tammaro, tinaprison poem illustr.jpg

Illustration by Tina Tammaro for 2 poems by ANGELA DERRICK (poems below)  colored pencil on toned paper

published in: For a Better World      edited and compiled by Saad Ghosen/Greater Cincinnati Artists/SOS Art

The yearly anthology (now in it's 14th year), For a Better World, which features each year side by side local poets and local visual artists, using their art as their expression for peace and justice, is meant as a reflection of our community and of the voice of its artists for issues important to them; it also functions as a milestone for current issues for the particular year as viewed by the local artists.
A book is in the making that will include the best poems published in the 1st 12 editions (2004 to 2015) of "For a Better World" as selected by 12 local expert reviewers. This 'Best of..." book will include poems by 100 local poets (out of 350 who have participated in these 12 years) who each will be paired for an illustration by a local visual artist. there will be therefore 100 illustrations one by each of 100 participating visual artists.
Different from the yearly book, the "Best of..." illustrations will be in color or in black and white according to the choice of the visual artist, and they will all be the creation of well established local artists. The book will also be of a high quality design and printing, color printed and hard bound. it will be a celebration of our talented community of local poets and visual artists and as such will serve as a reference for our greater Cincinnati area. A complimentary copy of the book will be given to each participating artist, as well as to local public, university and art center libraries.
Following the publication of the book, an exhibition will be organized to showcase the 100 original illustrations side by side with their related poem.


Who We Are

We are friends, wives, lovers,

mothers, daughters,

sisters, cousins, aunts;

We are the loved ones,

We might be you.

We come from across the street,

across town,

two towns over, out of state,

across the ocean.

We travel millions of miles.

We wait-

in our cars,

in line, at the gate,

inside the gate,

at the door, at the table.

We wait. Period.

Docily we follow instructions:

line up here

sign this

scan your hand

hold out your arms

spread your legs

shoes off

lift up your feet

shake out your bra

list your jewelry

count your money

count your blessings-

you get to leave.

We pass through

eleven gates,

razor wire,

barb wire fences,

metal bars

security doors

stun guns

only five through the gate

at a time

to the park

that isn’t a park at all.

We are the other half-

the unseen and unheard

prison population living in the land of the free

but incarcerated nonetheless.

                                by Angela Derrick



On the Way to the Prison

It is a long, long road

that leads to the prison.

Fields and houses

and more fields.

Speed limit changes



Overzealous cops

in unmarked cars

gleefully wait

for unsuspecting


happily moving

towards visiting

their loved ones.

Flashing blue lights

break into the stillness

of the morning.

Do you drive that

way back in

Ohio, Ma’am,

he asks me


Flashing my

brightest smile

I respond

Actually, Officer, I do.

                            by Angela Derrick



NKU 2017 exhibition critic review

Explorations in Color

March 19th, 2017  |  Published in  Aeqai.com

This show in the Main Art Gallery of the Fine Arts Center at Northern Kentucky University features four Cincinnati artists, Mike Agricola, Tina Tammaro, Celia Yost, and Amy Greene-Miyakawa. As his title indicates, gallery director David Knight selected works by these artists, all of whom are friends, in which color is a key element. The show ran from February 9 to March 3.

Celia Yost is represented by several watercolor landscapes and a portrait, but the works that command the most attention are her cityscapes, delineated with clarity and harmony. Yost’s approach in these oil paintings is refreshing. She is not interested in depicting the loneliness of the big city or the picturesque decay of old buildings; instead, she is drawn to the beauty of the geometric shapes, contrasting colors, and play of light found on city streets. The works succeed because Yost is a very skillful painter. Her compositions are visually interesting due to the way she balances structures with open spaces and uses light and shadow to increase the linear patterns in the paintings. As the title of one work, “14th and Vine,” indicates, Yost is depicting real places. The traffic light in this painting adds just the right element of urban reality to the unpeopled scene. Another traffic light appears in “Corner Power,” where ornate red buildings contrast with a cloudy gray sky. In “Green on the Left”, the sky is bright blue, which contrasts nicely with the muted colors of the buildings. Dark shadows intersect the planes of the buildings that are interrupted by empty windows, an awning, a fire escape, and chimneys. In all these paintings, Yost shows us the simple beauty of the urban landscape without any heavy overlay of significance.

