JR at the Contemporary Arts Center

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Steven Rosen

JR has been covering the world with his art -- and Cincinnati is next.

The 30-year-old French street artist has pasted his monumental photographic-portrait posters in some unusual places (and not always with official permission): on the sides of buses in the African nation of Sierra Leone, on the rooftop of a Palestinian building in the West Bank city of Nablus, along the old and weathered city walls of Havana, in a slum town outside Phnom Penh in Cambodia and more.

The idea of this idealist’s/activist’s work is to empower and humanize his subjects -- often disenfranchised and alienated -- by pasting their pictures to the infrastructure of their often-impoverished environment.

He has quickly become famous for it.

And last week he was doing his work in one of his most unusual sites yet -- on the gallery walls of Downtown’s Contemporary Arts Center. Not that Cincinnati is more exotic than any of those other places, but he has never had a solo show in a U.S. museum before.

So this museum show is a new experience for JR. It is primarily an overview -- he generally focuses on specific projects — although he’ll wrap the building’s exterior with new work. There will also be a Cincinnati community project involving a traveling photography van.

Opening reception: 7 p.m. members-only; 8 p.m. public reception. $10 non-members; free for members. Exhibition on display through Feb, 2014. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org.

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