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Tom Wesselmann Artworks Mural Dedication

A great team!

A great team of apprentices!

This is what we did over the summer.  The mural is on six story wall at 8th and Main Street in Cincinnati, OH, a reproduction of Tom Wesselmann’s Still Life #60.  Wednesday, we finally dedicate the beast to the City of Cincinnati!

The mural is a summer project of Artworks, a Cincinnati non-profit that “empowers and inspires the creative community to transform our everyday environments through employment, apprenticeships, education, community partnerships, and civic engagement”. I was the project manager for this mural, one mural in an annual series of Cincinnati Masters.  I worked alongside Cincinnati-based artists and teaching assistants Nicole Trimble and Joshua Mindlin, and ten area teen apprentices.

The image we painted is a reproduction of a grouping of six canvases, a sculptural painting which will be featured prominently in the retrospective of Wesselmann’s work opening at the Cincinnati Art Museum in the fall.  In addition to the mural, we created our own works which respond to and pay homage to Wesselmann’s art.  These works will be shown tonight at a companion event, Wessel Works, at Align Furniture just across the street from the site of the new mural.

An honest day's work

An honest day’s work

The mural is on the wall of Sophia’s Deli at 8th and Main St., in the middle of downtown, Cincinnati.  The dedication will be at 4pm:

Cincinnati Master Tom Wesselmann Mural – Still Life No. 60
Dedication and Party Wednesday October 29 4pm
Sophia’s Deli
811 Main St,
Cincinnati, OH 45202

The art exhibition Wessel Works, featuring responses and tributes to the work of Wesselmann by myself, Nicole and Josh and the apprentices will be up for the next couple weeks, beginning at 5pm tomorrow at:

Wessel Works Art Exhibition Wednesday October 29 5pm
Algin Retro Furniture
800 Main St,
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

I am so proud of the team I worked with and so pleased to have again been selected to work with Artworks on a large scale public art project working with youth apprentices.  Especially grateful for the support from Arnold’s restaurant, Sophia’s Deli, Kort Peter’s and everyone else who donated money, food, space and emotional support and encouragement to make this happen.

Stop by and see our mural.  And our art!

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Michael Sailstorfer: Masculinity and Quiet Destruction

I recently attended the opening reception for the exhibition Michael Sailstorfer: Every Piece is a New Problem at the Contemporary Arts Center here in Cincinnati, Ohio.  This is the German Sailstorfer’s first major solo show in the United States and the CAC is the perfect place for his large-scale sculptures and installations.

Sailstorfer’s work is characterized by unusual sculptural interventions that investigate the clash between technology and nature.  I too am interested in this intersection and was pleased to see an artist taking on this theme using such a massive scale.  The most prominently displayed Sailstorfer work at the CAC is a collection of four large live trees hang upside down.  Each tree is slowly rotated on a motor so that the branches sweep the floor.  The effect is mesmerizing.  Robotic motors whir and needles bristle and break leaving traces on the concrete ground in quiet circles.  In the graceful airy space of the CAC this strange situation feels almost natural and somehow calming.

Hanging Problems

Hanging Trees

Sailstorfer’s other works include a microphone is encased in a block of concrete, picking up subtle vibrations as visitors walk by.  Many pieces simply document past events: a cabin being completely burnt down using its own wood and wood-burning stove, a young tree exploded using air pressure. and a tire mounted in such a way that as it spins it screeches, leaving a rubber mark on the wall and a burning smell in the gallery.

Sailstorfer’s art is undeniably provocative.  The CAC exhibition evokes surprise and even glee, as visitors are confronted by unlikely and curiously dramatic, almost playful situations.  But while Sailstorfer’s works are consistently memorable and powerful, there lingers an undercurrent of unsettling darkness that may not be initially recognizable.

Burning Cabin

Burning Cabin

The CAC website describes Sailstorfer’s trees as “dancers of a melancholic ballet”.  After think exhibition sunk in a little, I am now more inclined to view them as victims of execution by hanging–an inverted lynching.  There is nothing new about upside down trees.  Take Natalie Jeremijenko’s permanent installation of living upside-down trees at Mass MoCA, Tree Logic.  Jeremijenko built a system which nourishes the trees despite their unusual position, asking viewers to contemplate the possibility of naturalness as thee trees respond over time to an unexpected environment.  Sailstorfer, by contrast, slowly kills his trees using decapitation and mechanical torture.

Natalie Jeremijenko: Tree Logic, MASS MoCA

Natalie Jeremijenko: Tree Logic, MASS MoCA

This interpretation is not metaphorical–Sailstorfer’s trees are indeed, actually, slowly dying. It is possible to become so enamored with the art-ness of Sailstorfers works that the reality of these destructive acts is overlooked.  But Sailstorfer is a materialist.  The essence of his art is material; it is reasonable to take his interventions at face value.  Of course, most contemporary art installations, performances, and actions are generally presented as symbolic provocations even as they are “real”.  The problem for Sailstorfer–and indeed much contemporary art–is that he seems unable to articulate the symbolic part.

