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Our art guru shares a peek inside new work coming to the Cincinnati Art Museum that truly draws a line in the sand.

A group of Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery will visit the Cincinnati Art Museum to create a sacred sand mandala in the museum’s Great Hall November 13–18.

A group of Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery, a Buddhist monastery in South India founded in 1416, will visit the Cincinnati Art Museum to create a sacred sand mandala in the museum’s Great Hall from November 13–18.

Admission to the museum and access to view the work is free and people of all ages are encouraged to attend this remarkable program.

Visitors will be able to view the sand mandala creation from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, and until 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 15. An opening ceremony will take place on Tuesday, November 13 at 11 a.m., and a closing and dissolution ceremony will be held on Sunday, November 18 at 2 p.m. A special REC Reads program will feature stories and art-making related to the mandala project on Wednesday, November 14 at 11:30 a.m. in the Rosenthal Education Center.

Sand painting is an ancient Tibetan art form constructed as vehicle to generate compassion. Eight monks will lay millions of grains of colored sand into place to create intricate designs over the course of six days, forming a diagram of the enlightened mind and the ideal world.

The sand, colored with vegetable dyes or opaque tempera, is poured onto the mandala platform with a narrow metal funnel called a chakpur“. The chakpur is scraped by another metal rod causing a vibration by which grains of sand trickle out. The two chakpurs are said to symbolize the union of wisdom and compassion.

The visit is part of a tour throughout the U.S. to share Tibetan Buddhism and demonstrate the artistic accomplishments of the people of Tibet. In addition, they hope to raise money to ensure the survival of the Tibetan culture. Proceeds from the sale of crafts and jewelry at tour stops are used to house, feed and educate the monks and surrounding community, including orphans and refugees.

This is the third time these monks have created a sand mandala at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Other Cincinnati visits have resulted in sand creations at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and at Mount St. Joseph University.

In general, all mandalas have outer, inner and secret meaning. On the outer level they represent the world in its divine form; on the inner level, they represent a map by which the ordinary human mind is transformed into the enlightened mind; and on the secret level, they predict the primordially perfect balance of the subtle energies of the body and the clear light dimension of the mind.

The creation of a sand painting is said to affect purification and healing on these three levels. When finished, to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists, the colored sands are swept up and poured into a nearby river or stream where the waters carry healing energies throughout the world.

The mandala is an ancient art form of Tibetan Buddhism. The term mandala means “world harmony” and the three-dimensional artworks are carefully constructed from dyed sand particles to represent the traditions of Buddhism.

Visitors can continue the celebration of Asian culture in special exhibition The Fabric of India, on view through January 6, 2019 in the Western & Southern Galleries on the museum’s second floor. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Visitor Services Desk. Collecting Calligraphy: Arts of the Islamic World is on view in the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Gallery and Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell Gallery (G124 and 125), across from the museum’s Terrace Café. Free admission.

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Fall is officially here, and so is this one-of-a-kind lineup of new exhibitions at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Keep reading as our art guru gives us a sneak peek inside.


*= Tickets required. CAM members receive free tickets. Learn more about membership here.

1. Life: Gillian Wearing*

Gillian Wearing, Me as an Artist in 1984, 2014, chromogenic print. © Gillian Wearing. Courtesy of the artist, Tanya BonakdarGallery, New York, Maureen Paley, London and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

October 5–December 30, 2018 | Free for Fotofocus pass holders in October

You do not have to be yourself in this exhibition featuring British conceptual artist Gillian Wearing. Wearing’s photographs and videos illuminate unspoken dimensions of our most common relationships and acts, shedding light on the ways we inhabit personae and expose or conceal interior thoughts and desires. Life includes a concise selection of the artist’s works along with several new projects receiving their world premiere in Cincinnati. Learn more.

2. The Fabric of India*

October 19, 2018–January 6, 2019

Border for a Dress (detail), cotton muslin with beetle wing-cases and gilded silver, poss. Hyderabad,  Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, ca. 1850, Given by Mrs. Mary Gordon, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Embark on an adventure through India without leaving Cincinnati. Organized by the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and making its debut in the U.S., The Fabric of India showcases the richness of Indian textiles and fashion from the fifteenth century to today. A stunning range of historic dress, heirloom fabrics and cutting-edge garments will be on view. Learn more.

