Do you remember Owen from Cincinnati? Blink star returns with new solo art exhibition

Two days before the opening of his solo show at DSGN CLLCTV in Northside, Owen “Tenzing” Gunderman, 19, steps over tree branches and fallen leaves strewn across the gallery floor, his feet clad in navy blue socks and Birkenstocks.

He spent the day before picking up sticks all over town in a van with gallery owners Julia Green and Michael Gonsalves, Gunderman says with a laugh. Finding the sticks was the “biggest challenge” of his last project.

“My personal identity is, for better or worse, based on what I do,” he says.

Gunderman and his works have changed and grown since his last stay in Cincinnati. At the time when his universe revolved around street art and murals.

At 17, Gunderman was the youngest participant in the Blink’s Secret Walls competition. He won. Denver-based artist Jonathan Lamb, from Cincinnati, took the teenager under his wing as he worked on the still-standing “Cin City” mural in an alleyway on Elm Street near Findlay Market. He was blown away by Gunderman’s talent, taught the kid new tricks, and introduced him to his own national network of street performers.

Owen "Tenzing" Gunderman, 19, portrays a portrait in his solo exhibition titled "SPACE" at the DSGN CLLCTV gallery in Northside on Wednesday June 30, 2021. His exhibition runs from July 2 to 31.

When Gunderman traveled to South Florida after Blink to attend Art Basel, North America’s most comprehensive international contemporary art fair, he was repeatedly pulled over on the street and asked: “Are you Owen from Cincinnati?” Are you Jon Lamb’s boyfriend?

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Gunderman is no longer a child. He is taller and more self-confident. He has just completed his first year at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, where he says he discovered a whole new world of artistic possibilities and mediums.

“Going to school definitely shattered what I thought I knew and what I thought I wanted to do,” he says.

‘SPACE’, a solo art exhibition

Green and Gonsalves met Gunderman last summer at another art show, around the same time they bought their gallery space in Northside.

“The first thing we knew we wanted was a Tenzing mural,” says Green.

They have one.

Gunderman’s last project before he packed his bags for school in Chicago is in a mural in the back of the DSGN CLLCTV building. This is an abstract close-up of a face, spray painted in warm blues, purples and pinks.

Gunderman says he is still very proud of the fresco and likes to think of it as a “big step” in his career as an artist.

Another “big step,” says Gunderman, is his next show at DSGN CLLCTV, “SPACE”. The show is intended to be an immersive installation, with a dome-shaped structure at its center made of tree branches that Gunderman brought back in Gonsalves’ pickup.

Eight wooden panels line two opposite walls of the gallery. He says many of the different textures and 3D parts in the show are the result of new techniques he learned in school. There will also be an element of projection.

Owen "Tenzing" 19-year-old Gunderman is building his new installation for his solo exhibition titled "SPACE" at the DSGN CLLCTV gallery in Northside on Wednesday June 30, 2021. His exhibition runs from July 2 to July 31.

The dome is his favorite part of the show. He got the idea over the winter when he made a similar structure in the woods. He says it reminded him of his childhood when he built forts and then crawled inside.

“I try to make other people feel it too,” he says.

The Gunderman show is the first to be conceived, engineered, created and aired in DSGN CLLCTV space, Gonsalves says. Gunderman put it all together in a month.

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Gonsalves and Green recently moved to Cincinnati from California and are committed to attracting and connecting contemporary artists, graffiti and street artists.

“There is so much talent in this city,” says Green.

DSGN CLLCTV is complete with three-week show facilities through 2023.

Owen "Tenzing" Gunderman, 19, portrays a portrait in his solo exhibition titled "SPACE" at the DSGN CLLCTV gallery in Northside on Wednesday June 30, 2021. His exhibition runs from July 2 to July 31.

Gunderman will likely still be in college by then, finishing his studies. He says he would like to do more projects in Cincinnati – there isn’t much space for murals in Chicago, he says. But he is also eager to experiment with new projects and art forms.

Like his friend Lamb, Gunderman wants to be able to travel the world for work. He says he wants to make a positive impact on people with his art.

“It’s the dream,” he said.

Gunderman smiles and goes back to work.

You can watch Gunderman’s “SPACE” show on DSGN CLLCTV, located at 4150 Hamilton Avenue in Northside. The show opens July 2 and continues until the end of the month.

Max, the DSGN CLLCTV dog, looks out the window from his favorite spot in the DSGN CLLCTV gallery in Northside on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

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