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Garbage and ugly political discourse come together for 'Trash Talk' art exhibit

Paul Kroner.jpg
Ann Thompson
Paul Kroner's work is painted on disposable cardboard boxes and he likes it that way saying, "They're not archivable nor do I want them to be."

Just by looking at the scowling faces artist Paul Kroner painted of politicians, journalists and world leaders in Trash Talk, you get an idea of what he thinks of the things they’ve said.

The Cincinnati sculptor, painter and designer says he tried to keep the brush broad in his latest exhibit at Studio Kroner, but he has a point of view.

“All these people have big snarling mouths and that was a real big feature. Just like people trying to get in your face and win, just by shouting at you,” he says.

Subjects include everyone from Senate Minority Leader and the senior Republican Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, to Arizona's Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

The project of painting this group of people began while Kroner was recovering from an injury and had to take a break from sculpting, which takes two hands. But he could still paint and put their portraits on the front and back of cardboard boxes.

“You know, they're not meant to last. They’re not archivable, nor do I want them to be.”

Devan Horton.jpg
Ann Thompson
Artist Devan Horton sits in front of some of her work which depicts the problem of our disposable society.

Northern Kentucky artist Devan Horton doesn’t focus on politics, but she does focus on trash in this exhibit. And Kroner thought that would be a good fit.

Horton likes to hike, and when looking for things to paint, kept finding garbage, especially during the pandemic. In one work, she depicts discarded Styrofoam containers, lots of plastic silverware and full trash cans after families finished a take-out meal.

“It started bothering me, like, this is a great moment to have with my family but I started noticing everything that was left behind and that was exaggerated during the pandemic,” she says.

Another piece is a trash bag stretched to the limit with more garbage peeking out after the bag was pierced.

There's no gold at the end of Horton’s work called The End of our Rainbow. Instead, it's trash. “So, this is the end of our rainbow, the end of civilization. I feel like people will look back into this layer of time in history and find a bunch of trash,” she says.

Part of the trash in her paintings are pandemic masks.

Talking Trash, runs through Nov. 13. The hours are Tuesday-Friday from 4-7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 12-5 p.m. Studio Kroner is located at 130 W. Court St., Cincinnati.

This story has been corrected to make it clear Paul Kroner's work is painted not sketched.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology