To quote from one of the classic songs released by Cincinnati’s King Records, “There’s a thrill up on the hill — let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.”
When Hank Ballard and the Midnighters recorded that in 1960, they probably weren’t thinking about the arts scene in Price Hill. Not hardly. But as fate would have it, it fits perfectly with the May 17 Price Hill Thrill artist studio/gallery tour organized by downtown’s Weston Gallery.
“There are amazing spaces,” says Dennis Harrington, director of the nonprofit gallery, which is using the tour as a fundraiser. This is the Weston’s fifth such tour; previously it has sponsored ones of such neighborhoods as Northside and Brighton.
Choosing Price Hill is a riskier proposition for Harrington. It’s too large and hilly for a walking tour since it comprises three distinct neighborhoods representing some six square miles overall — Lower Price Hill, East Price Hill and West Price Hill. And it’s not considered one of Cincinnati’s hip or more artistic neighborhoods, except for a few spots like its Incline District high above the Ohio River.
Harrington has solved the first problem by providing shuttle buses to the various venues. The 2-5 p.m. tour, which costs $35 and includes food, drink and entertainment by Comet Bluegrass All-Stars at a 5-7 p.m. closing reception, begins and ends at the Dunham Arts Center in the Dunham Recreation Complex at 1945 Dunham Way in West Price Hill.
As for the second problem, Harrington doesn’t believe it is true. Price Hill has enough artists and artisans, often working below the radar, to warrant such a tour. And it also has a variety of spaces to show their work. To prove it — and to offer a preview of what you can expect on May 17 — he offered his own advance visit to a few of the destinations and artists.
It started at an old factory building — it has been home to manufacturers of both matzo and baseball gloves — on West Eighth Street in Lower Price Hill. Occupying a spacious 9,000-square-foot area on one floor is an architecture/design collective called DPMT 7, where Vince Sansalone and Whitney Hamaker displayed their group’s radical approach to providing solutions to architectural problems.
“Quite often, we ask the question we wish was asked of us,” says Sansalone, who — like Hamaker — teaches at University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.
Their space has a large platform that delicately holds a plaster-cast model of a historic Italian city, Crevalcore, damaged in a 2012 earthquake. DPMT 7 had entered a competition for restoration ideas and won an honorable mention.
Elsewhere, there will be some galleries and pop-up spaces offering exhibitions of work by artists with Price Hill connections. One is the Flats Gallery on Price Avenue, which will be offering a group show of Elder High School alumni art students called We Were All Chiefs. The name refers to the school’s art instructor of 33 years, Bob Beemon, who is also Mr. Rhythm Man on WNKU-FM (and who has played “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go” on the air).
“He couldn’t remember anybody’s name so he called them all ‘chief,’ ” Harrington says.
One of the delights of Price Hill Thrill will be meeting promising artists who live and work in unconventional spaces. One is Polly Wilson, a Price Hill native and recent Kansas City Art Institute graduate, who has an attic-level apartment above the Music for Youth in Cincinnati Performing Arts Center, which is actually an older building on Warsaw Avenue in East Price Hill.
Her living area serves to showcase her very interesting, inquisitive work with combinations of unusual material. She even has a pile of violin and cello bows that can be repurposed for weaving. “I’ve been using horsehair from the bows that the kids can’t use anymore,” she says. “It’s stuff I salvage.”
At Tiger Lily Press, the fine-art printmaking studio in the Dunham Recreation Complex, printmaker-in-residence Jonpaul Smith is inking and pulling proofs of the special linoleum prints that will be sold in an edition of 50 on May 17 to commemorate Price Hill Thrill. The overall image is dense as hieroglyphics with its mysterious black icons mixed in with emblems for Skyline Chili, Kroger, P&G and more.
“I try to blend interests from my own personal artwork with things from Cincinnati,” Smith says. That work and much else from this very productive studio will be on display for Price Hill Thrill.
To buy tickets or for more information, visit westonartgallery.com.
CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN: [email protected]