Cincinnati has seen a plethora of amazing visual artists over the years. Widely known local artists like Charley Harper, Frank Duveneck, Jim Borgman, Henry Mosler, Tom Wesselmann, and Maria Longworth Nichols Storer are but a few classic examples of people who have done amazing things while working in Cincinnati, but what about the people who live and work here today?
Final Friday is one of my favorite days of the month because, for one night, I can go to the Pendleton Art Center and enter the studios of local talent actively producing brilliant works of art. About a year and a half ago, I went to Final Friday and discovered the work of an artist named Ned Stern. His work is so inspiring that I still think about his paintings on a daily basis. I’ve only spoken to him a handful of times, but he has left such a lasting impression on me that I feel compelled to direct more people to what he’s been doing for so many years. Without a doubt, he’s my favorite artist in the city.
Ned is a painter. He has a large, southern facing studio on the 5th floor of the Pendleton Art Center that’s filled to the brim with a collection of beautiful acrylic paintings scattered meticulously over seemingly every available inch of the room. Local architecture, people, self-portraits, cars, and even a painting of a corner of the studio itself are spotlighted to enhance their importance. A painting of the Great American Tower can been seen near to a painting of the Higgs boson particle which sits across from a painting of a beautiful bay window featuring soft reflections of the world it faces out of frame. The way he’s rendered every building along with the dreamy color palette for each piece is incredible. I once spent nearly twenty minutes taking in the scene of a painting of Hughes High School hanging on the western wall because it was so brilliantly painted.
Ned told me he’s been painting with acrylics since the sixties while he was traveling frequently in his truck and didn’t have time to allow for the drying time of traditional oil paints. This was particularly inspiring to me personally since it’s also what I use for my own paintings, so to see the result of what an artist can do with acrylics was extremely reassuring. When asked for tips about painting in general, he mentioned the importance of learning to draw first as being key to creating a good composition, and he also suggested the use of a neutral gray color to outline specific shapes and general outlines of the objects in the picture.
If you ever have the chance to visit Ned in his studio, I highly recommend taking a look at his work and having a chat with him. He’s such a friendly individual with an immense amount of talent and a staggeringly large collection of beautiful work to enjoy.