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Under-Sky, Inc. March 23, 2013

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Busy day yesterday in the basement at Thunder-Sky, Inc.   Anybody can come on Saturdays 1 to 4 pm to make stuff.  We have materials.  Stop by sometime…


Raymond in Focus: Real Life and What He Did with It

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We’ll be out sometimes and spot a “Raymond-scape,” a place that seems haunted by his vision.  Above are a few photos we’ve taken, along with drawings Raymond did.  Raymond mimicked reality in his drawings, but also reduced it to its essence…  He had X-Ray eyes.  X-Raymond Eyes…


Random Acts of “Magic”

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From Bill Ross, who curated our latest show, “New Magic & Costume Shoppe:  Paintings by Yohana Junker, Masks by David Earl Johnson, and Clown Costumes by Raymond Thunder-Sky”


Alfred Eaker forwarded some images to us about a year ago, from a couple of artists to consider for a possible show.   Of the work shared, Yohona Junker’s interested me most.  Alfred had been working with us off and on over the last few years filming “Thunder-Sky,” a documentary about Raymond Thunder-Sky, which is now complete.  A version of it was featured this past fall in the “Cincinnati Film Festival.”  From this experience, Alfred Eaker was interested in working with us on a show focused on spirituality in art with an unconventional spin.  This appealed to me.  Yohana’s work became the starting point.   Her paintings took on the notion of spirituality head on using her academic work in theology as a diving board.  Detached from their theological origins, Yohona’s paintings feature glowing shapes swimming through darkness.  These shapes spoke to me as glowing spirits, as if she were painting nude studies from some dark and mystical other world.  From here I knew we would tie in Raymond Thunder-Sky’s store bought clown suits.  Many of which he customized.  We had talked many times about the spiritual qualities of these clown suits.  They were his holy robes so to speak.  When wearing a clown suit, Raymond could be both a spectacle as well as find a place to hide like a priest, magician or of course a clown.  By wearing clown suites, Raymond was able to do the serious work of imagining a world constantly being destroyed and rebuilt.  While the rest of the world would wonder, why is this guy dressed like a clown?  A few days after discussing this concept show with Alfred, David Earl Johnson walked into Thunder-Sky, Inc.  He asked about possibly having a show of his masks at some point.  During my studio visit with him, I realized his work provided the 3rd element needed to complete the show.  Plus when he shared his story and the origins of the masks, I realized these masks were not only “SPIRIT” masks, they also served as a kind of football helmet for the soul.  David had been through hell.  These masks offered protection!  At this point, I couldn’t wait to introduce David and his work to Yohana and her work and move forward with the whole notion of this serendipitous, unnerving and joyful  spirit carnival called “New Magic & Costume Shoppe “ a title assembled from one of Raymond’s older drawings.  Keith and I frequently find ourselves struggling with how circumstance, diagnosis and/or tragedy tends to shape how viewers and critics see the work done by many artists we choose to show, especially those whom are self-taught.  Frequently we find these stories to limit what the art can be and do.   Simply being “HUMAN” can provide damage enough to produce great art.  With this show, I wanted to address this with this notion of spirituality.  I am getting to an age where spirituality is something I am more interested in exploring, both in my own work and the shows we do.  To be clear, I am not talking about the kind of spirituality of organized religion with prescribed ways of being.  There seems to be too many unwanted side effects with such prescriptions.  Plus for me religion seems to have all fun and mystery stomped out of it.  I am interested in the intuitive spirit that makes us human.  For me art offers the best and safest way to explore this.  “New Magic & Costume Shoppe” serves as an example of this intuitive spirit.  So “New Magic” features the work of Yohana Junker, a young woman from Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Her serious abstractions unhinge biblical text to reveal a spirit world purely her own.   In doing so she allows the viewer to do the same.  Her work provides a gravitational pull to the rest of show.  Unlike what has been suggested, Junker states “ Sao Paulo is anything but carnival like.  It is a city of more than 20 million people struggling to find its human-ness amidst suffering and poverty.”  “New Magic” also includes the work of David Earl Johnson, an old school cool dude of the righteous variety living in Northside.  His life has been shaped by too much tragedy, but somehow he is finding peace, humor and protection through his work making spirit masks.   And of course, the store bought clown suites of a beautiful mystery named Raymond Thunder-Sky.   This show offers, in its own random way an odd and compelling glimpse into the spiritual journey of 3 diversely different artists seeking to find and secure for themselves a bit of “human-ness” by making art. The combination of these 3 artists’ works creates a strange sort of magic that can only happen in a place like Thunder-Sky, Inc. 


Beyond a Building

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A bunch of great people met on Friday to help us figure out the future for Thunder-Sky, Inc.  Thanks to Mary, Emily, Kathy, Pam, Drew, Mike, Christina, Kyle, Antonio, and Tim for being a part of this initial future plan.  We basically concentrated on two questions:  WHAT MAKES YOU WANT TO BE A PART OF RAYMOND’S LEGACY?  and  WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THUNDER-SKY, INC.’S FUTURE?   We got some amazing answers, as you can see below.  We’ll be doing more gatherings like this throughout 2013, and at every opening reception at the gallery…  The main idea is trying organize and sustain the project while keeping the way Raymond lived his life in mind…

Stay tuned…

“Apocalypse Now” at Semantics Gallery

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Thunder-Sky, Inc.’s “Apocalypse” at Semantics


“Apocalypse Now:  New Works by Antonio Adams, Emily Brandehoff & Marc Lambert” opens November 3, 2012 with a reception 7 pm to 11 pm at Semantics Gallery, 1107 Harrison Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45214.  Curated by Thunder-Sky, Inc.’s Bill Ross, “Apocalypse Now” surveys both Utopian and Dystopian views of a future about to happen right now.  Works by Adams and Brandehoff, mostly paintings, depict a zombie-fueled nightmare, while Lambert’s sleek, retro paintings narrate a clean, sleek sci-fi universe in which the only inhabitants seem to be astronauts on their way to work.


