“Urban Safari” addresses themes from the summer of 2020

Eighteen months after protest marches took place on Main Street, a one-person art show will take on some of the themes from the summer of unrest.

Retailer Goods on Main is presenting “Urban Safari,” a new show featuring works by photographer and mixed-media artist Sharee Allen. The show opens with a reception at the store on Friday, Dec. 17.

The show will span the art media landscape, and is organized into four sections, the “I” section, the “We” section, the “Its” section, and the “It” section.

“A segment of the artwork debuting on Friday is extremely personal to me, documenting a therapeutic process that began years before COVID hit,” Allen says. “We’ll call this the ‘I’ section.”

The “We” section “depicts our cultural shift over the last year and a half — the pandemic, political unrest, police brutality,” Allen says. “It’s about connecting via shared values.” Profits from this section will be donated to Community Matters’ Justice League program, Allen says.

The third section calls out “our growing technological obsession, planned obsolescence, and the effects on the Earth,” the artist says.

The fourth “brings us back to the here and now, grounds us in our bodies and objective awareness,” she says. “Without this last part, the pieces don’t fit,” Allen says. “I invite viewers to place themselves in the exhibition wherever they see fit, and to participate in the interactive pieces.”

The exhibit will include found-object sculpture that Allen says will document nature’s resistance to being cleared, claimed, and concretized: items such as construction tools adorned with animal prints, and plant life growing out of street signs and traffic cones.

Allen has also created works of graffiti on canvas, depicting skeletons in masks, grenades, and the American flag. The graffiti series is a reference to the deaths at police hands of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others that were protested on the Over-the-Rhine street and in many other cities in 2020.

Allen will also present film photography that bring to mind last summer’s protests.

The photo work includes ethereal multiple exposures and abstract, alternative process photos, as well as more narrative photojournalistic works. Organizers say the exhibition is filled with a “sense of longing for something else, and a dissatisfaction with the status quo.”

The exhibit will also include Allen’s collage work that utilizes humor, juxtaposing images of animals and everyday objects, reminding us “that it may not, in fact, be too late to change.”

“Urban Safari” will be exhibited at Goods on Main, 1317 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, from Dec. 17 to Jan. 1. The opening reception is 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 17. Live music is scheduled at 9 p.m. The show is free.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.