New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp recently wrote that with the new Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art "Cincinnati covered itself with glory."
The glory comes not only from the choice of superstar architect Zaha Hadid, but also from the visionary choices made by the museum for its opening show, Somewhere Better Than This Place. More than 50 celebrated contemporary artists have agreed to be part of the exhibition, and several will create Cincinnati-specific works on opening night.
The CAC represents a new paradigm in museums that encourages more participation and accessibility. Once bastions of aesthetic elitism, they are now places where people get married, meet new friends over cocktails or listen to gospel music as they have brunch.
"Since the 18th century a museum was considered a sacred temple separate from the city," says CAC Senior Curator Thom Collins. Zaha said, `Screw that. That's old.' Her building is not in a park but in the center of the city. I like to say it's a carnivalesque mix of activity."
In the Hadid building are galleries of varying sizes and ceiling heights to accommodate large-scale installations. The galleries interlock in a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle that allows for a unique presentation of work, with unobstructed sight lines. The traveling shows that come to the CAC will look different there.
The opening show will include sculptors, installation and performing artists, photographers and agents of social change who will prove they are unafraid to tackle subjects that just may make us squirm. There will be nudity, graphic expressions and incredible beauty.
And, there will be new perspectives and the opportunity to jump into a hot tub, dine on noodles served by the CAC staff or stand in awe at the re-creation of a rainbow.
CULTURE IN 2003
25 forces that will shape culture in 2003
1. The big economic squeeze
2. Clear Channel's dominance
3. Suburbanites: Will they roam?
4. The plea for racial healing
5. The media's message
6. A whole new ball game
7. Edgy art center opening
8. Tall Stacks rolls back
9. Will tourists go home happy?
10. How Fine Arts Fund carries clout
11. You can't fight City Hall
12. Laura Long: Downtown force
13. The CSO's growing empire
14. Rosenthals' big impact
15. Northern Kentucky development
16. Museum Center's main man
17. Lobbyist Weiland
18. UC at crossroads
19. The Nederlanders make a comeback
20. MidPoint: Rebuild the city on rock 'n' roll
21. The Schuster Center alternative
22. Another public art project goes to bat
23. The brain drain
24. Local film community gains focus
25. Dancing around visa problems
The wild card of 2003: War
2003 dates to keep in mind
DEMALINE: The arts
KENDRICK: Alive & Well
Get to it!