Best bets of Cincinnati’s visual and cultural exhibits

The new arts season is always highly anticipated by culture lovers. This is the year for FotoFocus, a biennial extravaganza exploding onto our visual arts scene in Cincinnati and the region. Its programs dominate many exhibition venues from here to our state capital. But there are more thematic exhibits and media being showcased besides the diverse, thoughtful and sometimes provocative photo-based and lens-based presentations of FotoFocus. Here is what we hope you consider hot for the fall season.

The Extravaganza That Is FotoFocus 

FotoFocus, the largest photography and lens-based art biennial in America, will consist of approximately 100 exhibits featuring more than 600 artists, curators and participants under this year’s theme, “World Record.” Exhibits began popping up in late August, but there is a week of special programming Sept. 29-Oct. 8. Try to see these FotoFocus offerings:

Mary Mattingly, “Pull,” 2013, C-print, 40”x40”, Robert Mann Gallery
Mary Mattingly, “Pull,” 2013, C-print, 40”x40”, Robert Mann Gallery

Contemporary Arts Center

Trio of FotoFocus exhibits

“On the Line: Documents of Risk and Faith” is a powerful group exhibition by Dawoud Bey, Mohamed Bourouissa, Mary Mattingly, Wendy Red Star, and many more – artists whose work engages the complex and contested relationship humans have with notions of environment, wilderness, nature and place. Multimedia artist Baseera Khan’s work addresses cultural appropriation and migration, realized in collages, sculptures, video and more. “Images on which to build” shows photographic documentation of activism, education and media production within trans, queer and feminist grassroots organizing of the 1970s through the 1990s. 

Sept. 9-Jan. 15, “On the Line: Documents of Risk and Faith”; Sept. 30-Feb. 12, “Baseera Khan: Weight on History” and “Images on which to build”;

Catherine Opie, Untitled #4, Richmond, Virginia (monument/monumental), 2020
Catherine Opie, “Untitled #4,” Richmond, Virginia (monument/monumental), 2020

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

‘Free as they want to be’: Artists Committed to Memory

This rich group exhibition features 20 artists working “on the frontlines of the events that have shaped our world over the past several years.” The exhibition examines the social lives of Black and white Americans using photographs and photographic records of the land, of home and in photographic albums, at historic sites and in public memory. 

Sept. 30-March 6,

Must-see visual art: Nancy Ford Cones (American, 1869–1962), Mama’s Kodak, about 1912, gelatin silver print. Collection of W. Roger and Patricia K. Fry
Nancy Ford Cones (American, 1869–1962), Mama’s Kodak, about 1912, gelatin silver print. Collection of W. Roger and Patricia K. Fry

Taft Museum of Art

‘Craft and Camera: The Art of Nancy Ford Cones’

Between about 1900 and 1939, on a small riverside farm in Loveland, Cones made thousands of photographs featuring country life, fantastical visions and literary characters, costuming her neighbors, friends and family who posed around the farm and its environs. Working in partnership with her husband, James, who printed her work using a variety of techniques and papers, Cones conceived evocative subjects that emulated 19th-century European paintings.

Oct. 1-Jan. 15,

Must-see visual art: Steve Schapiro, “Woman and Flag”
Steve Schapiro, “Woman and Flag”

Miami University Art Museum

Steve Schapiro: ‘A Lens for Freedom: Civil Rights Photographs’

Acclaimed photographer and photojournalist Schapiro traveled from Ohio to Mississippi to photograph the work of the Freedom Summer volunteers and many iconic moments and figures of the 1960s civil rights movement: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, John Lewis and countless others. A whole roster of programs is worth attending.

Through Dec. 10, Miami campus, Oxford;

Also this fall…

Must-see visual art: Gong Kai (1222–1307), Noble Horse (Jungutu),  Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), handscroll, ink on paper, Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, Abe Collection
Gong Kai (1222–1307), Noble Horse (Jungutu), Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), handscroll, ink on paper, Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts, Abe Collection

Cincinnati Art Museum

‘Galloping Through Dynasties’

After seeing the magnificent Clydesdales in Cincinnati Opera’s “Aida” this summer, isn’t it great that we have an exhibit focused on beloved equines? “Galloping Through Dynasties” explores the evolution of Chinese horse painting in its symbolic and its stylistic aspects. There are approximately 60 art works from U.S. museum collections and one from Japan.The horse is one of the oldest and most interesting painting subjects in China. This exhibition takes us from the ancient Zhou dynasty (ca. 1045-771 B.C.) to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), when in the early 20th century the iron horse began its rivalry and ultimately marginalization of this magnificent animal. It is so refreshing to see attention paid to the research and exhibition of the subject of the horse in Asian art, and these Chinese ink paintings are breathtaking.

Oct. 7-Jan. 1,

MUST-SEE MUSIC: fall 2022

MUST-SEE STAGE: fall 2022

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