Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ArtWorks in the Press (3)!

From multiple newspaper articles written about ArtWorks projects to various pieces featured on local television, the ArtWorks 2009 summer projects have frequently been in the spotlight as of late. Check out this, most recent, moment in the limelight!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stay Tuned!

This summer passed in layers of paint, in levels of scaffolding, in pieces of paper and the curves of hearts. I find myself thinking about the past six weeks in retrospect—usually in terms of the progress the murals were making at the time, funnily enough. Thinking of the first and second weeks of ArtWorks fills my mind with the murmur of presentations and the percussive sound of wire brushes scraping against brick walls. As the second week becomes the third in my mind, I smell primer and see the bright white of a newly painted wall. Color materializes in thoughts of the fourth week. With the fifth week comes the laughter and warmth of ArtWorks Day. Now, I close my eyes to see detailed images decorating vibrant walls, huge expanses of carefully layered paint shining with the two-fold glow of the sight of the (almost) finished product as well as my memories of earlier stages.

Throughout my chronological thoughts of the summer, images of Room by Room, Stage Crew, Tapestry, and Glass Canopy also arise, with thoughts of Rookwood Mosaic tagging on near the end. No matter how much or how little time I was able to spend with each project this summer, every one of them has made their mark on me, and I won’t soon forget the people I’ve met and creativity I’ve seen.

Thanks are due, of course. To the ArtWorks staff for sharing their work place with Alex and I as well as for being such a great, impromptu teaching staff. Thanks to the O’Bryonville, Clifton Heights, and Over the Rhine mural teams for letting us dine with them on various occasions, and thanks to Over the Rhine for sharing your ice cream with us! (We must admit that we’re especially grateful for that one.) And a final thanks to all of the projects for putting up with our questioning and filming, for being so friendly in the face of impending interviews, and always welcoming us onto your projects.

Though it may already be the "end" of another ArtWorks summer, we all know that art—and ArtWorks—never stops. I’ll continue to update the blog periodically with information as to when mural dedications will be held, how they go, when gallery openings at ArtWorks occur, and exciting news about this year’s Secret ArtWorks. So, though it may be goodbye to summer 2009, there’s just more good stuff coming. Stay creative and stay tuned!

Day in the Life

Alex and I are proud to present the finished product of our Day in the Life film. View it now, right here on your very favorite ArtWorks blog!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Last Call

Before the Summer 2009 ArtWorks programs draw to a close, I wanted to reiterate a call to you, apprentices, for anything you might want to submit to the blog yourself! I’d love to post your photos, stories, memories, comments, videos, quotes… the list goes on and on! I know Room by Room had a weekly bake-off—were there any results? And what about those rap lyrics that Tower Place surprised us with at ArtWorks Day—willing to share? Anything and everything would be great to see, and I’d love to share your work and stories with the ArtWorks world at large. Comment here, contact me on Facebook, or email me directly at aolundsmith@gmail.com

ArtWorks in the Press (2)!

Check out this article, published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on July 23rd, about the ArtWorks projects that are partnering with the Ronald McDonald House this summer!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Hearts already created by the Room by Room team

This past Saturday, the 18th, brought me my second day-in-the-life experience of the ArtWorks summer—though perhaps it would more accurately be described as an hour-in-the-life. Saturday was Room by Room’s heart-making workshop, and I attended in order make a small heart for the Ronald McDonald House, as well as experience the wonder that is Room by Room first hand.

As soon as I entered Room by Room’s studio, an atmosphere of excitement and inspiration was immediately apparent. Apprentices roamed from table to table offering friendly advice and helping those attending the workshop execute some of the more difficult techniques used to make the hearts. A table overflowing with picture books, stamps, stencils, patterned paper, and textiles provided material for heart-makers to work with, and apprentices helped everyone get started by offering one of two heart stencils to for heart-makers to choose to work with.

After I’d finished making my heart, I viewed the shelf where finished hearts made that day were drying, which was a gift in itself. Each heart was different from the next, and all were beautiful, complex with layered papers, colors, and healing thoughts sent towards the families who will eventually view them. When I left the room, smelling of paint and glue, I was inspired by the thought of the work that Room by Room does every day and happy that I’d had the chance to contribute myself.

Breaking News from.... Covington!

Check out the hilarious Covington news report, which they presented at ArtWorks Day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hearts of Glass

The last project to begin this summer, Rookwood Mosaic gave their presentation to members of Ronald McDonald House and ArtWorks on Friday, July 17th. Not only impressing all audience members with their poise and confidently projected voices, the project also presented some of the hearts they’d already made, which were beautifully designed in rich colors of glass and Rookwood tiles.

After getting full approval from the Ronald McDonald House and taking a short tour of the House, the apprentices headed out on a special field trip to the studio of Edward Casagrande, a Cincinnati artist who has created many works of art for the Ronald McDonald House.

