Letter from the Editor

The December aeqai is now ready for your holiday reading; we apologize that it’s a couple of days late. December/the holiday period is an odd one in the visual arts (we have no “Nutcracker”, for example, though we do recommend the annual holiday show at The Taft Museum of Art; it’s a beauty), so a lot of the commercial galleries, in particular, show large group shows of gallery talent, in the hopes that buyers will come and find a gift for someone for the holidays. We’ve tried to cover what’s out there as best we can, though this is a slightly smaller issue than normal.

The art museum has some gorgeous, first-rate shows, as always: their curators are spoiling us with wonderful small shows. Marlene Steele, an area draughtsman/painter herself, reviews the new Elizabeth Nourse show; Nourse , a turn-of-the-century Cincinnati artist, is one of the most accomplished and admired American women artists, and Steele’s review reminds us of the greatness of some religious/spiritual art, and of Nourse’s talents in drawings as well as paintings. Also at the museum, curator Kristin Spangenberg has mounted one of the best exhibitions of contemporary Japanese prints along with ceramics from a local collection that we have seen in many a year, and Fran Watson does this splendid show justice with her own skills as an artist (primarily printmaker).

Karen Chambers’ critical abilities are at their finest in her review of drawings by Doug Navarra at Manifest Gallery. These elegant drawings are made on old documents that the artist has found and transformed. And Lily Mulberry, owner of the l305 Gallery in OTR, reviews the group show at Phyllis Weston Gallery; it’s one of those large shows mentioned above, so Mulberry focuses on three artists in the show in particular, analyzing the work in her highly intelligent manner.

Laura Hobson’s feature on the collaboration between acclaimed maritime painter John Stobart and newcomer Robert Off, who makes miniature “roomboxes”, shows the excitement of the collaboration itself–the work is at Eisele Gallery in Fairfax–and that an artist may emerge at any time: Off only began exhibiting his roomboxes a few years ago:   they are wonderful works of art, in which he designs the entire room, lights it, creates/fabricates it; some of the furniture and other small objects are purchased, but the relationships between these rooms and stage sets/design is very exciting. Off’s is a big new talent, and this collaboration is highly successful: Off’s may be the most successful debut in this region in years. You’ll enjoy these boxes tilt towards Surrealism, as well as the magic of the miniature: Stobart made tiny paintings for two of these boxes.

Jonathan Kamholtz returns with a very astute analysis of the l5th century English alabaster show at The Dayton Art Institute. and Keith Banner’s review of the Diane Landry exhibition at The Contemporary Arts Center will be posted later this week.

Aeqai also sees a movement towards young artists becoming furniture designers; their work is new and fresh and sophisticated; again, Laura Hobson gives us a feature on this topic, interviewing three of the main players/artists, including aeqai writer Matt Metzger. Sara Pearce, meantime, reviews a show about contemporary furniture design at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus, so we have paired these two articles.

Kevin Kelly’s best friend and long time art intimate Dan Biggs died just a few weeks ago, at the age of 49, and Kevin has written a magnifent euglogy/tribute to and about Dan and their long friendship, which we are sharing with aeqai’s readers. Biggs was one of those curmudgeons with a golden heart, and we will miss his lively presence on the art scene here, and thank Kevin for writing this.

Dustin Pike’s spirit lands on Plato’s ideas about geometry, its purposes, its relationships to social structure and to the arts, in his ongoing quest to explain the origins of ideas/cultures. Regan Brown, another great writer/thinker, meditates onthe possibly linked cultural implications of McQueen’s film l2 Years a Slave, with the unreleased film version of 50 Shades of Grey: Brown is aeqai’s premier cultural critic, and we urge you to relish in his use of language, as well as his ideas (his prose is similar, in ways, to William Burroughs’).

Kevin Ott, who has recently moved to Mt. Adams, does a compare/contrast between the murals in the Church of The Immaculata in Mt. Adams and those in St. Mary’s Basilica of The Assumption in Covington. The former were painted by Johann Schmitt, and the latter by his student Frank Duveneck; Ott’s analyses of both are astute, and his conclusions surprising.

Two shows at Carnegie are reviewed this month: Trish Weeks’ landscapes by Jane Durrell, and Andrew Dailey’s illustrations by Shawn Daniell; the range of exhibitions there continues to be very diverse. Next month, Matt Metzger will review the paintings by the late Ron Thomas at Carnegie, and paintings by Kim Krause at Marta Hewett Gallery, together in one review.

Saad Ghosn offers his monthly column about Art for Social Change/Justice, this month showcasing the work of visual artist Roscoe Wilson and (phenomenal) poems by Jean Syed. Maxwell Redder offers us one new poem–his language never fails to move me–and I offer my annual “Best Fiction of 2013”, ten novels which deserve special attention , and a short list of other recommended fiction from the year (run and get Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch if you can; it’s spectacular).

My own feature on contemporary figurative realist painters in this region is the cover story for The Cincinnati Art Museum’s quarterly publication, and I hope that you can read that, too.

We hope to address some regular glitches in January: our readers should be able to read this eblast and go directly to the site itself; we are aware of difficulties finding the site, generally at the beginning of each issue; and we will be reexamining our graphics, and thanks to our readers for bringing these issues to our attention. If you want to subscribe, just push that button on the site and add your e-mail address; it’s free.

Happy New Year to all our friends out there, and we look forward to covering the visual arts scene with our same intelligence and thoroughness in 2014. We welcome your comments, as always.

————–Daniel Brown, Editor

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