Sunday, December 28, 2003

Best of 2003: Visual art

By Marilyn Bauer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

1. Opening of the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art - The May unveiling of the new Zaha Hadid-designed building at the corner of Sixth and Walnut streets was a pivotal event in the history of art in Cincinnati. Visitors and press from around the world marveled at the sleek design of the first American museum designed by a woman. The opening show, curated by Thom Collins, brought together 35 artists from 21 countries and the hottest trends in contemporary art. The opening party brought nearly 11,000 people downtown.

2. Cincinnati Art Museum opens a new wing and eliminates admission charge - Five years in the making, Cincinnati Art Museum's Cincinnati Wing opened May 15 with a declaration that the museum would no longer charge admission. Through a gift from Lois and Dick Rosenthal, the museum is free to everyone. Kudos to museum director Timothy Rub for selecting Mark Fox to do the first installation in the wing's revolving gallery. His Dust show proved you don't have to be dead to be a great Cincinnati artist.

3. Polly Apfelbaum exhibition - Vivacious, inclusive, wrapping up the world in her crushed velvet installations, Polly Apfelbaum transformed the fourth and fifth floors of the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art with hundreds of pieces of amoeba-shaped fabric. The first retrospective of her work, it worked especially well in the labyrinth of galleries on the two floors. It's still there, through Feb. 29.

4. Cincinnati: International Sculpture City - The International Sculpture Center chose Cincinnati as the first in an ongoing series of cities honored for their sculpture and sculpture community. A street party with hundreds of regional sculptors focused more limelight on the city. A gala honored artist Pat Renick.

5. "Seven Vessels Ascending and Descending" - It wasn't without a few glitches but in the end, internationally renowned minimalist sculptor David Nash installed his marvelous work in the city's newest park, Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park. We didn't, however, see the promised "Crystalline Tower," which is on hold until the city shores up unstable soil conditions.

6. The Weston Art Gallery - The Weston Art Gallery consistently produced top-notch shows of local and regional artists. DirectorDennis Harrington was especially good in curating the Voss Finn, Cole Carothers and Ron Isaacs show. Journey: Multimedia Installation by Karen Snouffer was another standout - but the list goes on. And, hooray for the docentitos, the young docents, ages 9-12!

7. Linda Schwartz Gallery - The Linda Schwartz Gallery is the gallery to go to when you are looking for conceptual work that actually has a concept. Most of Schwartz's exhibits feature local talent, but she also shows New York artists. Her group shows are her strong suit and this year's Welcome show was a winner. From the smile face awning that's still out front to Louis Zoellar Bickett's "Mo' Tea Sur?" in the back "project" room, it was not only amusing but also inspired.

8. Video + - This show, at Carl Solway Gallery in July, combined internationally recognized video artists with local stars. It was a wonderful mix of unexpected delight. While the video show played in the new space on the first floor, the upstairs gallery featured work by South African artist William Kentridge. Solway's shows are always interesting, provocative and professional.

9. Phyllis J. Weston Gallery at Clossons opens in Hyde Park - The grand dame and grandest lady of the Cincinnati art scene, Phyllis Weston, opened a brand-new modern gallery on Hyde Park Square in April. She's expanded her stable of artists adding young, up-and-coming talents whose work she introduces to clients she has advised for years.

10. "Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes" - Cincinnati Museum Center is one of four American sites to host the largest ever touring show of artworks and objects from the Vatican. Seventy percent of the items have never traveled before, and most would'nt even be on view at the Vatican.. Catch it before it closes on April 18.


Best of 2003: Classical music
Best of 2003: Film
Best of 2003: Theater
Best of 2003: Dance
Best of 2003: Pop music
Best of 2003: Visual art

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