Jayne Merkel

  • “Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move Into the Mainstream, 1970–85”

    This traveling exhibition contains a dizzying array of closely clustered paintings, sculptures, photographs, documented performances, and environmental projects ranging from Elizabeth Murray’s explosive, semi-abstract shaped canvases to Catherine Murphy’s tightly-painted, carefully observed, still windows on the world; from Lynda Benglis’ glistening metal wall bows to Nancy Holt’s solstice-framing raw concrete drums in the desert; from Sandy Skoglund’s eerie nightmares to Audrey Flack’s languid daydreams; and from Ana Mendieta’s self-inflicted ritualistic wounds to Faith Ringgold’s lovable,

  • John Alexander

    The 20 large, oil-on-canvas paintings and eight small, colored pastel-on-paper drawings in this retrospective encompass the last eight years of John Alexander’s career. The artist’s recent paintings hover between figuration and abstraction, tense beauty and jarring ugliness, landscape and ritual enactment. Images bursting forth and radiating from the center are held in check by an allover distribution of signs and lines in a shallow, ambiguous space. The mood varies from anxious to frantic, yet a sense of mystery is maintained by an unresolved but carefully controlled tension between opposites.

  • Jim Dine

    It was high time for the return of the prodigal son. Cincinnati is celebrating its bicentennial anniversary, and the most prominent artist the city ever produced had never had a major solo show here. Jim Dine’s tall bronze Cincinnati Venus, 1988, was being installed in a public square, and he was willing to lend a number of drawings from his own collection that had never been exhibited before. Curator Sarah Rogers-Lafferty selected 78 mixed-media drawings from the most profoundly productive period of the artist’s career, in the medium that by his own admission is “the backbone” of all of his

  • Gary Rieveschl

    The mounds, mazes, flowers, trees, and hedges that Gary Rieveschl places in the landscape seem to be earthworks about the life cycle. Rieveschl calls them “landscape sculptures.” Through his drawings and photographs and his own explanatory texts, this retrospective exhibition of Rieveschl's projects and proposals (organized by curator Sarah Rogers-Lafferty) documented the development of his work from his earliest bulb planting in 1973 to his most recent environmental sculpture. Although his early works emphasize the cyclical processes of nature and the idea of growth, the drawings, photographs,

  • “Contemporary Screens”

    The very existence of an exhibition of this kind—including 25 decorative screens by painters, sculptors, printmakers, and an architect—might suggest that in the past 20 years—that is, since the height of the Modernist era—the visual arts have begun to converge, to concern themselves with more than just the properties of their own media. But in this show (which will travel to a number of other institutions) at least, the various art forms have not merged much. The differences between the screens on display are far greater than the similarities. The painters’ screens are painterly, pictorial, and

  • Peter Huttinger

    In Peter Huttinger’s early, edgy art of the mid ’70s, a small cast of rather sordid characters were intended to symbolize opposed ideas and ideologies. However, both Asphaltum. a red-neck punk Popeye, and the Black Feminist, a curious merging of Grace Jones and Olive Oyl, were wiry scratchy and a little mean. They looked more alike than different, the contrast overly literal: white/black, male/female. These characters’ real opposites—toothy bunnies, blooming tulips. and curvaceous classical vases—entered Huttinger’s repertoire a few years ago, conceived, fittingly, in bright, bold, smoothly

  • Franz Kline

    When Franz Kline’s mature abstractions were first made and shown, from 1950 until 1961 (a year before his death), their painterliness, size, and sheer abstractness were the qualities that most impressed viewers. The paintings seemed to need space to breathe, and in spacious, white-walled galleries, their bold brushstrokes bespoke paint as paint. Most recently, in the first major retrospective of his work since 1968, Kline’s abstractions were placed in a series of small, specially constructed rooms with deep-blue walls, under almost harsh artificial light—a setting that recalled the cramped,

  • “Disarming Images”

    The purpose of this exhibition, subtitled “Art for Nuclear Disarmament,” is to show that artists as significant and diverse as Laurie Anderson, Robert Arneson, John Baldessari, Janet Cooling, Mary Frank, Red Grooms, Hans Haacke, Robert Longo, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and William Wiley have not only been thinking about the unthinkable, but incorporating that concern into their work. Nina Felshin, the show’s curator, found that several of the artists from whom she offered to commission nuclear- related pieces had already done works they thought would be appropriate,

  • Sandy Rosen

    Visitors to Cincinnati artist Sandy Rosen’s most recent show were invited to take off their shoes and enter the living room, dining room, bedroom, and sitting room of the apartment she had created in the gallery. But to do so seemed almost a violation of some kind. The rooms already seemed intensely inhabited, though only vestiges of their residents were strewn throughout the spaces. It was like wandering through the second story of a near-stranger’s house, in search of a bathroom at a party—your eyes fall on cluttered dressing tables or bookshelves and you turn away in embarrassment, before

  • Rick Paul

    Rick Paul’s “Construction III” in the Contemporary Arts Center’s three-part “Constructions” series is titled Kepler’s Dreams Come True. But it looks more like a contemporary version of the Heavenly Jerusalem than a commentary on Renaissance astronomical theory, and it is intended to evoke multiple interpretations.

    Kepler’s solids were simply a starting point, according to the artist. Actually the initial impetus for the piece was a gallery crowned by a skylit dome, next to the gallery where the construction was exhibited. Johannes Kepler’s forms were incorporated a bit later, along with architectural

  • Siah Armajani

    Newstand [sic], even more than Siah Armajani’s other works, moves beyond the traditional limits of sculpture and carves out a place for itself somewhere between architecture and stage design. It looks like a stage set or a small, innocuous building that is in use—not merely usable, like his recent “Meeting Garden” and “Reading Garden” in Roanoke, Virginia, Omaha, Nebraska and Artpark in New York. Museum-shop wares are sold from the Newstand’s racks, and periodicals are strewn across its tables to entice visitors to sit down on the benches and read. “Use” could have blurred the distinction between