3. Collecting Calligraphy: Arts of the Islamic World

Now–January 27, 2019

Signed by Sultan Ali Mashhadi (d. 1520), Afghanistan, Herat Timurid period, Page from the Diwan (collected works) of Sultan Husayn Mirza, circa 1490, with later additions, colored inks, and gold on blue paper, Cincinnati Art Museum; Gift of JoLynn M. and  ByronW. Gustin, 2016.372.


Did you know that the Cincinnati Art Museum has been collecting Islamic calligraphy for over 70 years? This free special exhibition celebrates CAM’s collection and explores the prominence and pervasiveness of calligraphic art. Discover richly illuminated folios from poetic and historic manuscripts, pages from the Qur’an, calligraphic practice sheets and political decrees from Iran, Turkey, India, Spain and Syria. Learn more.

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Behold the beauty of script in Collecting Calligraphy: Arts of the Islamic World at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Our art columnist gives us an inside look.

Explore the craftsmanship, skill, beauty and function of calligraphy from the ninth to the twentieth centuries in the special exhibition Collecting Calligraphy: Arts of the Islamic Worldon view at the Cincinnati Art Museum September 7, 2018–January 27, 2019.

The exhibition features 55 works on paper including richly-illuminated folios from historic manuscripts, pages from the Qur’an, calligraphic practice sheets and political decrees from a myriad of countries, including Spain, Turkey, Syria, Iran and India. This diverse collection of artworks from the museum’s collection have never before been seen together. Many of these items will be on public display for the first time.

The Cincinnati Art Museum has been acquiring Islamic calligraphy since the 1940s and houses one of the most significant collections in the Midwest. Collecting Calligraphy celebrates a recent gift to the museum from JoLynn and Byron Gustin. The Gustins, Cincinnati residents and active museum patrons, have been collecting Islamic calligraphy since the 1970s. The exhibition also includes works from the permanent collection, including a 1977 acquisition from Edwin Binney 3rd (1925–1986), the progenitor of one of the most important encyclopedic collections of South Asian and Persian painting in the US, now housed at the San Diego Museum of Art. 

Cincinnati Art Museum Curator of South Asian Art, Islamic Art and Antiquities Ainsley M. Cameron organized the exhibition. “These sumptuous works of Islamic calligraphy reveal incredible skill and craftsmanship, offering a glimpse into cultures where the art of the book is revered,” says Cameron. “From the precise position of each line of text to the delicately drawn illumination, each detail works together on the page to create a unified composition.” 

Collecting Calligraphy will be on view in The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Gallery and Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell Gallery (G124 and 125), across from the museum’s Terrace Café, September 7, 2018–January 27, 2019. Admission is free and photography is permitted. A free catalogue will be available to visitors in the exhibition galleries.

Image credit: Signed by Sultan Ali Mashhadi (d. 1520), Afghanistan, Herat Timurid period, Page from the Diwan (collected works) of Sultan Husayn Mirza, circa 1490, with later additions, colored inks, and gold on blue paper, Cincinnati Art Museum; Gift of JoLynn  M. and Bryon W. Gustin, 2016.372

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A Taste of Duveneck Presents: The Art of Wine at the Cincinnati Art Museum on June 8. Keep reading for all the palette-pleasing details.


Eat, drink and dance the night away while supporting a great cause at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s 28th annual event, A Taste of Duveneck Presents: The Art of Wine, Friday, June 8, 6:30–10 p.m.

Enjoy delicious local food, exceptional wine and beer, live music from the Naked Karate Girls, a silent auction and exclusive access to the entire museum, including special exhibition Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China.

The event will feature bites from dozens of vendors in the Great Hall and outdoors in the Alice Bimel Courtyard including the BonBonerie, Eli’s Barbeque, Dewey’s Pizza, Eddie Merlot’s Steakhouse, Mazunte and many more. A large, diverse selection of craft beer and premium wine will also be available to taste.

