Art selected for Hamilton underpass project

Paintings by a local art teacher and an artist from the InsideOut Studio at the Liberty Center have been selected to adorn the Jack Kirsch Underpass on High Street as part of the City of Sculpture’s PAINT competition.

Sarah Daniels, art teacher at Badin High School, submitted five colorful panels that take a journey through the city’s public art collection, which are complemented by Ashley Parris’ bright floral-inspired designs.

The PAINT project, which stands for “Partnering with Artists In New Turfs,” was the brainchild of Tyler Bridge, an intern for the city of Hamilton and a recent graduate of Ross High School, who decided he wanted to do some kind of project with “a lasting impact” before going off to college at Georgetown University.

He sought the help of the Fitton Center for Creative Arts and the City of Sculpture committee to design a competition for local artists to submit ideas for five panels to be replicated on 10-foot square panels and installed on either side of the underpass walls.

The Fitton Center and City of Sculpture also helped judge the work, which was submitted blindly. Bridge said that there were 13 submissions.

He said the judges chose the two, in part, because they complemented each other.

“They both fit the color aesthetic approach that we wanted,” Bridge said. “They both are very bright and will be very visible in contrast to the gray walls of the underpass.”

According to Rhonda Brown, marketing director for the InsideOut Studio, which is located in the Liberty Center operated by the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Parris had been coming to the studio for about a year, but was at first reticent about making art and would just observe what the other artists were doing.

“Stephen Smith (the studio’s creative consultant) asked her to draw something, whatever she wanted, and she drew some flowers,” Brown said. “But she immediately started adding her own personality and we were all blown away by how good they are.”

Brown said that Parris was totally hooked on art when she first saw her work in an exhibition and how people reacted.

“She’s had a lot of commissions and has been exhibited quite a bit,” she said.

Although Daniels’ work has been exhibited widely in the region, this is her first piece of public art.

She said she thought about who might be seeing the panels and envisioned bored children sitting in the back seats of cars.

“They would want to see something colorful,” she said.

Her design, which she titled “Artspeaks” purposefully evokes the work of pop art from the 1960s, especially that of Peter Max.

The panels depict a man entering a doorway and going on an artistic journey.

“It was my inspiration to convey to the community and visitors that Hamilton is a city which inspires, thrives, creates and welcomes all who step into her boundaries,” she said.

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