Saturday, April 9, 2011


Ten years ago this month downtown Cincinnati was in an uproar.  Police shot and killed an unarmed man named Timothy Thomas in Over the Rhine; frustrations and furies had been brewing for years, and suddenly the streets became the place where they were unleashed.  One of the first shows featuring "outsider artists" here in Cincinnati had just opened at Base Gallery a couple weeks before.  It was titled, "Art Thing," and featured Raymond Thunder-Sky, Paul Rowland and Antonio Adams (pictured standing in front of Base), as well as Richard Brown (not pictured).  Base was located in the middle of the riots, on Main Street in Over the Rhine.  During the overnight violence, cars in front of the gallery were destroyed.  Windows and doors beside the gallery were smashed.  But Base's large, plate-glass windows were left untouched; the art was not bothered.  It was like a version of passover.  I always remember that because it was a small glimmer of grace in an otherwise horrible and horrifying situation.  Another bit of grace came a little later, when 19-year-old Antonio, whose apartment was one block away from where Timothy Thomas was shot, did a series of drawings about the riots.  In one, he imagined Timothy Thomas' mother and the officer who shot Timothy falling in love while walking on side-by-side treadmills at a gym. 

Below is video from the opening night of "Art Thing."