Very seldom do I go to gallery openings to look at art. They are generally too crowded making it nearly impossible for me to see anything. Against my norm, I went to the Carl Solway Gallery opening last night. As expected, there was a nice large crowd, but because the gallery is wonderfully spacious, viewing the art was not a challenge. Furthermore, the exhibitions of well-known artists Solway regularly presents add to the ease of viewing the works.
Currently, the gallery is showing lithographs by Joan Miró paintings by Joan Snyder and Fred Tomaselli, and works by Hans Hofman. Because Solway shows big names, even if not always signature works, a visit during an opening is comfortable stroll through the gallery for me. Arriving to the show with a familiarity of these artists presents me with an opportunity to simply enjoy the works without fighting the crowd or the gallery space at every step trying to see everything. Yet more often than not, the Solway presents to me wonderful surprises; opportunities to see works I’ve not seen, and to rethink artists I think I know. For example, Miró's whimsical lithographs are a pleasant welcome to the gallery. Also, this is the first time I’ve considered comparing Snyder’s use of actual herbs in her paintings and Tomaselli’s medicinal images of pills in a grid.
By providing a space and the works of well known modern artists, Cincinnati’s Solway Gallery seems to achieve what the Cincinnati Art Museum has not yet mastered. Solway is a place to re-engage modern art. As the museum works to promote contemporary art, museum curators need to recognize the works hidden on that floor simply burden the gallery, the museum-goer, the collection. If the 3rd floor is a Contemporary Art gallery, then many of those works up there may need to be reconsidered. Until that happens the Cincinnati Art Museum may need to deferred to the Carl Solway Gallery for modern art.