A Cincinnati Love Letter

ArtWorks unveils Ink Your Love project on the MidPoint Midway

During MidPoint Music Festival’s Sept. 25-27 run, the MidPoint Midway, curated by ArtWorks and situated on 12th Street between Vine and Walnut streets in Over-the-Rhine, will play host to local artists and writers expounding in their own particular way upon the theme of “Ink Your Love.” The end result of Ink Your Love will be a crowd-sourced poem expressing pride and, yes, love for Cincinnati.

Based on The Lexington Tattoo Project, which saw collaborative duo Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde commission a Lexington love-poem that was then dissected and dispersed to 253 citizens willing to get portions of the poem permanently tattooed on their bodies, Ink Your Love on the MidPoint Midway is a launch party for the upcoming 2015 project (no one is getting tattooed that weekend), Artworks Cincinnati Ink, says Cori Wolff, director of public art for ArtWorks. (The number of tattoo participants was narrowed to 200 for Cincinnati’s version.)

“We put out a call to artists — anybody working with the theme of ink, (whether in) drawing, painting, poetry, text-based works or installations that had to do with ink, went through the submissions and selected four artists to participate,” Wolff says of the umbrella Ink Your Love undertaking. “The different, creative ways people answered the question was so great.”

Four artists comprise the heart of Ink Your Love on the MidPoint Midway: Amanda Crane, Jessica Hoh, NipNip Zine and Chase Public.

Artist Amanda Crane will operate Ink Your Icons, providing postcards upon which people can write their favorite Cincinnati “place” memories about notable spots “like Music Hall and other places people would like to see preserved,” Wolff says. Crane will collect the poems to be used with a larger project in mind.

Jessica Hoh is initiating a project entitled Write It On Your Heart, Cincinnati Loves You Back. At her booth, Hoh will give away a limited-edition print (only 60 total) of a typographic love letter to Cincinnati in the shape of an anatomically correct heart.

“The prints will focus especially on things people loved about the summer of 2014 in Cincinnati,” Hoh says, “and will be completed before the event itself. There will also be mannequins on site for people to draw and write on, so visitors can also ‘ink’ their love for Cincinnati with markers.”

NipNip Zine is curating a project called Erasure. The quirky local literary collective will print and blow up selections from Cincinnati-based literary texts, history books and more to be hung at their booth. Marker will then be taken to the prints, creating images on top of the pre-existing text; Wolff says the places that are not drawn on will form a poem.

Chase Public, the Northside-based collaborative art and assembly collective focusing on poetry, returns to the Midway with another iteration of their short-order poetry booth, whereby participants tell a quick story to a poet who then translates it into poetry via a typewriter in roughly minutes, allowing for minimal to zero edits and no filters.

Colleen Houston, Artworks vice president of programs and operations, says Chase Public “will generate hundreds and hundreds of these Cincinnati poems and from there collect one larger poem.” Seven different poems will be selected to make up the larger poem (the number seven inspired by the fabled Seven Hills of Cincinnati).

“It’s a really creative approach, with tremendous community engagement going into the writing of the poem,” Houston says.

This overall poem will be the ultimate love letter of place and from there the poem will be segmented into 200 portions and sent to local tattoo artists to craft into permanence on Cincinnatians who have signed up to participate. (For those wanting to craft a love letter to Cincinnati on their own time, ArtWorks will be circulating a mailbox around public places in the city to deposit your work for inclusion in a larger, ongoing public art project to be unveiled at a later date, when the tattoo designs have been completed.)

“We’re working on some really exciting ideas on how to do a community unveiling of the poem,” Houston says. “It’s really multi-faceted; this project will be ongoing over the course of the year.”

In addition to the four artists selected to host the four participatory booths on the Midway, Ink Your Love will also feature Ryan Little and interactive installation art and screen-printing collective Able Projects (bringing the ever-popular skateboarding favorite skateABLE Track); a live-painting installation called GargantuHANDS from the artist OGRE, featuring local artists Christian Dallas, Victor Strunk and ArtWorks apprentice Jessica Holtman painting on huge plywood arms affixed to lamp posts throughout the Midway; and a slew of kid-friendly interactive activities, including a chance to join in the ink action with temporary tattoos designed by ArtWorks apprentices.

The 12th and Vine surface lot will also feature many local food vendors, including beer from Christian Moerlein. ©

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