Political Art Revisited

Art and politics in Cincinnati converge at Save Our Souls (S.O.S.) Art. Billed as “an annual art show and event of sociopolitical expression for Peace and Justice,” SOS Art is the brainchild and passion of Saad Ghosn.

Ghosn, a pathologist, University of Cincinnati professor, self-taught artist and naturalized U.S. citizen of Lebanese descent, is so committed to the social conversations brought about by the exhibits that he organizes and funds them himself.

Begun in 2003, the project is old enough to host a retrospective show. It begins June 30 at The University Galleries, 628 Sycamore St. The show includes 2D and 3D artworks on peace and justice by 50 Greater Cincinnati artists.

Before my interview with Ghosn before the opening of the 2006 show, I was a little anxious about meeting at his home in Clifton. A doctor and artist combo conjured up an image of a self-important egomaniac that would require more patience than interviewing a politician. When I walked into the beautifully restored Victorian home, I felt like I was walking into a museum — artwork everywhere reminded me to be polite when he talked about all of his pieces.

I was dumbfounded when his warm greeting was followed by running commentary on the work of other artists he collects and his reluctance to have his work photographed for the article. After an hour-long interview, and more material than my 1,000-word article would contain, I found myself reluctant to leave. I was one in a long line of victims of his infectious enthusiasm.

Fortunately Ghosn, the proud papa of the 2006 show, was on hand opening night to answer questions about the exhibit. He knows most of the artists personally in addition to the history behind each piece. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take him up on the guided tour he offered, but I’ll be rectifying that situation at the retrospective.

So, if you see me wandering the exhibit with a white-haired man with a goatee and round glasses, tag along. I’m sure the explanations will be fantastic!

“S.O.S. Art Retrospective: Selections, 2003-2005” runs June 30 through Sept. 8. Opening night is 5-7 p.m. Friday. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m.-4p.m. Saturdays.

— Margo Pierce

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