Karen Chambers

Karen S. Chambers with an M.A. in Art History from U.C. has written extensively about fine art, craft, and design for international publications. She has also worked in museums in the Midwest, galleries in New York, and as an independent curator.

“Marcus Ratliff: Collages & The Art World: Forty Years of Graphic Design” and “Marcus Ratliff: Collages,” Carl Solway Gallery, through Dec. 20, 2014

Cincinnati should be proud that it has produced some of the most important artists of the latter half of the 20th century: Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004), Jim Dine (b. 1935), and Marcus Ratliff (b. 1935). It may seem like hyperbole to include Ratliff because he was a commercial artist, a term that seems quaint today. But [...]


“Two Buckeyes: Fritz Dreisbach and Paul Marioni,” Atmosphere@Neusole

The Neusole Glassworks has moved from Walnut Hills to Forest Park, from a neighborhood where police crime scene tape and chalk outlines are common to a verdant college-campus-like industrial park. The building, which houses facilities for glassblowing, glass fusing, and lampworking, is smaller than the East McMillan location, but feels much larger with the open [...]


“Building Pictures: Architectural Photographs by Édouard Baldus,” Cincinnati Art Museum

In 1838 the Prussian-born Édouard Baldus (1813-1889) arrived in Paris with an eye to becoming a painter but met with little success. Instead his “eye” along with a lens led him to create what Malcolm Daniel of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s department of photographs called “the model for (architectural) photographic representation in genres that [...]


“BINDU – THE FIRST CIRLE: RADHA LAKSHMI,” gallery One One, Brazee Street Studios, through Oct. 9, 2014

Born in India and now living and working in Cincinnati, Radha Lakshmi is the first artist-in-residence at gallery One One and Brazee Street Studios. Founder and Director Sandy Gross and Leah Busch, creative director and gallery coordinator, had long discussed instituting an artist-in-residence program. It would include a solo exhibition to showcase the results of [...]


“Todd Slaughter: American Primitives, Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery

Although it goes against my grain in a visual arts review to start with the verbiage surrounding an exhibition, it seems to be the best way to approach “American Primitives: Todd Slaughter” at the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery (his second there, the first being in 1996-1997). I was searching for something [...]


MICHAEL WILSON, for Musicmakers (sic) from These Parts

by Karen S. Chambers When I think of photos of musicians, I immediately visualize them caught up in the performance, on stage, perhaps dramatically lit, with maybe a glimpse of an appreciative audience – raucous or captivated. Don’t go to the Iris Bookcafé and Gallery expecting that. In fact, there are really only one or [...]

Read | No Comments | Tags: * · June 2014 · On View

“shape: Circle,” gallery one One, Brazee Street Studios

by Karen Chambers For the last three years, gallery one One’s juried summer exhibition has focused on color. This year it’s another basic design element – “shape: Circle.” The circle represents “perfection, completeness, and freedom from distinction or separation.”1 It’s the cosmos, creation, and time. The circle is perhaps the most universal of shapes, appearing [...]

Read | No Comments | Tags: * · May 2014 · On View

Anita Douthat: Under the Sun

by Karen Chambers In “Under the Sun” (what a great title for an exhibition of photograms made by the sun), Anita Douthat is presenting four series — “Transparent Uniforms,” “Bridal Suite,” “Alterations,” and “Candelabras for Constantin (Brancusi)” — in a solo show at the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery. Photograms were among [...]

Read | No Comments | Tags: * · April 2014 · On View

A Group Exhibition Curated by Yvonne Van Eijden

by Karen Chambers “CCAC (Clifton Cultural Arts Center) will have a beautiful show with these five artists.” That’s how the curator, Yvonne van Eitjden, described the exhibition of two photographers, two wood sculptors, and one painter (herself [Why, oh why, do curators include their own work in exhibitions? How about they make a pact with [...]

Read | No Comments | Tags: * · March 2014 · On View

Nellie Taft: Odyssey, A Lifelong Journey through Art

by Karen Chambers Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery through March 22 Nellie Taft was a hometown girl, born in 1937 in Indian Hill and died in 2012 in Boston. She attended Lotspeich and Hillsdale Schools in Cincinnati, which answers the burning question among natives: Where did you go to high school? She [...]