Amy Greene-Miyakawa is represented in the show by three figurative paintings and three portraits, all oils. Faces dominate her paintings, by either their presence or their absence. In “Impatient” light is focused on the face of a slightly unkempt bearded man. The dark blues and purples of his clothes and the background make the face, part of which is in shadow, stand out. The man’s face conveys the impatience indicated by the title so thoroughly that he is off-putting, off-putting but compelling. In the portraits “Belle” and “Cub,” Miyakawa produces an unsettling effect by making the faces of her subjects not quite appropriate to their bodies. The first portrays a young girl with an unusually mature face. Her lips and eyes are amazingly expressive, suggesting, not a lack of innocence, but experience beyond her years. Her red lips and the bright red in the trim of her are the most prominent colors. The painting is unfinished in the lower left, a characteristic of Miyakawa’s work.

In “Cub”, a man’s face appears on the not yet mature body of a boy. His distinctive smile suggests defiant happiness or illicit pleasure. One eye and one arm are unfinished, as is his body below his torso. By defying conventional expectations, these portraits subtly engage the viewer: the more you look, the more you wonder. One of Miyakawa’s figurative paintings of a nude torso is called “Dissipate,” which is what the painting does at the top and the bottom of the canvas, where the figure dissolves into obscure masses of color. There is no face or lower body. The title also references the hints of prodigal behavior present in this artist’s work.

Mike Agricola has nine small oils in the show. Some of his paintings appear almost primitive. “Self-Portrait with Hands” is a segmented canvas painted in bright primary colors. As though Agricola wants to play a joke on his viewers, the face in the portrait is obscure and the hands dominate the foreground. Three crudely painted figures with hidden faces appear in a setting that suggests the backstage of a theater in “Control Box.” The thick paint and deep colors contribute to the impression that the painting contains a mysterious narrative. Agricola works in a different vein in a series of six figure studies. These are truly studies in color. The harmonious colors in the background are reflected in the nude figures. The bodies, both male and female, are not idealized. Agricola celebrates these very human figures through his wonderfully impressionistic use of light and color.

Tina Tammaro’s paintings dominate this show, and not just because many of them are quite large. Certain colors, particularly red, orange, and green, repeated in her paintings must have a personal significance for Tammaro. There are similarities in the compositions and the figure pairs that appear in her paintings. And, not least, there is an erotic tension in many of her works, best exemplified by “It was 65 degrees and not much left of the world,” which contains a man, a woman, and a very prominent bed. In Tammaro’s most characteristic paintings, a man and a woman appear in a domestic setting, but they are not connected, not even looking at each other, and there is a strong sense of estrangement between them.


Tammaro, Tina   "it was 65 degrees and not much left of the world"   (oil on canvas)   24" x 36"

“It was a monstrous beautiful thing” is a brilliantly original composition in warm and cool colors. As in many Tammaro paintings, the canvas is divided into two parts; on the left, a couple stands between a red couch and a glass-covered coffee table that reflects their image. Their faces are pale, sexless, almost ghostlike. On the right is a female figure painted in vivid reds and oranges. Framing within the painting suggests this is an image in a mirror. Much larger than the figures in the background, she dominates the painting, an implacable expression on her face. The color contrasts and the way the figures stare past each other create a powerful sense of unresolved conflict. With its reflected images, divided canvas, and empty spaces of color, this painting is almost abstract.


Tammaro, Tina   "it was a monstrous beautiful thing"   (oil on canvas)   36" x 48"


Tammaro, Tina   "with the sun dreaming old battles"   (oil on linen)  48" x 72"

The visually powerful “With the sun dreaming old battles” is similar in feeling but quite different in style. Here a man and a woman appear in a realistically rendered kitchen with bright appliances and darkly colored cabinets and countertops. In the background, light shines on a woman dressed in white, but the focus of the painting is on a man in the foreground who faces the viewer, a look of pain or sorrow on his face. The tension between the two figures is all the more powerful for the realism of the setting in which they appear. Tammaro’s studies of domestic discord share similar elements, but each painting is a carefully and uniquely rendered drama. In only one work, “the horses were more real than my father more real than god,” which is actually two canvases, does she show a man and woman embracing. The small canvas is a delicate, near perfect work of art.

