s what we’re doing,” Rosenberg says. “We want this to be a space for talking about issues in contemporary art and talking to people who make it (to) see what’s going on elsewhere.” She adds that it will be “a floor-to-ceiling art party” with barbecue and live music.

Steele and Rosenberg plan for their Camp Washington space to show a range of work that reflects what they have seen elsewhere. They will show local artists, as they have previously done in Northside, as well as those from outside Cincinnati. 

“We’re thinking about what it means to open up a contemporary art space or gallery in a city that’s not really connected to the larger art market,” Rosenberg says. “One of the advantages that we see to that is giving artists the opportunity to make and produce work for an exhibition that’s not as concerned with selling it.”

Although everything shown at Anytime Dept. is for sale, the gallery isn’t tied to sales to be sustainable. If artists come there just to see and learn about what others are doing elsewhere, then Rosenberg and Steele say they have done their job. 

“It gets myopic when you’re only looking at what’s regional if there’s no exchange,” Steele says. “If you’re not looking at interesting and new, challenging ideas as they’re happening in the world  — not just here —then you become isolated from practices and theories and ideas around the world. Anybody can look at anything on the internet, but actually seeing work in person, as it exists, is extremely important.”

Upcoming programming for Camp Washington includes a summer exhibition of work by the San Francisco-based artist Bean Gilsdorf, a series of secret one-week shows in September and a solo show by local artist Edward Victor Sanchez in November.


Anytime Dept. opens Saturday at 3025 Colerain Ave. in Camp Washington. More info: anytimedept.com

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