America's Octoberfest. Zinzinnati. U.S.A.

Opening: Friday, Jan 5, 2024 5 – 8 pm
Friday, Jan 5 – Feb 22, 2024

1709 W. Chicago Ave
2nd. Floor
Chicago, IL 60622

View the show on our website here

Western Exhibitions is thrilled to present Courttney Cooper’s second solo show at the gallery, America’s Octoberfest. Zinzinnati. U.S.A., featuring exuberant drawings of his hometown. Cooper’s subjective, large-scale aerial-view sub-maps of Cincinnati utilize found copier paper, ballpoint pens, and a deep knowledge of the city built upon a lifetime of traveling on city buses, walking downtown, and taking car trips with friends. Hand-drawn from memory over the course of 6 to 12 months, each map bursts with passionate energy, dedicated observation and sly commentary on the only city this 45-year-old has ever lived in.

Rendered in ballpoint pen on stitched-together sheets of paper that Cooper collects from his day job at a local Krogers, his maps are the product of both observation and memory. Cooper often depicts the city in an aerial three-quarter view, meticulously transcribing changes in its architecture and environment based his own encounters around town. These drawings also represent an imaginary layer of the city that only Cooper inhabits, what he calls Zinzinnati USA. In this city, it’s always Oktoberfest — a smorgasbord of revelry in which the cityscape is layered with fantastic imagery and text.



From Western Exhibitions’ founder, Scott Speh, in a 2016 interview with Artinfo:

I was initially drawn to Courttney’s maps as I grew up in Cincinnati, so I had a personal relationship to imagery. But I think anybody could look at these and, even if they had no idea where Cincinnati even was, they could be awed by the mark marking, the undulations of space, and even the drawings as objects. Collecting papers from work, he glues it together and then folds it over and over so he can carry it wherever he goes, continually adding to it until deeming it finished. The works end up being almost quilt-like, especially as they age. A piece from 2011 has the consistency of an old dollar bill — it’s got this kind of thickness and weight to it, but it’s also soft. We hang the drawings unframed for this reason: they have a sculptural quality, taking on a kind of life of their own once they get on the wall.

One of the things I find fascinating on a formal level — and one of the aspects of his work that remains constant — is his conception of space in a three-quarter view, like an architectural rendering. The buildings have dimensionality to them and it’s almost like if he was like a bird flying over the hill from Northern Kentucky and can behold Cincinnati from that direction. These are works about imagination as much as they are documentation.



Courttney Cooper’s Cincinnati Map from 2011 was recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and he was the subject of a feature in Raw Visionsummer 2022. His solo show at Intuit: The Center for Intuit and Outsider Art in Chicago in spring of 2016 was reviewed in and New City. His 2-person show (with Cole Carothers) at The Cincinnati Art Museum in 2013 was reviewed in CityBeat and AEQAI and he has exhibited extensively in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area including the Contemporary Art Center and The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, Covington, KY and is a studio resident at Visionaries + Voices, a non-profit arts organization that provides support for artists with disabilities, offering them professional studio space and that allows them to grow professionally and personally. His work at Western Exhibitions’ booth at the 2017 Outsider Art Fair was lauded in artnet and Brut Force. Cooper is the recipient of a 2015 Wyn Newhouse award and his work is included in a number of private and public collections including Cincinnati Art Museum and Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.


Pictured: Cincinnati Map, 2018. Ink and collage on bond paper, 72h x 93w in.