Robert Kushner: Paintings 2010-2013 & The Four Seasons Commissioned in 1990 for Tower Place in Cincinnati

by Karen Chambers Before I get to Robert Kushner’s exhibition at the Solway Gallery, let’s take a look at the Pattern and Decoration (P&D) Movement1, which he helped found. Ben Johnson’s curatorial notes for the 2012 exhibition “ReFocus: Art of the 70’s: Pattern and Decoration” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, FL, sums [...]


“Doug Navarra: Marking Time,” Manifest

“Doug Navarra: Marking Time,” Manifest By Karen Chambers Doug Navarra’s exhibition at Manifest Gallery is called “Marking Time.” It might also be called “Connecting” or “Making History Now.” Let me begin by describing some of the 11 drawings and two books* on view. On reclaimed antique documents, which are the support (literally and figuratively) of [...]

Read | 1 Comment | Tags: * · December 2013

“Aquachrome: Contemporary Watercolor,” Manifest Gallery

“Aquachrome: Contemporary Watercolor,” Manifest Gallery By Karen Chambers I have always found watercolor to be a technically daunting medium, something I never wanted to try in undergrad as I worked toward a B. F. A. (Me? B. F. A.? My adviser said I needed to understand the problems visual artists faced as I pursued art [...]


Marta Hewett Gallery: “This is contemporary art.”

Marta Hewett Gallery: “This is contemporary art.” By Karen Chambers Even though the computer ate gallery owner Marta Hewett’s “What Is Contemporary Art?” essay for aeqai, it set her to thinking about the question. (For how other citizens of the art world answered that question, see the September issue.) Once on this path, Hewett came [...]


“Vessels: All the Eyes Can Hold”

“Vessels: All the Eyes Can Hold,” Kennedy Heights Arts Center By Karen Chambers I don’t know how many exhibitions have been organized around the theme of “vessel,” or the number of shows of craft materials where the vessel form is the natural result — wheel-thrown clay, blown glass, lathe-turned wood, and spun metal. The final [...]


WOUNDED HOME, Lloyd Library and Museum

WOUNDED HOME, Lloyd Library and Museum By Karen Chambers “Ten years in the making” is not hyperbole when applied to the “Wounded Home” exhibition at the Lloyd Library and Museum.1 It’s just a fact. Ten years ago the guest curator, Kate Kern, participated in “Mining the Lloyd: Artists Reveal Secrets and Treasures from the Lloyd.” [...]


“Bookworks 14 – Cincinnati Book Arts Society’s Annual Exhibit,” The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

“Bookworks 14 – Cincinnati Book Arts Society’s Annual Exhibit,” The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County By Karen Chambers One might say the concept of book as artwork dates back to the 7th to 4th millennium B. C. with the very first examples of text carved into stones. This is especially so when mnemonic [...]


“Keith Kuhn Memorial Exhibit: Alice Heyn Balterman,” The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

“Keith Kuhn Memorial Exhibit: Alice Heyn Balterman,” The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County By Karen Chambers During his tenure as library services director at The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Keith Kuhn compiled an impressive collection of artist books. Each year a Memorial Exhibit honors him with works drawn from that [...]


“Queen City Glass Arts . . . Renaissance,” 5th Street Gallery

“Queen City Glass Arts . . . Renaissance,” 5th Street Gallery  Work by seven members of Queen City Glass Art is currently on view at the 5th Street Gallery, a co-op gallery in the Netherland at the corner of Fifth and Race. The organization is a nonprofit dedicated to educating and uplifting the community through [...]

Read | 1 Comment | Tags: May 2013

“Terrie Hancock Mangat: Quilts” at Carl Solway Gallery

“Terrie Hancock Mangat: Quilts” at Carl Solway Gallery By Karen Chambers Terrie Hancock Mangat is quite clear about what she’s making when she stitches together cloth and adds all manner of embellishment from buttons to beads, appliqués to embroidery. She is making art quilts. Lest you think the idea of “quilt as art” is a [...]


