| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Pinterest RSS Feed

Arts + Culture : Development News

523 Arts + Culture Articles | Page: | Show All

One-of-a-kind moto show returns to Rhinegeist for fourth year


On Jan. 27, more than 50 one-of-a-kind vintage and custom motorcycles and upward of 5,000 motorcycle enthusiasts will descend on the Queen City. The fourth annual Garage Brewed Moto Show will take over Rhinegeist for an all-day celebration of classic bikes and craft beer. The event, which runs from noon to midnight, will fill the taproom and event space with bikes on display, motorcycle accessories and equipment vendors and a silent charity auction.

Garage Brewed is the brainchild of the Cincinnati Cafe Racer Motorcycle Club and its founder, Tim Burke. The club formed about nine years ago when there was nothing else like it in the region. “We started to build community around vintage and Euro bikes,” says Burke. “We always talked about doing something in the winter because we sit around with cabin fever and can’t ride, everyone gets stir crazy.”

Cabin fever motivated the club to start the Garage Brewed Moto Show four years ago, which quickly grew to larger proportions than the organizers or venue had imagined. “That first year we set up this huge show, brought in thousands of people. Throughout the night it was shoulder to shoulder from the time we opened; they were running out of beers and didn’t have enough staff. We were their single largest sales day of the year.”

The event has continued to grow and command big crowds, and organizers have continued to make tweaks and improvements to the original formula. It's still free to attend, and for the past two years, has been held all day to give ample time and more space for attendees to peruse the unique bikes on display.

This year, a distinguished panel of judges will evaluate and award bikes in the garage custom, pro custom, classic and race bike categories, and attendees will vote on the People’s Choice Award. The bikes in the show are included via invitation to pro-builders and through nominations from the general public.

Burke is excited about a strong line-up of interesting bikes this year. Hollerin’ Jerr, a builder out of New York, will be displaying a highly-customized, found-art chopper with unexpected details like bottlecaps as washers. The show will also feature a locally-built electric motorcycle, plus an assortment of vintage Japanese and British bikes, vintage Harleys and pre-WWII Indians.

The show is also a fundraiser for Operation Combat Bikesaver, an Indiana-based nonprofit that builds custom motorcycles with veterans and first responders working to overcome depression and PTSD. Event sponsor Bitwell Inc. donated motorcycle helmets that were decorated, painted and embellished by local artists and will be auctioned off to help raise funds. Other event sponsors helping to make the event a success include Rev’it, T.C. Bros and Metal Rescue.

The free, family-friendly event runs from noon to midnight on Saturday, Jan. 27, at Rhinegeist (1910 Elm St.). For more information and updates, check out the event website and Facebook page.
 


New York-based filmmakers bringing live, interactive event to Memorial Hall on Jan. 27


On Jan. 27, a duo of New York-based indie filmmakers, Brent Green and Sam Green, are bringing their unique Live Cinema experience to Memorial Hall. Live Cinema blends short film screenings with storytelling and live narration, scored with live music performed by musicians, including Brendan Canty (Fugazi), James Canty (Nation of Ulysses), Becky Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion) and Kate Ryan.

Brent and Sam (no relation) have performed Live Cinema internationally, and thanks to a partnership between Memorial Hall and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnatians will have a chance to experience it firsthand.

The short films included in each show rotate and the stories that the filmmakers tell change, too. “We have a rule for the show,” explains Brent. “On stage, we’re allowed to ask the other person to tell any story we’ve ever heard them tell and they have to do it.” This spontaneity shapes their performances and no two Live Cinema events are the same.


Brent, who is both a filmmaker and a visual artist, is known for his 2010 film Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, which features a full-scale town he built in his backyard and was filmed using a blend of animation, stop-motion and live-action.

His collaborator Sam has made more than a dozen films, including The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a live film collaboration with the indie rock band Yo La Tengo; and the documentary The Weather Underground, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Both filmmakers have new work screening at the Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 18-28), and Sam is performing a new live cinema piece there with the Kronos Quartet. Sam has been performing live cinema pieces since 2009, and the duo have worked together for several years.

