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volume 8, issue 7; Dec. 27, 2001-Jan. 2, 2002
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Arts Beat
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Arts Resolution for 2002: Give Youth a Chance

By Steve Ramos >direct link to Bill Davis paragraph


Every day, I'm personally reminded of the April riots. I pass vacant buildings and broken windows in my neighborhood, Walnut Hills. On my walks from CityBeat's downtown offices to an Over-the-Rhine coffeehouse, I witness firsthand the lethargy that has affected Over-the-Rhine and spread across the rest of Cincinnati.

Throughout the year, local politicians and corporate executives had their say about what needs to occur for Cincinnati to rebound. They've formed committees and sponsored numerous public meetings. So far, nothing of note has resulted.

In this column, I've often said that Cincinnati's arts community is not a bubble detached from the rest of city. It's too easy to sit back and wait for the politicians and corporate leaders to take action. Personally, I think it's time for an artistic response to Cincinnati's problems.

The Dec. 10 arts forum organized by Cathy Springfield, director of Xavier University's performing arts department, and Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati Director D. Lynn Myers was a positive first step. Still, I would argue that the best hope for making the arts part of the city's everyday fabric requires us to step away from the large institutions and familiar faces. Cincinnati's major arts organizations will always play a significant role, but the best hope for an activist cultural community lies with grassroots projects that operate outside established arts circles.

Over the next few days, as local TV newscasts broadcast their own "year in review" segments, footage of the April riots will play over and over again. I hope that seeing the footage will wake up those people who refuse to accept just how bad things have become in Cincinnati.

Still, art -- and its ability to heal -- continues to occupy my thoughts. Cincinnati's arts community needs to take a more activist role in the lives of ordinary people. I think the following young people have an idea of just how to do that.

Unit 2's Steve Zieverniak and Lou Larson
From inside their Camp Washington studio, artist Steve Zieverniak, 26, and musician Lou Larson, 35, have created the stark gallery space known as Unit 2, home to a rotating series of exhibitions and performances. By creating a vibrant art world inside this old building, they've become leaders among Cincinnati's young artists.

SSNOVA Founder Emily Buddendeck
A 28-year-old performance artist who's organized informal art events in the past, Emily Buddendeck convinced Fred Lane to convert the former Bellevue Brewery building at 2260 Central Ave. into SSNOVA, a vibrant avant-garde gallery space. It's quickly attracted a sizable following, a testament to Buddendeck's vision and hard work.

Artist Kendall Bruns
There are times when it seems like Art Academy of Cincinnati alum Kendall Bruns and his artwork are everywhere. His prehistoric pop art sculpture BIGFOOT was the highlight of the 21st biennial Art Academy Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition at the Civic Garden Center earlier this year. He poked fun at stand-up comedy through an innovative installation at a recent Unit 2 group show. And The Warsaw Project Space housed a solo exhibition of his work.

Throughout the year, Bruns, 24, finds time to work at a Web site design firm and to record music. For young artists who feel they need to leave Cincinnati to test their creativity, he shows that the local visual arts scene still has a lot to offer.

The Artery Director Laura Hollis
As director of The Artery, Newport's arts center, Laura Hollis works to integrate the arts into the Northern Kentucky community. The area's current development boom is placing greater emphasis on entertainment developments like Newport on the Levee, but she's confident an art center like The Artery can make a difference to people there.

Hollis, 30, also has a suggestion for city of Newport leaders reluctant to fund The Artery: Middle-class people like to live near art, so if you want to attract new residents, take a closer look at The Artery.

Know Theatre Tribe Director Jay Kalagayan
Jay Kalagayan, 28, has limited financial resources and a volunteer staff. Still, his emerging performance group continues to grow at its Over-the-Rhine home. He's proof that community awareness, artistic ideals and audience growth don't always require large operating budgets.

It's amazing what Kalagayan and his Know Theatre team have accomplished with little money. Just imagine what they'll do once the funding community gets in their corner.

Banned Photographer Bill Davis
After the University of Cincinnati pulled two of Bill Davis' photographs from Imaginations: Altered Visual Perceptions, a fall exhibition at University Hall, he moved forward and displayed the work at Gallery 109 in Covington. More importantly, he continued to advocate his photography students at Antonelli College to bring their work to the people and display their work as often as possible.

Davis, 31, was never given the opportunity to defend his photographs to the people who pushed for their removal. Instead, he made sure his "censored" photographs would reach Cincinnati audiences. For people who support tolerance and freedom of expression, Davis' victory is extremely impressive.

E-mail Steve Ramos

Previously in Arts Beat

Arts Lessons from April's Riots
By Steve Ramos (December 20, 2001)

Bill Davis Strikes Back at 'These People'
By Steve Ramos (December 13, 2001)

Cathy Springfield's Cry for Help
By Steve Ramos (December 6, 2001)


Other articles by Steve Ramos

The Year in Film: 2001 (December 20, 2001)
It's a Wrap! (December 20, 2001)
Final Fantasy (December 20, 2001)

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Your Negro Tour Guide
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free

Lastly ...

Sports: Out in the Open
Cincinnati's sports scene broke new ground in 2001

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