In the heart of Walnut Hills’ business district sits a historic 1920s building with the words “Race Refrigeration” – the business that operated there for more than 50 years – plastered across the front in big, bold letters.
It’s empty now. But over the next year and a half, the building will transform into the future home of ArtWorks, the group responsible for hundreds of murals around Greater Cincinnati.
“It really will be an incredible arts facility that is all about inclusivity and supporting the next generation of creative talent for our city,” Colleen Houston, CEO and artistic director of ArtWorks, said.
Renovations on the three-story, 13,000-square-foot building – which ArtWorks’ purchased in August 2021 – are set to start later this year. Officials said construction is expected to last approximately 16 to 18 months, aiming for a grand opening in 2024.
When completed, the building, located at 2429 Gilbert Ave., will be ArtWorks’ sole location; it currently operates out of both Walnut Hills and Over-the-Rhine. The building’s three floors and basement will hold an art gallery, several art studios, a community event space, a retail shop, meeting rooms and office space.
The nonprofit hosted a groundbreaking Nov. 2 across the street in a vacant lot at 2430 Gilbert Ave. It is also part of the project and will be home to green space for community use, public art and parking.
The gray and chilly morning began with the soothing rhythms of Drums for Peace. Then, city, state and business leaders supporting the renovation – from Mayor Aftab Pureval to representatives from Procter & Gamble Co. and Fifth Third Bancorp – spoke to attendees.
Since 1996, ArtWorks has collaborated with community organizations and residents, businesses, governments, foundations, and nonprofits to build creative works of art that built the Greater Cincinnati region’s global reputation as an arts destination. ArtWorks has employed and trained over 3,500 professional artists and 4,000 youth, ages 14 – 24. We invest in our creative economy by creating jobs that support local talent, pairing professional artists to inspire and mentor diverse teams of youth, helping them build 21st-century career-readiness skills. Over the past 26 years, this collaborative approach has created a citywide gallery with more than 14,000 public and private art projects, including more than 250 permanent outdoor murals.