Artists, Makers Open Their Doors in Camp Washington for ‘Made in Camp’ Community Event

Made in Camp will feature dozens of artists Oct. 8, 2022.

click to enlarge Made in Camp will be held Oct. 8, 2022. - Photo: Provided by Wave Pool
Photo: Provided by Wave Pool
Made in Camp will be held Oct. 8, 2022.

Nestled between Clifton and Fairmount and preceded by a century-long history of manufacturing and production, today’s Camp Washington is teeming with creative energy. Artists, makers and manufacturers have reimagined former factories and buildings as new spaces for creation and innovation.

Many of them will open their doors to the public for tours and demonstrations for Made In Camp on Saturday, Oct. 8, from noon to 4 p.m.

Now in its fifth year, Made In Camp is a free, neighborhood-wide open house designed to connect the public with makers, artists, collectives and organizations who have studios, galleries and workshops in the Camp Washington community. The 2021 event included 34 participating venues along main roads Colerain Avenue, Spring Grove Avenue, Hopple Street and adjacent side streets.

This year’s event is expected to feature a similar number of venues along the same route (as of press time, Wave Pool hasn’t announced a list of participating venues). Live music will be performed at CampSITE Sculpture Park, the American Sign Museum and the Camp Washington Community Board; some of the musical artists include Static Falls, Fairmount Girls and All Seeing Eyes. Pizza will be provided at FLAG Studio by sculpture artist Joe Girandola.

Cal Cullen, executive director of Wave Pool and one of the founders of Made In Camp, says the event has grown consistently since its inauguration in 2017. Its mission is to highlight the neighborhood’s artist and maker community, which Cullen says is very active but often “hidden from view.”

“I want people who drive through Camp Washington each day on their commute to maybe think of the painters, welders, printers and carvers that are working within these buildings as they pass by, rather than thinking of them as vacant or underutilized, as perhaps many might before attending this event,” Cullen tells CityBeat.

From the outside, Camp Washington (which residents often affectionately referred to as “Camp” or “the Camp”) reflects aspects of its industrial past. The neighborhood was the center of Cincinnati’s pork industry in the early 20th century, employing thousands of residents at meatpacking plants. Like other manufacturing facilities, the plants are no longer in operation, but they’ve found new life through a present-day artistic renaissance (it’s worth noting, too, that many decades-old manufacturers like SpringDot, Queen City Steel Treating Company, Meyer Tool, and Queen City Sausage continue to thrive. Camp Washington Chili, founded in 1940, is still a savory mainstay).

Tod Swormstedt, founder of the American Sign Museum and one of the Made In Camp founders, says Camp Washington today is “where art meets industry.”

“There’s a lot of industrial fabrication happening in the Camp, particularly in metal and plastic, which is some of the same ‘fabrication’ that artists use,” Swormstedt says. “The artists and the factories are using the same materials, but obviously one is creating consumer goods and one is creating art.”

Swormstedt sees the American Sign Museum as a metaphor for where art meets industry: the museum collects and preserves commercial signs (made by fabricators) and presents them in a gallery setting (for artistic appreciation and education). That connection opens up larger conversations about the distinction between commercial art and fine art.

“I know it’s usually black and white, but I see some grayness in there,” says Swormtedt. “The collaboration between fine artists and industrial fabricators, that’s kind of what’s behind the whole idea of Made in Camp.”

The American Sign Museum will be offering tours, opportunities to make your own sticker designs and conversations with local artist Gratia Banta.

Katherine Colborn is a Cincinnati-based artist who’s returning to Made In Camp after participating last year. She’s called Camp Washington home since 2020, operating out of Jessamine Studios alongside 11 other artists near Colerain Avenue. Colborn says she wasn’t seeking out Camp Washington as an artistic base, but the affordable rates mixed with the energy and closeness of the creative community have made it ideal.

Last year for Made In Camp, Colborn set up a stamp-making station at Jessamine Studios for people to ink their own stamps. This year, she’s welcoming people into her workspace at Jessamine Studios and inviting conversations around her work. Colborn, a painter, will be exploring how ideas of threshold and sanctuary can exist simultaneously in the same space.

“These events are so great for getting people interested and introduced to all of the creative arts in Cincinnati,” says Colborn. “When you get the opportunity to hop into an artist’s studio, it’s an intimate experience, and it’s also a sort of kernel. It becomes a spark that maybe ignites interest in going to see other gallery shows or going to see the museum shows… It’s a great way to get people interested in the arts because those initial conversations with an artist can really open up a lot.”

A few blocks southwest of Jessamine Studios, Hive13 will be offering tours, activities and demonstrations in the parking lot next to its building. The creative space is encouraging people to consider music as a form of making, in the spirit of DIY (“do-it-yourself”). Most notably, it will be holding demonstrations of a Tesla coil, a high-voltage instrument that can make music by
changing frequencies.

Konstantinos Perentesis, Hive13’s outreach committee chairperson, says Hive13 is a community workshop that provides resources like tools, hardware and equipment for makers.Perentesis says their community includes artists, metalworkers, welders, educators, machinists and engineers. Unlike traditional studio spaces, Hive13 members can access the facility 24/7.

“As a community makerspace, we strive to be not only a place where people can come and see what we do but also, we can celebrate other makers in our community,” Perentesis says. “Camp Washington has been a hub for makers for such a long time. We should be able to celebrate each other and celebrate our work and be able to celebrate that this is Camp Washington— we do such cool stuff here. You should come, too.”

Made in Camp runs noon-4 p.m. Oct. 8 in Camp Washington. Info: wavepoolgallery.org/made-in-camp.

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