Mark Mothersbaugh and Robert Mapplethorpe are the marquee names for the Contemporary Arts Center’s 2015-16 exhibition season, which will feature four additional shows.
It begins on Sept. 25 with an exhibit called Myopia that features the visual and musical work of Mothersbaugh, the Akron-born co-founder and singer of the Avant-Rock band Devo. Mothersbaugh attended Kent State University as an art student.
The large show, which was organized by Adam Lerner of Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, looks at Mothersbaugh’s music both with Devo and on his own but also features his personal artwork — prints, drawings, paintings, sculpture, video animations and some 30,000 postcards. Myopia will be up through Jan. 9, 2016 and then travels to other venues.
The Mothersbaugh show has won raves from those who saw it in Denver, where the exhibit was extended. But museum shows that merge Pop music with fashion and visual art are suddenly quite controversial as a result of the widespread criticism that the current Björk exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art has low artistic standards.
In an interview, CAC Curator Steven Matijcio said that while Björk “relies too much on the music video element and some costume elements but didn’t go in depth into the creative process,” Myopia studies “unexpected and unheralded elements of the artist’s career, offering an expanded view to the audience.”
“It really focuses upon Mark’s artwork,” Matijcio says. “This goes into far deeper layers [than just his Devo work]. It shows this meticulous, obsessive, very dedicated mind that has continually practiced visual art in concert with his larger musical career.”
As anticipated as that show is, another sure to attract attention is After the Moment: Reflections on Robert Mapplethorpe, which runs from Nov. 6, 2015 to March 13, 2016. Seven regional curators will each select five artists whose current work has been influenced by the photographer.
This exhibit observes and honors the 25th anniversary of The Perfect Moment’s presentation in Cincinnati, when conservative civic leaders — led by then-Sheriff Simon Leis — tried to shut down the Mapplethorpe retrospective and jail the CAC’s director on grounds that some of the sexually oriented photos of males were pornographic. A jury rejected their claim.
The Mapplethorpe-related show, which does not feature his work, will look at how the work of today’s artists “measure how Mapplethorpe’s photos, exhibition and censorship shaped the artistic landscape they navigate today,” according to a CAC press release. The other curators besides Matijcio are Matt Distel, Dennis Harrington, William Messer, Maria Seda-Reeder, Yasmeen Siddiqui and Elizabeth Stirratt.
“We really want to look at the memory of [The Perfect Moment] and see how it’s translated into the present day,” Matijcio says. “Obviously this had a very epic impact and reverberation here, but we wanted to look at that through the lens of artists working in this region.”
Here are the other shows of the 2015-16 season.
Pia Camil, Nov. 6, 2015-March 13, 2016: Curated by Justine Ludwig, this is the first solo U.S. show for the Mexico City artist who creates hanging curtain-like paintings with imagery inspired by her city’s cluttered landscape. This show will feature new work “in dialogue with” the CAC’s Zaha Hadid-designed space. There will also be vases.
Passage, Feb. 12-Sept. 11, 2016: A survey exhibition, curated by Matijcio, of Korean-American artist Do Ho Suh, whose installations — ethereal fabric replicas of houses — speak to the fragile impermanence of the concept of “home” in modern society. There also will be work inspired by the CAC’s architecture.
Chasing the Whale and Other Endless Pursuits, April 15-Aug. 14, 2016: Co-curated by Matijcio and Northern Kentucky University Professor Robert Wallace, this presents two artists known for their illustrations of Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick: Matt Kish from Dayton and Canadian-born Robert Del Tredici.
Cut, Fold, Recreate, April 15-Aug. 14, 2016: A group show curated by Kate Bonansinga, director of the School of Art at University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, this features artists who use processes associated with textiles to reconstruct everyday objects such as clothing, rugs and blankets. For instance, Icelandic artist Hildur Bjarnadóttir has rolled her deceased grandmother’s trousers into a single ball of thread as a memorial.
For more information on the CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER’s season, visit contemporaryartscenter.org.