Artworks dedicates Charlie Harper mural

While we were downtown for the Underground tour earlier this month, we stopped by the Artworks dedication of the Charlie Harper mural.

You can see a photograph of the wall before the mural as well as a picture of the Charlie Harper painting here.

“Founded in 1996, ArtWorks is a non-profit arts organization that connects artists of all ages with opportunities in the arts through inspiring apprenticeships, community partnerships, and public art,” (Artworks/about us/ organizational information).

Tamara Harkavy, CEO and Artistic Director, has served at the helm of Artworks since its beginning. The Charlie Harper mural is one of ten painted this year. Created in partnership with Charley Harper Art Studio and Court St. Executive Suites, this rendition of Harper’s “Homecoming (Bluebirds)” is the largest Artworks’ mural to date.

Tamara Harkavy with Brett Harper, son of wildlife artist Charley Harper at dedication of Court Street Artworks’ mural, September 2012.

Born in West Virginia in 1922, Charley Harper came to Cincinnati to study and later teach art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He became well-known as a wildlife artist. Charley Harper passed away on Sunday, June 10, 2007. (About Charley Harper). His son Brett Harper represented his father’s work at the mural’s dedication. This is the second Harper mural. The only other one is in Dayton near The Green.

Tamara expresses her appreciation to lead artist Jenny Ustick with a bouquet of flowers.

Jenny Ustick, the lead artist, worked with two teaching artists and a group of students to produce this beautiful piece of art on Court Street in downtown, Cincinnati.

What’s Happening Downtown – Artworks 2008

Over the last 16 years, Artworks has produced 46 murals in Cincinnati and three other cities. As we walked the few blocks from our Underground tour to the Charley Harper mural, we passed this 2008 Artworks’ mural, “What’s Happening Downtown,” on Walnut Street,

Kroger Headquarters mural on Vine Street – 2012

and this new mural on Vine Street at the Kroger headquarters.

You can find more information about this year’s and the previous years’ murals at the Artworks website.

Read my post from last year, Artworks is painting up the town.

Art for All, Downtown — Three Masterpieces

Mark and I drove downtown in Cincinnati yesterday for an open house at ArtWorks. While we were there we found and I photographed three more paintings on display outdoors through the Taft Museum’s Art for All program.

Findlay Market, downtown Cincinnati

First we went to Findlay Market. “Findlay Market is Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market and one of Cincinnati’s most cherished institutions. The Market is located just blocks from downtown in Over-the-Rhine, a dense historic neighborhood rich in 19th century architecture. Open Tuesday through Sunday, Findlay Market is home year-around to about two dozen indoor merchants selling meat, fish, poultry, produce, flowers, cheese, deli, and ethnic foods. On Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from April to November the Market also hosts a thriving farmers market, dozens of outdoor vendors, numerous street performers, and lots of special events,” (

Cattle in the Meadows, 1880, Willem Maris (1844-1910), Dutch

Number 1 out of 80, Cattle in the Meadows by Willem Maris is on display at Findlay Market. The organizers of the Art for All program tried to match up the subject matter of the paintings with the location.

“This bit of landscape, showing the low horizon and broad skies of the Netherlands, becomes a portrait of “three sisters”—cows seen at close range grazing in the tall grasses. They remind us of the famous dairy products of Holland: rich butters and Edam and Gouda cheeses, among many others,” (Art for All signage).

As a stroll through Findlay Market will fill your senses with the sight and aroma of meats and cheeses of all varieties, I think this was an excellent location choice for Maris’ Cattle in the Meadows.

Music Hall, downtown Cincinnati

Our next stop was Music Hall. “Built in 1878 with private money raised from what is believed to be the nation’s first matching grant fund drive, this Cincinnati showpiece has been renovated and updated and includes what is judged to be among the best and most beautiful concert theaters in the world,” (

Art for All at Music Hall in Cincinnati

Here we found the painting displayed on the wall under the shelter of the porch roof.

At the Piano, James Abbott McNeil Whistler, (1834-1903), American

At the Piano, 1858-59, by American James Abbott McNeil Whistler is number 2 out of 80. “Looking down at her hands, a woman in a full black gown plays  piano intently. A girl in a white dress leans against the piano, watching and listening to her mother. The piano itself is beautiful with decorative legs and rich wood grain. Although the piano separates mother and daughter, the music brings them together,” (Art for All signage).

Art Academy of Cincinnati – September 2011

Our final stop was the Art Academy of Cincinnati. We found The Cobbler’s Apprentice by Frank Duveneck hanging on the bare wall  you see in this photo taken last September.

