The three latest murals to be painted by the StreetSpark program will bring bright colors and dramatic images to buildings beyond Hamilton’s downtown area.
If Ohio’s coronavirus standards for physical separation and other ways for people to try to remain healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic will allow their paintings, the program’s 12th, 13th and 14th murals should be painted this summer to beautify buildings in the city’s North End, Jefferson and Taft Place/Governor’s Hill neighborhoods.
“We’re hoping they’ll go up this summer, but it all depends on what the guidelines are, and that’s kind-of an evolving thing right now,” said Jennifer Acus-Smith of the StreetSpark program, which is a partnership among the city, Hamilton Community Foundation and Fitton Center for Creative Arts.
“It would be great to put up some art from this challenging time,” she said. “Art really inspires and uplifts us, especially art that’s huge, art that people could drive by and see being created. Many of us are in a place are we can’t do a whole lot now, so it would be great if we could create something that encourages a bright future.”
Two of the murals in particular will be especially large and colorful, with cheery designs.
“They’re all so different,” she said. “I like the variety that we got this year.”
Garden Parade, fitting of a new park where children can let out their joyful energy, will be painted on the wooden fence in Jefferson Park located near East and Henley avenues, in the Jefferson neighborhood.
It portrays a colorful group of children parading between giant sunflowers and garden creatures, and was designed by Lizzy DuQuette, a multi-media artist, illustrator and teaching artist from Cincinnati.
“She does a lot of fun, whimsical illustrations,” Acus-Smith said.
The mural also has a feel shared by some children’s book illustrations.
“It’s a very interesting color palette that I think will appeal to all ages,” Acus-Smith said. “That dark background I think is going to make those colors pop.” At the park where that mural will be painted, the wooden fence is far back from the road, “so it needed that contrast, I think, to carry from the back of the park.”
Garden of the Dogs
A large mural called Garden of the Dogs, will be painted on the Elite Performance & Wellness building at 190 N. Brookwood Ave. This design depicts a dynamic garden of flowers.
Christian Dallas, a contemporary painter and muralist who works in the greater Cincinnati area, created a design of flowers, many of which can be found locally.
But in a nod to Hamilton High School, “if you look carefully, there are six bulldog faces, that are hidden in these flowers,” Acus-Smith said.
“I think successful murals are ones that can be enjoyed from far away, and then ones that when you get up close, you can find things in them and spend times with them in a different way,” she said.
Children should enjoy the secret of knowing that six dogs are hidden within the image. The plants also have an unexpected feeling of movement.
“And I think that there’s an opportunity for learning about the flowers that are local to the area, too,” she said. “There’s several that are in there.”
The other mural, titled Robros, will be painted at 802 Heaton Street, in the North End. Logan Walden’s work imagines two larger-than-life robot brothers against a vibrant sky. Walden, from Hamilton, is a painter, illustrator and digital artist.
The mural has a modern look that updates echoes of the North End’s long-ago past, which included the Fordson Tractor Plant, operated by a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co.
One thing in particular Acus-Smith likes about the pair of robots is the way Walden used existing windows on the building, which now is unoccupied, as eyes for the two machines.
She imagines what it will look like when lights are turned on the inside of the building, illuminating the eyes of the machines.