Cincinnati Painter Cedric Michael Cox Offers Vibrant Positivity in New Exhibit at Baker Hunt in Covington

"Mindful Joy" reveals never-before-seen paintings by Cedric Michael Cox, including one of his largest canvas works to date.

click to enlarge Cedric Michael Cox - Photo: Provided by Baker Hunt
Photo: Provided by Baker Hunt
Cedric Michael Cox

A month-long exhibition at Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center in Covington reveals never-before-seen paintings by Cedric Michael Cox, including one of his largest canvas works to date. Mindful Joy debuted Oct. 1 to a sold-out crowd in an event that blended music, art and a message of positivity.

Mindful Joy is a name of one of the paintings that's actually in the exhibition,” Cox says. “And it's kind of like the mindset of where I'm at with my artwork and I really wanted to convey an idea of positive energy through art.”

click to enlarge "Mindful Joy" by Cedric Michael Cox - Photo: Provided by Baker Hunt
Photo: Provided by Baker Hunt
"Mindful Joy" by Cedric Michael Cox

Among the 17 paintings created for this exhibit, “Celestial Balance” was unveiled in the newly renovated Baker Hunt Ballroom. It lives on a grand, 6-foot-by-10-foot canvas, Cox says, and is his favorite of the bunch. The painting is balanced but not symmetrical, swirls of color take the eye through a maze of pointed and round shapes that give way to an almost three-dimensional effect on the negative space. 

“It's very vibrant,” he says of the work. “It has kind of a tannish, milky play between purple and yellow and these very primary colors dancing throughout it in these geometric forms that relate to dance, human anatomy and musical and architectural forms.”

Any series of paintings created in the same period of time with a curated and themed showing in mind are going to be related, Cox says. While Cox’s signature Cubist, semi-Abstract style is a distinct feature throughout, viewers can expect a refreshing take on this new work. A regal sentiment permeates through the mixture of large and small installments, relating his ability to portray color and shapes through fluid movement to the overarching message of peacefulness and vibrant positivity. 

Cox wanted to make this exhibit more than just a standard gallery showing, he says. He felt like making it a “happening,” which is why he carefully chose musician Preston Bell Charles III to complement opening night. 

“The layers of information, the sophistication of the sound,” Cox says. “The mixtures of different genres. That’s what I feel when I look at my work. I feel like there's more than just one vibe that could be pulled when you’re looking at my work. That’s how I feel when I'm listening to (Charles’) work.”

Charles is a local musician and violin teacher who creates elegant loops of intricate sound to form a cohesive blend of Classical tone and modern attitude. Charles is featured in various local events and is a creative music director for Cincinnati THRIVE’s Hip Hop Orchestra. 

Charles will also perform during upcoming events throughout the month. On Oct. 17, patrons can reserve a spot for Brunch with the Artist, where guests are treated to food and drink and can converse with Cox about the exhibit and his body of work. The closing event on Oct. 29 is slated for music and mingling once more with Charles and Cox. Additional viewing times — without Cox present — are slated throughout the month.

“I’m hoping we have a great turnout and people enjoy the work,” Cox says. “I think as an artist it's important for you to stand outside of yourself as a voyeur or an onlooker to really challenge yourself and objectively judge yourself and how you can do better.” 

Cox was hand-picked by Baker Hunt as the second artist to grace the gallery and secure efforts to make art exhibits a mainstay at the art and cultural center’s renewed space. The historic Scudder House Building, where the ballroom is located, debuted renovations in early 2021. The building is a big piece of the 3-acre property, which also includes The Mansion, The Studio and The Auditorium. 

“We recently renovated the Scudder Building,” says Hunter Fleury, Baker Hunt program and education director. “The space itself is completely brand new and it just lent itself really well to displaying work and it's a passion of mine. So one of our employees here was familiar with Cox’s work and lived around the corner from where some of his work is displayed in Bellevue and just fell in love with it and we did, too. So we started putting together a wish list of who we'd like to see display work here and he was at the top of our list.” 

Baker Hunt aims to make art available to all, according to its website. The staff provides professional instruction in every type of art from cooking to painting. Fleury, who describes Cox’s work as “breathtaking,” is looking forward to the way Mindful Joy and future exhibits can impact and inspire his students. 

“We have students come into the space to draw or look at the work and admire the work,” Fleury says. “If possible, have conversations with Cedric. And it was similar with the prior show, bringing students through just to see what a master's work would look like.” 

Cox hopes all viewers can walk away from Mindful Joy with an appreciation for the arts and engage in their own creative spirit. “A society is only as good as the art they create,” he says. 

Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center is located at 620 Greenup St., Covington. Get more information and reserve space for brunch and closing reception at bakerhunt.org


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