People’s Liberty’s final installation opened at their Over-the-Rhine Globefront gallery location on Sept. 13. Staying true to that organization’s five years of forward-thinking projects, an exhibition curated by Wave Pool entitled Advice for Future Homecomers is posited at looking ahead in anticipation.
“They wanted to go out with a really beautiful, thoughtful show,” says Cal Cullen, executive director of Wave Pool. “They didn’t want a recap of all of what People’s Liberty had done in the past. They didn’t want some sort of time capsule, yearbook, but they wanted something that summarized the feel of People’s Liberty, and their community engagement, but almost was a call-to-action for the community to step up and fill in their place.”
The term “homecomers” is one used by prominent Kentucky writer Wendell Berry. A homecomer is one who leaves their home, believing they must travel far and wide to make their difference in the world, returning home only upon the realization that everything they sought was there all along.
“This happens in Cincinnati all the time,” Cullen says. “People call us ‘boomerangs’... It’s (about) coming back to your roots (and) has to do with the Cincinnati phenomenon of homecoming. But also this idea of seeing the future by returning back.”
To achieve that end, Cullen enlisted several artists, both local and beyond: Elese Daniels, Lizzy DuQuette, Llewellyn Fletcher, Catherine Whithead, the Archive of Creative Culture and Christian Schmit. Schmit’s practice is primarily focused on small-scale sculpture making, but for this installation, Cullen asked him to marry his practice with another, perhaps unexpected passion of his: bread-making.
“(Bread is) this very fundamental and universal thing of sustenance. You’re handing it to people; the gesture of that I think is really powerful,” Schmit says. “It’s hard to really over-complicate it; it’s not something that needs to be overanalyzed. It’s just a gesture of warmth and community.”
From 9 to 11 a.m. every Friday and Saturday through the end of the exhibition, Schmit will host pretzel-making workshops in the Globefront. Starting at noon on those days, he’ll take a pretzel cart through Findlay Market and neighboring streets to dispense pretzels to anyone in exchange for one thing: advice.
“My thinking is there’s been a lot of people moving into the community and setting up new businesses; companies will build luxury apartments and they don’t really ever talk to people on the street,” Schmit says.
“I think there are a lot of very invasive species that enter into communities and don’t really consider the needs of that community. What do they need? The pretzels will be a gesture of saying, ‘I come in peace, and then if you have the time, could you trade me some advice?’ ”
Schmit’s bread-making business, Tall’s Bread, operates out of Trinity Episcopal Church’s basement in Covington. A former member of the Covington outpost of FreshLo (a program that supports food-related initiatives across the country), Schmit has been baking since the ’90s. Tall’s Bread focuses on small-batch sourdough bread and bread-related products, including pretzels.
“It’s hard. It’s almost like alchemy. (It requires) a lot of intuition and that’s why it’s hard to learn,” he says of the breadmaking process.
The advice Schmit gathers will be on display in the gallery, and after the exhibition closes, People’s Liberty staff will create a compilation of the advice to be made available online. Over the last four Fridays of the exhibition, artist DuQuette will take some of the advice and turn it into a shadow-puppet show on display in the window of the Globefront. A panel discussion on Oct. 19 will extrapolate on the notion of being a homecomer.
“We all find a community in whatever way that we do,” Schmit says. “Sometimes it isn’t in one geographic place. Sometimes it’s through the connection of people.”
Advice for Future Homecomers runs through Nov. 10 at the People’s Liberty Globefront (1805 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine). More info: wavepoolgallery.org.