Downtown's Contemporary Arts Center Has Announced its New Exhibition Season Line-Up

Here's the lowdown on what's coming

click to enlarge Part of the House of Hmu series, Frédéric Nauczyciel invites the audience into vogue ballroom culture through his work. - Photo: Provided by the CAC
Photo: Provided by the CAC
Part of the House of Hmu series, Frédéric Nauczyciel invites the audience into vogue ballroom culture through his work.

Downtown's Contemporary Arts Center has unveiled its upcoming end of 2019/start of 2020 exhibition and performing arts season. Here's the lowdown on what's coming.

Sept. 20, 2019-Jan. 12, 2020: Art and Race Matters a comprehensive retrospective of the late Robert Colescott's work — will open the season. Known for his often satirical and expressionistic paintings that deal with his identity and black history, the CAC's show will uncover 85 total works made throughout 53 years of his career.

"Given the crises of race relations, political propaganda and image manipulation in the current American landscape, Colescott’s career has never been more relevant,”says curator Lowery Sims, a longtime Colescott scholar. “His perspectives on race, life, social mores, historical heritage and cultural hybridity allow us to forthrightly confront what the state of global culture will be in the immediate future.”

This exhibition will also travel to the Portland Art Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, Akron Art Museum and Sarasota Museum of Art.

Nov. 22, 2019-March 1, 2020: Cincinnati-based photographer Tom Schiff will get his first solo show, Surrounded by Art, come November. As the title alludes to, the exhibition features his panoramic photographic works, which are meant to "create a personal view of his subjects," according to a release.

"In his selection of museums, Schiff focuses on the architectural significance of the building architecture rather than the artwork on display," continues the release. "The resulting images interpret building designs through elongated and sequenced compositions."

Want to feel extra-immersed? The show will include a virtual reality experience of Schiff's images.

Nov. 22, 2019-March 1, 2020: Also opening in November is Confinement: Politics of Space and Bodies, which will act as a direct response to Samuel Beckett's 1961 play Happy Days, in which a woman, Winnie, is buried up to her neck in the ground with only a black shopping bag to her name. With each passing day she repeats her routine and remembers the "happier days."

This group exhibition is a tribute to Winnie that explores both the "protection of the cocoon and the constriction of a closed space," according to the release.

Nov. 22, 2019-March 1, 2020: Make it a triple opening: Lauren Henkin — a visual artist that works in photography, video and sculpture — will bring new life to the CAC. Her site-specific installations, dubbed Props, will be scattered throughout the building. As the release puts it, "here a conundrum of pipes, there a set of ergonomic yet a-functional benches to rest on."

Feb. 21-July 6, 2020: Kicking off 2020 is Vhils, aka the work of Portuguese street artist Alexandre Farto. His work involves removing the surface layers of urban walls with hammers, chisels and pneumatic drills to create portraits and other imagery. These images are created by etching acid and bleach onto the walls. His subjects are generally everyday city residents.

His work has been shown in over 30 countries — and he'll also be creating a public work for this fall's BLINK festival — but the CAC show marks Vhils' first large-scale exhibition in the U.S.

May 1-Aug. 23, 2020: Cincinnati Project, fronted by Mexico City-based artist Tania Candiani, reimagines the Cincinnati Industrial Expositions that took place from 1870 to 1888. According to the release, she will produce at least three new commissioned works that, alongside several historical prints, "embody her archival research on labor, utopianism and perceived progress in Cincinnati in the late 19th century."

These world expos envisioned future utopian cites and scientific innovation. Every year, a parade was held between Music Hall and the downtown district in Cincinnati to kick off the event. Along with the help of the CAC and students from the University of Cincinnati, Candiani is creating an abstract representation of a float that would have been in the parade. She will also create a musical score for a local choir that falls in line with the sounds of the bustling 19th century industry.

May 1-Aug. 23, 2020: Joan Tanner's exhibition Flaw features a site-specific installation in CAC's Delta Gallery. Tanner — whose 60-year career has been described as "prolific" — explains in the release that "in on sense I'm thinking of the definition of FLAW as a short explosive storm, a squall." She goes on to say that she sees it as an "encounter with the challenging and powerful Brutalist aesthetic" with the architecture of Zaha Hadid, who designed the CAC.

You can look forward to a handful of performances via the CAC's Black Box, too.

Nov. 9-10, 2019: Catch Radouan Mriziga this fall. Mriziga's work, 7, addresses dance through the lens of architecture. "His performances makes and unmakes spaces for both his dancers and audiences alike," states the release. Using the bodies of his performers, he creates patterns and shapes reminiscent of Islamic geometric motifs. 7 is the last performance in a trilogy. The piece will place six dancers and one musician within the realm of the seven wonders of the world and their relationship to the human body.

Jan. 29, 2020: Frédéric Nauczyciel — in co-presentation with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra — will bring Singulis et Simul to the Queen City. A French artist, Nauczyciel combines photography, video and performance while drawing inspiration from dance, cinema and American photography. Part of the House of Hmu series, he invites the audience into vogue ballroom culture through his work.

April 23-26: And while the lineup has yet to be released, the CAC's This Time Tomorrow festival will return for its second year.

For more info, visit

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About The Author

Mackenzie Manley

Mackenzie Manley is a freelance journalist based in Greater Cincinnati. She currently works as Campbell County Public Library’s public relations coordinator, which means most of her days are spent thinking about books and community (and making silly social media posts). She’s written a bit of everything, including...
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