If you were one of the 400 guests who attended an ArtWorks mural tour last year, chances are you have met Edward Slater.
Slater, a lover of the arts and a long-time Over-the-Rhine resident, has been leading ArtWorks walking mural tours since 2015. During these tours, several docents lead small groups throughout downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton during the warmer months, telling the stories behind these transformational works of art. When leading tours, he often dresses the part—in lots of ArtWorks pink, including his face mask.
Slater thought the volunteering with the arts would be a nice change of pace alongside a career in the social services. He is a co-founder of Tender Mercies and is now Chief Advancement Officer at the Center for Respite Care.
What keeps bringing Slater back to volunteer is his love of the stories of how these murals came to be.
“The murals are more than just the painting,” Slater says. “I love walking through the city, and the murals provide different points of reference. What ArtWorks is able to achieve is incredibly diverse and affirming.”
Slater’s favorite mural is Tim Parsley’s The Golden Muse created in 2012 to honor the Taft Museum of Art’s 80th Anniversary. He loves to delight guests by playing Aaron Copland’s beloved Fanfare for the Common Man, which was written for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The mural faces Music Hall, where the piece was first performed in 1942. The mural’s musical notes written by Copeland wrap around the mural’s central figure, transforming the figurine into a mythological music muse.
“It’s a benediction over Music Hall and Washington Park,” Slater says.
Other murals he loves to show are another musical pair off East 13th Street—Julia Bottom’s Dreaming Blues honoring the legacy of the first-ever African-American blues recording artist and Cincinnati native Mamie Smith, and Jonathan and Lindsey Lamb’s It’s Your Thing, honoring the Cincinnati-born musical legends, the Isley Brothers.
“We all dance to it in the parking lot, and it feels great,” Slater says.
Other murals he loves include Natalie’s Lanese’s Swing Around the Rosie, Michael Blankenship’s Canal at Vine Street Circa 1900, Saya Woolfalk’s Visionary Reality Threshold, Jason Snell’s Ezzard Charles: The Cincinnati Cobra and many more. He also enjoys when he gets a chance to lead tours with Youth Apprentices.
“I really enjoyed his insights about the area we toured based on his personal experiences having lived (in Over-the-Rhine) for over three decades,” wrote an ArtWorks mural tour guest. “He showed us alleys I never knew existed,” wrote another.
Slater encourages everyone, from locals to out-of-town guests, to try out an ArtWorks mural tour and then stay and enjoy the great restaurants and other attractions like the city’s parks and cultural institutions. “Cincinnati punches above its weight when it comes to art,” he says.
In addition to volunteering with ArtWorks, Slater and his partner Stephen sing in the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus. He has also been cooking up elaborate Sunday brunches with his extra time during the pandemic.
ArtWorks thanks Edward Slater and all our wonderful mural tour docents for their dedication to our mission of transforming people and places through investments in creativity!
ArtWorks is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that transforms people and places through investments in creativity. The organization collaborates with community organizations and residents, businesses, governments, foundations and nonprofits to build creative works of art that bolster the region’s global reputation as an arts destination. ArtWorks employs professional artists who inspire and mentor diverse teams of youth, ages 14-21, helping them build 21st century career-readiness skills. These teams have completed more than 13,800 public and private art projects in its 25 years, including more than 200 permanent outdoor murals.