2.27.2009

a rewarding trip of new experiences at CAM.





wednesday night, the Cincinnati Art Museum put on a multi-faceted event called "The Hair Affair," a gamut of events, including a lecture, a hair fashion show, hairstylists' interpretations of art from the collection, and an impressive spread of slide shows, food, and music in the Great Hall. Hair, as an art material, is of particular relevance to me, as I have used it for some of the objects I have used in installation art for several years. For example, Susan, see below, is a five foot tall pompadour wig that was included in the three person exhibition There Were Three at Artworks last summer:





In hindsight, the promotional material was probably a little ambiguous compared to how the evening actually ran, but the event was an excuse to see several changes within the museum that I hadn't been by to take note of.

Actually, I was there to preview a show for
City Beat. Stewart Goldman: Presence through Absence, which opens this weekend. Keep looking in City Beat's art section for the review!


The main draw was that
Althea Murphy-Price, after her stunner of an exhibition at the Weston (which I included in my 'best of' a few posts back), was invited to speak about her work in a short lecture at the museum. Back to the vagueness prior to the evening, I arrived early to look around the museum before the lecture, which I understood to be at 7 pm. When it was all said and done, Murphy-Price didn't start speaking until around twenty past eight. I was in Columbus at a symposium connected with the Warhol exhibition at the Wexner when she gave a gallery talk in conjunction with her Weston exhibition, but I heard good things from all who attended. This talk was part of the schedule of events for "Race: Are We So Different?" that is taking place primarily at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Aaron Betsky, the director of the CAM, is a fantastic, enthusiastic addition to our community. I doubt I will ever stop being thrille that he is here. He was one of three people who introduced the artist. He expressed concern that the community at large saw the CAM as "a block sitting no a hill; white in all kinds of ways." To be sure, there was a marked diversity in audience, not just in skin color, but also in walk of life. A whole band of hairstylists were on the premise presenting models with elaborate hairstyles in the various galleries of the museum. It seemed like several organizations had encouraged their members to participate in the evening as well. Even still, I am not sure what I think of Betsky's remark.


Althea Murphy-Price
Dunce Cap
synthetic hair + wool, 2005



Murphy-Price anchored her work in personal experience, which seemed amusing and exciting for much of the audience, as she shared childhood stories of hair experiments and hair as an identifying marker in grade school. I find that her sculptures and printmaking are invitingly more abstract than the context she started to build in her lecture, though her family's superstition that hair clippings must be burned or else a bird might steal it to nest with, causing the rest of one's hair to fall out- - - it was a great additional cultural tale to associate with hair sculpture.


One of my favorite artist, cited by Murphy-Price in her lecture as well, created a series of works near the end of the 1990s from woven and braided horse hair and taxidermy. One of these works (that can be seen in this image on the back wall, courtesy of the artist's gallery, Galerie Lelong), is now in the CAM's collection and on display on the top floor of the museum:




Which brings me to the museum at large. If you haven't been upstairs to see the new set of works Associate Curator of Contemporary Art Jessica Flores has overseen putting out on display, go. Go now. Alongside the Stella and Kiefer that we have all known for years, are releatively new acquisitions of work by Mary Heilmann, Petah Coyne, Pat Steir, Julian Schnabel, and Judy Pfaff. The other small gallery space on the third floor has seen a deinstallation of prints by Robert Rauschenberg, and while that space is empty right now, I can't wait to see what comes up next.

A painting that had already been on display, but has now been moved to another wall, now hanging between Kiefer and Steir, is a Jacqueline Humphries painting of surprising subtlety.





It has been some time since I've considered this work. Since my last considerate encounter with "Black Monday," I went to
New Orleans to see Prospect 1. Among other amazing artworks and installations, Humphries, originally from New Orleans, did an amazing installation of paintings, both on linen and hung on the wall, and other spray painted directly onto the walls of a car garage space. See?



Humphries' painting is built from controlled drips and swaths of transparent paint to build an abstract landscape, a superstructure of tendril marks and subtle pinks on chilly black and white.



Another relatively recent acquisition to the collection that I wish I could say I had an image of, is a small framed relief work by Louise Nevelson that has been hung beside there larger, more quintessential assemblage. Untitled from 1958 is a "museum purchased with funds provided by Frisch's Restaurant." and that bit on the label adds to the content of my experience. At the risk of making corny connections, the cardboard and aluminum foil in the work gives me a grin as i wonder if the restaurant had any choice in the work they helped to fund. The materials could maybe be found in a Frisch's, and i find great pleasure in that.


I also got to pay a cursory visit to the new exhibition "Surrealism and BeyondIn the Israel Museum, Jerusalem," but will share my ideas and notes of this exceedingly elegant exhibition in a separate post.

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