It would be difficult to write about artwork being shown at 1628 without a nod first to the space itself. The gallery situated in the 1628 Co-working space is unlike more traditional galleries in that artwork is in direct relationship with those who utilize the space for more than merely viewing art. The art informs their work lives in the day to day.
First and foremost, 1628 is a shared office space located in downtown Cincinnati. Upon entering the place from the street, there is an instant sense of quiet focus. It is a hive of activity consisting of both individuals working independently or on phone conversations, as well as group meetings in designated nooks and offices. But 1628 also operates as a curated gallery space which hosts a rotating array of shows available for viewing by not only those working there but to the general public as well. The latest of these shows is First Edition : A Celebration of the Medium of Printmaking.
Tamara Schwarting, CEO and Founder of 1628 says that she believes that inspired work flows most freely in an inspiring setting. So she set out to create an office setting she calls “curated co-working” where the wall spaces act as gallery spaces, giving workers exposure to inspiring imagery. The idea of co-working is relatively new in the business environment, providing freelancers, self-employed workers and the like, a place with shared amenities through which to do their work. It is a place where cross-pollination of ideas might occur; an incubator of sorts for shared ideas. And this is why it is the perfect setting for an exhibition showcasing the art of printmaking.
The making of prints, historically speaking, allowed for repeated images or writings to be disseminated amongst the masses, which drastically changed who was in charge of new ideas as well as how these ideas were shared. The making of prints changed the world. From the show notes brochure: “Printmaking lends itself to creating art in multiples, making it an art form begging to be shared and distributed with others. This has led printmaking to be an ideal avenue for artists to share their diverse experiences, creating works centered around the body, identity, and human experience.” The prints collected for First Edition do just that.
Ashley Carroll’s large scale installation of prints appears at first to be a rendering of the alphabet in lines made of ropes. But on closer inspection, and with a glance at the title, Hair Language, the viewer realizes there is much more going on here. Carroll explores the notions of gender and ethnicity through the lens of hair styles and the ropes in Hair Language appear to be made of braids of actual hair. The alphabet prints pair well with Carroll’s other works in the show, which also focus on the concept of hair as self-identity.
Jaclyn Stephens’ relationship to her work is described as “a rather steady bounce between living tacitly present and ephemerally boundless”. Her concepts are layered in “an uncanny sense of empathy” which underlies her printing process. Her work is colorful, quite pretty even, and could be perceived as merely decorative, and yet I found it to be intriguing and unexpectedly beguiling when I came upon it during the show and found myself revising it again and again.
Saad Ghosn approaches his printmaking from a stance of social activism and a sense of accountability with the self. His works “Conversations with I and I” “reflect on the importance of being truthful to oneself, on being always in touch with what’s essential in the big scope of life.”
Those who find themselves working in or merely visiting 1628 are confronted with lofty concepts such as self-identity, beauty, and mortality, all found in the art showcased there. It seems that this most recent show in the gallery space of 1628 is in direct keeping with the mission of this modern workspace. The prints in this collection are not just exquisite in their painstaking craft, but they are firmly rooted in concepts worth considering. Other artists featured in this show are Andrew Au, Valerie Allen, James Billiter, Eliana Calle Saari, Kristine Donnelly, Sammi Hayes, Alexa Marines, Jennifer Purdum, Billy Simms, and Jonpaul Smith.
First Editions is on display through November, 2019. 1628 is located at 11 Garfield Place, Cincinnati and is open M-F, 830 am-530 pm.