Our History & Our Founding Director
ArtWorks was started on the lawn of the former School for Creative and Performing Arts under tents in Pendleton during the summer of 1996. Those first few years, ArtWorks was a program of the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative and took a lot of inspiration from Chicago’s After School Matters (formerly known as Gallery 37).
ArtWorks became an independent nonprofit as it launched the Big Pig Gig in 2000, where more than 400 fiberglass pigs were placed in downtown Cincinnati and in Covington and Newport, Kentucky. The depth and creativity of Cincinnati’s artistic community was well represented. Since then, ArtWorks has launched and has been part of many more public art initiatives, including large-scale permanent outdoor murals, Hero Design Company, a revival of the Big Pig Gig, Ink Your Love, and BLINK.
ArtWorks is now a leader in workforce development and public art in Cincinnati. Learn more about us.
Read more about our origin story: “City’s Big Pig Gig ‘breath of fresh air,‘” a 2000 story by the Cincinnati Business Courier or purchase our 2017 book, Transforming Cincinnati: How a Decade of ArtWorks Murals Changed People and Communities Forever.
Celebrating 25 Years
2021 marks ArtWorks’ 25 years of transformational impact. To celebrate, we will be sharing stories from ArtWorks alumni, who are part of an incredible legacy of transforming people and places through investments in creativity.
- Meet Roxanne Qualls, former mayor of Cincinnati, in this feature that talks about the origin of ArtWorks.
- Meet Kathryne Gardette, long-term Walnut Hills resident and community leader, in this feature about the impact of ArtWorks’ former program, Drums for Peace
Our Founding Director, Tamara Harkavy
Tamara Harkavy is the Founding Director of ArtWorks.
Tamara Harkavy’s path to ArtWorks began with her 1993 graduate school internship at Ziegler Park in Over-the-Rhine, where she created a free 2-week summer art camp for 50 neighborhood kids. The rest, as they say, is history.
Harkavy has won numerous awards, including a C-Suite Award in 2019, YWCA Career Woman of Achievement in 2013 and 2007 Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year. In 2018, TEDxCincinnati honored Harkavy at the inaugural Extraordinary Women event in 2018.
ArtWorks has won numerous awards under Harkavy’s leadership, including the City Livability Award by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Cincinnati Post-Corbett Awards, the Ambassador Award from the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau and a Community Impact Award from the American Marketing Association.
Harkavy serves on numerous nonprofit boards for the arts and economic impact. She has served on the leadership team planning BLINK®, an extraordinary interactive light-show in partnership Brave Berlin, Agar, The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. Previously, Harkavy has served on the board of Tender Mercies and was a founding member of the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund. She has co-chaired the Cincinnati Symphony’s Pride events honoring David Herriman and Sara and Michelle Vance Waddell and co-chaired the celebration of Israel’s 50th and 60th birthday’s for Cincinnati’s Jewish Federation.
Harkavy is a member of Leadership Cincinnati’s Class 38. She holds a master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s from Arizona State University. She is the mother of musician Ben Sloan and is married to artist and real estate developer Matthew Kotlarczyk.
If you are interested in making a gift in honor of Tamara, you can do so online here or by mail payable to ArtWorks, 20 E. Central Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For questions about giving, please contact Mary Kay Koehler, Senior Director of Development, at MaryKay@ArtWorksCincinnati.org or at 513.333.3616. Thank you to Lizi and the late Carl Solway who have given in honor of Tamara to ArtWorks’ Jump Start: Emerging Artist Projects, to recognize and honor Tamara Harkavy’s 24 years of creative leadership and project development of public art in Cincinnati.
Meet Our Staff