Arts & Entertainment Business News

Art Academy of Cincinnati celebrates OTR relocation

Anyone who reads the comments on our local paper’s stories on urban redevelopment stories or downtown and Over-the-Rhine crime stories knows that plenty of city and suburban residents are perfectly comfortable with our city core maintaining its status quo. In contrast, those dreaming bigger dreams for Cincinnati know that changes are necessary to build and maintain a positive presence of young, motivated visionaries.

The Art Academy of Cincinnati demonstrated its dedication to change on June 1, 2004, when it began a 13-month construction project culiminating in the Academy’s relocation from Eden Park to Over the Rhine in July of 2005.

Originally called the McMicken School of Design, the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s home was in Eden Park, in conjunction with the Cincinnati Art Museum, from 1884 until 2005. The relocation adventure has, unsurprisingly, united the city’s artistic vision and inured to the benefit of the city the Academy and its students.

“I think it was a pretty bold move for [the Academy] to come down to Over the Rhine,” says 2011 graduate Avril Thurman, a print-making major. “They had been in Eden Park for so many years. I think a lot of people were really hesitant about [the move.] But there is a lot more electricity and life. Kids come to the Art Academy, and it’s the first big city they’ve lived in. I think that’s a good experience for them. I think there’s a lot of opportunity to make good connections.”

Large cities define themselves by their access to culture and arts; they judge us by our access to the same. Moving the Academy into Over the Rhine plopped aspiring artists into the most inspiring artistic community our city has to offer.

Zach Stubenwoll, who graduated in the Spring of 2011 from the Academy’s Visual Communication Design program, lives in Main Street in Over the Rhine and does freelance web design and art projects out of his apartment. As a member of the Cincinnati chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), he attends meetings in Over-the-Rhine; he loves Second Sunday on Main; he is religious about attending Final Friday. One of his professors co-owns Higher Level Art, an organization that collaborated with ArtsWave to bring us Paint the Street, spanning 6 blocks of 12th Street in September of 2010.

“There really is a strong connection to the community, not only with the students but also with the faculty, who are working professionals and creating their own art in the community while teaching,” Stubenwoll summarizes. “I see students, alumni, and teachers out at galleries and local bars.”

Now that these students have graduated, they are investing themselves back into the artistic revitalization of OTR and the surrounding neighborhoods. Thurman and Stubenvoll both glow when they discuss the Art Academy, their May graduations, and their most recent projects.

Thurman grew up in a log cabin in Brown County, Indiana and moved to the city as a young child with her mother, now a Forest Park resident. After a brief stint as a University of Cincinnati student, she moved downtown to join the intimate and inspiring program at the Academy. At the Academy, Thurman had opportunities to study in Brooklyn for six months; since graduation, she spent a month working on a project in Louisville before returning home.

Back in the city, Thurman has dedicated her efforts to a local project she discovered through a fellow Academy graduate. She describes her current exhibition project as being, “about the blurring or bleeding of visual arts and poetry. There will be poetry readings. The Cincinnati Gallery in Over the Rhine is working on the publication. We have mostly Cincinnati artists.”

Stubenvoll has likewise invested his talents and skills in the local art scene since graduation. A Hamilton native, he also transitioned from UC to the Academy, inspired by the school’s intimacy and opportunities. Since graduation, he has remained invested in the community, doing largely freelance graphic design and web design.

As the community has inspired and continues to inspire Academy students who invest their talents back into the city upon graduation, the Academy’s presence in Over-the-Rhine has contributed to a significant increased enrollment in the school. New enrollment this Fall is up more than 20% over last year, when the Academy boasted 4 graduates with Masters of Arts in Arts Education and 36 degrees to undergraduate students. “ACC’s class of 2011 is a dynamic, engaged group of young artists, designers, and art educators, reports Diane K. Smith, Art Academy of Cincinnati’s Academic Dean. “[It is] our largest graduating class since ACC’s move to its new campus in Over-the-Rhine.”