Elaine Ling’s Mongolia, Iris BookCafé and Gallery

Elaine Ling’s Mongolia, Iris BookCafé and Gallery By Karen Chambers Walking through “Elaine Ling’s Mongolia” exhibition at the Iris BookCafé and Gallery in Over the Rhine, her photos read as ethnographic records documenting the life of nomads living in the independent Outer Mongolia. Looking at them gave me the sense I knew these people through [...]


Confluence: Partnership and Creativity

Confluence: Partnership and Creativity Karen Chambers The concept for “Confluence: Partnership and Creativity” was cooked up over dinner by potter Pam Korte and her husband, poet Richard Hague, and ceramic sculptor Terri Kern and her husband, graphic artist and letterpress printer David Umbenhour. Why not show the work of couples, to show how their personal [...]


Hadley Holliday: One with the Sun: New Paintings, Carl Solway Gallery

Hadley Holliday: One with the Sun: New Paintings, Carl Solway Gallery by Karen Chambers   The work of L. A. artist Hadley Holliday is nothing if not complicated although that might not be immediately apparent as her colorful stained canvas paintings are delightful. What she’s achieved is not far from Matisse’s articulated goal: What I [...]


New Magic & Costume Shoppe

New Magic & Costume Shoppe: Paintings by Yohana Junker, Masks by David Earl Johnson, & Clown Costumes by Raymond Thunder-Sky, Thunder-Sky, Inc. ~Karen Chambers “New Magic & Costume Shoppe” is the title of the show at Thunder-Sky, Inc., featuring David Earl Johnson’s masks, Yohana Junker’s paintings, and Raymond Thunder-Sky’s clown costumes and drawings. Bill Ross, [...]

Read | 1 Comment | Tags: * · January 2013

Standing in Time’s Flow, Ceramic Sculpture by Robert Pulley

Standing in Time’s Flow, Ceramic Sculpture by Robert Pulley, Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery By Karen S. Chambers Robert Pulley has found the perfect medium for his sculptures with their allusions to the earth’s geological history: clay, which is just mud, and perhaps symbolic of the primordial ooze of the beginnings of [...]


Leslie Shiels: dizygotic, Cincinnati Art Galleries

Leslie Shiels: dizygotic, Cincinnati Art Galleries By Karen S. Chambers In October 2010, I reviewed a two-person exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Galleries for aeqai. The opening sentence was “There are twin—fraternal twins—shows at Cincinnati Art Galleries: Leslie Shiels: Lost Dogs Found and Kevin T. Kelly: Embracing the Yin.” I went on to write, “Shiels [...]


Stephen Berens: Thinking of Pinturicchio (While Looking Out Sol LeWitt’s Windows and Elizabeth Bryant: Sol LeWitt Studio Still Lifes, Carl Solway Gallery

Stephen Berens: Thinking of Pinturicchio (While Looking Out Sol LeWitt’s Windows and Elizabeth Bryant: Sol LeWitt Studio Still Lifes, Carl Solway Gallery by Karen S. Chambers In the summer of 2010, L. A.-based artists Elizabeth Bryant and Stephen Berens, who happen to be married to each other, spent time in Sol LeWitt’s studio in Spoleto, [...]


Jonathan Queen’s “Fresh Harvest” Mural at Kroger Headquarters

Size matters. Seeing Jonathan Queen’s mural, “Fresh Harvest,” on Kroger’s corporate headquarters downtown in reproduction is nothing like standing in front of it. (It’s visible from Walnut and Central Parkway.) Queen, who is represented by Miller Gallery, is primarily known for his small-scale still life paintings. When asked to submit a design for the commission, [...]


Be Easy: Ceramics by Katie Swartz, 1305 Gallery

I first encountered Katie Swartz’s work in “All the Usual Suspects” at Thompson House Shooting Gallery (see aeqai.com, July 2012). She showed three crocheted animals: “Bartholomew,” 2010, an 11” tall, cuddly bear, and two friendly octopi: “Mario,” 11” tall, and “Myron,” 9” tall, both 2011. In that review, I placed her work in the context [...]


