|- Remnants of the former Club Ritz within the Seymour Plaza. February 2014 Photograph by Ronny Salerno.|
Back in February of 2014, I published an article here on QC/D about the former Seymour Plaza shopping center. While doing some work with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, I had been able to tour the site. We were documenting what everything looked like prior to the Port Authority moving forward on development plans. Of all the tenants who had been in the strip mall over the years, the most well known was probably "The World Famous Club Ritz" - whose former VIP booths and dance floor can be seen in the photograph above.
Later known as "Club Aqua" and "Oasis," the Ritz found itself in national headlines in the spring of 2006. Hip Hop artist T.I. was gaining recognition for his Billboard hit "What you Know" as his tour brought him through Cincinnati. Following a show, T.I. was welcomed to The Ritz for an afterparty. After an alleged incident in the club, T.I. and his entourage were pursued by another group of patrons and a shootout between their vehicles spilled over onto Interstate 75, leaving a member of T.I.'s group dead. In 2009, another shooting resulted in the death of a 21 year old club visitor. In 2011, the place shut down for good. The Port Authority was able to facilitate the demolition of the property and the goal is to bring in new development such as light manufacturing jobs.
My photographs of the site caught the eye of Nicole Trimble, a professional artist and educator residing in Cincinnati. Nicole and I had graduated high school together in 2007 and she went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Art from Miami University and a Master of Fine Art from the University of Cincinnati's DAAP program. Nicole had asked if she could use some of the photographs as references for a new piece which became "Seymour," an oil on canvas painting 39 inches high by 57 inches wide:
|- Seymour, Oil on Canvas, 2016 by Nicole Trimble.|
The painting references two specific photographs from the original article. One is of the overall plaza and its parking lot of debris:
|- Seymour Plaza. February 2014 Photograph by Ronny Salerno.|
The other is from within the building:
|- Seymour Plaza interior. February 2014 Photograph by Ronny Salerno.|
On choosing these photographs from this specific QC/D article, Nicole stated:
"I'm most interested in color and surface when looking for source material, so in this case those become much more significant than the location itself. It was this photo in particular that really caught my attention - the way that white wall in the back is framed by all the surrounding debris, and the saturated blues and oranges."
The two images are referenced as part of a larger composition, one that pays homage to art history and historical context:
"I guess I'm drawn to people's ephemera and abandoned places because it's like a figureless portrait. I like framing them in a way that gives them the art historical context of a classic portrait, so I draw a lot of inspiration from classical art as well as the supports and displays involved (frames, pedestals, etc.).
Almost everything has some reference to art history, and I try to work with a pretty limited toolbox as far as materials go. I like being able to see what I can do with the same things people 200 years ago were painting with, if not further back than that."
|- Details of Seymour, oil on canvas, 2016 by Nicole Trimble.|
I love what Nicole has put together here from the colors to the detail, particularly the contrast of a classical style frame containing the image of a 1960's shopping center. It's incredibly interesting to see familiar images transformed and used in a different medium. One of the things Nicole was drawn to, the blue and orange hues of the photographs, probably wouldn't have been seen had I been called to this particular job at any other time of day. The light was particularly nice due to the sun going down nearby. Had they been shot at high noon, perhaps she wouldn't have found them as compelling? Nevertheless, her work has presented a new perspective on viewing structure abandonment, a favorite topic on this site. In a way, it's another piece of the story surrounding the former Seymour Plaza: a shopping center memorialized in hip hop rivalry, photography and now... fine art.
You can view more of Nicole's excellent work here and catch up with her blog here.