Cooler than Cincinnati?

Moving to New York City means missing great work here

Sep 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Usually when September rolls around, I spend my time prepping an opening at Carl Solway Gallery and anticipating all the new fall exhibitions in town. This year, I’m also preparing for my move back to Brooklyn. While everyone knows New York is a cool town full of art, I’m not ready to admit that it’s any cooler than my Cincinnati.

First and foremost, I’m already nostalgic for my favorite gallery in town — also, and luckily, my day job for the past four years — the Carl Solway Gallery in the West End. Again, we’ve put together a fall show that should excite the city, even in the midst of this stupid economy.

After much nervousness, heavy lifting and schedule balancing, Walls, Floors and Ceilings: Installations by 16 Artists opens on Thursday. Artists from Los Vegas, New York City, Texas and our own city — some famous, some unknown — have come to install site-specific, monumental work. The show is outrageous and invigorating, and I am proud to have had some part in its creation.

I’m sad to hear that Country Club is moving to a new location in Oakley after the closing of their current exhibitions, Christina Seeley’s Lux and Evan Hecox’s Unnamed Places, which I reviewed for CityBeat in early July. I liked that the two-year-old gallery was the closest neighbor to the Solway Gallery. Their desire for more foot-traffic sends them away, though, and the current exhibitions there, as well as their West End space, close on Oct. 10.

On Oct. 23, their new gallery will open with Kingdom of Nature, an exhibition of works by the Los Angeles-based artist Aaron Morse. The canvases and works on paper will challenge and investigate how history is presented to us in images. Morse will speak to an audience at DAAP Oct. 5 about his work.

Last weekend, Michelle Heimann’s solo exhibition, detour, opened at PAC Gallery in East Walnut Hills. Annie Bolling and Cate Yellig, the proprietors of the gallery, have managed to push forward with the space, despite certain doubting Thomases. Yes, it’s a difficult time to launch a new gallery, but the museum-quality of their first exhibition, Metamorphoses, which included photographs by Vivek Vilasini, set a powerful tone. Heimann’s work is all loose dabs and pleasure with paint. The gallery had never been so crowded.

Another new space, Aisle Gallery, has been consistently hanging some of the freshest work in town. Local artists like Evan Commander, Tim McMichael, Denise Burge and Lisa Siders have put together interesting, intelligent shows in the small space. Recently, proprietors Krista Gregory and Bill Renschler expanded the gallery, which should prove an excellent advantage. Gregory has mentioned looking outside the city for artists to show, and they have already begun that process.

I will be certain to return to see the new shows at the Contemporary Arts Center. Marilyn Minter: Chewing Color opens Oct. 3. Minter is renowned for her fashion-gone-foul photographs and canvases. It is what happens to glamour after a few too many cocktails.

Her work is disturbing in its intense intimacy with the fallen muses, but beautiful in its attention to color, sparkle and composition. The exhibition will be a must see.

At the Cincinnati Art Museum, the first biennale 4th Floor Award winner, Maineville-based Dan Lambert, opened his solo exhibition, Supernova Terra Firma, earlier this month. The work was chosen by CAM’s 4th Floor: Friends of Contemporary Art group. It comprises three sculptural projects, all of which deal with human placement in the world.

As Lambert says in his artist’s statement, “I am a borrower who prefers scratch-and-sniff, scratch-off, and snatch to building from scratch.”

Another native Cincinnatian makes his way back to CAM this fall too: C.F. Payne, an illustrator whose work has been included in many major publications such as Esquire and Sports Illustrated, and whose odd reinterpretion of an ancient Chinese scroll into a Bengals propaganda poster raised some eyebrows a few years ago, returns with a solo exhibtion, Famous Faces, Average Joes.

Fall has always been the season for change and renewal. As I ready myself to miss out on many of these wonderful shows, I think more about the hidden things: the musty back rooms of PAC Gallery, where Annie and Cate lug crates; the pushing of press releases from the museums; the floors of storage at Solway Gallery; my desk; and all the paperwork, e-mails, schedules, racing around.

I think of the not-so-pretty work that it takes to bring these amazing shows to Cincinnati. I think of the things that lead up to the openings — the things I will miss most.