Mr. Casagrande is a sculptor who works with metal, and entering his studio is like entering a glimmering forest. Graceful designs in shades of shining gray and iridescent green glitter with whirling ornaments, and larger pieces display fanciful cut-outs of hearts and stars. The apprentices watched on attentively as Mr. Casagrande demonstrated the function of many of the machines he uses in order to create his sculptures and shared his philosophy on art and life. Rookwood Mosaic should go back to work on Monday with a new understanding of all that Ronald McDonald House can mean to people after their presentation, and fresh inspiration from their field trip.

View Mr. Casagrande's website at www.earthorchestra.com

Reaching the Finish Line!

Congratulations to our first finished project! Glass Canopy, whose last week of work ended on the 17th, has completed the seemingly magical canopy of glass they designed and created for the Ronald McDonald House. The canopy will be installed this fall.

Friday, July 17, 2009

ArtWorks Day

ArtWorks day commences at the Carnegie Center in Covington

Jake Speed of Jake Speed and the Freddies entertains an audience full of apprentices

Stage Crew enacts a day in the life on their project using massively realistic props

The Northside mural project prepares to perform a dance routine, dressed in hard hats and collars inspired by Raymond Thundersky.

Room by Room presents a variation on their earlier presentation to the ArtWorks Day audience with the additions of "Glue!" and "Lots of glue!" tagged on to the end.

From “Chase and Kate Plus Eight,” presented by O’Bryonville, to the musical stylings of Tapestry, ArtWorks Day was a whirlwind of celebration, insanity, and wild dance routines. All held together by the skillful and hilarious emceeing of Jake Speed (who only added to the impression that ArtWorks Day had somehow been transformed into a musical), the presentations flowed smoothly, each offering a special glimpse into the personality and progress of each project.

I also thought I'd post the summary I wrote of the summer that I shared yesterday, because it's for all of you:

It’s been a relatively cool summer. Breezes and clouds have kept mural apprentices at a comfortable temperature as they paint, while other projects have remained snug in their studios. But, literal weather aside, it’s undeniable—this summer was hot! The burning colors of murals spreading like lava over city walls, sparks flying from the brainstorming minds in Room by Room conversations, heat—absolutely not metaphorical—emanating from the Glass Canopy’s kilns… the connections are endless, and easy to see. So though some mural apprentices may be quite proud of the tans they’ve cultivated over these last five weeks, the fact of the matter is that ArtWorks has created its own little suns at the heart of communities throughout Cincinnati this summer, and each and every one of us is a shiny ArtWorks sunbeam.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On Tour

A Clifton Heights apprentice works on painting in architectural details

Because of the incessant way the Documentary team tours the ArtWorks project circuit, one might think we would have had enough of driving from project to project and seeing what’s going on there. But not so! Today Alex and I had a new ArtWorks experience (for us, at least): we went on an ArtWorks tour! On the tour, we went to four murals—Northside, South Cumminsville, Over-the-Rhine, and Clifton Heights.

Each mural is making stunning and inspiring progress. South Cumminsville’s mural design showcases a surreal style, using architectural arches to frame scenes from the neighborhood. With a summery blue sky completely painted in, the apprentices at South Cumminsville are now moving on to filling in details, such as the flying hotdogs and glowing red crystal ball, which both make starring appearances in the mural.

Similarly, Clifton Heights has filled in the broad swaths of colors needed for their mural and are now doing detail work, working specifically on the many architectural landmarks of Clifton Heights that are featured in the mural, such as the old Fairview German Language School building and Old St. George church.

Even if you don’t have a chance to go on a tour with ArtWorks, you should certainly make a point to take a small tour yourself. The summer will be finished all too soon, and your time to catch a “before and after” is running out!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Glass Canopy Blog!

Check out Glass Canopy's personal blog!

Caps and Capes

Reporting at Covington mural

It’s been a jam-packed week for each and every ArtWorks summer project, and the Documentary project is no exception. This week, FilmMan and WriterWoman have donned their capes and caps (translate as: reflective vests and hard hats) and flown from project to project, gathering footage, recording voice-overs, and interviewing, interviewing, interviewing.

We’ve been working with two specific outcomes in mind: a Day in the Life film and a MuralWorks film. Having already gathered all of the footage we need for Day in the Life (which, among other things, involved an adventure into West Chester at 6 in the morning), all we have to do now is compile the many clips, cuts and recordings that we’ve collected so far into a manageable whole.

Our MuralWorks film is also gaining momentum. Though Alex and I might feel we’ve interviewed enough people to last a lifetime of MuralWorks films, we actually have a few more to go. But once we’ve interviewed our last staff member, community member, or past mural recipient, FilmMan will be free to edit and the MuralWorks film will be underway.

So we’re eagerly looking forward to ArtWorks day, coming right up on July 16th, where we’ll both get to view your presentations (which, from what we’ve seen, promise to be extremely entertaining) and present our own work. See you there!

Presentations, Continued, Continued

Even as the ArtWorks summer program reaches and quickly surpasses its halfway point, a few last presentations make their mark. The Room by Room presentation, which took place on June 30th, was of particular note. The beautifully choreographed presentation, which included a slideshow as well as well-rehearsed speeches prepared by each apprentice, brought many members of the audience to tears. Just as inspiring was the artwork presented to the Ronald McDonald House—gorgeous mixed media installation pieces which will bring new life to many of the rooms in the Ronald McDonald House. To see the inspiring nature of this presentation for yourself, watch the video below!

