CAC’s Upcoming Season Features Surprises

When the Contemporary Arts Center announced its 2016-17 exhibition schedule last week, I noticed there wasn’t a celebrity name among the artists.

Jun 1, 2016 at 10:52 am
click to enlarge Glenn Brown’s “Shallow Deaths”
Glenn Brown’s “Shallow Deaths”

When the Contemporary Arts Center announced its 2016-17 exhibition schedule last week, I noticed there wasn’t a celebrity name among the artists. In recent years, the CAC has centered its seasons on big shows by artists whose renown extends beyond the traditional Contemporary world of museums, galleries and art fairs.

A similar show wasn’t among those announced last week for the upcoming season. But there may have been a good reason. Reports are swirling that the CAC is planning an exhibition by Swoon, perhaps the best known of female street artists, for the 2017-18 season. The talk began back in January, when CAC tweeted a photo of her touring the museum with curator Steven Matijcio and director Raphaela Platow.

As to what’s coming up before that? “For this season, I wanted to celebrate practices that are potentially unknown in Cincinnati but are making a lot of waves in the art world,” Matijcio says.

The first show features one of Britain’s greatest living painters, Glenn Brown. A meticulous artist whose imagery has been influenced by both art history and contemporary science fiction, Brown had a retrospective in 2009 at Tate Liverpool, but has also been controversial for his use of appropriation. “We wanted to celebrate painting,” Matijcio says. “I think because it’s been the preeminent medium of the past, sometimes it gets secondary status in today’s art world. Glenn Brown makes very few works per year because he spends so much time on them. If an Old Master were living today, he would be that person.”

The Brown show is his first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. It opens the upcoming season on Sept. 9 and will be on display through Jan. 15, 2017.

Following that comes the lead exhibition for this year’s FotoFocus photography biennial, Roe Ethridge’s Nearest Neighbor. Occurring Oct. 7 to March 12, it is curated by Kevin Moore, FotoFocus’ artistic director.

Overlapping with that will be The I-71 Project during October and November, the height of the election season. Organized by the CAC, MOCA Cleveland and Columbus Museum of Art and curated by Anne Thompson, this involves using billboards as art sites and will repeat a similar project that Thompson organized along I-70. This time, the work will in some way refer to or comment on the election process. “With Ohio being this battleground ground state, she (Thompson) thought there would be relevance and resonance if we could make a visible public statement,” Matijcio says. “But not one that’s going to be partisan; it’s more about the culture around the election system.”

The first show of 2017, on display from Feb. 10 to June 18, is Noel Anderson’s Blak Origin Moment, curated by Matijcio. Anderson is a Louisville-born African-American artist and a professor at the University of Cincinnati presently working in New York City, who explores black-male identity via work in textiles from old rugs and digitally produced tapestries. He has a piece in the current Unraveled group show at CAC.

Ugo Rondinone’s CHROMAphile occurs May 5 to Aug. 27, 2017 and will be curated by Platow. The most curious portion of this show highlighting Rondinone’s color work is liable to be the clowns.

“They’re going to be the stars of the show,” Matijcio says. “We’re still confirming the number — there could be 20 to 35. These will be life-size sculptures cast from people and then clothed in this very colorful garb, but they’re melancholic and sort of resting and sleeping and laying in the space.”

Jane Benson’s HALF-TRUTHS runs July 4 to Oct. 20, 2017. This British-born, New York-based artist uses dual-channel video and music to tell the story of two Iraqi brothers who escaped Baghdad in 2002.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s The Predecessors exhibit will show how the artist, who left Nigeria for the U.S. as a teen, subsequently chose painting as a medium to tell about her homeland. She fuses painting, drawing, collage and the use of transfers in her work. Her show, organized by CAC’s Matijcio and Ian Berry of Skidmore College’s Tang Museum, occurs July 14 to Oct. 20. 2017.

Drew Klein, performance curator, plans to have his full schedule set soon. He announced three upcoming performances last week.