A greater downtown student body means more downtown residents building lasting ties to our city. “Not only do we have a growth in fall enrollment numbers but likewise a growth in student diversity,” reports Joe Fisher, Associate Director of Enrollment Management, “additionally, the Art Academy Residence Hall at Vine and 12th has been filled to capacity and we have overflow student living arrangements at Jackson Lofts and adjacent buildings-bringing new residents to the vitality of OTR.”

The Art Academy of Cincinnati is located at 1212 Jackson Street in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati.

Art Academy Paint the Street picture by 5chw4r7z.

Arts & Entertainment News

PIPPIN Kicks off Carnegie’s Diverse Theater Season

The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center kicks off its 2011-2012 season with the provocative tale of young Pippin’s relentless journey through politics, war, sex, and marriage seeking his “corner of the sky.” PIPPIN’s tale of self-discovery is itself edgy and glossy; the score is bright and clever; and the Carnegie production promises all the glam its audience can handle: “young, spry, sexy dancers and performers is what this show needs,” reports Joshua Steele, The Carnegie’s Managing Director, “and we’ve got them.”

More than half of the production’s cast is comprised of the region’s top young talent from the award-winning musical theatre programs at Northern Kentucky University, The University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, and Wright State University.

Adventurous, insatiable young Pippin is played by Chris Stewart, a gifted Nebraska native who is active with the the Children’s Theater of Cincinnati, the Showboat Majestic, the Cincinnati Opera, and the Commonwealth Theatre Company.

The fresh pizzaz of the young talent is matched by the professionalism and experience of Greater Cincinnati theatre favorites including Deb Girdler, Brooke Rucidlo, and Jim Stump. Girdler, whose resume boasts 40 years of stellar performances including a record-breaking 46 parts on the Showboat Majestic and 25 critically-acclaimed turns at the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, takes on the comedic role of Pippin’s grandmother, Berthe. A show-stopping number in the first act filled with verve and energy lets Girdler truly shine. Rucidlo, regarded as one of the area’s top rising young talents, plays PIPPIN’s non-traditional ingénue, Catherine. Stump, the Artistic Director of Cincinnati’s New Edgecliff Theatre was last seen as Mr. Bumble in Carnegie’s production of Oliver! Here, he appears in the role of Pippin’s father, Charles.

PIPPIN challenges as it inspires. “It is a very self-aware show,” Steele says, “When you walk in, you are completely aware that you are watching a show. It satirizes the traditional theatrical process and all the things we expect from it.”

The show is delivered by a complex, talented production team. PIPPIN marks the second time the Carnegie has partnered with Commonwealth Theater Company, the professional production arm of Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Theater and Dance. Commonwealth contributes the peerless vision of multiple Acclaim Award Winners, Ken Jones (director) and Jamey Strawn (music director). In 2008, the pair brought the critically acclaimed Carnegie / Commonwealth collaboration of Jesus Christ Superstar, which set and still holds Carnegie theatre attendance records.

The Carnegie starts its season with the wile and sheen of PIPPIN and ups the ante with its second production. From November 4-20, 2011, Carnegie joins with CCM Drama to bring the regional premiere of In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, about a doctor at the dawn of electricity who invents the vibrator to treat hysteria in women. “The content of it probably pushes the envelope for us at The Carnegie,” reports Steele.

The second half of the Carnegie season is much more traditional. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I will be presented in concert with musicians from the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra from January 20-29, 2012. The season closes with Pump Boys & Dinettes running April 13-29, 2012. “We have some nice variety this season,” concludes Steele, “and PIPPIN will kick us off!”

PIPPIN will feature eight performances, all during weekends between August 19, 2011 and September 3, 2011. Tickets may be purchased through The Carnegie Box Office at 859.957.1940 (open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5:00 pm) or
online .

PIPPIN picture provided.

