Vicky Lee, Cynthia Kukla, Beth Loudenberg, and Jonpaul Smith

“Abstract art” is an extensive term that sprawls throughout the archives of art history. It has a deeply rooted history across the world, and as centuries pass, we are still drawn to the unseen and the imagined. It spans all art forms and can be interpreted endlessly by each person that views the work.

There is no unchangeable formula to abstraction. Expressionism and even geometric abstraction provide radical freedom from principle, and in doing abstract work, artists are in a sort of conversation with the surface. Rituals and processes are created and sustained by the artist, not solely by the rules of the past. Color and shape are essential—they guide our eye, are loaded with meaning, and unlock the emotions of each image. Bold hues catch our attention while subtle tones provide a sense of peace, drawing each person deeper into the artist’s narrative.

This summer, 1628 is thrilled to be showcasing 19 local and regional artists in our first exclusively abstract show, Not Quite Seen: Investigating How Artists Perceive the World. Presenting new ways of looking at the world, it is an exploration of form, color, and emotion, created and interpreted uniquely by artist and viewer. Featured in this show are artists Vicky Lee, Cynthia Kukla, Beth Loudenberg, and Jonpaul Smith


Vicky Lee is a student artist working towards her BFA at the University of Cincinnati’s Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning Program. Her focus is painting and drawing in two-dimensional and digital media, using abstract ideas and forms. For Lee, art has always been a way to communicate with others. Abstract art opens a discussion for all interpretations and stories. Lee pushes to broaden the meaning of landscape painting by mixing reality and fantasy in her work. She considers her mind, invented spaces, and distant memories as a form of landscapes for the viewer to explore. Working in abstraction opens possibilities for not just the artist, but for the audience, provoking an emotional response to her art. She wishes for the viewer to feel fully immersed and question the landscapes we see in our day-to-day experiences and dreams.


Cynthia Kukla has exhibited paintings, watercolors, drawings, and sculptures since graduate school on four continents, in over fifty solo shows and three hundred curated/group exhibitions. Her first tenured appointment was at Northern Kentucky University, and her first sabbatical was spent as a visiting artist in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2004, she was a keynote speaker for the symposium for the exhibition Coming of Age in Ancient Greece at the Cincinnati Art Museum. In 2006 she was inducted into the Watercolor Honor Society of America. She built her dream studio in Cincinnati in 2020.

“Fairfield Porter said to find the content in abstract art and to find the abstraction in figurative art. What a perfect way to think about the various types of art. There has always been both abstraction and figuration. In ancient cave art, there are depictions of the hunt as well as mysterious symbols known only to members of the tribe. In Greece, I was mesmerized by the beautiful abstract depictions of sea life painted on vases in the Archeological Museum in Iraklio. I further abstracted these images into fanciful imaginings of starfish, octopi, kelp, and waves, all undulating in my mind’s eye.”


Beth Loudenberg is a Cincinnati-based artist whose current work focuses on hand-built ceramics. Beth spent 23 years living on the West coast where she developed a deep appreciation for the California landscape. Her tactile, sensual forms are an exploration of the beauty and diversity found in nature. Her hand-built ceramics explore form, color, and surface techniques that are inspired by nature. Hand-building allows Loudenberg to develop a relationship with the form as she works, modifying or changing direction as the piece dictates. These forms are inspired by her experience and memories, yet trigger an emotional, personal response for the viewer through our unknown, shared connections.


Jonpaul Smith received his M.F.A. and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Cincinnati, D.A.A.P. His B.A. is from Hanover College in Indiana, and he also studied fine arts at the University of Wollongong in Australia. Smith frequently conducts visiting artist seminars, completed residencies and exhibitions in Budapest, Hungary, and Paducah, Kentucky, and was the working artist in residence at Tiger Lily Press where he served on their board. Smith has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. His work is included in many private and public collections, including the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Library of Congress. He is inspired by the complex relationships of systems and patterns that control and dictate the world in which we live. He approaches his woven and constructed paper pieces from a variety of perspectives but common to all are the processes of disassembly and reassembly. No matter what material he chooses, the process begins with cutting the materials into strips of various sizes, then painstakingly overlapping or weaving them into meticulous, intricate compositions. His complex, tapestry-like constructs make use of (and, in a sense, refine) pop-culture imagery.



Multiple pieces in this exhibition are for sale. If you are interested in seeing our most recently scanned exhibition Queen City Visual Narrative virtually, click here. If you are interested in purchasing any artwork from the show, please contact us at”

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