Return to the Velvet Ropes

Photo images of Club Clau

Cincinnati pop artist Andrew Van Sickle is curating a photo exhibition at The Annex Gallery beginning Sept. 22, “Behind the Velvet Rope,” spotlighting the legendary Cincinnati night club, Club Clau. Van Sickle snapped more than 1,800 images during the venue’s brief, yet vibrant 18-month-run. The exhibition will feature more than 60 black-and-white images of the club culture, as well as some color photography.

“As an artist the concept of the club harkened back to the Warhol photography of Studio 54. I could capture each week in classic black and white. I did. My weapon of choice? The Kodak disposable Black and White camera. It gave me the flash power I needed to quickly capture anything I witnessed. I had access to every inch of the club. I enjoyed being voyeuristic. I knew that 20 years later these images would have cultural value. That time has come.”

Clau models enter club prior to their midnight debut in early June 2003.

The moniker Club Clau was coined by its owner, Scott Sheridan, and was an acronym for “Change Lies Ahead of Us.” Downtown was essentially a social ghost town the year its doors opened. The exhibit will be a retrospective look at why Clau was successful, and how it was in many ways a prequel to OTR as a now-celebrated tourist attraction and social destination.  

Clau was particularly unique because it was one of the first venues to hire an art director (Van Sickle) to curate original artwork throughout the space. Van Sickle strategized the best ways to create the media onslaught Clau Clau achieved. “I promised media coverage not only for art but the whole cultural package the club created.”

Josh Heuser, actress Tara Reid, Clau visionary Scott Sheridan, MTV’s Boogie, and Club owner RAM and Vita

The Annex Gallery, with support by FotoFocus, will host an opening party on Final Friday, Sept. 24, with a private party 5-7 p.m., then open to the public 7-9 p.m. 

About Andrew Van Sickle

Artist Andrew Van Sickle is known for his colorful, eclectic artwork in which he utilizes vintage elements combined with modern designs. His artwork can be found in several celebrities’ private art collections, including Paris Hilton, Jenna Jameson, and more. Over time, Andrew has evolved into a very prolific artist and photographer who has gained wisdom and expertise through experimentation and collaborations with several popular outsider artists, including Howard Finster, Mose Trolliver, and Paul Warhola, Andy Warhol’s older brother. His vibrant compositions exhibiting the facade of Music Hall inspired the concept of Cincinnati’s Lumenocity in 2013.  

About the Annex Gallery

Cincinnati photographer Jens Rosenkrantz opened the Annex Gallery in 2018 and then doubled its size in 2020. In addition to running the gallery he and his wife, artist Kay Hurley, run the Cuba/US art exchange program, Bridges Not Walls.

“Behind the Velvet Rope”

Sept 22-Oct. 30

The Annex Gallery, 1310 Pendleton Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Gallery hours: Wednesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m.

Images from the exhibit…

Justin Timberlake dancing to Michael Jackson’s PYT ( Thriller) with selected Clau guests and the Black Eye Peas
Crowd at full attention
The Kitchen was the 2nd area in the club with a live DJ. It focused on hip hop and rap music and decor.
Crowd enjoying Saturday midnight dance music
Collector and his Paul Lewis painting of Snoop Dogg
Christmas Cocktail wait staff
Club promoters
Snoop Dogg with Clau manager Josh Hueser
D.J. Haze spinning  
Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey
Disco BloodBath Bus with NYC guests James St. James and Cluck Cluck the Chicken
Sold! Jay-Z painting being delivered to patron
Candy Girl Avalon

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