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Ben Schonberger 
Beautiful Pig
August 12 - September 8, 2016
click below for installation views
An artist and his subject invite viewers to explore questions related to power, empathy, and civil society.


 River House Arts in conjunction with Contemporary Art Toledo, is pleased to present Beautiful Pig, an exhibition of work by artist, photographer, and archivist, Ben Schonberger.  The show opens with a public reception on Friday, August 12 from 8 - 10 pm and will be on view through September 8, 2016.   


The opening reception follows Schonberger’s  6:30 book-signing and 7pm lecture at Toledo Museum of Art’s GlasSalon, part of the artist’s residency at the Glass Pavilion which runs from August 8 - 17th.  



Centered on a trove of photographs and ephemera collected by a former Detroit police officer during the latter part of the 20th Century, purposefully assembled and augmented by the artist, Beautiful Pig offers a provocative, timely, and unblinking look at cultural identity, self-perception, and the realities of racial disparity in law enforcement.


The project began when Schonberger, while working in Detroit, acquired a box of photographs from Marty Gaynor, a retired police officer.  Gaynor had documented the entirety of his career through thousands of images, including countless Polaroids of individuals he had arrested.  Intrigued by the scope of the collection and the man responsible for amassing it, Schonberger embarked on a years-long collaborative process with Gaynor. The result is in an intensely personal yet culturally and historically revealing archive.


Beautiful Pig appeared in 2013 as a self-published book to overwhelming critical acclaim.  It was shortlisted by both the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Award in 2013 and the Anamorphosis Prize in 2015.  Today the book can be found in the New York Public Library, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MoMA, the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, The Arts Library at Yale University, and nearly a dozen other cultural institutions.


While portions of the collection have appeared in group exhibitions, the upcoming show at River House Arts will be first time Beautiful Pig has been presented in its entirety. 


Ben Schonberger currently lives and works in Ohio. He received an MFA in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA in Photography and Computer Imagery from Shepard University.  In the tradition of August Sander, his work investigates people and how they work in society with a focus on masculine archetypes and their connection to labor. A 2013 Mercedes-Benz Emerging Artist finalist, Schonberger’s work has been exhibited nationally and is included in public and private collections across the country.  


River House Arts, located in the historic Secor Building at 425 Jefferson in Downtown Toledo, is a full service gallery offering museum quality exhibitions of modern and contemporary artists, as well as a revolving selection of late 19th and early 20th century estate paintings.  Gallery hours are 12 – 8 pm Tuesday through Friday and by appointment.  (As there are often special events scheduled in the gallery, calling ahead is strongly recommended. 419-441-4025.)


Contemporary Art Toledo is a small collective of artists and arts professionals dedicated to the prospect of diversifying and challenging the local cultural landscape.  


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