Primary Colors

An Evanston apprentice begins to paint with bold colors and shapes

Though different in almost every respect, including size, shape, and colors being used, the Covington and Evanston Murals have both made progress in a very exciting way—they’ve begun adding color to their murals as of July 2nd.

Muted grays, tans, and blues are emerging from the creamy background of Covington’s wall in the shapes of trees with complicated ridges of leaves, flittering blue birds, and people with large noses and wide eyes. A whimsical mural, the subdued palette being used will help to emphasize the antics of the many colorful animals that will roam throughout the mural’s panels, leading the viewer on a virtual tour of Covington and its landmarks.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Evanston mural. Big, bright, and bold, its large geometric shapes and intense colors immediately catch the eye of passersby, who stop to stare for moments on end before moving on their way. On such dim, cool days as the ones we’ve been having this week just before the 4th of July, the paints that Evanston is working with seem almost to jump from their buckets and into the surrounding air, warming the landscape of Evanston with pale pink, rich blue, and vibrant orange.

So a colorful congratulations to those murals who’ve broken into their paint buckets: Covington and Evanston to be sure, but also Columbia Tusculum, Northside, and Clifton Heights. Not just a promise of the great things these murals are bringing to both the apprentices working on them and the communities of Greater Cincinnati, there’s also the simple fact that these colorful new visions are, in the words of one Evanston apprentice, “Really pretty.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

ArtWorks in the Press!

One of our own recently made it into the Cincinnati Enquirer! In case you didn’t see the article, published on July 8th, a scan of it is attached here.

Also, Clifton Heights was featured on Channel 9 on July 1st. The story can be seen here: http://www.wcpo.com/news/local/story/Mural-Going-Up-In-Clifton-Heights/z3fouUevHUCoySgiRwCEAw.cspx

Pirates or Ninjas?

Priming at Over the Rhine!

One of the first mural projects to begin painting their wall, Over-the-Rhine’s building has slowly made the transition from a pale mauve to a gleaming blanket of white. The mural prep process begins with scraping at the wall with wire-bristled brushed to remove grime and create a smooth surface on which to paint. When I asked the apprentices how they know the wall’s been scraped enough, one replied, laughing, “When it stops misting, basically,” referring to the fine clouds of brick dust that billow from their busily scraping brushes.

As the chorus of wire brushes serenaded me, I looked out from the scaffolding and into nearby Washington Park. Though I felt a bit guilty, gazing at the view as the mural apprentices scraped, I couldn’t help admiring it—Over-the-Rhine’s scaffolding provides the perfect vantage point from which to survey Washington Park and the stately red of Music Hall rising behind the full green trees. Then again, the apprentices don’t seem to be missing the view too much—as the days of wire-brushing become hour after hour of priming, there is very little moaning or groaning to be found, heard only, perhaps, from the apprentice who arrives last each morning and is therefore assigned the task of wiping away the drips of white paint that fall onto the bottom of the wall from paintbrushes higher up on the scaffolding. Besides the dismay and gentle teasing which accompany this job, though, everything said at Over-the-Rhine is shiningly lighthearted. Calls of “Which is better: pirates or ninjas?” or “Werewolves or vampires?” echo from apprentice to apprentice, mingling with the voices of teaching artists as they advocate frequent water breaks.

Though I’m not sure if the question of ninjas or pirates was ever satisfactorily answered, there’s no question about the successful progress Over-the-Rhine’s made on their mural.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Intelligent Designs

Screen printing at Tower Place

Though Tower Place Mall was eerily empty when the Documentary team went to visit the Tower Place project one morning last week, the room where the apprentices were working was bright and pleasant. Stretched across the buttery yellow wood of the floor and sketching as they searched through the books which were scattered across the room, the studio was a vision of artistry. Tower Place is creating panels that feature Cincinnati landmarks held within decorative frames. The panels will be hung later in Tower Place Mall. When we visited on the 23rd, the apprentices were working on these decorative frames, the assortment of books sprawled across the room serving as their inspiration. Some books were full of floral Victorian bouquets, others had image after image of henna designs within their pages, and still others offered up stylized Art Nouveau prints for the perusal of apprentices. Even with all of this inspiration before them, some apprentices decided to go it alone. One, Vincent, was working freehand. "I'm already kind of interested in this stuff," he said. "I've just got designs in my head."

Just a few days later, when we visited the team as they worked at the Clay Street Press, we saw the designs beginning to become a reality. Using a computer to make the designs crisp and flawless, the image of a decorative frame was then placed on a light board before being transferred onto transparent paper. I also saw the image designed to go inside this frame-- a light-filled picture of Cincinnati's iconic Museum Center. These images will later be screen printed together to form a finished product both historic and fun, drawing on the work Tower Place brainstormed earlier as well as real images from Cincinnati.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Presentations, Continued

Enjoy this video of the Visionaries and Voices Mural presentation in Northside on June 19th! For more reading on this fabulous project, see the “Presenting…Presentations” entry, below.