Almost 20 years ago, when we were all getting to know each other, Raymond Thunder-Sky, Bill Ross, Antonio Adams, and I (along with a few other folks) took a fieldtrip to Anaheim, California, for a disability conference where we set up a table featuring artworks by Raymond and Antonio. The conference was right across the street from Disneyland, and Raymond spent most of his time there, while the rest of us sat at our art booth, doing what you do at conferences. Raymond didn’t like the whole scene obviously, and we would get reports from his support person who came with us that he was having a high old time riding rides, eating Disneyland treats, just basically being himself.
This trip really is mythic to me because it was the first time all of us hung out together, and also the first time we all felt connected to something outside of Ohio, outside of our usual haunts and selves. Even though we didn’t know it at the time, this trip was about a solidarity we were forming, a mutual momentum we were creating that would eventually yield a lot of great stuff in the future, including Visionaries + Voices and Thunder-Sky, Inc.
Almost 20 years later, after a lot of other adventures and exhibits and antics and joys, it’s time for us, as the Mouseketeers used to intone, to say goodbye. 2020 is going to be Thunder-Sky, Inc.’s last season as an art gallery. We’ve accomplished our mission for the most part. We’ve hosted over 100 exhibits in our space and curated exhibits at 50 other places (including in Denmark) in the last 10 years. We’ve archived all of the drawings (over 2200 of them) Raymond left behind on a website everyone can access (www.raymondthundersky.org), co-produced a feature-length documentary about Raymond’s life, and in 2016 coordinated the unveiling of a permanent sculpture memorializing Raymond in Covington, KY, created by Tom Tsuchiya.
Our work is done in many ways, and we’re ready to pursue other endeavors, always keeping Raymond in our minds and hearts of course, and also maintaining his archive and his memory online and in any other way that pops up.
This last exhibition season, like the other 10, features a wide, wild variety of artists and ideas, all coordinated in service to sustaining Raymond’s memory and his unique aesthetic and presence. We want to thank every artist, curator, and everybody else who has ever helped us maintain the integrity and sweetness of this space. Season 11 is in tribute to all of you.
Back in 2001, we also tried to track down Raymond’s birthplace in Hollywood while we were in the vicinity. We rented a van and went on a search, watching Raymond’s face to see if any of the hilly neighborhoods rang a bell. Unfortunately, it didn’t yield any results. The effort was worth it though, just to pursue a common quest, trying really hard to track down the past, but mainly just enjoying each other’s company, the atmosphere. We hope that’s what everyone will think about Thunder-Sky, Inc.’s legacy. It was an effort that was worth the energy and time just because we were all in it together.
Keith Banner, Thunder-Sky, Inc.
LEAP YEAR CAKE FARM: Sharon Butler, Bill Ross, Jeremy Johnson, Jan Nickum, Katherine Michael, Jim Damico, John Ross, Jessica Wolf, Sara Caswell-Pearce, Kenton Brett, Emily Brandehoff, and Laurel Tope. Mass media works by a cavalcade of artists celebrating leap-year birthdays, with “cake” at the center. Opening reception January 11, 2020 6 – 10 pm. Show closes February 29, 2020.
EMINENT DOMAIN: Reed Ghazala, Jason V Mann, Patrizio Martinelli. Collages, assemblages, and photographs all focused on the meaning of private property and public imagination. Opening reception March 14, 2020 6 – 10 pm. Show closes April 30, 2020.
SIGN/SYMBOL: LOOKING AT THE WORLD VIA HIGHWAY 127: Robert McFate, along with Sayla Johnson, Lauren Allen, Clifford Land, Brian Pollard, Angie McFate, and David Earl Johnson, alongside “Trust me” a show by Anna D’oh in our basement space, Under-Sky. Artist and litter activist Robert McFate walks the streets of Cincinnati with a magnet on a string collecting fragments of metal and using the bits to create art; this exhibit is dream that he’s been having for over 10 years and pulls together a wild and wonderful assortment of artists to make it come true. Opening reception May 9, 2020. Show closes July 4, 2020.
BACKBRAIN: David Roper and Bill Ross. Paintings and scribbles by two artists whose practices and products intermingle on the mental back-porch. Opening reception July 11, 2020 6 – 10 pm. Show closes August 31, 2020.
LEFT BRAIN, RIGHT BRAIN: Original paintings, drawings, photographs, and multiples, created by imaginative regional artists, curated by Tom Strohmaier. All proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association in search of a cure. Opening reception September 12, 2020 6 – 10 pm. Show closes October 17, 2020.
VIOLET % GENEROUS: Antonio Adams, Tony Dotson, and Pam Kravetz. Adams completes a cycle of works and shows from his experience as the Artist-in-Residence of Thunder-Sky, Inc. for 11 years. This one is a culmination of a lot of thought, work, and hope. With help from some very talented friends. Opening reception October 30, 2020 6 – 10 pm. Show (and gallery) closes December 12, 2020.