Since its earliest years, the Contemporary Arts Center (called the Modern Art Society from 1939-1953) has made a concentrated effort to exhibit work from regional collections. Open House: Cincinnati Collectscontinues that tradition. The objects in these galleries simultaneously illustrate some of the defining themes in post-war and contemporary art and celebrate the patronage and foresight of collectors from the Greater Cincinnati area. Representing nearly 50 collections and over 200 artists, this exhibition still only scratches the surface of Cincinnati collections and the tremendous commitment in this region to the advancement of contemporary culture. Collecting art is a crucial component in building a city’s cultural legacy. While the CAC does not maintain a permanent collection, this institution has long supported efforts to retain some of the significant works of art brought here. In fact, a majority of the artists in Open House have previously exhibited in Cincinnati. The collections also reflect the artistic production of many artists who have lived and worked in the Cincinnati area.
Filling two floors of the CAC, the exhibition is organized in a loose chronology. On the 5th floor visitors will find objects from mid-century through the 1970s and a separate gallery examining the recent history of photography. A resource room on the 5th floor offers videotaped interviews with collectors represented inOpen House, books and additional materials on the exhibiting artists, a hands-on art making activity for all ages, and tour brochures that reveal additional thematic strands in the exhibition.
Featuring works created since 1980, the 4th floor provides visitors with an immersive introduction to the complexity of collecting contemporary art over the past 30 years. The emphasis for visitors is on the nature of collecting itself rather than the art historical: the sensibilities of collectors who are purchasing art with which to live rather than a museum filling historical gaps or pursuing acquisition agendas. Also on the 4th floor, an intimate gallery space focuses on works on paper and artist-related ephemera, and another has been adapted into a theater environment screening the work of five contemporary video artists.
This exhibition is the result of an intimate collaboration between the CAC and the generous art collectors and patrons of the greater Cincinnati area. Open House: Cincinnati Collects temporarily transforms the CAC into an extension of their homes and fosters rich and unexpected dialogues between individual works of art across several generations.
Open House: Cincinnati Collects offers a glimpse into the most significant and surprising private collections in Greater Cincinnati. From paintings and drawings to glass, video, and photography, the diverse works in this exhibition reflect a wide range of collecting styles and sensibilities.
The Contemporary Arts Center's curatorial team scoured the Cincinnati area to assemble a vast, diverse grouping of late 20th century and contemporary art objects. What emerged was an extensive and powerful checklist of items ranging from odd to ostentatious, familiar to surprising. Artists included represent all major periods of the past several decades in contemporary art. This exhibition not only showcases eclectic collections of the area but also the art of collecting. Accompanying programs and conversations illuminate collectors' styles and processes, opening the collecting experience to all.