Clifton’s Gaslight Art Scene is Expanding

The newly-opened Off Ludlow Gallery is just one of the latest initiatives of the Clifton Town Meeting Arts & Culture Committee to emphasize arts in the neighborhood

click to enlarge Off Ludlow Gallery's grand opening on June 12 - Courtesy of Off Ludlow Gallery
Courtesy of Off Ludlow Gallery
Off Ludlow Gallery's grand opening on June 12

A new art gallery has opened in Clifton’s Gaslight neighborhood, close to some of Ludlow Avenue’s most popular hot spots. The sensibly named Off Ludlow Gallery is just one of the latest initiatives of the Clifton Town Meeting Arts & Culture Committee to emphasize arts in the neighborhood.

Located on Ormond Avenue in the former Clifton post office, this pop-up gallery includes works by committee members as well as their associates, with most of the pieces available for purchase. More than 200 people attended the gallery’s grand opening on June 14. 

“Dave Taylor, who owns the building, has given us empty buildings before to do pop-ups,” says committee member Joyce Rich. “I called him and asked him if he would allow us to use it for a pop-up gallery.” 

The ultimate goal is to turn the pop-up into a permanent space.

“The message we’ve gotten from everyone that’s come in is, ‘this really needs to stay,’” says committee member and studio artist Jan Brown-Checco.

Arts & Culture Committee chair Sean Mullaney says the Clifton Town Meeting conducted a survey two years ago to hone-in on what could make Clifton a better arts neighborhood. Among the 100-plus suggestions were to help with local festivals and partner with local cultural institutions. They took this to heart, working with a class at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning to create innovative light sculptures for last year’s CliftonFest. 

Those light sculptures were temporary, but a long-term project is underway alongside a show at Off Ludlow Gallery highlighting the artists involved.

The committee is also working with seven artists to create a mural for Ludlow Garage’s west-facing wall. (The concert venue came under the ownership of Taylor and his wife, Claudia, last year.) The mural will consist of large-scale portraits of renowned musicians who have performed at the historic venue: Judy Collins, Rickie Lee Jones, B.B. King, Albert King, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, The James Gang and Captain Beefheart. 

Reflecting the variety of musical styles of artists depicted, those involved in the mural will work in an array of mediums, including oil, pencil and wash, watercolor and digitally manipulated drawings.

“It’s going to be like a gallery of different musicians where the artist tried to feel what their music also felt like while they were doing a portrait,” Brown-Checco says.

Instead of painting directly on the venue’s brick wall, the mural will be created by scanning and printing the art on large aluminum panels sealed with UV coating. 

Brown-Checco estimates the installation will take a few days and that the mural pieces will be good for “seven to 10 years.”

The most prominent piece of the mural will be a portrait of guitar legend B.B. King. Conceptual art shows a dapper-dressed King passionately playing “Lucille,” one of his black Gibson electric guitars.

David Michael Beck, the artist behind the planned 20-foot portrait, primarily works in what he calls “stylized realism.” He based his image of King off of various photographs before drawing it in pencil and adding in color work. 

Another late artist who will be depicted is Captain Beefheart. Ellina Chetverikova, an artist from Ukraine who is currently based in Cincinnati, will be doing the portrait of the experimental musician. It was her husband, Michael Oliva — the singer and guitarist of local band The Harlequins — who first introduced her to Beefheart. 

“I didn’t really like him right away, to be honest, but then (Michael) kept showing me videos and kept showing the influences and how much (Beefheart) does for the music and how unique of a person he is,” Chetverikova says. “I’ve grown to like him.”  

The mural won’t be dedicated until Oct. 5 as part of CliftonFest 2019, but the committee will be showcasing the artists’ work at Off Ludlow Gallery as part of an exhibition entitled Garage Muralists from July 12 to Aug. 3. There will also be a chance for artists to meet with sponsors on July 16. The opening reception will take place from 4-8 p.m. on Friday, July 19. 

Pat Olding, another committee member and studio artist, said that the gallery has filled a void for the Clifton area.

“We definitely have an audience,” Olding said. “And Clifton is very interested in participating."

Garage Muralists will be on view at Off Ludlow Gallery June 12-Aug. 3. Call 513-201-7153 for more info or search “Off Ludlow Gallery” on Facebook.

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