Arts & Entertainment News

Metro Art Shelters Project to Transform Eyesores into Literary Canvasses

In January 2013, Cincinnati City Council voted to ban advertising on public right-of-way. The idea was to rid the city of all those bus bench billboards and other seemingly unsightly ads, but what the ordinance also did was force the removal of advertisements at all bus shelters throughout the city.

In a classic case of unintended consequences, City Council actually may have made the public right-of-way less attractive by making bus shelters to appear as abandoned and leaving scared sidewalk spaces where bus benches once sat.

The situation surrounding the bus shelters was so bad, in fact, that Downtown Cincinnati Inc. (DCI) found, through their annual safety perception survey, that individuals had a negative perception of safety around bus shelters.

While some viewed it as a misstep, ArtWorks and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) saw it as an opportunity to do something different.

Later this month, Cincinnatians will see the former ad space at 24 of these bus shelters, throughout Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, re-purposed as a canvass for local artists. The specific end product will include varied artistic styles all portraying some work of literature.

“Through this collaborative partnership between ArtWorks, SORTA, the Main Library, and DCI, these twelve bus shelters will receive a playful face-lift and add to the public art vibrancy in our central business district,” explained Cait Barnett, Marketing Manager at ArtWorks.

Barnett went on to say that SORTA will clean and paint the shelters and that the lead artist for ArtWorks, Ryan Little, and youth Apprentices between the ages of 14 and 21 will design graphic prints for the empty spaces.

The literary designs, ArtWorks officials say, were determined by the community through a public survey conducted by the Public Library of Cincinnati through June 30. Those literary inspirations came from the following pieces of work:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  1. Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  4. Six Dinner Sid by Inga Moore
  5. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  7. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  8. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  9. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  10. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  11. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  12. Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
  13. The Odyssey by Homer
  14. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  15. The Man in the Iron Mask by Paul Mantell
  16. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  17. The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne
  18. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  19. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  20. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  21. Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  22. The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop
  23. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
  24. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Metro Art Shelters project has also been championed by the Downtown Residents Council (DRC), who is hoping to raise $5,000 for public art throughout Downtown. Those interested in giving to the project can do so through the DRC’s power2give webpage.

According to ArtWorks, all donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar by The Johnson Foundation.

Learn more about power2give in our recent podcast with Greg Lutz from ArtWorks and Laura Belcher from power2give, who was kind enough to call in to the show from Washington D.C.

Arts & Entertainment News

PHOTOS: Over-the-Rhine Impresses More Than 30,000 Spectators for LumenoCity

In welcoming Louis Langrée, the new music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Over-the-Rhine hosted LumenoCity, a community-wide celebration which encompassed all five of Music Hall’s fine arts groups as well as the building itself. Performances included the Cincinnati Pops, Ballet, Opera, May Festival Chorus, and of course, the Symphony.

The ensemble was complimented by a light show that used the façade of Music Hall as a canvas. Projections synchronized with 40 minutes of live music, with song selections ranging from Tchaikovsky and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 to Broadway hits including selections from Les Miserables and Hairspray.

An estimated 15,000 spectators gathered at Washington Park Saturday night, and another 18,000 on Sunday, to witness this first-ever light and orchestra music spectacular.

“Five years ago, something like this never would have happened in Washington Park,” mentioned Edith Fairgrove, who was visiting from West Chester Township. “The area [Over-the-Rhine] has changed so much in such little time.”

A few seats away, Devon Marshall had traveled from Price Hill with his family to see the show both Saturday and Sunday. Each day, they parked at Union Terminal then took the free shuttle to Washington Park. Despite there being long lines for the shuttle after the show, Marshall appreciated the service.

“If Cincinnati keeps having events like this, we’re going to need that streetcar to help get people around,” he grinned.

With over 30,000 people in attendance this weekend, LumenoCity became the largest gathering in Washington Park, dwarfing the sizeable turnout for last year’s World Choir Games performances. As Over-the-Rhine’s revival continues to succeed, Cincinnatians look on with wonder as to how the historic neighborhood will impress them next.

Paige Malott and John Yung contributed photographs for this story.

Business News

URBANexchange returns this Wednesday to Moerlein Lager House

After a nearly two-month break, the UrbanCincy team is proud to kick-off the 2013 season of URBANexchange events.

Following a successful pilot run last year, URBANexchange will return this Wednesday for a full year of events at the Moerlein Lager House.

“Dozens of people excited about cities and Cincinnati’s urban core showed up at last year’s events, and we’re really excited about the possibilities for a full year’s worth of URBANexchanges in 2013,” said Randy Simes, Owner & Managing Editor of UrbanCincy.

2013 URBANexchange Events

UrbanCincy will be giving away prizes at each of the events in 2013, with a custom tile of Carew Tower (image) from Rookwood Pottery being given away at February’s URBANexchange courtesy of Downtown Cincinnati Incorporated.