Thunder-Sky, Inc.

4573 Hamilton Avenue

Cincinnati, Ohio 45223

(513) 823-8914


“Camera-Shy: Photographs and an Installation” Feature Raymond Thunder-Sky Works Alongside other Photographers

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As a part of FotoFocus, the Cincinnati-wide showcase of photography, Thunder-Sky, Inc. presents “Camera-Shy:  Photographs and an Installation,” featuring photographic works by Raymond Thunder-Sky, Cincinnati-based artists Mary Annette Pember and Eric Deller, as well as England-based Matthue Trikx. “Camera-Shy” opens October 26, 2012, reception 6 to 10 pm.  Show closes December 8, 2012.  From the 70s on into the 2000s, unconventional artist Thunder-Sky took a lot of Polaroid pictures of demolition/construction sites both here in Cincinnati and in Chicago. Think of them as studies for the drawings. Thunder-Sky, Inc. will be showing a number of these Polaroids, like this one on the right.  A New York Times and Washington Post photo-journalist whose work often focuses on Native American issues (below on the left), Pember will be building a “wigwam” inside Thunder-Sky, Inc. that will house two screens displaying photos of her mother.  Another screen will display other Pember photos capturing the lives and struggles of contemporary Native Americans.  Deller will be presenting photographs of people in costumes, and Trikx’s photographic works flaunt Photoshop and other techniques that rearrange and transform common images into extraordinary ones.  All of these artists share aspects of Thunder-Sky, Inc.’s namesake’s identity and imagination:  costumes, a sense of dry humor, the public mundane transformed into personal totems, and an interest in ancestral history all make up a part of Thunder-Sky’s aesthetic and philosophical universe and legacy.

Epic Transformation

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We consider Antonio Adams the primary Artist-in-Residence at Thunder-Sky, Inc.  He is also a co-founder of Visionaries and Voices, a studio for artists with disabilities here in Cincinnati.   In 2009, he came up with a design and helped paint a Raymond Thunder-Sky mural on the side of the building where Visionaries and Voices is housed.

Antonio has been a fixture of the Cincinnati artworld since he was about to graduate high school.  He was a part of Artworks back in the day, and he was a part of Base Gallery, a local coop gallery Bill and I wer a part of, back in the early 2000s.  (“Art Thing,” one of the first outsider art group-shows in town, featured Antonio and Raymond, and was curated by us at Base Gallery.)   Antonio’s work since that show has been in exhibits across the world, including New York City’s Outsider Art Fair, and shows in Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, and Indianapolis, just to name a few.  He’s collected by quite a few outsider art enthusiasts.

In 2011 Antonio had four drawings and a cat sculpture of Terri Schiavo accepted into the permanent collection of “The Museum of Everything” in London, England.  These pieces are a part of the 4th exhibition curated by James Brett.  The four drawings were done on large size prints of some of Raymond’s unfinished drawings.

In 2012 he has been working on his upcoming show “Unrealized & Unforeseen,” which opens two days after his birthday, August 24, 2012, reception 6 to 10 pm at Thunder-Sky, Inc.  “U&U” is a show in which bad celebrities are unrealized back into regular people and chosen friends of his are elevated to celebrity status.   There have been many other shows in between and more to come including a show next April at T-Sky called “She Blinded Me With Science.”

During the last 12 years we have seen Antonio grow up and mature into an amazing visionary artist with a penchant for pop culture drama.  He has also grown up to be a mature, vital and incredibly intelligent man.  When he comes to Thunder-Sky, Inc. on Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) to work, he is always full of wisecracks but also small but penetrating bits of wisdom.

Antonio uses tabloid stories as a framework to tell his own story; he transforms universal gossip into personal gossamer.  He is going to read a speech/sermon at his opening in August in which he shares that he used to be a lonely boy who contemplated suicide after leaving high school. The vision he is sharing with this show has been in all of his work since we first met him.  His work is about epic transformation. Each show he does, he seems to come more into his own as an artist who knows exactly what he wants to accomplish.

What amazes us about Antonio is that he has every little detail planned out from where the art will hang to what kind of plates he wants food to be served on for the opening.  Many artists we work with often time do not communicate or deliver till the last minute.  With Antonio’s show we know exactly what to expect because he has done the work.

What we also like about this project is that Antonio was a friend of Raymond’s.  He admired Raymond for doing what he did.  He saw the power in Raymond doing exactly what he wanted when he wanted.  He channels Raymond’s spirit in his daily life.

(Bil and Keith, Thunder-Sky, Inc.)



4573 Hamilton Avenue Cincinnati, Ohio 45223
Hours: Saturday/Sunday 1 to 4 pm, or by appointment.

(513) 426-0477 |

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