“It’s Your Thing,” a mural planned for 311 E. 13th St. in Pendleton, borrows the name of a 1969 Funk anthem by Cincinnati’s Isley Brothers, whose lyrics have since become part of everyday jargon. It will be adjacent to the latest Cincinnati Legends mural, honoring singer Mamie Smith. Born here in the 1880s, she went on to become the first African-American Blues recording artist, paving the way for “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday.
Over the past decade, ArtWorks has created more than 175 murals in Greater Cincinnati. The nonprofit last year made a conscious effort to address social issues and strengthen community-building through installations like “Faces of Homeless” in Over-the-Rhine and “Razzle Camp” in Camp Washington, which was designed with input from immigrants. This summer it will partner with Cincinnati Public Schools for “The Refuge Project,” a series of panels that will welcome patients and families to the Wellness Center being built at the Academy of World Languages in O’Bryonville.
Building Inclusive Communities: A Mural Project of Visionaries + Voices and ArtWorks, at 3056 Madison Road, Oakley, is being designed by an outsider artist from V+V. The nonprofit for creatives with disabilities opened its Visionarium studio and gallery next door, at 3054 Madison, late last year. “The Early Bird,” at 1715 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine, will recognize the “cheerful givers, hard workers and overcomers” who participate in Saturday Hoops games and other mentoring activities through the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative.
“All in This Story Together” will be painted outside the offices of Women Writing for (a) Change, 6906 Plainfield Road, Silverton. The organization has provided a nurturing environment for female voices for more than 25 years. This year is the 125th anniversary of the Women’s Art Club of Cincinnati, the oldest women’s art club in the country. “Emerge,” 1200 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, will mark that anniversary. Artistic pursuits also find a haven under the outstretched arms of “Creatress,” to be painted on Brentwood Bowl, 9176 Winton Road in Springfield Township.
Three projects salute Cincinnati’s urban identity. Artist James Pate, an Avondale native who installed portraits of African-American women and girls inside the Duke Energy Convention Center with ArtWorks last year, has designed an Avondale Heroes Mural for 3371 Reading Road. “Avondale Pride,” 3529 Reading Road, brings a series of three murals by artist Cedric Michael Cox to the new Avondale Town Center. In Pendleton, “New Lines: Bolivar Alley” will employ street-art styles to call attention to the system of narrow passageways in the city’s core.
Cards also come in play this summer. The philanthropy Interact for Health is joining ArtWorks for the Mental Health Social Intervention Card Game Project. It intends to lift the stigmas associated with depression and suicide and prompt youths ages 15-18 into conversations about mental health. Cincinnati Music Legends Card Deck, being produced in partnership with Northside’s Shake It Records, will depict local icons.
Once again, ArtWorks’ Hero Design Company will make custom superhero capes for more than 100 children facing emotional, physical or situational hardship. And photography and videography apprentices from Team Click will document the progress of select murals.
These projects join the previously announced “Cincinnati Paints by Numbers: Fiona.” The Cincinnati Zoo’s little hippo that could, whose image is already on everything from T-shirts and beer cans, now will be immortalized in a mural at 910 Race St., Downtown. Its design was put to a public vote, and ArtWorks also is giving fans the chance to buy tickets and paint alongside artists and apprentices. To purchase a spot, go here.
It’s your thing, Cincinnati. Do what you know you wanna do.
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