Manifest Gallery + an insightful lecture from Jason Franz

Exploration

Within one week, I was fortunate enough to both visit Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center for the first time and attend a lecture by Manifest’s executive director and chief curator, Jason Franz.  I had heard about Manifest Gallery before.  People had been telling me good things for a long time: it supports emerging artists; it has many open-call shows to get participation from the community; it hosts figure drawing classes that are open to the public.  However, getting to attend Jason Franz’s lecture added a lot of depth to my experience at Manifest Gallery – it made me much more aware of what was truly special about this humble space in Cincinnati.

Mr. Franz explained in his lecture that to understand what Manifest is, you first have to recognize what it is not.  It is not a co-op gallery, a vanity gallery, an art retailer, or a gallery exclusively for emerging artists. He then listed what Manifest is.  It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  It is 80% self funded.  It is supported by members and donors, not the art it sells.  It is committed to all art and design.

Manifest Publications

publications from Manifest Gallery

Manifest was created because the founders did not see any galleries showing what they thought was quality art, and they did not like the way other galleries were showing what they had.  “If you don’t see what you want in the world then make it.”  Mr. Franz happily declared that this is a guiding philosophy for what Manifest does.  The people involved at Manifest want it to be the best art gallery it can be, and show the best work of the best artists around.  Manifest serves society by making good art available to the public: it is a neighborhood gallery for the world.

From my visit, I could see that these goals for the gallery are held with the most serious regard.  For such a humble institution, it boasted a high caliber of artistic talent.  It upheld its ideals of showing exceptional art made by exceptional artists in a way that really made an impact on my perception of  what an art gallery could be, and how it could function to truly benefit the art community.  The five galleries were each filled with a different exhibit: three galleries were solo shows, two of which were centered around site-specific installations, and the other two featured regional showcases – one from Michigan and the other from Florida.  There were drawings, photography, paintings, and sculptures, featured in a wide variety of styles and sizes.

Samantha Parker Salazar

detail of the installation Interstellar by Samantha Parker Salazar

My particular favorite was the installation Interstellar by Samantha Parker Salazar.  I was captivated by the elegant dance of the cut paper forms, and the intricate details found in the patterns of the paintings, prints, and papers that are incorporated into the work.  It not only reflects the gallery’s welcome attitude to a variety of media and artistic practices, but the high standard they hold for the quality of work they show.

I am very happy I finally made it to Manifest.  It exceeded my expectations for being such a small gallery in East Walnut Hills.  After my visit today, I will most definitely be attending their openings in the future! Hope to see you there!

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