BLINK bringing light and art fest to Cincinnati

Q&A with a program manager from ArtWorks.

BLINK Cincinnati, one of the nation’s largest light and art festivals is headed to downtown Cincinnati.

BLINK, a four-day light and art festival, will be held on Thursday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 15. The inaugural, Lumenocity-like event will span 20 city blocks, from The Banks to Findlay Market.

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BLINK is expected to be one of the largest light, art and projection mapping events in the nation, attracting more than a half a million-visitors to Greater Cincinnati. The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, AGAR, ArtWorks, Brave Berlin and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber have partnered to bring the festival to town. Through a magical and immersive experience, organizers believe BLINK will define Cincinnati as a welcoming, innovative and creative future city (a forward-thinking city and something that can show off Cincinnati in a positive way.)

The event is free, and open to the public. No tickets are required. (Architects of Air, located in Washington Park, is the only paid and ticketed event. Entry/ ticket cost for this attraction only is $5.) For more on the festival, go online to

BLINK will feature a variety of installations and artists, both locally and internationally, who will create large-scale light projections, installations and murals – such as those on prominent downtown buildings as well as interactive street art and live performances. We talked to Josh Stout, BLINK program manager at ArtWorks to find out more.

Q: Josh, tell us a little bit about yourself and how ArtWorks is involved in BLINK?

A: BLINK will be kicked-off on Thursday, Oct. 12, with a "light parade" that is community driven. We are going to have over 2,000 people in the parade, with over 200 artists, and close to 1,000 students from the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas carrying "eyeball lanterns" throughout the parade. The parade goes from Findlay Market to Washington Park, which is a little less than a mile. Everything is going to be illuminated, so we will have people in costumes, kinetic sculptures, floats, dancers and performers. It's going to be this whimsical wonderland of light. And, the good thing about it – is that it is community-driven. While this is a massive event that can be enjoyed by Cincinnatians and visitors from other states and countries, we really wanted this to be community-driven. So, this is not just an event that shows up in your neighborhood that you're a spectator at, but we want you involved and this is one way we can do that. I have a cheesy line I've been saying about the parade, "If I can get more people in the parade, than watching the parade, then, I feel like that's a win." So, on the ArtWorks side, we are doing the parade. I'm managing that, and then I'm managing the installation. We are going to have 27 art installations throughout the 20-city-block grid on that path that follows the streetcar. We have some international artists that will participate.

We have one artist, Amanda Parer, who is doing these giant inflatable rabbits that light up. We have a couple of architectural firms out of Canada that are doing these amazing teeter-totters. The piece is called “Impulse.” They are 24-feet long to 16-feet long, and you can ride them with a stranger. They make noise, sounds, and it’s a fun way to engage with other members that are in attendance, or interact with someone you may not know or have talked to before. The whole thing with BLINK overall is that it is “future city,” and that is our message, “future city united,” so it can bring the community together in a positive way. The community parade, and some of the installations that are interactive, are all about joining community together, joining people together, especially now, in light of Charlottesville, and some of the other things going on. I think that (with BLINK we have) a positive message … .

While there are a lot of international artists involved and other artists from across the country, the bulk of artists, and what makes this so uniquely Cincinnati is that there are going to be a lot of Cincinnati, or Ohio and Kentucky artists that are part of the event. It is our way to show that we do have the talent here. That this isn’t just a flyover state. We can compete, and we have a ton of creative (people) here. This is a great platform to put them on, so we can show that they can compete on a world stage.

I’m a little biased, too, because I also have a light installation in BLINK. I’m working with an amazing welder, Kate Demske, on a piece called “The Queen’s Throne.”

Q: On a personal level, can you talk about your installation?

A: So, Cincinnati is known as "The Queen City." Kate Demske and I worked together on this idea that…Every queen needs a crown, and every queen needs a throne. And, we came up with this installation. There will be a neon crown that has "Queen City" on it, and it has a BLINK eye in it, and the throne itself looks like Union Terminal, which is major monument in Cincinnati. It's an Instagramable moment, too. We made it big enough for two people to sit in, so you can sit in it, take pictures with your friends and share that.

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