Beth Campbell’s many futures

Not knowing what to do with myself over the long Labor Day weekend, I made a trip to Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center for the first time on Monday.

An exhibit called “Open House: Cincinnati Collects” (running through October 14) takes up about two floors of the downtown museum at the moment. The CAC, which doesn’t have a permanent collection, brought in pieces by more than 200 artists from more than 50 collectors.

A lot of contemporary art is hit-or-miss with me—I have an easier time understanding and appreciating traditional arts and crafts. But one piece—simply graphite on paper—had my undivided attention for close to a half hour.

My Future Based on Present Circumstances 4/01/04 by Beth Campbell is part of a series where she—as the title suggests—maps out the ways her life could go from one little decision she must make. I stood there tracing each branch up to read every possible outcome. (Yes, I was a fan of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a kid.)

In the 4/01/04 drawing, entrusted with the keys to a friend’s apartment, Campbell might only pick up the mail and go, or she might start hanging out there regularly. Or she might get too comfortable and throw a party. And that might make the neighbors mad, or it might make her friend unknowingly the life of the building.

Campbell’s quasi-calligraphy is beautiful to look at, and I can’t help but feel the exercise could be adapted as a brainstorming too for people with a creative block. I think I’m going to try it later and see what my many futures might hold.

Image courtesy of the Contemporary Arts Center

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