2/25/10

Covington Offers New Incentive for Homebuyers

The City of Covington has a new program to assist homebuyers with the purchase of foreclosed homes. The City is offering interest free, forgivable loans to assist with the purchase of a home to live in as an owner occupant. This program is utilizing funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The purpose of the program is to reduce the number of foreclosed properties and increase the number of homeowners in the City of Covington. 


Homebuyers can receive assistance to cover 50% of the lender required down payment, 100% of the closing costs, and additional funds to make the purchase affordable. The assistance can cover up to 50% of the purchase price of the home.

Households can earn up to 120% of Area Median Income to qualify. This equates to an annual household income of $58,150 for a single person and $83,050 for a family of four. Borrowers must meet certain credit and underwriting requirements as well.

Eligible properties must be foreclosed, vacant, single family homes. They must also meet minimum housing standards and be located in an eligible area.

This program is offered on a first come, first served basis. Homebuyers are encouraged to contact the City of Covington as soon as possible to ensure funding availability.

For more information, or for a pre-approval appointment, please contact Jeremy Wallace or John Hammons at 859-292-2188.H

2/22/10

Jeff Stout's Nuclear Winter at NVISION

The theme of the complete destruction of life has been a common one in mass media today, prompted by dire predictions of environmental destruction by climatologists, geophysicists, and oceanographers.

Jeff Stout, Doomed Human Male (2009), mixed media,
381/4x37in. Photo courtesy of the artist.
In what way does Stout's current show 'Nuclear Winter' contribute to this topic?  In his Doomed Human Male (2009), one witnesses fairly typical features of a bleak future world: monotone grays to black, a figure in survival gear, a wasteland, big insects (it is the only work with large insects; fortunately, because it feels trite here). Most interesting, though, are the arms of the figure.  Extending behind him (I'm guessing a male), and dragging on the ground, they are highly suggestive.  I see in this an expressive rendering of the feeling of impotence before a heartbreaking challenge.  However, the figure walks upright.  The uprightness gives it dignity (and possibly acceptance towards the external world), even as it drags its arms.
This double-characteristic is intuitable in the small drawings.  They typically feature a lone figure's 'portrait': it is a face wearing a breathing mask, the covered face hardly a portrait for one's individuality.  The visage, though, looks right at the viewer, without any sense of loss or aggressivity; I feel even a sense of companionship flowing from their gazes (although I cannot say exactly why).  The only 'portrait' with two figures shows a gesture of intimacy between them via the positions of their heads.
Arguably, a rendition of a bleak future would not include these positive features, but perhaps this is Stout's particular offering: life would go on, however strange it would seem from our vantage point.

A fluky aspect of Stout's show at NVISION is the pairing of theme and location.  NVISION is an eclectic store featuring well-chosen vintage paraphernalia and fashion. Stout's work imagines a future in which humans live in a completely decimated world. In such a context, the store takes on a different tone altogether, like an especially prized place of reclamation and salvage.
-A.C. Frabetti

Jeff Stout, 'Nuclear Winter:' paintings and drawings at NVISION, 4577 Hamilton Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45223. Tel. 513.542.4577.  Hours 2pm-9pm Wed-Sun. Through March 21.

2/14/10

A piece written after attending Matt Morris’ opening at U-turn

Installation view, courtesy of the artist.

   These fragile objects have their own history where they’re found, cared for, broken, lost and found again.  if they didn’t clutter your childhood home, they do now.  All that’s left to imagine is the tiffany flatware cut from foam core. This capacity to create symbol, incite dream is stunning.  
   Like Beckett’s characters’ musings, perhaps only a broken-off suggestion can be tied to a truth and therefore moral in the artistic sense that mastery precedes morality and even grace, present by its lack, will forego pity.
   In fact, the glowing playing field is so level here, hierarchically nothing, that this frozen dance becomes a just-so performance. These cardboard ballerinas showed up like this, they wanted to, and like good dancers, they place themselves at the risk of falling. They’re already imperfect, broken.
   This show is a version, the narrative abstract enough to show just the tilt of the pieces’ shoulders with everything angled in relation to one another, all speaking to one another. This monochrome low-relief mumbling is in the service of greater expressiveness. This sequined torso is holding its’ breath.

- William Renschler

Matt Morris. Recipes During Wartime at the U-turn Art Space, Brighton district (Central Ave. between Kindel and Freeman), Cincinnati, OH.  Gallery hours Saturday 12-4 and by appointment. Through Feb. 27, 2010.


