ProjectsCincinnati Park Board – The Black Brigade Monument (2012)

The Black Brigade Monument in Smale Riverfront Park (2012)

Cooperating with William Mallory Sr. for establishment of a concept and design approach for a monument honoring the memory of The Black Brigade of Cincinnati, Jan organized a diverse team local artists including sculptors John Hebenstreit and Carolyn Manto, creative writer Tyrone Williams and graphic designer Erik Brown. John Cline is the owner of Casting Arts and Technology, the Cincinnati foundry that cast all high relief panels and freestanding figures for the monument. Under Jan’s direction, this group developed a highly original concept for a monument that gives visitors an unforgettable introduction to this significant Cincinnati Civil War story. To see an audio visual program developed by Jan and Joyce Kamen about the story and project, see

  • Jan’s first conceptual sketch presented to Mr. William Mallory included bronze figures of PH Jones and William Dickson at the moment of flag presentation, situated in a tree grove. The plan was for a pathway around and descending behind the figures on a pedestal. The kitchen table and chair open the story with a newspaper recounting the story in the context of the news of the day on September 2, 1862.

  • Jan’s second conceptual sketch includes two life-sized bronze figures, one group being a Mother and Child seated on the berm of the fortress earthwork (typical of the rubble and earth fortifications created to defend Cincinnati in 1862) and the second being a member of the Black Brigade who touches the names engraved on the granite slab. The table, chair, newpaper set pieces still announce the story setting, and the panels around the wall are more formalized, resembling somehow a “Stations of the Cross” narrative. Seating elements in the foreground are boulders that encourage a discussion circle with visiting groups.

  • Jan’s linework for the map of fortifications created in just nine days by 12,000 volunteers and militia. This drawing is overlain with a tonal rendering of the topography and will be created by Matthews of Pittsburgh, the oldest foundry in America, also fabricator of the bronze text panels and newspaper element.

  • A century-old chair from a Maine homestead and kitchen table from a Cincinnati flea market were disassembled and cast in bronze. Here creative team members Erik Brown, Mr. William Mallory and John Hebenstreit visit the foundry for an fabrication update.

  • Mr. William Mallory Sr. visits the Black Brigade Monument for the first time on September 18, 2012.

  • The newspaper resting on a typical kitchen table is an accurate dimension for the historic Cincinnati Daily Gazette, though the scale of type and large column width is designed for public legibility. Jan researched, wrote the texts and laid out the page for the newspaper sculpture which was cast in Pittsburgh by Matthews.

  • Carolyn Manto – Sculpture Carolyn modelled the Mother and Child ensemble first in small scale for gesture and proportion, and had the form digitally enlarged and carved in high density foam, to which she applied plastilina and created the final sculpture.

  • Carolyn reviews the wax casting of the face of the Child. The body is in the background. This image gives an idea of how a sculpture is segmented for moulding and casting, then is reassembled by welding, detailed to remove seams, and patinaed.

  • Carolyn Manto and her newly-installed “Mother and Child” sculpture.

  • Carolyn’s double portrait of William Dickson and Lew Wallace, in plastilina state.

  • Carolyn Manto’s double portrait of Dickson and Wallace, cast in bronze.

  • The eastern wing of the monument. The siting of the monument is in the exact location of one chapter of the Black Brigade’s story – where the men were forced to squat and wait for crossing the river into forced labor. The Roebling Bridge (seen in background) had not yet been completed in 1862.

  • Vintage engravings from Harpers Weekly were used to illustrate some of the story, with texts written by Jan. Poetry by Tyrone Williams sits to the right side of each panel throughout the monument and represents the collective voice of the men of the Black Brigade.

  • John modelled the head of PH Jones to resemble Mr. William Mallory in honor of his persistance in bringing the story to the public at large via a permanent monument to the Black Brigade. This is the plastilina state of the life-sized sculpture.

  • The bronze cast head of PH Jones, for which Mr. Mallory graciously lent his own early adulthood likeness.

  • John’s figure pair of Colonel William Dickson and PH Jones shows the commander of the Black Brigade receiving the gift of a sword from the Brigade upon their return home on September 20, 1862. The actual sword is in the collection of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

  • Emily works a patina on the Dickson figure in the yard of Creative Casting in Camp Washington.

  • The two figures needed to be rigged to lower simultaneously into position because of the contact points on the sword that rests between both sets of hands.

  • Aside from the challenges of weight and position, the exact placement of steel pins and holes in the granite pavement was necessary to secure the figures into place.

  • Dickson and Jones in place at the west end of the monument pathway.

  • Jan, Mr. William Mallory Sr. and Willie Carden, Director of the Cincinnati Parks Department, finish their visit together of the newly-dedicated monument.