Business Development News

Sustain Brand brings locally grown and locally owned to the Queen City

Kudos to Matthew Kennedy and friends, owners of Sustain Brands, for implementing a sustainable marketing model that brings locally owned, locally grown goodies to our grocers’ shelves, satiates our bellies with delicious, nutritious treats, and delivers profits back to our community’s lesser-known farmer’s markets and growers.

Matthew’s company, Kennedy Creative, has worked for over 25 years developing branding and marketing strategies for large national companies based in Cincinnati including United Dairy Farmers and Kroger. In 2009, inspired by a belief that strong regional brands lead to strong regional economies, the company began an initiative to help local growers expand their consumer base. Sustain Brand was born– a single label uniting different products from various growers and producers bearing one important similarity: everything is sourced and grown within a 300 mile radius.

So. Maranara and salsa from Kentucky? Check. Jams and jellies from Amish country? Check. If it’s grown and made within 300 miles of the distribution area, smaller mom and pop producers are eligible to join the Sustain family.

According to John Blatchford, an MBA student at University of Cincinnati working in marketing for Sustain, the brand’s ultimate objective is to expand products from local farmers into a larger Cincinnati-area market.

“The idea of shipping food across the country for the sake of achieving economies of scale doesn’t make sense for many reasons,” he said. “It’s something that [Sustain is] trying to combat while pushing the local movement forward.”

Indeed, the average food item travels 1,500 miles to reach your grocer’s shelf. Higher transportation expenses increase costs, and additional miles traveled compound the negative impact of harmful CO2 emissions.

One of Sustain Brand’s most important objectives is to provide marketing power to local brands. Monica and Mill Long from KHI Foods in Burlington, Kentucky manufacture salsas, including a delicious “hot” peach raspberry with a delightful kick, soups like chicken gumbo, minestrone, sweet creamy tomato, and vegetable beef, and “12 Veggie Marinara” sauces in five flavors that make a quick, healthy dinner a snap. These products are all marketed under the Sustain brand.

Both Sustain and KHI are relentlessly devoted to premium, healthy products. The first 12 items in KHI’s marinara sauces are all vegetables; you will not find “tomato paste” anywhere on their product label. The sodium level is a mere fraction of most commercial tomato sauces.

Like Sustain, KHI Foods is a socially conscious company; it manufactures fortified products with farm-fresh fruits and vegetables specifically intended to combat malnutrition in patients with cancer and other illnesses.

As a result of the marketing efforts of Sustain, KHI Foods products are available at some of our favorite urban groceries including Madison’s at Findlay Market, Clifton Natural Foods, and Park+Vine, where owner Dan Korman reports that the products, especially the salsas and marinara sauces, are very popular.

But Sustain has looked to a greater audience, ultimately marketing products from KHI Foods and other local growers to fifty total urban and suburban grocery stores including Kroger locations and, most recently, fourteen local Remke Biggs stores.

When Sustain partners with local growers, the products bear the Sustain label on the front. The label promises the product was “Locally Owned, Locally Grown.” In furtherance of the brand’s truly collaborative intent, the back of the label bears the manufacturer’s name and a brief description of the company.

In addition to products from local growers KHI Foods, Sustain markets Amish jams and noodles from Mrs. Miller’s in Fredricksburg, Ohio as well as more familiar local brands including Cactus Pear’s salsas, gelato and sorbet from Madisono’s and four flavors of artisan coffee from La Terza Roasterie.

But Matthew Kennedy and his marketing team dream big. In Sustain’s grander vision, you will be able to purchase Sustain brand products from a grocery store in Topeka, Houston, Charleston, and everywhere in between, with the confidence that you are supporting a local business and benefiting the environment all while purchasing a quality product. As the label says, “Dig in and eat your way to sustainability!”

images: Park+Vine carries Sustain Brand ; Sustain Brand marinara is a fraction of the sodium of name brand sauces. Provided.