If you've walked by the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) lately, you've probably noticed the steady transformation of the stark white lobby walls into their present kaleidoscopic state. "FLOW," a wall-painting installation by artist ODILI DONALD ODITA, opens Friday at the CAC.
Over the past few weeks, Odita, his assistant Emily Erb and an installation crew of 10 artists rolled on the 101 colors involved in the ambitious piece — all by hand. After many coats of paint and countless rolls of painter's tape, "FLOW" is complete. It includes the walls of the lobby as well as the stairwell descending to the lower level. It is Odita's largest work to date.
Odita was born in Nigeria, raised in Ohio and now lives in Pennsylvania. He teaches painting at Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. While his work is abstract, his compositions, with their bands of bright color, often suggest landscapes or African textile patterns.
"What I responded to in the space was the energy of being inside and outside at the same time," Odita says of his planning for "FLOW."
The idiosyncrasies of Zaha Hadid's architecture, the gray Ohio light and Julian Stanczak's three-story installation that faces the CAC on Sixth Street informed Odita's choice of color and form. The colors, ranging from vivid reds, yellows and blues to muted browns and barely-there blues, evolve across the wall surfaces. So while colors repeat throughout, different areas of the composition still have a distinct character.
The CAC and CityBeat have been documenting the process with frequent YouTube installments and blog posts (blogs.citybeat.com/ae). Stacey Czar, CAC's public relations director, says, "We're looking at the process as such an important part of contemporary art that we want to highlight it as much as we highlight the work itself when it's completed."
Raphaela Platow, the still new director of the CAC, curated the exhibition along with curatorial assistant Maiza Hixson. Odita's work makes a bold visual and symbolic statement about the direction of the CAC under its new leadership. Certainly we're seeing more life in the vast 4,000-foot space.
America Starts Here: Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler also opens on Friday. It highlights the collaborations of the artists Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler, featuring 20 works made between 1984 and 1994. Opening reception: 7-11 p.m. 513-345-8400. (See Art.) — ANGELA KILDUFF
You'z guyz are gonna love dis! All things Italian — sans the overused mafia accent — will entertain museum-goers at Cincinnati Art Museum's next ONE WORLD WEDNESDAY. There'll be live Italian opera (7-8 p.m.) for those with more traditional taste and Rock/Pop music performed by Eurorhythms, an Italian American show band, for the more contemporary. The Italian Sculpture studio will allow guests to create new works of art (6:307:30 p.m.). Not into getting messy? Try your hand at glow-in-the-dark Bocce Ball. Leonardo da Vinci will be present in spirit during the marshmallow/toothpick bridge construction (7 p.m.). Italian wine sampling in the Terrace Cafe and gallery strolls round out the evening. $8; museum members enter free. 513-721-2787. (See Art or Events.) — MARGO PIERCE
THURSDAY 11/8 - SUNDAY 11/11
Comedian DOUG BENSON was headlining clubs even before competing in this past summer's edition of Last Comic Standing, but the show did help raise his profile. "I finished in sixth place," he notes dryly. "Which means I'm the sixth funniest person in the world. They did an international search this year." Benson does discuss the show briefly on stage. "People are curious about it," he says. "Those who have no idea ... get filled in on what happened there. Then it's back to sex and drugs, a little alcohol on the side — my nerdy hard-living lifestyle. I talk about movies quite a bit, and television. I like all that pop culture crap." Having done a good deal of his material on LCS, Benson has decided to overhaul his act. "I basically took out everything that I had been doing on Last Comic Standing. If anybody wants me to do a specific bit from (LCS), they have to embarrassingly yell out during the show a request for a bit then I will happily do it. But when not asked I don't want people to pay to hear jokes they've already heard." Benson performs Thursday-Sunday at Go Bananas in Montgomery. $10-$15; $5 Thursday with college ID, $5 ladies night Sunday. 513-984-9288 or www.gobananascomedy.com. (See Onstage.) — P.F. WILSON
The best hard-hitting Indie Rock show of the week goes down Thursday at the Gypsy Hut, as Brooklyn's The Giraffes and GOES CUBE (pictured) bring their brief Midwestern tour to Cincy. Add local trio The Sundresses into the mix and, as always, you can't go wrong. Then add the fact that it's a free show and, heck, what do you have to lose? The two Brooklyn bands share a similar Post Hardcore rumble, with a heavy measure of well-crafted, intricate Post Punk. Goes Cube has that Jesus Lizard-like sledgehammer precision and swagger, where things are going so spastic, it's amazing that the musicians are able to play as air-tight as they do. The dynamic structuring of the band's pummeling assault allows listeners a few moments to catch their breath, and it also gives the music added depth and color. Likewise, The Giraffes ride heavy, precise rhythms with rocket-fuel vocals and some solid melodies, while guitarist Damien Paris often reaches outside of the expected "hard and heavy" guitar clichés, unspooling riffs and chords with genuine artistry. If the adjectives "big and heavy" conjure up only notions of Slayer and Death Metal, then The Giraffes and Goes Cube have some things to teach you. Class is in session at the Gypsy Hut this Thursday starting around 10 p.m. 513-541-0999. (See Music.) — MIKE BREEN
