Courttney Cooper is a Vernacular Artist from Cincinnati, Ohio, known for drawing large-scale cityscapes of his hometown that respond to changes in the city’s architecture and environment. His drawings are punctuated with idealistic imagery and commentary dedicated to the dualistic site of Cincinnati/Zinzinnati Ohio USA (1), that is both real and fantastic, where it is both pragmatic and Oktoberfest everyday.
A self-proclaimed “map artist,” Cooper combines direct observation of city sites and his impressive memory of buildings and streets from his travels with information gleaned from phonebooks and various random maps to recreate a cityscape of both Cincinnati and his beloved Oktoberfest-ed Zinzinnati, USA. Cooper’s practice is a perpetual celebration of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, USA, a commemorative and nostalgic place that exists parallel to or as a transparent layer upon Cincinnati, Ohio. Hot air balloons, beers, pretzels and banner-carrying airplanes fill the horizons above his three-quarter view landscapes. The large maps are drawn exclusively with ball-point pen on multiple sheets of office paper, glued together to accommodate additional drawing space as needed. He works on one cityscape at a time, taking from three months to one year to complete one piece. During that process of creation, Cooper carefully folds the growing piece and carries it with him wherever he travels. Cooper first draws I-75, the major interstate running north-south in Ohio and before adding further highways, streets, buildings and monuments, Cooper scrawls thoughts and phrases across the surface that are ultimately hidden beneath the twisting streets and buildings and revealed within the open white space of the paper.
Cooper will present for the first time a sculptural work that he calls “The Carnival” made from repurposed paper, cardboard and objects found at his jobs and studios, rendering aspects of Zinzinnati USA in three-dimensions. His smaller, more formal works on paper such as, “Union Terminal” and “Cincinnati from Newport” demonstrate a quieter, reflective and direct view of the city. Made on site, these works are created on traditional materials and approached with a more conventional method: working directly from observation.
Courttney Cooper was born in 1977 in Cincinnati, Ohio where he still resides. His earliest drawing tool was an Etch-A-Sketch, a children’s toy whose up-and-down and side-to-side sketchiness has made a lasting impression that can still be viewed in the web-like marks in his current drawings. After graduating from Western Hills High School, Cooper has been working two jobs steadily, one at a major grocery store and at the York Street Cafe, a locally-owned and operated restaurant located across the river in Newport, Kentucky. During this time he has maintained a rigorous art practice at both his home studio, and since 2004, at Visionaries + Voices, a non-profit arts organization that provides support for artists with disabilities, offering them professional studio space and that allows them to grow professionally and personally.
Cooper’s solo show at Intuit: The Center for Intuit and Outsider Art in Chicago in spring of 2016 was reviewed in artforum.com and New City. His 2-person show (with Cole Carothers) at The Cincinnati Art Museum in 2013 was reviewed in CityBeat and AEQAI and he has exhibited extensively in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area including the Contemporary Art Center and The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, Covington, KY. Cooper recently won The Wynn Newhouse Foundation Award and his work is included in a number of private and public collections including The Cincinnati Art Museum and The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. This is Courttney Cooper’s first solo show at Western Exhibitions.
Image: Detail of Untitled, 2015, Ball point pen on found paper, 52 in. X 80 in., CC15_001