Take note the next time the artists in this show display their work. Each is worth following.

–Daniel A. Burr


Tammaro, Tina  "the horses were more real than my father more real than god'   (oil on 2 canvases)  12" x 29"

Essay in AEQAI on de Kooning by Tina Tammaro


de Kooning

May 15th, 2011  |  Published in Digest



Willem de Kooning "Woman I"  Museum of Modern Art



An Appreciation.

Is he a misogynist or is he not? That is the question most art critics and historians quickly come to when discussing Willem de Kooning and his 1950’s Women Series.

Let’s consider: It’s the middle of the 20th Century and painting is so alive and kicking! Who is the artist that dominates that world? Picasso. What defines the century so far? Cubism? Dada? Surrealism? Oh, and don’t forget Expressionism! All question reality – the artist’s world of illusion. All searching desperately for new ways of seeing and living in a world rapidly changing. Abstraction is the new, bold language but the king of the land never totally succumbs. Picasso adores women. He paints them. He makes love to them. They sit, stand, leap and weep before him. Some are blond, some brunette. Where are the redheads? Now there is a question if we are going to ask such questions. In NYC, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon dominates the MOMA. These ladies are beautiful, vulgar, posing, squatting, standing, preening. The painting is a crossroads, filled with too much and not totally resolved. Yet, even today, still it stops me cold every time I see it. Still seems new!



Pablo Picasso "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" Museum of Modern Art


Willem de Kooning  "Study of a Woman"  1950

The forms are bold…full of dynamic life. If too delicate a mouth or eye is painted it is lost. He attaches a photo of a mouth from a pinup calendar of the beauty of the day, Marilyn Monroe. The unexpectedness of it is broad and striking. The addition holds it own but it is out of context and appears funny, too. It grimaces, shocks us. He adds slashes of intense red pigment as painters often do to reclaim and draw attention to a dead or overworked area. This can read as an act of violence but also an artistic move. These are images full of multiple readings. They are intentionally ambiguous and layered. Their meaning is about qualities not absolutes. By 1970 the women have completely merged with the landscape. The paintings are all he loves – all sensation and form and flesh and breath and scent. They quiver and swim and bob on the sea and in the breezes of the beach.

So is de Kooning a misogynist? Would this question be asked if the women were elegant and beautiful? Could that violence some experience before his Women of the 50’s be a visualization of his battle with the ages of figuration and the search for the vision of his time in history? He does not manipulate her and simplify her into an ideal archetype. How many male artists have ever attempted to see the female so completely? He is experiencing all of her. She is Breton’s “convulsive beauty!” De Kooning has created Andre Breton’s new cry of the ideal woman described in his Surrealist novel, Nadja: “Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or will not be at all.”

Today it is 2011 and I am living in another age of change. Woman I and Les Demoisselles d’Avignon continue to dominate MOMA, daring me to join in this battle. I am grateful to have de Kooning in the ring with me and through him Picasso and through him Cezanne and forever back through the ages.

-Tina Tammaro



Willem de Kooning "Woman and Bicycle" Whitney Museum of American Art


Narrative Figuration (Review)

The magic of Realism is on display at the Weston Art Gallery

Selena Reder

Apr 4, 2011

In the Weston Art Gallery’s new group exhibition Narrative Figuration, on display now through June 5, curator Daniel Brown assembles five talented local artists whose chosen mode is representational, figurative work. All five artists have studied at the University of Cincinnati (DAAP). Their work focuses on genre scenes, with a renewed interest in beauty.

While much of the work is concerned with the immediate reality of the figure in its environment, they are not a simple case of verisimilitude — representational-realism painting mimicking what the eye can see for itself without the need for the art. Rather, these artists find abstraction by editing with the eye. The result is edgy.

“These works equate with psychological space,” explains Brown, also an arts critic for Aeqai online magazine. “It’s that sense of looking inward. The interior mirrors the self.”

Interior space is deeply psychological in Kentucky-based artist Robert Anderson’s work. Figures in stark interiors emphasize the relationship between the people and space.

