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.


Art for All at the VOA— Jacob Maris’ The Quay: A Dutch Town

I was taking Arthur for a walk this morning at the VOA (Voice of America Park) when I was greeted by this painting installed at the beginning of our loop around the lake. I wasn’t completely surprised because Mark had told me that the Taft Museum of Art is putting on the Art for All program and has installed 80 reproductions of its paintings around the Cincinnati area to celebrate its 80th anniversary. I just didn’t realize one was right here at the VOA.

The Quay is the first painting I saw and posted, but it is number 51 out of 80 on the Art for All website.

The Quay: A Dutch Town, probably 1880s, by Jacob Maris (1837-1899), Dutch

The Quay: a Dutch Town was likely painted in the 1880s by Dutch artist Jacob Maris. Here is the information on posted by the Taft Museum about this particular piece of art:

“Much of the Netherlands is bordered by the sea, and most of the inland areas are situated below sea level. The famous Dutch windmills and canals served as pumps and drainage ditches to keep Holland above water. This busy seaside scene illustrates Holland’s dependence on the sea for trade and fishing. Views of land and water, industry and architecture, abound…at your Taft Museum of Art.”

The Art for All open-air gallery is a gift from the Taft to remind the public of Charles and Anna Taft’s donation of their home and art collection 80 years ago. These gems belong to everyone.


Krohn Conservatory— Mobile heralds upcoming Butterfly Show while Spring show enters last days

Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati, Ohio.

When we visited the Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park, Cincinnati, Ohio a couple of weeks ago to see our son’s wind chimes, we decided to stay and enjoy the exotic plants and spring display inside the conservatory.

The minute we step inside the atrium, we are awestruck by suspended colorful origami shapes that fill the air above our heads.

Jan Brown Checco, who is the art administrator for the Cincinnati Park Board, and a team of 20+ volunteers learned how to make modular origami, and began making 100+ forms of all sizes in August. The largest folded forms are made of recycled architectural plans and posters. The origami shapes were skillfully arranged into a mobile that includes coat hangers and recycled DVDS.   Checco describes it as a “giant uber whimsical Seussical mobile” and says it “will be a great partner to some of the other decor elements that use recycled materials.”

The mobile is part of the decorations being installed at the conservatory for the upcoming “On Wings of Harmony – Butterflies of the World” show. This year’s design supports the butterfly show’s “rainbows and universes in harmony” theme.

The mobile will likely be up through the year, with some lighting enhancements for the holiday season.

Checco, along with others, has also designed the previous five annual butterfly shows.

Links to photo essays of the last four butterfly shows can be found at Checco’s website: My photos of last year’s butterfly show can be seen here.

The “On Wings of Harmony” butterfly show will run from April 21st to June 24th at the Krohn Conservatory.

Meanwhile, the “Enjoy an early spring with Sparkle and Bling show” continues to dazzle visitors to the Krohn Conservatory.

A beautiful garden of spring flowers fills the room with color and fragrance.

Sparkling bling shoots out of potted gardens on stems, creating a magical environment where fairies might dwell.

Hanging strings of sparkling beads that fall like rain mirror a waterfall surrounded by pure white lilies.

Beautiful, bright, fragrant lilies are everywhere in abundance.

It is difficult to pull myself from this early spring display, but the origami mobile in the atrium hints of good things to come, and the lush, cool plants in the conservatory beyond beckon me.

The sound of a waterfall draws me forth into the dense growth.

Ferns arch over the walkways.

A tunnel tempts me to enter.

Bright fish swirl in the water, a living, moving painting of color.

All along, a mermaid, an original stone sculpture from Zimbabwe, stands guard.

The size, shape, color and structure of the exotic plants amazes me.

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Wind chimes for On Wings of Harmony

Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati, Ohio with wind chimes hanging from the trellis between the trees.

The visual beauty of Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati and its gardens has now, temporarily, been enhanced by musical wind chimes.

Wind chimes designed by Mark Joseph Grote hanging on the right side of the entrance (when facing the Krohn Conservatory).

Two sets of wind chimes, designed, created, and installed by Mark Joseph Grote now hang on either side of the main entrance to Krohn Conservatory providing a visual and audio element of beauty to an already incredible destination in Cincinnati’s Eden Park.

Largely created from recycled metal parts and cds,

the wind chimes were installed as part of On Wings of Harmony, this year’s butterfly show which will be opening April 21 and running through June 24. (You can see photos of last year’s Butterflies of Brazil show here.)

This is a view of the second set of wind chimes hanging on the left side of the entrance to Krohn Conservatory.

Mark Joseph said that he designed the wind chimes to “make interesting noises” and to “look cool”.

He said that one of the most interesting features of the wind chimes is this spring on the main piece of the left side. When the beads hit the spring they make a little sound that echoes.

Video from the Cincinnati Park Board.

Mark Joseph Grote is finishing his third year in Industrial Design at the University of Cincinnati, and as you may have surmised, is our son. You can see more of his artwork at his Tumblr page, and a video of him painting free-style here.

More photos of our visit to the Krohn Conservatory later.

Ogre Returns part 2 of 2 – or Music and the Web

I was going to simply post a Tuesday (under) two-minutes video of snapshots of my son painting freelance when he was in town for a gallery opening on December 3. I used iMovie on my Mac and was going to add a soundtrack. Then I went off on a tangent.

I’m probably not  allowed to use a soundtrack from a recorded artist on my slideshow on my published blog. I don’t have the required rights. This realization led to a whole series of other related (and not so related) thoughts and questions.

