ArtWorks News

Nationally Funded Switch On Avondale Installations Now Up at Hirsch Recreation Center


Around sunset on October 30, ArtWorks dedicated Switch on Avondale, its new series of permanent light-based installations at Hirsch Recreation Center. The project features the works of local artists Calcagno Cullen and Matthew Grote who partnered with three ArtWorks youth apprentices to complete it. The project was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Cincinnati Children’s and the SunTrust Bank Foundation.

Switch on Avondale’s production began in the spring 2020, and, after a delay due to coronavirus, the team wrapped up in August. The pieces were installed late October.

“Despite the many curveballs thrown at us during this unusual year, the ArtWorks team and community supporters continued to move forward to get these installations completed this fall,” said Linnea Gartin, director of community impact. “I’m proud these installations, created in tandem with the community, are now a permanent, colorful presence in Avondale.”

Hirsch Recreation Center hosted project partners for a socially-distanced dedication and trail walk, where guests explored the new art with a Story Walk tour hosted by the Avondale Library Branch, and visited Green Umbrella and Tri-State Trails station to learn all about the new trails that will be connecting Avondale to the rest of the region.

Those who spoke included Cullen, Avondale Development Corporation’s April Gallelli, Jennifer Foster and Sandra Jones Mitchell of Avondale Community Council, Daniel Betts of Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Dr. Monica Mitchell of Cincinnati Children’s, and Youth Apprentice Candice Krois.

The installation, as with all ArtWorks’ public art in the neighborhood, was driven by the Avondale Quality of Life Vision Statement, which reads in part: “Avondale is a proud, resilient community with a rich culture and history of African American change-makers and community –builders. The community is safe and healthy, and everyone shares in its success. Families and individuals – young and old – are recognized as the backbone of the community, finding strength together, they are vested in Avondale’s bright future. Avondale residents work together with community and institutional partners to build a safe, healthy, equitable neighborhood where all can prosper.”

About the Design

Grote’s design, Sunflowers, features solar powered lights on posts inspired by kente cloth designs with each flower inspired by Avondale residents and designed by youth apprentices. Cullen’s design of Silver Linings are inspirational quotes from neighborhood residents in their own handwriting made from neon flex material, and she created a zine featuring all the submissions.

Download the What We Need To Hear Zine (PDF)

The Youth Apprentices who worked on the projects are James Bond, Candace Krois, and Mae Douglas. Learn more about the artists.

Thank You to Supporters

An eight-panel jury selected Cullen and Grote to lead this effort in providing a safe walking trail behind the rec center. The panel was made up of Avondale Community Council’s president Sandra Jones and past president Jennifer Foster; Avondale Development Corporation’s April Gallelli; Cincinnati Recreation Commission’s Lathel Bryant, Tim Heyl, Blake Williams and Johnny Williams; and Green Umbrella’s Wade Johnston.

The incredible partners whom we couldn’t have done this project without include Avondale Community Council, Avondale Development Corporation, Cincinnati Police Department, Cincinnati Public Schools, Cincinnati Public Library, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, and Green Umbrella and Tri-State Trails.

The project brought national funding to Avondale through the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant. We also thank the generosity of Cincinnati Children’s and SunTrust Bank, also known as Truist, Foundation. Special thanks to our ongoing sponsors ArtsWave, City of Cincinnati and Ohio Arts Council.

About ArtWorks

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 200 permanent outdoor murals, contributing to the region’s global reputation as an arts destination.