About the program
Western Exhibitions is thrilled to present Courttney Cooper’s second solo show at the gallery, America’s Octoberfest. Zinzinnati. U.S.A., featuring exuberant drawings of his hometown. Cooper’s subjective, large-scale aerial-view sub maps of Cincinnati utilize found copier paper, ballpoint pens, and a deep knowledge of the city built upon a lifetime of traveling on city buses, walking downtown, and taking car trips with friends. Hand-drawn from memory over the course of 6 to 12 months, each map bursts with passionate energy, dedicated observation and sly commentary on the only city this 45-year-old has ever lived in. The show opens on Friday, January 5 with a free public reception from 5 to 8pm and runs through February 17.
Rendered in ballpoint pen on stitched-together sheets of paper that Cooper collects from his day job at a local Krogers, his maps are the product of both observation and memory. Cooper often depicts the city in an aerial three-quarter view, meticulously transcribing changes in its architecture and environment based his own encounters around town. These drawings also represent an imaginary layer of the city that only Cooper inhabits, what he calls Zinzinnati USA. In this city, it’s always Oktoberfest — a smorgasbord of revelry in which the cityscape is layered with fantastic imagery and text.
From Western Exhibitions’ founder, Scott Speh, in a 2016 interview with Artinfo:
I was initially drawn to Courttney’s maps as I grew up in Cincinnati, so I had a personal relationship to imagery. But I think anybody could look at these and, even if they had no idea where Cincinnati even was, they could be awed by the mark marking, the undulations of space, and even the drawings as objects. Collecting papers from work, he glues it together and then folds it over and over so he can carry it wherever he goes, continually adding to it until deeming it finished. The works end up being almost quilt-like, especially as they age. A piece from 2011 has the consistency of an old dollar bill — it’s got this kind of thickness and weight to it, but it’s also soft. We hang the drawings unframed for this reason: they have a sculptural quality, taking on a kind of life of their own once they get on the wall.
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Western Exhibitions is a contemporary art gallery that shows thought-provoking, and visually innovative artists who work across most media, with an emphasis on personal narratives and cosmologies; LGBTQ and feminist artists and issues; pattern, decoration and surface concerns; works on paper; and artist books. Western Exhibitions presents unique artist projects, curated group shows and maintains a specific inventory of artist books and multiples, gathered together as a sister entity and store, WesternXeditions.