From Far-Flung Realms to Greatest Hits

Local visual arts venues prepare for another intriguing season

Aug 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The fall season’s museum show that has attracted the most advance interest — because of its ambitiousness and its timeliness — is the Contemporary Art Center’s Realms of Intimacy: Miniaturist Practice from Pakistan, which opens Sept. 23 and continues until an as-yet-not-finalized January date.

If ever a country needed a better, more generous understanding in the U.S., it would be Pakistan, which from news headlines appears so lost in feudalism, war and religious fanaticism as to be a throwback to the Dark Ages. But this show, curated by the CAC’s Justine Ludwig, tries to present a modern, progressive side. It offers the work of five contemporary Pakistani artists who studied at the National College of Art in Lahore and who now update traditional Mughal miniaturist painting. The featured artists are Ambreen Butt, Faiza Butt, Imran Qureshi, Nusra Qureshi and Saira Wasim. Ludwig went to India to meet with artists, who work outside Pakistan, and organize the show. Her potentially groundbreaking curation has attracted widespread attention. Raphaela Platow, CAC’s director and chief curator, has said that institutions in London and the States are interested in hosting the show if it travels. (Visit


Over at the Cincinnati Art Museum, the thrust seems to be inward-looking this fall — an attempt to focus audience attention on its permanent collection rather than to present big exhibits based on loaned material. Several new steps to do that will debut soon. The cavalcade of “greatest hits” that will replace the antiquities cases in the first floor’s Emma Louise Schmidlapp Gallery should be ready by October. Twelve to 18 key objects from various collections will get pride of place here in an experiment to lure visitors to the best objects first before wandering off to the rest of the museum.

Meanwhile, at some point in fall, the transformation of the museum’s largest space for temporary shows into a salon-style display area for items normally in storage will also be done. And then several hundred objects will debut in their new home in a semi-permanent “show” called The Collections: 6,000 Years of Art.

There will be one potentially big temporary exhibition, although it is drawn from the newly acquired acquired Betty Colker Collection. Called Art Deco: Fashion and Design in the Jazz Age and running from Oct. 8-Jan. 11, it has been curated by Cynthia Amneus — head of fashion arts and textiles — who was responsible for last year’s fantastic success of a fashion exhibition, Wedded Perfection. The museum promises “androgynous sheath dresses embellished with beads and sequins in bold geometric designs,” and much more. (Visit

For those interested in traditional 19th-century landscapes, the place to turn is the Taft Museum of Art, where George Inness in Italy will be offered from Oct. 7 to Jan. 8. The important American painter traveled to Italy twice, in 1851-52 and 1870-74, to paint in a style he pioneered called tonalism. This show, organized by Philadelphia Museum of Art, presents his work and documents his experiences.

Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati’s premier commercial contemporary space, will have a major event this fall when its Peter Saul: Print Retrospective 1966-2010 opens on Sept. 16. The California-born Saul, whose politicized and satirical Pop-tinged art tackled everyone from Ronald Reagan to Donald Duck and who was associated with Chicago’s fabled “Hairy Who” school of irreverently imagist artists in the 1960s, will come to the 5-8:30 p.m. opening-night reception. The show lasts through Dec. 22. For those interested in the roots of street artists like Shepard Fairey and Keith Haring, both subjects of recent CAC shows, this is a must-see exhibit.

Northside’s Prairie, which likes to show artists working with unusual and innovative materials, offers Daybooks: Artists' Daily Reflections from Sept. 10 to Nov. 5. Three artists — Cincinnatian Amy Mildebrand, Ester Wilson from Atlanta and Susan McCaslin from New Haven, Conn. — create work every day that pertains to their thoughts, and then post the results on daily blogs. Their material includes photography and mixed-media on postcards and small panels.

Over-the-Rhine’s fine Clay Street Press, after going quite some time without a show, offers an exhibition of new work by the gifted Carmel Buckley from Sept. 30-Nov. 12. She will have six new etchings, plus sculptures and drawings.

Coming Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 to the Mockbee, Brighton’s labyrinthine alternative-arts space, is the Cincinnati Small Press Festival. The first day, for which there will be a $5 admission, is an evening event called PlexArt/TextArt, featuring print-, word-, and book-related art, performance and readings followed by a dance party. The second day, where admission is free, will be devoted to the Cincinnati Small Press Fair, featuring indie publishers, authors, book artists, printers and others. Activities are scheduled from noon-6 p.m. (Visit

Outside Cincinnati, but still near enough for day trips, the Columbus Museum of Art is offering an enticing and important exhibition for anyone wanting a chance to see an Old Master show. From Oct. 25 through Feb. 5, its Caravaggio: Behold the Man! The Impact of a Revolutionary Realist offers the only chance in the U.S. to see the visionary Italian Baroque painter’s “Ecce Homo (Behold the Man),” on loan from Genoa. It is Columbus’ sister city, and the loan is to remember the 400th year of Caravaggio’s death (he died in 1610, actually) as well as Columbus’ bicentennial. The show will be rounded out by 10 paintings by artists who emulated Caravaggio.

And for those who love folk and outsider art, the superb Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University houses a collection of some 1,400 pieces, and the first-floor exhibition space offers an exciting and beautifully installed survey of the best self-taught artists from a state overflowing with talent. The second floor features temporary exhibitions — through Oct. 15 the show is the brazenly wild sculpture that Lexington’s Robert Morgan makes from found and scavenged everyday items. (Visit