The collection of events in 2013 will take place on the first Wednesday of each month to avoid conflict with weekly bike rides that occur in warmer weather, and when there are no home Reds baseball games. The group will always meet in the northwest corner of the Moerlein Lager House’s biergarten – closest to the ‘Moer to Go’ window and outdoor bike racks.

“We are really excited to continue to offer a monthly event where fellow urbanists can get together, share ideas, and expand their social networks,” stated Simes. “The goal with our URBANexchange events is to not create a platform for one-way presentations, but rather create an opportunity for city supporters in the region to get together and meet one another.”

URBANexchange events are always free and open to the public, and take place from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Moerlein Lager House (map) within Cincinnati’s Smale Riverfront Park. Those interested in attending are welcome to come and go anytime during the event, and friends are always encouraged.

Arts & Entertainment Opinion

Afghan Whigs return to Cincinnati to ring in 2013, possibly end career

Cincinnati’s Afghan Whigs reunited in 2012 for a world tour that began with a dozen dates in Europe, Israel, Australia, and Canada, appearances at various summer festivals including Lollapalooza 2012 in Chicago, and ended with a fall tour of the United States. The band did not appear in Cincinnati until late in the tour, and by all accounts the band’s October 25 performance at Bogart’s was a dominating one, centered around material from 1993’s Gentlemen and 1996’s Black Love.

The New Year’s Eve show differed dramatically from their October appearance, with a 9-piece stage band and almost no overlap in the set list. A horn section and backing singers enabled faithful performances of songs from 1965, the Whigs’ final and most technically ambitious studio album. Although the band performed much material from 1965 elsewhere in 2012, the band largely skipped over these songs at the October 25 performance in anticipation of the special New Year’s Eve show.

The Afghan Whigs play at Bogart’s on New Year’s Eve. Photograph by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy.

The full instrumentation of the 1965 tracks and the three closing songs from Black Love, played in sequence during the encore, were the show’s highlights. Conspicuously absent were “Milez is Dead”, “Honkey’s Ladder”, “Debonair”, and a number of other well-known songs that in place of ballads and other scattered material could have avoided the lull that marred the midpoint of Monday night’s show. Further, the PA mix was completely different – the searing sizzle of the guitars heard in October was pulled back and at times obscured by muddiness coming up from the bass guitar or some other source.

Hanging like a cloud over Monday night’s show was the knowledge that it was probably the final live performance by the Afghan Whigs, ever. Singer Greg Dulli announced that possibility late in the evening, soon after asking for a show of hands from people who traveled to the show from outside of Cincinnati. With hundreds hands raised, Dulli paused for a moment as if he might start a natives vs. visitors shouting match resembling the Ohio vs. Kentucky shouting heard each year at the Riverfest fireworks.

Instead, he never called on Cincinnatians and let the uncomfortable silence speak for itself – a slap at the local radio stations, other media outlets, and local music fans who never supported the band in their heyday or during the 2012 reunion. Aside from CityBeat, no local media source made anything more than a casual mention of the 2012 tour, and with the demise of WOXY, The Afghan Whigs are heard today only on low-wattage WAIF and WNKU.

Anecdotally, I have not heard the Afghan Whigs even once in public – either at a bar or at a party – since moving back to Cincinnati in 2007. The band’s failure to become the Next Big Thing in the 1990s is discussed ad nauseam on seemingly every Internet discussion board and YouTube comment section, but the failure of Cincinnati to embrace them then or now is another. Neighboring cities like Cleveland and especially Detroit have always celebrated their native sons, but Cincinnati seems determined to ignore The Afghan Whigs as much as they do James Brown and the legacy of King Records.

Arts & Entertainment News

Ring in the new year on Fountain Square in VIP fashion

2011’s New Year’s Eve celebrations on Fountain Square. Photograph provided by Thadd Fiala.

The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) has provided UrbanCincy with two complimentary tickets to its VIP party on Fountain Square this year, and we are looking to give them away to our readers.

The tickets include admission to the New Year’s Eve Blast VIP Party from 8pm to 1am at Via Vite. Those attending will be treated to a panoramic view of the festivities on Fountain Square, a celebrity meet and greet, dinner by-the-bit, an open bar, and a champagne toast at midnight.

Additional entertainment will take place on Fountain Square including live music and DJs, free ice skating, a fireworks display, a holographic holiday light show, and what organizers are touting as a “special midnight reveal” of mystery box that was placed on Fountain Square in November.

Event organizers say that music will be provided by uplift i, Aristar, Flynnville Train, and Arin Ray.

Those who do not win the two free tickets UrbanCincy is giving away are still able to purchase tickets. Three VIP ticket packages are available for purchase starting from $150 per person.

Those who would like a chance at one of our free tickets should leave a comment on our Facebook page explaining what you are most looking forward to in Cincinnati’s urban core in 2013. We will then contact the winners on Thursday, December 27 with details about how to get their ticket.