The Cobbler’s Apprentice, 1877, Frank Duveneck, (1848-1919), American

“Why is this boy smoking a cigar? The picture was painted before people understood the dangers of smoking. Born in Covington, Frank Duveneck taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and painted the boy in Germany. The boy’s fingers are caked with dirt, his clothing is ragged, and his load is heavy,” (Art for All signage).

The location of this painting is particularly appropriate as Frank Duveneck was first a student and later a teacher at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.


The Cincinnati Museum Center, housed in an art deco masterpiece: the Cincinnati Union Terminal

Union Terminal in Cincinnati now houses the Cincinnati Museum center.

It’s hard not to notice the distinctive round shape of the Cincinnati Museum Center in the old Union Terminal building when you’re driving south on I-75 through Cincinnati.

This structure is considered by many to be an “art deco masterpiece,” (

The Union Terminal was built in 1933 as a train station to provide a solution to the “city’s chaotic railroad system,” ( The curved wings on either side were used for taxi cabs and buses moving train passengers into and out of the terminal.

Now the curved wings are used as museum exhibition space.

During WWII the Union Terminal was a “major transfer point for soldiers,” ( After the war, during the occupation of Germany, my dad came through here as he made his way to Baumholder, Germany, courtesy of the USA army.

By the 1950s, with the growth of interstate and airline traffic, the train business declined to a point where it had halted altogether by 1972.

In the 1980s, the building was briefly used as a shopping center which soon failed. But the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and the Cincinnati Historical Society banded together to save the structure and give it a useful purpose.

It opened in November of 1990 as the Cincinnati Museum Center.

In 1991 train service was restored when Amtrak added a Cincinnati stop to its Washington D.C. to Chicago route.

Duke Energy’s Children Museum joined the other two museums in the center in 1998.

If you’re not impressed enough with the exterior of the building, when you step into the spacious and stunning rotunda with its arcs of silver, yellow, and gold, you will be.

You can see a photo of the entire dome of the rotunda at the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Union Terminal page.

Originally 14 panels of huge color mosaics were created for the concourse and the rotunda. The mosaics installed in the concourse were moved to the airport in the 1970s when the concourse was torn down. They depicted scenes of local industries like P&G and U.S. Playing Cards.

The mosaics were designed by German-born Winold Reiss. The 12-ft foreground figures depict people working in America through the years.

The middle shows forms of transportation.

And the abstract background creates a changing landscape from fields to cities.

Water cascades down the steps of this fountain in front of the Museum Center during the warm months.

Our family has enjoyed many visits to the museums within this masterpiece. Our kid have played with the wooden riverboats along a recreated model of the river in the Cincinnati History museum. They’ve explored a glacier and a cave in the Natural History museum. We’ve seen Omnimax presentations and experienced the Titantic, King Tut’s Tomb, and Cleopatra through the excellent special exhibits the museum center periodically presents. In the next day or two I will be blogging about the Pompeii exhibit Mark and I just went to on Monday. You don’t want to miss it.

The Cincinnati Museum Center is definitely a must-see the next time you’re passing our way.

For more information, visit


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The Art Academy of Cincinnati — a well-kept secret

 Art Academy of Cincinnati — Vision and Mission

Our vision is to excel and to be recognized as a vibrant, creative community dedicated to engaging innovative visual artists who make meaningful contributions to the world. Our mission as an independent college of art and design is to provide personalized education in the visual arts.

Art is not optional

Okay, the Art Academy of Cincinnati (AAC) is not exactly a secret, but up until the last few weeks I sure didn’t know much about it. And with three children interested in design, I consider myself fairly-well educated on such matters. Although to be truthful, two of my children took summer classes there while in high school. Even so. Why don’t I know more about this incredible institution?

Now I do.

My husband Mark became involved with the Art Academy this year as a volunteer consultant from the Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati to help the college write a two-year strategy and business plan. Last week he took me on a tour of the AAC facility.

Art Academy of Cincinnati
Art Academy of Cincinnati, 1212 Jackson St. at the corner of 12th St., Cincinnati, Ohio

The AAC is one of the smaller non-profit four-year art colleges in the country, and the only one in southwest Ohio. Originally located at the Art Museum in Eden Park, five years ago AAC moved to 1212 Jackson St., in the historic and dynamic Over-the-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood of downtown Cincinnati.

Art Academy store front

The AAC building contains an excellent storefront along the popular 12th Street arts corridor. The possibilities for this as-yet-unused space are limitless and exciting.

There is an open-air parking lot within a few steps, but I found a parking space on 12th Street across from the AAC beside the historic Germainia building. You might just recognize the Artworks mural designed by Amanda Checco hidden behind the tree from this angle.

Know Theatre, Cincinnati, Ohio

The alternative Know Theatre is a half a block away from the AAC.

Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Ensemble Theatre, with the beautiful pillars and where Mark and I will be seeing Next to Normal on Thursday, is a block away on Vine Street.