This year, all proceeds from A Taste of Duveneck Presents: The Art of Wine will help support the Rosenthal Education Center (REC). The REC is a dedicated space where families can discover the Cincinnati Art Museum’s collection in a fun and hands-on manner. Themes for the interactive space are changed twice a year and are based on the permanent collection, special exhibitions, and/or elements of art and world cultures.

General admission tickets are $85 per person and available online. Donor opportunities are available. For more information, please contact or (513) 639-2962.

The Cincinnati Art Museum would like to thank the following organizations for their gracious sponsorships: Jaguar Land Rover Cincinnati, Cincinnati Magazine, GBQ and the Cincinnati International Wine Festival. In addition, the art museum would like to recognize the generous donations of several of our members, supporters and friends who have helped to plan and contribute to this event.

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This week, our art guru from the Cincinnati Art Museum writes about one of their own, who just received an impressive national award. Click for more about it.

Emily Holtrop of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

We’re excited to announce that the National Art Education Association (NAEA) has named our very own Emily Holtrop, Director of Learning & Interpretation at the Cincinnati Art Museum, as the recipient of the 2018 National Museum Education Art Educator award.

This prestigious award, determined through a peer review of nominations, recognizes the exemplary contributions, service, and achievements of one outstanding NAEA member annually at the National level within their division. The award will be presented at the NAEA National Convention in Seattle, Washington, March 22–24, 2018.

NAEA President Kim Huyler Defibaugh states, “This award is being given to recognize excellence in professional accomplishment and service by a dedicated art educator. Emily Holtrop exemplifies the highly qualified art educators active in education today: leaders, teachers, students, scholars and advocates who give their best to their students and the profession.”

With over 17 years of museum education experience, Holtrop has worked in the Division of Learning & Interpretation at the Cincinnati Art Museum since 2002. Her previous position with the museum was as the former assistant curator for school and teacher programs. In her current role, she oversees the museum’s interpretive and educational initiatives. This includes public programs for all audiences and abilities as well as gallery interpretation.

Before coming to the Cincinnati Art Museum, Holtrop was the Education Outreach Coordinator for the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the Caribbean, now History Miami.

Holtrop served as the National Art Education Association Museum Education Division Director from 2015–17. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Midwest Museums and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education. Holtrop holds an A.A. in Art History from Grand Rapids Community College, a B.A. in Public History from Western Michigan University and an MSc. in Architectural History from the University College of London-Bartlett School of Architecture. She currently resides in Dayton, Kentucky.

NAEA is the professional association for art educators. Members include elementary, secondary, middle level and high school art teachers; university and college professors; education directors who oversee education in our nation’s fine art museums, administrators and supervisors who oversee art education in school districts, state departments of education, arts councils; and teaching artists throughout the United States and many foreign countries. For more information about the association and its awards program visit the NAEA website at

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Our art columnist shares fascinating history behind Boîte-en-valise that’s now in Cincinnati and has an interesting connection to the area.

Photo Credit: Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), France, active in United States, Box in a Valise from or by Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Sélavy(Boîte-en-valise de ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rrose Sélavy), conceived 1935–41, edition E assembled in Paris in 1963, green linen imitation leather covered box containing mixed-media assemblage/collage of miniature replicas, photographs, and color reproductions of works by Duchamp, Gift of Anne W. Harrison and Family in memory of Agnes Sattler Harrison and Alexina “Teeny” Sattler Duchamp, 16/17.27, © Association Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2018

Marcel Duchamp’s Boîteen-valise on view now through May 6, 2018

When Marcel Duchamp released Boîteen-valise (Box in a Valise) on January 1, 1941, it transformed twentieth-century art.

The artwork is a “portable museum” that contains 68 small-scale replicas, models and reproductions of Duchamp’s works, including paintings, drawings, objects and “ready-mades” (found objects presented as art). 

Each work in Boîteen-valise is labeled with title, medium, date and, in some cases, the owner of the original. Rather than creating new pieces, Duchamp was most interested in making replicas. This process was an extension of his other “ready-mades,” which challenged the ideas of originality and the value of unique works.