Dying trees, exploded trees, burning cabins, burnt rubber, a microphone restricted in concrete and an obsession with the idea of “expansion”–Sailstorfer is a contemporary futurist.  Like Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and friends in the Futurist manifesto from 1909, Sailstorfer sings the “love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness…” perhaps even a “contempt for women”–but does all this abstrusely.  Unlike the Futurists, who were transparent about their wholehearted embrace of destruction, machine-power and even fascism, Sailstorfer puts the responsibility on the viewer. This to me is even more unsettling.

Raketenbaum (Rocket Tree)

Raketenbaum (Rocket Tree) – Another Problem Solved

In another arena, Sailstorfer’s works could pass for entertainment or spectacle.  Fireworks, Game of Thrones, the NFL, Nascar–sports and entertainment media are awash in images of male power and violent destruction.  When pressed, however, Sailstorfer describes his art as being solely about nature, technology and art history.

In contemporary art and society ideology has never been more prominent.  For Sailstorfer–and all artists–every piece is indeed a new problem; solving them may require an element preservation, modesty, contraction, compassion and sensitivity.  How do you solve your problems?


Michael Sailstorfer: Every Piece is a New Problem
Now through September 14

Contemporary Arts Center
44 E. Sixth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202

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Collaborative Performance with Jiemei Lin at the Contemporary Arts Center

Scroll Improvisation: Collaboration featuring Joe Hedges and Jiemei Lin

June 24th, 2013 8:00 PM
44 E 6th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513.345.8400

The Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati will host a performance featuring yours truly Joe Hedges and Jiemei Lin this Monday, June 24, 2013 at 8:00pm in The Living Room.  The Living Room is a current exhibition located on Level 2 of CAC that also serves as a flexible arena for summer performances every other monday.  Our performance, Scroll Improvisation, is a collaboration that celebrates the connection between art and music.  Jiemei and I graduated together from the University of Cincinnati’s MFA program.  This is our first performance together.

Contemporary Arts Center

Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

During the hour long performance I will create improvisational music that combines pre-recorded and live elements while Mei creates a large scroll drawing on the floor.  The piece will investigate the function and history of narrative Chinese scrolls in a contemporary fashion while exploring the idea of the western living room as a venue for improvisational ambient and folk music.  Other themes include notation and recording as well as cultural identity and control.

Jiemei Lin is an artist, designer, and total badass from Hangzhou, China now living in Cincinnati, OH. Her most recent works combine sculptural elements, found objects, drawings and video works that interrogate the effects of the industrial revolution on Eastern culture, while revealing and questioning her own hybrid identity as an immigrant.  But Lin’s greatest passion is drawing. Her ability to create beautiful, spontaneous drawings with graceful natural lines is truly remarkable. Please consider stopping by to see this in progress while I try to keep up!

Here is a link to the event on the CAC’s website.

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The Romance Show at Museum Gallery/Gallery Museum

I am participating in an exhibition about romance at the incredibly hip and comically named Museum Gallery/Gallery Museum on Sycamore Street in Cincinnati.  I was honored and excited to be asked to create a piece especially for the event.  This is a unique call and response gallery show where “works by fourteen couples are re-evaluated/considered by thirteen singles”.  My painting is cute and whimsical a celebration of my relationship with my wonderful girlfriend Emma.  The piece will be displayed with an accompanying (and most likely mocking) work by another Cincinnati artist–an artist who is not in a relationship.  Please consider stopping by on opening night to see these two works as well as works from other couples and singles on Final Friday July 29 at 7:00pm to 10:00pm.

Friday July 29
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Museum Gallery/Gallery Museum
1218 Sycamore St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Artists include:
Wendy Desrochers and Randall F. Slocum
Dustin and Heather Smith
Katy and Zachary Tompkins
Lee Serbin and Alex Walp
John DiPuccio and Tilley Stone
Cassie and Steve Kemple
Lisa and Leif Fairfield
Sarah Jones and Andy Upton
Matt Morris and Eric Ruschman
Joe Hedges and Emma Wehmeyer
Rachel Fleischer and Wyatt Niehuas
Ken Bruce and Sheida Soleimani
Jacques Laramie and Tiffany Dawn Nicholson
Iwona Franczek and Alan Pocaro
Sara Corley
Abby Cornelius
Anne Flavin
John Knight
Casey Meter
Patricia Murphy
Nicolas Perkins
Reid Radcliffe
Eric Rieper
Emily Sites
Michael Smith
Avril Thurman
Nevels Von Trapp
Brian Wikoffwith

special virtual performance by:
Andre Alves

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