What exactly are my rights when I purchase a Trial by Fire CD by Journey produced in 1996? I know I am allowed to play it for myself. And probably play it at a party that I may have. But am I allowed to broadcast it across a sound system at a crowded arena where I host a party to a million people? Probably not. But I’m only guessing, because I really have no idea what my rights are when I purchase a CD.

I am more familiar with what I am allowed to do with the printed word, especially if I am writing something of a scholastic nature, like this post for example. I learned that for the purposes of my college papers, I could quote whatever I wanted from someone else as long as I credited the source. In fact, quoting from another preferably scholastic paper added credibility to my own arguments. What I don’t know is if I have the right to subsequently publish what I wrote that contained said quoted material. What if I put it on my blog? I think I am still okay, because authors like to have their words shared, unlike musicians. I am not permitted to include song lyrics in my published work without permission from the song writer.

I believe I am free to use song titles, however, which usually are made up of lyrics. So perhaps I could also slip a few short phrases under the radar if I really needed  to include lyrics in a story. Or I could try to track down the performing artist and seek permission. I’ve thought about doing that for a slide show I made about the Ohio River while I was in college. I set it to the music, “Old Man River” performed by Bee Adair. I have no idea who Bee Adair is, where he (or she for that matter) lives, and even if he or she is still alive. It’s a pretty cool little slide show with some great shots of the Ohio River and people working or relaxing on the river, but it really isn’t much to look at without the music.

What really confuses me is YouTube. I can embed any YouTube video on my blog that I want to. They make it easy for you to do. I don’t think they would encourage it if it wasn’t permitted. So I can put a YouTube video of Journey’s “Can’t Tame the Lion” on my blog. Can I put my own slide show with “Can’t Tame the Lion” playing in the background on YouTube as a video and then on my blog?

Truthfully, I really don’t know. Do you?

Here’s hoping I fly under the radar yet again.

You can hear the complete song track by Journey, “Can’t tame the lion” on YouTube. If you’d like to read more about Journey, Mark Pakulak at The Idiot Speaketh has a wonderful post with photographs of Journey in his Music Flashbacks series. No animals were injured in the production of this video.

The artist in the photos, my son Matthew, says he doesn’t know what he is drawing until he begins with the black lines when he does this type of work. He also says that this is more about the process than the final result and that small short lines and quick ink spots make for an interesting time-lapse video.

The editor of the video, yours truly, needs a little work as noted by the clumsy ending. I bought the iMovie and iDVD for Dummies book, but in light of the restrictions on music, I may either need to learn how to create my own music via Garage Band, (note to self, order Garage Band for Dummies), or give up this hobby in its infancy and go back to knitting.

Ogre Returns – part 1 of 2

On Saturday, the Ogre (otherwise known as my son Matthew Grote) returned to Cincinnati from Buffalo, NY, with a rocking, knock-out gallery showing reception at 3218 Madison Rd. High energy music and light show was provided by Keith Harrington, known as AV/DJ Projex, also from Buffalo.  Throughout the day, video of Matthew’s performance or freelance art was displayed on a wall in the gallery and on a television screen set in a window and facing the sidewalk outside.

Ogre Returns, presented by Molly Berrens of Play on Production in conjunction with Obermeyer Productions, will be on display until the end of December.

Ogre returns artwork by Matthew Grote

For those of you not familiar with our beautiful Queen City, I want to point out a couple of things of interest on the poster Matthew designed.

The flying pigs are something of a local icon here in Cincinnati, where the Procter and Gamble company got its start making soaps and candles from tallow (made from pig fat).  In the last 20 years or so, P&G expanded its downtown headquarters to include towers that Matthew overlapped as the center of the water wheel near the bottom of the poster.

The union terminal once a hub of train traffic in and out of the city, now converted to a museum center, is tiled across the bottom above the address, and is repeated upside down across the top. The P&G towers are repeated along the sides of the page behind the tall stacks from Cincinnati’s riverboat heritage.

The gallery was packed for the reception Saturday evening scheduled from 8:00 until 10:00, but that kept going until after I left at 10:30. Here is a slide show of some photos I shot during the set-up earlier in the day.

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Weekly photo challenge: Wonder

This challenge was very challenging for me. I have seen so many things in my 54 years that have filled me with wonder.

I thought about posting one of the awesome natural features I’ve seen at the parks in this country, or across the ocean.

Grand Canyon Coast of Hawaii

I thought about posting one of the incredible man or woman-made creations on display here or there.

I thought about the wonder of something incomprehensibly large like the universe, or amazingly tiny yet complex like an insect or a newborn fawn.

But when I remember the moment in my life when I was filled with the most wonder, it was the moment I held in my arms my first child.

Movie Monday — Painting Freestyle

Ha. I got it right this time – the movie’s on Monday. And I’m cutting you a break. This is not one of my movies, but someone else’s. Actually there are two, too-good to miss, quick videos of painting freestyle by two of my talented sons. Think upscale, fast-forward, magic-drawing-board from Captain Kangaroo with pizzazz. They’re having some fun up in Buffalo, NY.

painting freestyle – 11.06.2011 (artist OGRE) from CGT on Vimeo.

painting freestyle – 11.06.2011 (guest artist Mark Grote) from CGT on Vimeo.

You don’t want to miss

your chance to win a copy of Dancing in Heaven at Cynthia Robertson’s blog where she posted a beautifully written review.

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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