Packing artworks into a suitcase made it possible to smuggle the work out of France during the Nazi occupation. The Boîteen-valise was a way of reconstituting Duchamp’s life’s work and circulating it to a wide audience. It contains miniatures of his painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912), which scandalized Americans when it was exhibited; the construction The Large Glass; and Fountain, a urinal signed with the pseudonym “R. Mutt.” 

Duchamp was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player and writer whose work is associated with conceptual art and avant-garde art movements including Cubism and Dada. His goal was to serve the mind. 

The Boîteen-valise has a special connection to Cincinnati. In 1954 Duchamp married Alexina “Teeny” Sattler, a Cincinnati native. The work was given to Teeny’s sister Agnes and her husband with a special dedication on the Coeurs volants (Fluttering Hearts).

Photograph courtesy of the Harrison Family. 

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Our art guru gives us a sneak peek of this world-renowned special exhibition that opens April 20 at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Credit: Kneeling Archer, Qin dynasty (221–206 BC), earthenware, Excavated from Pit 2, Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum, 1977, Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum

Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China is the first exhibition dedicated to ancient Chinese art organized and presented by the Cincinnati Art Museum. The exhibition features more than 130 individual objects, which include terracotta figures of warriors, arms and armor, ritual bronze vessels, works in gold and silver, jade ornaments, precious jewelry and ceramics, all drawn from the collections of art museums and archaeological institutes in Shaanxi Province, China.

More than 40 of these works have never been on view in the U.S. prior to this exhibition. Dating from the Pre-Qin period (770–221 BCE) to the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE), these works of art, excavated from the emperor’s mausoleum as well as from aristocratic and nomadic tombs, represent history, myths and burials in ancient China.

The discovery of the First Emperor’s tomb and his terracotta army is considered the greatest archeological find of the twentieth century. This exhibition, co-organized with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, explores the legacy of the First Emperor of China, Ying Zheng (reigned 221–210 BCE), by focusing on the three main themes: the birth of the Qin Empire and cultural diversity in ancient China; the First Emperor and the unification of China; and the quest for immortality.

Through the presentation of these rich archaeological finds, visitors will gain deeper knowledge of the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty, also of his legacy and lasting impact on Chinese history and culture.

This exhibition was organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in partnership with the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, the Shaanxi Provincial History Museum (Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre), and Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum of the People’s Republic of China.

Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China is on view April 20–August 12, 2018. Tickets are available the Cincinnati Art Museum front desk and online. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit

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The Cincinnati Art Museum will soon play host to four Italian Baroque paintings for the first time. Read on for more!

Credit: Guido Cagnacci (1601–1663), Italy, “The Death of Cleopatra”, circa 1660–62, oil on canvas, Pinacoteca di Brera, 2341.

On March 23, the Cincinnati Art Museum will open special feature Cagnacci: Painting Beauty and Death,” bringing together four Italian Baroque paintings for the first time. Peter Bell, Cincinnati Art Museum Associate Curator of European Paintings, Sculptures and Drawings, provides an early look at the feature.

Guido Cagnacci was one of the most inventive and accomplished painters of seventeenth-century Italy.Cincinnati Art Museum’s upcoming special feature “Painting Beauty and Death” will introduce Cagnaccito Cincinnati with three of his paintings loaned to the museum, joined by one by Bernardo Strozzi from the museum’s collection. Whether depicting, for example, the Egyptian ruler Cleopatra with the snake that kills her, or the Israelite shepherd David holding the head of Goliath, each painting presents a life-sized single figure with minimal props—a sword here, a chair there—and no recognizable setting.

The compression of space in the composition is one of the great accomplishments of seventeenth-century painters. Think Caravaggio’s card players or musicians: to recreate those famous scenes, the subjects would need to be piled on top of each other rather than seated in a group or standing around a table, and yet the vitality and realism of the painted forms are so compelling that we rarely question how the space is described.

