With attendees socially-distanced and masked up, the dedication kicked off with remarks by our CEO and artistic director, Colleen Houston. The speaker line-up also included Amy Spiller, president of Duke Energy’s utility operations in Ohio and Kentucky, and Teaching Artist Edwin Miller.
The mural was designed by Christian Dallas who also served as the Lead Teaching Artist on the project. Dallas was supported by Miller and 7 Youth Apprentices: Wynter Edwards, James Gieseke, Lila Herzig, Daesha Howard, Lila Joffe, Wyatt Lemay and Logan Wallen. Local artist and familiar face to ArtWorks, Matt Grote, also shared his time to help with the mural’s completion.
“[The summer] was really great,” said Lila Herzig, who attended the 60-person event. “Obviously it was weird because of COVID-19, but generally I met some great people and I had a great time. It gave me something to do everyday. I learned a lot about the mural process.”
Dallas’ design was inspired as a surreal scene in nature, taking place under the canopy of a forest with an Alice in Wonderland vibe. Passerby can look at the tree trunk composition and can see inspiration from Van Gogh’s “Undergrowth with Two Figures” (1890) which is on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum. From the left side of the mural, one can see the rear of a bike “entering the environment” of florals, cyclists, trains, and even tree trunks becoming runners’ legs. The design includes windmills to honor Duke Energy and railways in tribute to the trail’s former life as train tracks. An eagle is included as a nod to the mascot of Walnut Hills High School, a tiger for Withrow High School and a dragon for the Academy of World Languages. All these elements, including hidden arrows in the canopy intertwine to create a seamless energy and a sense of direction.
“At ArtWorks, working on public art is so much more than a job,” said, Colleen Houston, ArtWorks CEO and artistic director. “ArtWorks is a safe haven for youth with positive mentorships and a supportive diverse and inclusive community, where cautious vulnerability can turn into bravery and blossom into courageous confidence.”
ArtWorks is grateful to Duke Energy and the Duke Energy Foundation for supporting this project. The team at Wasson Way and Green Umbrella have been remarkable for their vision for this project and vision for more public art along the trail. We also thank Procter and Gamble as ArtWorks’ 2020 Mural Season Sponsor, our ongoing funders, ArtsWave, the City of Cincinnati and the City’s Youth to Work Program and the Ohio Arts Council.
ArtWorks is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that transforms people and places through investments in creativity. The organization creates jobs for youth, ages 14-21 with the majority from underserved households, providing competitive 21st-century career-readiness skills through mentorship by professional artists. Since 1996, ArtWorks has employed more than 3,600 youth and 3,200 creative professionals, and the organization has completed more than 12,500 public and private art projects that include 190 permanent outdoor murals, contributing to the region’s global reputation as an arts destination. ArtWorksCincinnati.org