Art Academy of Cincinnati

The AAC dorm building is on the corner of Vine and 12th, just a few steps away from the Ensemble Theatre and a mere block from the AAC. It looks like they’re putting in a Belgian Bistro in the first floor storefront. Students can fall out of bed, dash down the stairs, dart into the Bistro for a coffee and be in their studio at the AAC five minutes later. Not bad.

A once-downtrodden area of the city, Vine Street is enjoying a resurgence of life and vitality. Quaint restaurants, storefronts, apartments, and nice condominiums are springing up everywhere in renovated buildings behind newly painted facades.

Before we toured AAC, Mark and I met our youngest son Mark Joseph for a delicious lunch at the Lavomatic Cafe on Vine Street, a block and a half away from the AAC.

The Senate, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Senate Pub across Vine Street from the Lavomatic serves gourmet hot dogs and to-die-for lobster mac-n-cheese, among other things. Because of its popularity, the Senate is doubling its space by renovating and expanding into the neighboring building.

The AAC’s move five years ago, to the rapidly growing arts district called the Gateway Quarter, puts it in a prime location to be a force in the resurgence of a dynamic art community in a revitalized Over-the-Rhine. But the move had its risks. In Cincinnati, OTR has gained a reputation for crime over years of neglect. I suspect anytime citizens reclaim an inner-city area the challenges are the same. Along with the physical renovations, the hearts and minds of the populace need to be re-educated.

In his article for the Cincinnati Enquirer last Thursday, Academy enrollment blooms in urban OTR, Cliff Peale reported, “Six years after the bold move from next to the Art Museum in Eden Park into the heart of one of the city’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods, the new class is the latest chance for the Art Academy to prove it can make the location work long term.”

Mark in his temporary office at the AAC.

The drop in enrollment following the move to OTR, on top of the increased expenses due to renovations, created financial problems for the AAC.

Enter the Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati. Introduced to the AAC project as a volunteer and functioning now as a part-time paid consultant, my husband Mark will be working out of a temporary office in the AAC over the next several months to help develop a strategy and business plan and get the school back on solid financial footing.

The good news is that after an initial slump in enrollment following the move to OTR, AAC is enjoying an enrollment of 85 students this year, “the largest freshman class in its 142-year history” (Cinci Enquirer).

In keeping with a Cincinnati tradition, the entrance of the AAC features a decorated pig, probably from the Cincinnati Big-Pig-Gig held several years back.

The building’s interior is edgy with its concrete, and metal structure. Located in the former home of a mattress factory, the spacious AAC rises six stories.

The stairs are offset by seven degrees. I don’t know why, but it makes for an interesting photograph.

Skylights and massive windows throughout the studio and classroom spaces, fill the AAC with  bright natural daylight.

On the top floor you can see panoramic views of the hills of Cincinnati from the walls of windows.

Another perspective affords a view of AAC’s former home, the Art Museum in Eden Park, just barely visible as a light blue-green dome in the upper left corner of the photo. I’ve been told that the new location is seven degrees from the old. I’m not entirely sure what that means, or why it’s significant.

The AAC offers BFA degrees in Art History, Drawing, Illustration, Photography, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, and Visual Communication Design. They also have a Master of Arts in Art Education program. Large classroom studios and smaller, although still spacious, studios that house four students are located throughout the building. In fact the generous studio space for every student is one of AAC’s advantages over other institutions. Another selling point is the individualized attention students receive with the low student to teacher ratio of 10 to 1.

Here’s a view of Vine Street and the yellow dorm building from the upper floors of the AAC,

and a view of the shops and cafes on Vine Street where we had lunch earlier.

Our son Mark Joseph takes in the student work on display.

Brightly lit critique spaces are located throughout for students to display and present their work.

We ran into student Alicia Little, who was featured in the Enquirer Story, preparing for a critique.

You might want to write her name down. Famous artists have graced the halls of the AAC.

From 1904 until he died in 1919, famous painter Frank Duveneck was at the AAC helm. Other early students and faculty members include  Robert Frederick Blum, John Henry Twachtman, Joseph R. DeCamp, Edward H. Potthast, Elizabeth Nourse, and Joseph Henry Sharp. More contemporary  faculty and alumni include Josef Albers, Paul Chidlaw, Petah Coyne, Malcolm Grear, Charley Harper, John Ruthven, Thom Shaw, and Tony Tasset.

In the Enquirer story, Diane Smith, interim president and a 30-year Art Academy veteran said, “We really feel we’re at a crossroads here. There’s a lot to be excited about, and we want to be the center of creativity in this community.”

Evidence of new growth and new life is sprouting around the Art Academy, in the Gateway Quarter of Over the Rhine. I can’t wait to see what will be created here.

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