[William Renschler also wrote a belated perspective of Matt Morris' show at Renschler's Aisle Gallery location.  We offer it here as a link to this piece for those who especially enjoy Renschler's writings.]

2/12/10

Kim Flora at The PAC Gallery

The recent series of Kim Flora's encaustic works currently on display at the PAC Gallery are inspired by reminiscences of her childhood near Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.  The works in which this is particularly evident (for the seaside in general, for the artist also claims influences from West Coast sojourns) are ones featuring swathes of blue and oceanline (such as untitled coastline along highway 1, 2009), elements of constructs (such as a long, cold journey east, 2009) or both (city on a hill, 2009).  In the latter, and many like it, the bridge structure seems to emerge out of a mist, a common result of the wax layering technique.  Overall, the colors are often split between peaceful monochromatic variations or bold contrasts in bright colors.

Her desire to create images of her past imply a sense of longing, and even loss. The bridge-form is typically  symbolic in art of the striving to connect, yet it also presupposes distance and separation.  The monochrome renders the compositions utilizing it especially with this sense.  Furthermore, the particular bridge that appears in her compositions seems much like the ruin of a building, or even broken scaffolding
(especially for those unfamiliar   with the actual structure).  Consequently, it gives the sense of the destruction of nature upon artificial forms, like the remnants of antique monuments disappearing into oblivion.  For my sensibilities, the expressive melancholy of the ruin, the mist-like layerings, and the bridge symbol give these particular works a haunting and beautiful depth.
It is noteworthy that Chesapeake Bay, our largest estuary, became (according to my Wikipedia pseudo-research) one of the first sites in the 1970s for its oxygen-starved marine dead zone, caused by the excess of algal blooms from industrial waste.  Hence her image of it is (at least partially) idealized, like so many of our childhood memories.

There is visible in this exhibition a variety of directions that the artist seems to be exploring, both thematically and technically.  This may be construed as a strength or weakness; for younger artists, I consider such experimentation laudable.  In terms of a different approach, yet within the vein of the above mentioned psychological work, is Angel Wing #2 (2009).  The dark hue (on its left side) resembles an ocean storm, whereas the clearer patch implies unobstructed ocean sky.  Yet the two together could symbolize light breaking darkness,  heavily suggestive of hope and spiritual succor, appropriate in the context of the longings in some of her other work.
-A.C. Frabetti

'Personal Vistas: New Paintings by Kim Flora' at The PAC Gallery, 2540 Woodburn Avenue, Cincinnati. Gallery hours: Friday and Saturday 2:00 - 7:00 p.m. Sunday 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.  Call 513.321.5200 for more information. Exhibition continues through February 27, 2010.
Partial online slideshow: http://www.pacgallery.net/exhibitions/kim-flora/index.html


In photos: Above, a long, cold journey east, 2009. Mixed media and encaustic on panel, 10” x 12”.  Photo courtesy of the Artist.  Below, angel wing #2, 2009. Mixed media and encaustic on panel, 36x36in. Photo courtesy of PAC Gallery.

2/10/10

Hildebrandt, from Macro to Micro, at Bromwell's Gallery

Evan Hildebrandt's 12 large Cosmic Rocks (2009-2010) canvases dominate his showing at the Bromwell gallery, where he is also its director.  As per the title, the pieces invoke planets on a black background; their heavily textured surfaces easily recall craters.  Colors tend towards the monochromatic, or complementary hues.  The media appears to be heavy resins and pigments, with other elements such as gold leaf (in some compositions).
But the black backdrop contains no stars, and could just as easily be interpreted as the unlit surround of the round lens of a view through a microscope.   In such a case the works would invoke the closeup of cellular organisms.  The scale of his compositions suddenly shifts from the macro to the micro. (Hildebrandt  mentions this somewhat in his statement.) This interpretative play is one of their strengths; the other is how they rest as a group.