Similarly, Cagnacci pushed his compositions to the front of the “picture plane” in these single-figure paintings. Cleopatra and David are so close to us that their legs are cut off by the frame. The dark, undifferentiated backgrounds and dramatic side lighting accentuate the three-dimensionality of their bodies while seemingly pushing the figures even more out of the painting and into our space.

One of Cagnacci’s most enduring and captivatingqualities is the psychological depth of his subjects. Here he circumvents the violence and brutality of David’s and Cleopatra’s defining actions, representing them instead in internal struggle to grasp the effects of those actions. He portrays neither David as triumphant nor Cleopatra as defeated. While Cagnacci painted bodies that could not be closer to us, their minds—their spirits—could not be further away.

“Cagnacci: Painting Beauty and Death” will be on view in the Sarah M. and Vance Waddell Gallery (G125) March 23–July 22, 2018. Admission is free. To learn more, please visit

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Discover the awe-inspiring beauty, mystery and interconnectedness of special exhibition "Ana England: Kinship" at this Friday's Art After Dark event!


Art After Dark at the Cincinnati Art Museum will feature exhibition Ana England: Kinship on Sept. 29

Become fascinated by the foundational and fundamental connections inherent in nature at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s free event Art After Dark: Across the Universe, Friday, September 29, 5–9 p.m.

Across the Universe celebrates new special exhibition Ana England: Kinship, on view through March 4, 2018. England is based in Felicity, Ohio (about 35 miles southeast of Cincinnati). For three decades, she led the ceramics program at Northern Kentucky University, where she is now Professor Emerita. England’s work has been widely published and exhibited both nationally and internationally.

Art After Dark guests will experience live music from psychedelic band Playfully Yours, Venezuelan cuisine from Empanadas Aqui, specialty cocktails inspired by artworks in Kinship (guests 21+) and exclusive after-hours access to the entire museum.

Also on view are dazzling light-based installation AnilaQuayyum Agha: All the Flowers are for Me and powerful film-based installation William Kentridge: More Sweetly Play the Dance.

Art After Dark is free and open to the public. Parking is free. To learn more, visit Art AfterDark is presented by PNC, Dewey’s Pizza and P&G. Additional sponsors include WVXU/WGUC and CityBeat.

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An artful Cincinnati tradition features approximately 70 masterfully-crafted floral interpretations of fine art. Our art columnist has all the details.


Art in Bloom returns to the Cincinnati Art Museum October 26-29. 

A biennial fall celebration of fine art and floral designs, Art in Bloom returns to the Cincinnati Art Museum October 26–29. The 9th Art in Bloom event will feature four days of special events, family friendly activities, docent-led tours and demonstrations by curators and floral arrangers.

Art in Bloom is a biennial celebration of fine art and floral designs.

Art in Bloom will display approximately 70 arrangements from local garden clubs, professional designers, groups and individuals paired alongside works from the museum’s permanent collection, including paintings, ceramics and sculptures.

The floral designers’ sculptures will emphasize, challenge and build upon elements and concepts within a selected work of art, creating a dialogue between the two pieces.

“Art in Bloom masterfully unites timeless pieces from our permanent collection with artistically presented floral arrangements. The museum is transformed during Art in Bloom as the arrangements invite visitors and staff to see the collection with fresh eyes,” says Cincinnati Art Museum Chief Curator and Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles Cynthia Amnéus.

Art in Bloom’s 2017 featured work of art is the whimsical Vaudeville (circa 1982) by Lenore Davis, a fabric artist working in the latter half of the twentieth-century, living and working in Newport, Kentucky. Much of Davis’ work centers on the idea of the body in motion and intermingled human forms. She used fabric because of its inherent versatility of its function in everyday life.

See Art in Bloom October 26-29.

Art in Bloom is presented by Truepoint and generously sponsored by Gorilla Glue and the Oliver Family Foundation. Art in Bloom is free to attend from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and during Art After Dark on October 27 from 5–9 p.m. Docent-led tours are free, but reservations are required. Special events including Evening in Bloom, High Tea and Lecture with Dennis Buttleworth and Debbie Oliver, and Jazz in Bloom require tickets, pricing varies. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 513-721-ARTS.