Top Five Cincinnati Arts & Culture Events for This Weekend

Choices include an underground installation devoted to a comic book that mixes sci-fi with sewer maintenance, a visit by a Tibetan filmmaker whose movie got him arrested in China, a truly alternative art fair in a Camp Washington parking lot and more

click to enlarge Film still from "A Page of Madness" - PHOTO: Provided
PHOTO: Provided
Film still from "A Page of Madness"

We've culled this weekend's Top Five Arts & Culture activities from various sources, including our own stories. It's a very busy weekend for the Arts, which is a good thing:

1) It’s hard to imagine a more intriguing, fun combination than watching an avant-garde silent film while listening to live accompaniment from a trio that plays toy and handmade instruments. You’ll get that opportunity Saturday evening when a remastered version of A Page of Madness, a long-lost 1926 Japanese art-horror film about a janitor at the insane asylum where his own wife is being held, is screened for adventurous movie lovers. The music will be provided by Little Bang Theory, a Detroit group whose member Frank Pahl has composed the score. The event is cosponsored by Mini Microcinema and the Weston Gallery, where Mini founder C. Jacqueline Wood’s exhibit What Makes a Life is on display. The show/performance starts at 7 p.m. at the Fifth Third Bank Theater, Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Downtown. More info:

2) The MeSseD Tunnel Project in the sub-basement of Union Hall, 1314 Republic St. in Over-the-Rhine, is the creation of Jay Kalagayan and Dylan Speeg, who have the popular MeSseD comic book series that's set inside the labyrinthian world of Metropolitan Sewer District tunnels. This attempts to duplicate the eerie scenario of their comics through an immersive installation in a fascinating and unusual — and little-known —space, the lager-beer cooling cellars of an old brewery in the heart of OTR's restaurant district. To go down, you'll need to sign a waiver and wear a helmet and safety vest, and you'll be given a flashlight to better see the huge reproductions (on vinyl) of comic-book panels, the lighted pathway and the soft-sculpture worms. Hours of operation are 6-9 p.m. tonight (Thursday, May 17) and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. To buy advance timed tickets, go to To read more about the project, click here.

click to enlarge Mark de Jong welcomes you to his Swing House on Saturday. - PHOTO: Hailey Bollinger
PHOTO: Hailey Bollinger
Mark de Jong welcomes you to his Swing House on Saturday.

3) Mark de Jong’s brainchild, Swing House, is nestled within a suburban niche of Camp Washington. Seemingly nondescript on the exterior, blue paint welcomes visitors to step inside a work of art. In this home, everything is intentional. De Jong, a renovator of old houses, has made an 1880s three-story brick house — the interior width is 15 feet — into something entirely new. In the middle of the floor plan sits a swing, hence the name “Swing House;” de Jong removed the upper floor and interior walls to install it. And you can see it at a free open house from noon-4 p.m. Saturday. It beckons nostalgia. Like a childhood fever dream, it’s art that’s meant for interaction. Yes, you can swing indoors. While you’re at it, stare up at the patchwork colors on the walls, or head to the basement, which contains art that reflects the startling symmetry of the upstairs abode. Bonus: After touring, head over to the Contemporary Arts Center, which is currently displaying art objects and material inspired by the Swing House, alongside other work by de Jong. Swing House is at 1372 Avon Place, Camp Washington. Visit for more information. For a CityBeat story about Swing House, click here.

4) On Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Esquire Theatre in Clifton, the local Amnesty International chapter is bringing released Tibetan prisoner of conscience and filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen to town to screen his documentary Leaving Fear Behind and discuss his years of imprisonment and house arrest in China. In 2007, Wangchen — from the Chinese province of Qinghai — interviewed 108 Tibetans about living under Chinese rule, in order to make this movie. When it got distributed outside China, he got into trouble with authorities who accused him of subversion. Amnesty International has long fought for his release. Tickets are $10 and can be bought at the Esquire, 320 Ludlow Ave. More info:

5) Summer's (almost) here and the time is right for hanging around a Camp Washington parking lot. That may sound funny, but it makes sense when we're talking about 9x18: The Parking Lot Art Experiment, an alternative/performative/experimental art fair occurring Sunday from 1-5 p.m. at 2927 Colerain Ave. The site is the parking lot of a former bank. This is the second year for this wildly imaginative and fun event, sponsored by the Wave Pool "artists reframing community" center located just across the street. The 9x18 figure represents the dimensions of a standard parking space, and selected artists get to take over one for the day to do something meaningful to them and, hopefully, us. According to a Wave Pool press release, the idea started when local creatives asked, “Where can artists who don’t create 'things' and sell commodified objects showcase their work to a large and accessible public?” This event is curated by Andy Marko, Karay Martin and Cal Cullen, and is funded by a grant from The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. More info:

Suggestions for future Top Fives? Contact Steven Rosen at [email protected].

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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