This exciting exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati pairs all new work from painter Rosson Crow with customized American motorcycles, offering an immersive and layered experience for audiences.
Known for creating super-sized paintings of daring places, Crow takes on stereotypically male-dominated spaces like strip clubs, hunting lodges, oil rigs and butcher shops and makes them her own. For Rosson Crow: Myth of the American Motorcycle, she delved into the world of motorcycles. A meticulous researcher, Crow entrenched herself in biker culture for a year prior to the show–hanging out in the bars, leather stores and repair shops bikers frequent. The dense and dynamic canvasses that Crow created from this period show the many sources from which she pulled, including her own imagination: partially dissolved neon signs hang in a vintage motorcycle shop, a biker funeral takes place in the legendary—but now defunct—punk club CBGB, and a collection of road signs from a mythical cross-country ride to Sturgis are piled in one single location.
Just as Crow’s paintings tell a story, so do the customized motorcycles displayed with her work. One of the original hacker cultures, the world of customized bikes is drenched in a romantic sense of individuality. The motorcycles in the show—all Indians and Harley Davidsons—are loaded with character, each one thoughtfully revamped to reflect the personalities of their respective owners. Individually they tell autobiographical tales of the relationship between rider and machine, but together they reveal the gender-bending mashup that is so evident in Crow’s work. Equal parts muscle and glamour, these bikes are built for performance. Precious in the eyes of their owners, they are workhorses with killer paint jobs. Fussed over and preened, each has taken on a swagger of its own. This tailoring reveals the bikers’ passion and, though never seen in her paintings, these devotees lend character to the environments Crow creates and are as much a part of her scenes as the machines she depicts.
Contemporary Arts Center / 44 E. 6th Street / Cincinnati / OH 45202