All the Usual Suspects at Thompson House Shooting Gallery

By: Karen S. Chambers The Thompson House Shooting Gallery’s exhibition — “All the Usual Suspects” — is oddly titled since it suggests artists who are well known or familiar. But the participants are emerging and unfamiliar to most people although co-curators and gallery directors Jennifer Edwards and Jennifer Feld know them well. This is the [...]


Full of Color: Suzanne Fisher at The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center

By: Karen S. Chambers When you walk into Suzanne Fisher’s exhibition at The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center (one of six shows presented under the rubric “Full of Color”), you enter a world of wonder. In fact, if Fisher had given her show its own title, it would have been “Natural Wonders.” At the [...]


Ohio to the White House: Photographs by Matthew Albritton, Taft Museum of Art

In the exhibition “Ohio to the White House,” appropriately at the Taft Museum of Art, Matthew Albritton has documented the birthplaces and boyhood homes of the seven Ohio-born presidents. Their terms account for half of presidential service between 1869 and 1923. During that time only three presidents hailed from outside the Buckeye state. Albritton’s lush [...]


Looking Glass: Work by Alice Pixley Young

It took a while to fall under the spell of Alice Pixley Young’s solo exhibition, “Looking Glass,” at PAC Gallery, through April 14. This was not aided by the persistent and annoying high-pitched sound that emanated from “You are looking for something that no longer exists” tableau. I’m certain it was an attempt to transport [...]

Read | No Comments | Tags: * · March 2012

“Through the Windshield OTR: Recent Photographs by Jens Rosenkrantz, Jr.,” at PAC Gallery

“Through the Windshield OTR: Recent Photographs by Jens Rosenkrantz, Jr.,” pretty much describes what’s on view at PAC Gallery, which is now open only by appointment. Rosenkrantz has photographed the grotty Over the Rhine neighborhood in the rain through a car windshield. But instead of being gray and depressing, these photos are bright and upbeat. [...]


Winter Solace, YWCA Women’s Art Gallery

Rather poetically, the announcement card for “Winter Solace” says the two-woman show of Kim Flora’s paintings and Trina Feldhake’s ceramic baskets “reflects the quiet, the surprise, and the texture of the winter season.” It does. At least in part. To start, a group of Flora’s haunting encaustic-and-oil-over-digital-transfer panels immediately captured my attention as I mounted [...]


Renovation of the Schmidlapp Gallery, Cincinnati Art Museum

At the Cincinnati Art Museum, I always breezed through the Schmidlapp Gallery with its antiquities on my way somewhere else. Well, that will never happen again since the gallery has been renovated to present “18 of the Art Museum’s most iconic works of art,” according to the wall text.* That declaration is unnecessary since the [...]


Through a Dark Wood: New Glass Works by Steven Ramsey

  Steven Ramsey’s exhibition of paintings on glass and glass vessels, “Through a Dark Wood,” is enchanting, but not “enchanting” the adjective meaning “charming.” It is “enchanting” as in casting a spell. And Ramsey’s spell is hard to break. The show’s title suggests a fairy tale, and the works are reminders of the original darkness [...]


Speed Trials

“Speed Trials” was an essay commissioned for the catalog accompanying the exhibition “Trial by Fire: New Glass Work by Darren Goodman” at the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM). Goodman was selected by the 4th Floor, an associated group of the Museum, for its biennial 4th Floor Award, a competition to promote local artists. The organization is [...]


Presages: Gordon Smith’s Kentucky Coal Country Photographs

Gordon Smith’s (b. 1952) black-and-white photographs of Kentucky’s coal mining country and its people are disturbing documents of hardscrabble life. His images tell the story of the miners and their families who endure the crushing poverty that forces them to destroy their very environment to survive. A part of the photographic tradition of social commentary, [...]


Still[ed] Life: Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can also be a sincere source of creativity. That tenet is confirmed by “Still[ed] Life: Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis” at the Taft Museum of Art. In collaboration these two area artists (Parker is an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati’s College of [...]


In Company with Angels:

              Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) has been a crowd-pleaser for decades (except for the period following his death as a bankrupt until the 1950s). Popularly he is best known for his leaded glass or stained glass lamps, first marketed in 1899. But his stained-glass windows [...]

