ProjectsCommunity Based – Vine Street Murals and Can-paign (2005)

The themes and images of temporary murals created for the Vine Street corridor between Central Parkway and Liberty Street came from the hearts and minds of young people living in Over the Rhine. The workshop sponsored by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful served over 60 participants over 5 months working at Peaslee Neighborhood Center. Job readiness skills were learned by dozens of teen artists who became aware of the importance of public art and its responsibility to uplift life on the streets. Jan Brown Checco conceived of, designed and directed the project which included participants from the UC DAAP School of Fine Arts Education Program.

Project Sponsors : Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, The City of Cincinnati Safe and Clean Fund, and the Fifth Third Foundation. Impact OTR also supported our young artists. Installation assistance was provided by Model Group.

Assisting the artists are:
Sara Fraser, Victoria Allen, Erin Mallery, Roger Reifonas
Cans Lead Artist: Eliza Combs
Project Art Director: Jan Brown Checco

Impact OTR Youth Artists:
Carmella Flagg
Caprice Woods
Ken Whitfield
Demico Dunn
Cortez Bailey
Rasheen Blount
Earl Drain

  • Vine Street facades just north of 12th Street. For years, the businesses on Vine Street had been boarded up and drug dealers ruled the sidewalks of this historic neighborhood. The repercussions of abandonment were sorely felt by longtime residents who were not involved in but highly oppressed by crime.

  • Robin Henderson helps with planning the project, with measuring, materials procuration, and coordination of site preparation for the installation of murals.

  • 32 students from the DAAP School of Fine Art/Education worked with Impact OTR students to define subjects for the murals. Sketches and reviews were integral in the workshop training process.

  • Acrylic housepaints were painted onto primed vinyl canvas to make the murals weather resistant and portable. Cortez Bailey was the youth designer of this mural.

  • Caprice Woods and one of her can designs. Cans were recycled from the city depot, sandblasted and primed before transfering the student artists’ designs. Caprice won the YWCA Youth Recognition Prize for her work with us.

  • Caprice Woods’ finished can. The colorful and positive images and words provided by young artists on temporary, movable murals and on reissued garbage cans were the first vestiges of renewal of what now is The Gateway Corridor of Over the Rhine. After the murals and cans were installed on Vine Street, there was a report of a reduction in crime of 12% in the neighborhood.

  • Ken Whitfield’s finished can

  • Carmella Flagg’s finished can

  • Rasheen Blout’s finished can

  • Eliza Combs assists in painting a can

  • The first can’s to be put onto Vine Street where the presence of no cans had aggravated littering.

  • A detail of “Down-the-Way Map Flag” (7’ x 9’) which was designed by a DAAP student and his partner youth artist, then finished by the ongoing workshop that lasted a total of five months. The materials that were used in the relief collage were collected on the streets while walking the sidewalks with workshop participants to visit mural sites. This mural is installed in City Hall just outside Council Chambers.

  • Students from Wyoming worked with residents of Over-the-Rhine and workshop volunteers. The group visited completed murals prior to working on their own designs.

  • The youth artists from the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment program created the art cans while earning wages and gaining employment experience. They were supported by workshop assistant Eliza Combs, and volunteers Erin Mallery and Sara Fraser.

  • Ron English proudly exhibits his mural during the dedication of the Vine Street Murals and Can-paign project.

  • Linda Holterhoff, Executive Director of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, congratulates the project participants in front of two murals.

  • Visiting master artist and architect Huang Jian of Beijing visits the project with Ran Ren and Jan to understand the philosophy of community-based art and its practical applications in urban blight control. The mural “Love Dove” is based on a design by Cincinnati master ceramist Terri Kern and includes words that describe the ideal community (in white) and signatures by all passers by (in red) that constitute a signing of the contract to be a positive force in community.

  • The first three murals installed. Not the least of the challenges of installation of these first murals was the acceptance of the drug dealers who “owned” this block, and who were there daily while Jan and Robin painted the plywood facings and installed the murals and frames. The locals came to know the project managers by name and would greet them in friendship when on the block together. In the final phases of the project Jan asked the youth artists to interview the drug dealers for their input on the next murals to be made. They would reply simply, “Something pretty, flowers?”

  • “Rainy Day Play” shows the typical approach to mural design for this workshop. All artists names are listed on the frames, and everyone developed the image together in the workshop.

  • Robin Henderson of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful retouches the frame during installation.

  • A local poses on his lunch break in front of “Like Father Like Daughter.”

  • “Flower Flurry” used rubber stamps to provide detail in this design.

  • Victoria Allen, volunteer, retouches the frame of “Any Ordinary Day.”

  • “City Living”

  • A design by student artist Cortez Bailey decorates the façade of an abandoned nightclub.

  • The impact of the artworks on the Vine Street corridor successfully provided positive presence just prior to the migration of art students and faculty of the Art Academy of Cincinnati to the OTR streets. Jan, a graduate of ACC, felt that introduction of art to the neighborhood prior to this social change, was an important part of her mission with the project.

  • Ron English dropped into the workshop and asked Jan for help in creating his first mural. She watched him as he made his scribble drawing portraits of presidents and common folks, and asked him what he’d like to say with a public mural. Ron provided the words on his mural, Jan laid out the border on vinyl canvas and painted the letter and stars for Ron.

  • Jan invited Ron back to the workshop where he did his portrait drawing on the center panel. Jan completed the design by adding his words and the stars on the border. Ron owns the mural which was displayed for several weeks at the Contact Center on Vine Street.

  • Ron English with David Pepper at the Dedication of the Vine Street and Can-Paign project

  • Detail of “Love Dove” and the textual elements.