“The isolation of the figure gives a way for the viewer to enter into the subject's psychological space as well as think about the figure's external relationship to its surroundings,” Anderson writes in an email. “For me, this simultaneity is at the heart of the conceptual drive for the paintings in the show.”

Anderson is a full-time artist who previously taught as an adjunct at Miami University and the University of Cincinnati (DAAP).

Anderson’s bodies twist, recline and blur with motion against austere landscapes. He works with a meticulous verism — favoring everyday subject matter — and reveals a high level of draftsmanship in his under-drawings.

Tim Parsley, assistant director of Manifest Creative Research Gallery, also works with verism in paintings and drawings celebrating domesticity. Ironing clothes and picking up his son’s toys become ritualistic. Even in his sculptures (not on display), he glorifies chores, the broom being a favorite subject. In his two-dimensional works, crisp light and tight interiors aim for the intimacies of a Jan Vermeer painting.

The horizontal composition of “End” reveals the torso of a man washing dishes. As with Vermeer, the figure is highly illuminated by natural light. You can draw many conclusions from the title. Is it is the end of dinner or the end of a marriage?

The figure is in a state of undress in Emil Robinson’s pastel drawing of his wife, “Transformation.” Varied lines give motion to the folds of an unzipped dress and stillness to the face and extended arms. Her shoulder is fully fleshed out while the pastel becomes a thin veil over the paper as her arm recedes, adding depth of field. Like a Degas, gestural strokes define the edges of her skirt.

“I love Degas, I can’t help it,” Robinson says, laughing, during an interview at the gallery. Robinson currently teaches at Manifest Drawing Center. “But what I was interested in is the combination of both the physical power of the body and vulnerability. When you are undressing, you are in this moment of vulnerability. Your arms are bound up, your clothing is simultaneously concealing and revealing.”

Another pastel portrait of his wife, “The Letter,” is absolutely fiery. A woman holds a letter up to her white bra. There are hints of Odilon Redon in her curved posturing and beautifully simplified face, almost just a smudge of warmth. Robinson says he’s a pastel amateur, but he varies line and manipulates texture brilliantly. He uses a combination of hard, cheap chalk pastels and some rich buttery ones. He drags an aquamarine pastel over the neutral background, giving it the texture of chipping fresco. There’s magic in the cast shadow.

“As someone who works with light and shadow as one of my muses, I’m interested in the mystical capabilities of those things,” Robinson says. He treats light and shadow as physical objects. Warm edges radiate from a purple core, transforming a cast shadow into a synthesis of color, light and darkness.

In two oil paintings by Daniel O’Connor, “Wasteand “Towel Rack,” the figure is implied in its absence. There is evidence of human interaction in a toilet-paper roll balancing on a towel rack and dental floss draped over a wastebasket. A sliver of white tissue on a bare roll is a singular, organic shape, cutting through the smooth lines of the cylindrical tube. O’Connor constructed the tile floor in “Waste” by laying tile on a Masonite board.

“The unfinished tile was more of a decision to show a contrast between something that was completely happenstance and coincidental (the wastebasket) and something that was fabricated and constructed for the world of the painting,” says O’Connor, who holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and has exhibited and currently teaches at Northern Kentucky University.

Cincinnati-based artist Tina Tammaro teaches private classes at her studio and paints with wild inhibition. A complete departure from quiet domesticity, her interiors are abstract strokes of color in which the human figures explode. They navigate the dangerous minefields of human relationships, full of volatility, indifference and innuendo. This drama makes even her small paintings feel larger than life.

Tammaro says she identifies with the artists, like Max Beckmann or Van Gogh, who struggle to express their experience in the world. For instance, in “I wait without wonder,” a woman sits forlorn. Tammaro says she is more concerned with thoughts than outward appearances. Thus we see with a few expressionist strokes and a sickly brown palette how she reveals the pain in the woman’s face.

Her body is hemorrhaging rage and sorrow, indicated by red shadows. She is as powerful and unhinged as the heroine in John Cassavetes’ film Opening Night; a wilting beauty unraveling on stage. Behind her, a balding man stares at her, meekly tucking his hands in his pockets. They wait.

NARRATIVE FIGURATION is at downtown’s Weston Art Gallery (in the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St.) through June 5. There is a gallery talk Thursday at 7 p.m. Visit