ArtWorks News

ArtWorks Breaks Ground on New ArtPark in Walnut Hills Featuring First-Ever Charles Gaines Mural

CINCINNATI—ArtWorks is breaking ground on its new ArtPark, part of its new permanent creative campus on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills. The focal point of the urban gathering space, formerly a vacant and blighted lot, will be the first mural designed by distinguished contemporary American Artist Charles Gaines (born in 1944) titled “Numbers and Trees: Cincinnati Cottonwoods” (2024). This collaboration, a partnership between the artist and ArtWorks, was made possible through an introduction by renowned New York-based art nonprofit Creative Time, which also commissioned Gaines to create “Moving Chains,” a kinetic sculpture with deep social meaning.

ArtWorks is working with Human Nature and TeamB, two design firms based in Walnut Hills, to design the new ArtPark, located at the corner of Gilbert Ave. and Curtis Street. Triversity Construction, which opened its Walnut Hills headquarters in 2022, is managing the construction project. They are also an immediate neighbor to the ArtPark. In addition to the mural, a sidewalk gallery with sculpture, greenspace, parking and additional features will make the area a draw for the community. Two new crosswalks will better connect the ArtPark to the growing business district, and new plantings in the median will further enhance this investment in the growing arts and cultural corridor in Walnut Hills.

The new mural will be the cornerstone of ArtWorks’ Creative Campus. The building wall, used as a canvas thanks to the Joseph Automotive Family, is located at 2412 Gilbert Ave. The design is a part of Gaines’ well-known tree series featuring a depiction of several cottonwood trees, indigenous to the area. Each tree will be crafted by ArtWorks’ artists using Gaines’ numbered grid technique. As viewers engage with the mural, they will witness a mesmerizing progression, with each tree becoming increasingly layered in vibrant colors, inviting contemplation and exploration. Gaines’ work, exploring identity, race, and systems with conceptual art and mathematical precision, will inspire Walnut Hills’ strong African American community and the next generation of artists.

“Partnering with Charles Gaines to create a community-driven mural is a dream come true. The mural showcases Charles’ talent as well as his connection and reverence for our community. He is such an important artist and a generous teacher, committed to inspiring the next generation. It is a great honor to create this work of art for all to enjoy and it is our hope it inspires all who visit and view it,” said Colleen Houston, CEO & Artistic Director, ArtWorks.

Twenty-one ArtWorks Apprentices aged 14–21, will collaborate with Teaching Artists Mark Hanavan, Jeshua Schuster, Lily Fast, and Fatemeh Shekarforoush, to create the mural, starting in early June. Argentinian artist based in Cincinnati, Julia Orquera Bianco, worked as Gaines’ former studio assistant for three years. Orquera Bianco is also a former ArtWorks employee and future V² Gallery Artist in Residence. She will be an important contributor and mentor to the project team. Gaines is planning to visit the mural once during the summer and again at the dedication in the fall.

This catalytic investment of the ArtPark and ArtWorks’ newly renovated building at 2429 Gilbert Ave. will center arts in the heart of Walnut Hills, one block south of historic Peebles Corner. The growing arts district in Walnut Hills includes notable neighbors such as the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Harriet Beecher Stowe House and CincyNice. ArtWorks plans to celebrate and dedicate the new building and creative campus this fall.

ArtWorks acquired its new building in 2021 from Woody Melson, owner of Race Refrigeration, a family business operated for over 50 years. The building was constructed in 1909, a historic landmark originally home to the Bolce Paint Co., the third oldest paint store in the country and the largest west of the Alleghenies.

ArtWorks began building renovations on January 2, 2023, in partnership with Model Group. The new multifunctional space reflects ArtWorks’ commitment to fostering creativity and engagement for the broader community. The campus will feature creative studios to support expanded yearlong and seasonal employment for artists ages 14 – 24, a permanent gallery space for an emerging artist Fellowship program, versatile event spaces, permanent offices and meeting rooms, across the street from the ArtPark with greenspace, public art, and parking.

“This is a pivotal moment in ArtWorks’ history,” said Houston. “When ArtWorks began, our earliest projects were housed under tents in Eden Park. Now, we are investing in a permanent, vibrant home, and it is a full-circle moment with a homecoming in Walnut Hills. We are proud to create a space that not only honors the history and legacy of Walnut Hills but also serves as a beacon of creativity and inspiration for generations to come.”

This project is only possible through donations and support from donors. ArtWorks is currently seeking just over $1 million for its “Painting the Future” capital campaign, led by Honorary Co-Chairs Lee and Shannon Carter, and Co-Chairs Kathryne Gardette, Laura Humphrey, and Lucy Joffe. ArtWorks has raised more than $10 million for this project since 2022, including $2.5 million to support community investments in equitable public arts for neighborhoods and expanding youth employment.

Gardette, who has lived and championed Walnut Hills for many years, says this project is an example of how art can be transformative. “This is a journey through 13,000 square feet of pure creativity on Gilbert Avenue, and a catalyst for positive change. We are so excited to have a community space that will be a bustling hub of artists, teachers, studios, and galleries—a beacon of creativity and collaboration in Walnut Hills. I’m excited to help create a brighter, more inclusive future!” she said.

ArtWorks is inviting the community to be part of this momentous project by supporting the project at any level by donating now or by emailing


Top Campaign Donors:


Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation

Millstone Fund



ArtPark & Mural Donors:

Fifth Third Bank Foundation

City of Cincinnati

Lauren and Tom Shafer

Kim and Mike Hoeting

Ron & Dave Houck-Nebel

Sara and Michelle Vance Waddell

Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful

Jeanne Golliher Community Enhancement Program of the Cincinnati Development Fund

About Charles Gaines

A pivotal figure in the field of conceptual art, Charles Gaines’ body of work engages formulas and systems that interrogate relationships between the objective and the subjective realms. Using a generative approach to create a series of works in a variety of mediums, he has built a bridge between the early conceptual artists of the 1960s and 1970s and subsequent generations of artists pushing the limits of conceptualism today. Born in 1944 in Charleston, South Carolina, he was the first Black student in the MFA program at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Art and Design. After teaching at CalArts for over 30 years, he established a fellowship for Black MFA. students that continues his legacy of stewardship. His work has been featured at MoMA, LACMA, Dia:Beacon, SFMOMA, and The Studio Museum in Harlem. In 2019, Gaines received the 60th Edward MacDowell Medal. He was inducted into the National Academy of Design’s 2020 class of National Academicians and the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May 2022. In 2022, he launched “The American Manifest,” a public art project on U.S. history. Gaines is also an author, essayist, and recipient of an honorary doctorate from RIT, working in Los Angeles.

About ArtWorks

Since 1996, ArtWorks has collaborated with community organizations and residents, businesses, governments, foundations, and nonprofits to create works of art that have helped to define Greater Cincinnati’s global reputation as an arts destination. Its mural program has made Cincinnati the #1 City for Street Art in USA Today’s 2024 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. By employing and training over 3,500 professional artists and engaging 4,000 teens and young adults, ages 14-24, ArtWorks is actively investing in the creative economy. Through job creation that supports local talent and mentorship programs that pair professional artists with diverse teams of young people, their programs foster the development of 21st-century career-readiness skills. ArtWorks has created a vibrant citywide gallery with more than 14,000 public and private art projects over the last 28 years. Among these are more than 300 permanent outdoor murals that contribute to Cincinnati’s rich cultural tapestry, enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Seasonal Apprentice employment is supported by Hamilton County and Talbert House. ArtWorks receives ongoing funding from the City of Cincinnati, the Ohio Arts Council, and ArtsWave.