Formally, his work is strongest when the texture is not overly exaggerated (in which case the artist's zeal for it overwhelms the composition).  Some of the Cosmic Rocks pieces have a balance between flat plains and the rich texture; the flat plains allow the eye to rest, and through contrast bring out a greater appreciation of the form.
Other works fill out his space, such as Side View (2009) opposite the Cosmic Rocks.  The texture of Side View has elements united in large swaths, creating a pleasing symmetry.  It is good example of how the strong textures become part of a greater composition.
-A.C. Frabetti

Evan Hildebrandt.  'The Struggle to Become Who We Already Are: New Works at Bromwell's Gallery, 117 W Fourth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, 513-315-4622.  Gallery hours 9am-5pm Monday through Saturday, or by appointment. Through March 6.
Also featuring a lecture on March 3rd from 7-9pm by Dean Regas, Outreach Astronomer, Cincinnati Observatory Center.
For an installation video of the current show, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShyVQurgNlY.
Photo: Cosmic Rocks 1-12 (2009-2010), mixed media, 60x60in. each.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

2/9/10

Conceptions Underlying Griga's New Work at Prairie

Peiter Griga exhibits his latest work about memory, from physical objects to a performance piece.  It features Storage #1, beeswax-castings of VHS tapes (to represent memory); Retrieval #1, a videocast of a Beuys-inspired pseudo-ritual involving regurgitating honey into bowls (drawn conceptually from ancient mummification practices); wall photos of individuals, slightly obfuscated, representing the slow arrival of oblivion; and a slide show of near-unrecognizable images from (his childhood?) on a wall space treated with beeswax.  Et. al.

Griga's work stimulated me as a cultural expression of the logic that people use to explain their conception of cognition, and the respondent pseudo-spiritual practices that arise unconsciously from it. For his conception of memory is arid and mechanical (he admits this).  Many artists produce sentimental works about memory and loss (like Proust); here, it is reduced to a purely physical process.  Griga is doing nothing more than submitting to the mythical-scientific conception of what memory is popularly claimed to be: instead of  an intimate activity of the human spirit which is accompanied by processes in the brain, memory is nothing more than brain processes.  

It is the old paradigm of the human as machine, the principles of the external world of perception projected onto the realm of the soul (the principal of causality and separateness, I see as present in Griga's solipsistic photos purportedly representing memory images: grainy portraits of people alone), a conception in truth outdated since quantum mechanics yet nevertheless persistent in culture.  However, the human spirit longs for something more than an existence without spiritual content, so then—and this is key—it takes refuge in flights of spiritism: in the case of this exhibition, it is a haunting pseudo-ritual recorded on video, or striving to personalize the VHS castings with blood, and more.  The two go hand-in-hand: a deadened view of the world, the compensatory bizarre spiritism of old religious fanaticism, shamanism, and New Age chakra mysticism.  Both are violent conceptions/activities (or passivities) to the human spirit.  It is profoundly disturbing to see it brought out so honestly in an exhibition/performance.
-A.C. Frabetti

I CANNOT REMEMBER ALL THAT I HAVE FORGOTTEN, New Work by Peiter Griga, Opening January 22, 6pm, Continuing through March 6, 2010 at Prairie, 4035 Hamilton Avenue in Northside. 557-3819. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-4.
Photo: exhibition view, courtesy of Prairie.

2/4/10

Bolotin at the Carl Solway Gallery

   Jay Bolotin is no stranger to the Cincinnati audience.  His strong-willed persistence in the realization of long-term creative projects, such as Limbus: A Mechanical Opera, is inspiring.  Currently on display at Solway is the developmental stage of the second part of his woodcut-to-video fable, The Jackleg Testament.
  The first room features his original graphite drawings, the eventual illustrations for his unusual narrative.  Their style is grotesque but not ugly, featuring exaggerations of sensual features such as lips and eyes.  Their hard outlines arise from both the woodcut process and the conception for the eventual animation.  As part of the revelation of his process, Bolotin has covered much of the wall with the hand-written text of the fable.  The handwriting, curiously, serves as a softening balance to the strongly delineated images, whereas in the first installment of his video, computer fonts were used.
   Other works stand out in this exhibition, including massive castings in either plaster or white paper (part of his 'Leaves From a Cast Paper Novel').  Jay's opus merits a deep study in the artist's use of surreal and alchemical symbolism, as well as his inspiration from such filmmakers as ┼ávankmajer and Kentridge; in this short format I can at best encourage a gallery visit.
-A.C. Frabetti

(Special thanks to Emily Buddendeck for her suggestions)
(Corrigendum:  I had originally referred to Bolotin's original graphite drawings as reproductions.  This has now been corrected above)

Jay Bolotin, 'Leaves From a Cast Paper Novel' at the Carl Solway Gallery, 424 Findlay Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45214. Phone: 513-621-0069.  Through April 10, 2010.
Also featuring Jerry Uelsmann: 'Black & White Photographs.'
In Photo: Exhibition view of 'Leaves From a Cast Paper Novel' by Jay Bolotin, courtesy of the Carl Solway Gallery.