Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cincinnati on my mind

Ok -- I have to admit it -- I've got Cincinnati on the mind tonight -- well -- not all of Cincinnati -- just a few of my father's friends -- who populate my memory as well

The designer of all these logos is Noel Martin who had have the coolest office in the world: right in the middle of that hilltop castle called the Cincinnati Art Museum

Maybe he's not still there -- but back in the 60's the museum gave him space (behind a secret door in the Mughal painting gallery) in exchange for designing the museum brochures -- and wow -- it was very cool -- filled with aromatic pipe smoke and the continuous sound of jazz guitar on the record player.

Mostly he works for clients in publishing and industry

-- but here's the painting he does for himself -- pretty lively aren't they ? He'd make a great folk artist ! wouldn't he?

And here's the only piece I could find online from "Wild Bill" Gebhardt -- the local portrait painter, who ran an art school in downtown Cincinnati above the Empress Chili Parlor. (home of the famous Cincinnati chili )

The artist, the school, and even the chili parlor are long gone -- but not my memories of that free-wheeling academy where my father taught drawing and I saw a nude woman for the first time in my life. (she was -- shall we say -- Rubenesque -- and about sixty years old -- with long red hair -- and fold-upon-fold of white flesh)

Here's a painting by one of the students he had back at Gebhardt's, Carin Hebenstreit, who has developed a beautiful, and very successful, portrait style for Cincinnati's aesthetic bourgeois.

Do you notice how it resembles the 18th C. English portraiture of say, Gainsborough or Reynolds ? The local museum has many fine examples -- and my father has always spoken of them with great admiration -- applying his favorite term of aesthetic appreciation: "it swings"

Maybe this one's a little too cute for me -- but my opinion might be different if I ever had children.

Carin, however, HAS had children -- and here's one of them (grown up by now) standing beside a statue that he's just made for the Biltmore estate -- and as one reporter has noted "The day I visited Hebenstreit's studio he was worried about one side of George looking more relaxed and natural than the other. He planned to bring in mentor and sculptor Dick Miller to look at it: "Dick will know.""

Kind of gives me goosebumps.

For an artist/teacher who has been -- shall we say -- rather marginal in the artworld of his lifetime -- he still seems to have left a legacy.


Blogger Cobalt Blue said...

Nice job, this post.

January 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this lot, I liked the glimpse of Cincinnati Art Museum and of your childhood memories!

January 29, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

This little post suggests a whole little world moving through time.

Interesting things happen at the margins--perhaps your father's page is deckle-edged, or gilded.

January 29, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Yes -- "a whole little world moving through time"

And, contrary to the modern ideology of individualism, I think that's the best way to think about the human experience -- as a bundle of many such worlds (of shared interest/obsession)-- sometimes over-lapping, sometimes enhancing, and sometimes (Iraq?) in conflict with each other over the time and space they have to cohabit.

January 29, 2007  
Anonymous Mike McConnell said...


I have always been an admirer of your Father's sculpture and it sure looks like he has developed some very good artists as well...and I love the "it swings " affirmation...less for the sake of descriptive accuracy and more Charlie Parker and Count Basie please sounds like a town I want to visit

January 30, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

For the fans of jazz vocal, "swing" is often used as a make-or-break criteria -- but it still is something that can't be any better described.

It's a certain way of working with rhythm -- and you feel either it's there -- or it isn't.

January 30, 2007  
Anonymous marly said...

You know, I don't think that one can look at the image of a nicely-dressed woman with naked child without thinking of Cassatt.

January 31, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

Maybe you're thinking of this one?-- or this?

But they make me think more of this (even if the kids aren't naked) -- or this (even if there's no kids at all)

And while I'm at it -- here's Mrs. Thicknesse in the most spectacular painting in Cincinnati.

January 31, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

I have never felt that Gainsborough understood anatomy very well but his paintings of rich clothing is quite amazing and his faces exquisite.
Cassatt is a classic story of the American abroad. I will tell two "fun stories" from my youth of two more Americans abroad both elevated academics in very different fields with a great sense of humor. Wish I had kept up with them.

February 01, 2007  
Blogger marlyat2 said...

Oh, I thought you were right about the Gainsborough, too, even in the way she treats the background--just thought there was an echo of Cassatt as well. Since Hebenstreit isn't restricted primarily to child nudes, as Cassatt was, the link seemed even stronger.

The two Cassatts you picked out made me think about religious iconography. There's the washing of feet, a classic emblem of Christian servitude. And the other is mother and child, joined by the single halo of the mirror.

February 01, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

To add to this line I have included on my Dorset Blog an article writted by my Daughter no.2 of a Reynolds: Lady Cockburn and sons, may be of interest.

February 05, 2007  

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