Looking for chamber music, shaken with a twist? It must be time for the second season from CONUNDRUM, the unconventional Cincinnati chamber quartet with a decidedly different vision of the genre. Comprised of soprano Mary Elizabeth Southworth, flautist Danielle Hundley, clarinetist Marianne Breneman and pianist Philip Amalong, Conundrum brings an alternative sensibility to the chamber concept, blending a contemporary musical mindset with impeccable Classical chops to create a quirky, engaging and compelling presentation. Conundrum's first eclectic concert of the season takes place 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park (1101 Eastern Ave., Downtown) with a wine, cheese, Koka coffee and dessert reception both preceding and following the performance. Partly sponsored by the Cincinnati Parks Board and the city, the Conundrum event is free (they welcome donations to offset production costs, so donate already — they're way worth it), and since seating is limited, they're encouraging reservations. Call 513-221-3949 to reserve your spot. (See Onstage.) — BRIAN BAKER
JONATHAN AMES is a versatile writer and performer with a special affinity for self-laceration. Proof can be found in Oedipussy, a one-man, Spaulding Gray-like show Ames unleashed on "off, off Broadway" a few years back. Elsewhere, Ames' essay collections (such as What's Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer) and novels (Wake Up, Sir! is the most recent) teem with personal anecdotes and high comedy that are often centered on the author's sexual misadventures. Given such proclivities, it should be no surprise that Ames is the mastermind behind the "Most Phallic Building" contest (which originated via an article he wrote for Slate) and is the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs. His most recent project, The Alcoholic, will be published as a graphic novel next year, no doubt propelled by Ames' delightfully slanted perspective. Ames is scheduled to read from his fiction in UC's Elliston Room at the Langsam Library on Thursday, but don't be surprised if a riotous stand-up routine breaks out. The adventure begins at 7 p.m. Free. 513-556-0924. (See Literary.) — JASON GARGANO
FRIDAY 11/9 - SUNDAY 11/11
The show business newspaper Variety called PARALLEL LIVES "a romp with a feminist sensibility ... humor for a post-Lily Tomlin generation." It won an Obie Award (for Off-Broadway theater) in 1988 and became a hit special on HBO. The script consists of sketches by comedy writer Mo Gaffney and comic actress Kathy Najimy satirizing subjects including men, women, feminists, love, sex, guilt, family, God and religion. It was the first show staged by Ovation Theatre Company a decade ago, and to mark that anniversary, Ovation has revived it with two very funny local actresses, Christine Dye and Holly Sauerbrunn. Among others, they play two supreme beings who resemble nothing so much as sadistic desperate housewives. All in all, they take on 38 distinct roles and explore many of the rituals of contemporary life. This is the first of three weekends at the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater. $10-$20. 513-621-2787. (See Onstage.) — RICK PENDER
Despite phenomenally popular exhibitions at major museums and commemorative postage stamps, quilter Louisiana P. Bendolph, speaking recently at Miami University, said, "I don't call myself an artist yet... But (I'm) glad the world thinks I'm one." PIECES OF POWER: A SELECTION OF QUILTS FROM GEE'S BEND is now on display at Miami University's Hiestand Galleries. Five years ago, a group of women became overnight art stars, showing their bold and innovative quilts and putting the small African-American community of Gee's Bend, Ala., on the map. The women of Gee's Bend have been quilting for generations. Quilts were items borne out of necessity, tradition and spirituality. Although dates are not attributed to more than half of the quilts, the dates listed are 1970, 2003 and 2006 — both before and after art world recognition. The small stains and frayed seams of the older quilts attest to their history from utility to art object, while the new works, consistent if not more intrepid in design, are pristine, made not for a family mattress but the gallery wall. The quilters of Gee's Bend both past and present use everyday materials to create striking compositions that rival those of modernist masters, but behind these stitches there is also a story worth telling. Through Nov. 16. 513-529-2232. (See Art.) — ANGELA KILDUFF
You already have an inner poet. Now you can let the world know it. The RIVERBANK POETRY PROJECT hosts an open-mic poetry reading Nov. 13 at Fairfield Community Arts Center. Jammin' John performs on keyboard at 6:30 p.m., followed at 7:15 p.m. by a reading by Rhonda Pettit, an associate professor of English and women's studies at the University of Cincinnati. Then at 8 p.m. the mic is yours. You don't need to know iambic pentameter. You don't even need to rhyme. Just express the wisdom, passion or silliness that springs from within — and enjoy listening while others do the same. Admission is free. The Fairfield Community Arts Center is at 411 Wessel Drive, Fairfield. For more information, visit www.riverbankpoetry.com. (See Literary.) — GREGORY FLANNERY