Cedric Michael Cox’s latest exhibition, A Collection of Paintings, is now on display at the West End’s OTOT Studio.
Those who follow the Cincinnati art scene should know Cox’s name. A professional artist for nearly 20 years, Cox’s work has been featured in several local institutions — the Taft Museum of Art, the Weston Art Gallery, the Carnegie and the Contemporary Arts Center — as well as in a current show at Chicago’s Gallery Guichard. He’s also an artist at downtown’s Gallery 708, works as an art educator at various schools and paints murals for schools, including an upcoming one at Seven Hills School.
Cox’s pieces can be identified by their vibrant colors and patterns. He’s taken inspiration from Cubism, Surrealism, landscape art and whimsical abstraction to develop his style.
A Collection of Paintings has 15 to 20 pieces, some of which are brand-new to the public and some of which have been showcased before. Cox looked for the juxtaposition of pieces to help give his exhibition its weight.
“I want to place everything basically in genres,” Cox said when discussing the layout of the exhibition before the opening. “That’s the game plan, so when we actually put it together, it might come out to be something totally different.”
For the exhibition — which can be viewed by appointment through July 1 — Cox wanted to make the most of the setting and the audience. In addition to his paintings in the gallery space, smaller pieces will be placed throughout the studio.
“I feel like I want to utilize this space as a whole and (use this) opportunity as a way to reach new audiences that have never seen my work,” he said.
Curator Nick Mason studies industrial design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. He first came to personally know Cox when he was originally majoring in fine art at DAAP.
“We exchanged numbers and then I met him at his studio one time and I did some work for him out of his studio and he paid me in paint,” Mason said. “We started hanging out in his studio and I did some work and we’ve just kept in touch since.”
Now minoring in fine art, Mason discovered the OTOT gallery — named for its location at 1213 (one two one three) York Street — through a friend. The renovated warehouse is also home to a gym and design shop. Taylor Carter, who operates CKTC Ceramics with Colin Klimesh at the studio, rent out and then sublet the space to artists. Mason said it has given him a place outside of home or school to work on art, such as painting.
It has also given him a space to curate public events which combine art and music, something he has done before at his home. During the June 1 opening of A Collection of Paintings, ambition in visual and auditory art converged: The event featured live music from “post-lo-fi” Hip Hop producer Evan Brown, known as “SmokeFace,” in addition to Cox’s paintings.
Mason got to know producer Brown through Brown’s roommate, artist Charlie Goering. He booked him to DJ the first open house show at OTOT. Brown, also the drummer for local Dream Pop band Multimagic, started making beats as a teenager. Last year, he released a new beat every single day. Brown said this kind of effort has helped him raise his personal bar.
“My B and C game are what my A game used to be,” Brown said.
Artist Cox also has experience bringing music and art together. He was previously the project manager for Hypnotic Concepts, an urban marketing company that would host events featuring exhibitions including live music, bringing in performers like Grandmaster Flash.
Just as Cox works to find which colors will go well together and Brown finds what chords will go well together, Mason’s curation of this event came partially from finding overlap between the two artists’ styles.
“I thought it was a nice pairing because they’re both from Cincinnati, making work in Cincinnati, and I think their styles complement each other well,” Mason said. “It’s urban, pop, colorful and at the same time, it’s laidback and fun and friendly.”
A Collection of Paintings can be viewed by appointment through July 1. Contact [email protected] for more information.