Read | 7 Comments | Tags: * · On View · Summer 2011

Treeline: Photos by Kent Krugh

It might seem flip to start a review of “Treeline,” Kent Krugh’s (American, 1955- ) rather magnificent exhibition of 22 black-and-white photographs* of the Angel Tree, the largest tree east of the Mississippi, with the old chestnut that “you can’t the see the forest for the trees.” But in this case, the Quercus virginiana, an [...]


2 Artists/2 Perspectives

Jeff Shapiro and Don Reitz Although the exhibition at the Thomas J. Funké Gallery is named “2 Artists/2 Perspectives: Jeff Shapiro and Don Reitz,” the “perspectives” of these two ceramic artists seem more aligned than not. Visually Reitz’s and Shapiro’s work shares a roughness that borders on crude. It rudely slaps the refinement of much [...]


Tally

A Collaborative Show with Carrie Iverson and Nathan Sandberg “Tally: A Collaborative Show with Carrie Iverson and Nathan Sandberg” at Gallery One One at the Brazee Street Studios in Oakley has a somewhat misleading title since the only thing vaguely collaborative is that Sandberg’s installation piece, Roundtrip (2011, bricks, dimensions variable) comprised of used bricks [...]


For a Better World

                        Curators of exhibitions rarely receive more than a mention in exhibition signage–“curated” or “organized by.” But it is nearly impossible to talk about “For a Better World 2007” without acknowledging the organizer, Saad Ghosn (head of U.C.’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine [...]

Read | 2 Comments | Tags: On View

Jun Kaneko

An Exhibition of Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings & Prints Entering Jun Kaneko’s solo exhibition at the Carl Solway Gallery, I was smacked in the face by his Nagoya Wall – Tile Wall, 1987, even though the ceramic work is installed on a freestanding wall at the back of the corridor gallery. It did more than draw [...]


In Dutch

Contemporary Design from Local Collections When I walked into “Going Dutch: Contemporary Design from Local Collections” at the Cincinnati Art Museum, I was overwhelmed—by the volume of words covering all four walls of the diminutive gallery—and under-whelmed by the number of objects on view—19. Given that ratio, I thought the words better be good. The [...]


Radha Chandrashekaran

Prints and Mixed Media by Radha Chandrashekaran. Walking into Radha’s exhibition at Xavier, I was transported to India, which I first visited too many years ago—first because I hoped to return and expected I would, but haven’t—yet. What evoked India for me were not just the Hindu gods and voluptuous goddesses and the decorative motifs [...]


Roy Johnston

Binding Connections Roy Johnston is not schizophrenic, but his solo show at the Weston Art Gallery sometimes seems to be a two-person exhibition. Like a group (two is a very small group) show, the paintings, drawings, and prints on view are related, but in this case it’s just Johnston pursuing simultaneously two strains of aesthetic [...]


Studio Glass

A Look Back Although Cincinnati can’t truly be considered a hot bed of glass art activity, another Ohio city—Toledo—played a seminal role in the development of what is known as the Studio Glass Movement. Studio glass describes glasswork created by an artist working directly with the material, often alone, and with the intent of making [...]


American Elegance

Chintz Applique Quilts at The Taft The contemporary art world has embraced quilts: Amish quilts with their color-blocked abstraction and the equally striking quilts from Gee’s Bend, which are perhaps less known. For six generations the women of Gee’s Bend, a rural community founded by freed slaves on an island in the Alabama River, isolated [...]


Kevin Kelly and Leslie Shiels

At Cincinnati Art Galleries There are twin—fraternal twin–shows at Cincinnati Art Galleries: Leslie Shiels: Lost Dogs Found and Kevin T. Kelly: Embracing the Yin. Shiels provides the hunting hounds, and Kelly the countryside they might roam. Shiels has returned to a subject that she has explored, with great success, in the past, but a wall [...]


Grace and Nepenthe

Kim Krause at PAC Gallery Unlike many artists in academia who spend more time teaching than making art, Kim Krause, chair of the Fine Arts department at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, found enough studio time in 2010 to create the seven large (up to 80″ x 72″) paintings and six mixed media on multimedia [...]