Courttney Cooper, a Vernacular Artist from Cincinnati, Ohio, is known for drawing large-scale cityscapes of his hometown that respond to changes in the city's architecture and environment. These drawings, punctuated with idealistic imagery and commentary, are dedicated to what Cooper calls Cincinnati/Zinzinnati Ohio USA (1). His title for the city refers to a dualistic site both real and fantastic, where the pragmatic is depicted alongside an Oktoberfest celebration that never ends. The show opens with a free public reception on Friday, November 11 from 5 to 8pm and will run through December 31. The gallery will be open by appointment from Decmber 24 to December 31. For more images and information, contact Scott Speh firstname.lastname@example.org (312) 480-8390.
A self-proclaimed “map artist”, Cooper combines direct observation of city sites with an impressive memory of buildings and streets gleaned from his travels. Using information gathered from phonebooks and various random maps, Cooper recreates a cityscape of both Cincinnati and his beloved Oktoberfest-ed Zinzinnati, USA. Cooper’s practice is a perpetual celebration of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, USA, a commemorative and nostalgic place that exists parallel to or as a transparent layer upon Cincinnati, Ohio. Hot air balloons, beers, pretzels and banner-carrying airplanes fill the horizons above his three-quarter view landscapes. The large maps are drawn exclusively with ball-point pen on multiple sheets of office paper, glued together to accommodate additional drawing space as needed. He works on one cityscape at a time, taking from three months to one year to complete one piece. During that process of creation, Cooper carefully folds the growing piece and carries it with him wherever he travels. Cooper first draws I-75, the major interstate running north-south in Ohio. Before adding additional highways, streets, buildings and monuments, Cooper scrawls thoughts and phrases across the surface that are ultimately hidden beneath the twisting streets and buildings and revealed within the open white space of the paper, almost diaristic notes that reflect his romance and frustration with the city.
Cooper will present for the first time a new sculptural work titled “The Carnival.” In it, Cooper renders aspects of Zinzinnati USA in three-dimensions from repurposed paper, cardboard and objects found at his jobs and studios. Smaller, more formal works on paper such as "Union Terminal" and "Cincinnati from Newport" demonstrate a quieter, reflective and direct view of the city. Made on site, these works are created on traditional materials and approached with a more conventional method: working directly from observation.
Courttney Cooper was born in 1977 in Cincinnati, Ohio where he still resides. His earliest drawing tool was an Etch-A-Sketch, a children’s toy whose up-and-down and side-to-side sketchiness has made a lasting impression that can still be viewed in the web-like marks in his current drawings. Since graduating from Western Hills High School, Cooper has been working two jobs steadily, one at a major grocery store and the other at the York Street Cafe, a locally-owned and operated restaurant located across the river in Newport, Kentucky. During this time he has maintained a rigorous art practice at both his home studio, and since 2004, at Visionaries + Voices, a non-profit arts organization that provides support for artists with disabilities, offering them professional studio space that allows them to grow professionally and personally.
Cooper’s solo show at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago in spring of 2016 was reviewed in artforum.com and New City. His 2-person show (with Cole Carothers) at The Cincinnati Art Museum in 2013 was reviewed in CityBeat and AEQAI. He has exhibited extensively in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area including the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati and The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, Covington, KY. Cooper recently won The Wynn Newhouse Foundation Award and his work is included in a number of private and public collections including The Cincinnati Art Museum and The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. This is Courttney Cooper’s first solo show at Western Exhibitions.
1 Oktoberfest, called Zinzinnati USA, takes place in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio every September and is the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich, Germany.