As Brent explains, they perform live cinema because they believe that “communal experiences are important. We like the audience, the whole thing feels like hanging out.”

Unlike typical film-watching experiences where moviegoers sit individually in a dark room, the pair strives to create a welcoming and interactive experience more akin to a rock concert than watching a movie.


The duo will share their special live cinema experience for one performance only on Saturday, Jan. 27. Live Cinema is happening at the Annie W. and Elizabeth M. Anderson Theater at Memorial Hall at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $20.

More info and tickets are available on Memorial Hall
's website. Brent is also curating a short film screening at 7 p.m. at The Mini Microcinema on Jan. 26. Visit Sam's and Brent’s websites for more info about their individual work.
 


Last-minute local gift guide

 

It's Dec. 19, and you’ve waited until the last minute to buy your Christmas gifts. That’s okay, because these local, female artisans and crafters have you covered, with options for almost anyone on your list. ‘Tis the season!

For the considerate yet snarky person
Greeting cards and stationery from local printing company Pistachio Press are musts. The cards are beautifully handcrafted and include sincere messages from owner Rachael Hetzel, with a humorous twist. Hetzel is committed to environmentally sustainable materials for her edgy cards, and uses cotton paper and rubber-based inks, and she cleans her press with earth-friendly solvents. You can check out her range of products on Etsy.

For the person who loves their neighborhood
Flores Lane candles have captured East Side, West Side and the city itself in abundant, rich scents. Though the shop isn’t technically local, part-owner Trish Baden is a hometown girl who grew up in Hamilton. Like all of its candles, the Flores Lane Cincinnati series features hand-poured soy wax that diminishes environmental impact and makes the candles last longer.

For the slightly morbid girl in your neighborhood
Tooth and Claw owner and designer Chelsea Stegeman crafts her jewelry from ethically sourced animal parts like groundhog pelvis, King Cobra vertebrae and coyote ribs. Though her jewelry often leans toward a darker aesthetic, the designs and natural beauty can complement most any style.

For the guy who just moved in and is already obsessed with his neighborhood
T-shirts from Originalitees are go-to holiday gifts. Khisha Asabuhi started Originalitees seven years ago as a way to express neighborhood pride. The company’s clothing celebrates the uniqueness of Cincinnati while catering to many tastes — and they're comfortable too.

For someone who loves coffee, soup, hot chocolate or tea
Grab a mug from CG Ceramics. Although a mug for Christmas may not seem very original, these mugs are special — every single piece is hand-thrown by potter and owner Christie Goodfellow. CG Ceramics’ pottery is durable enough for daily use, making it the ideal go-to coffee cup. Goodfellow's neutral color palette and organic design make her pieces appealing to a wide variety of people.
 


Woodward Theater won $150,000 national grant to restore its historic marquee


When MOTR owners Dan McCabe, Chris Schadler and Chris Varias opened the Woodward Theater in 2014, there wasn’t enough money left after renovations to paint the place. But they didn’t let that stop the grand opening. Instead, they held a “Pints for Paint” event, which with the help of the community, they raised the funds they needed.

This community spirit and participation continues to guide the Woodward, which recently won a $150,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Vote Your Mainstreet contest to facelift the building and restore its original electric marquee.


With the help of the Cincinnati Preservation Association's executive director Paul Muller, the Woodward applied for the grant. The national contest pitted the Woodward against 25 other main street communities around the country; it required organizations to get daily community votes in support of their projects.

“The local music community really got behind this and voted diligently, and the other businesses on Main Street were supportive as well,” says McCabe. “The support of our staff, most of which have been with us since we opened MOTR in 2010, was fantastic. They mobilized their friends and people voted daily.”


The grant will allow the Woodward to complete a total exterior facelift, including improving structural elements, updating wiring and sockets, repairing the crumbling plaster rosettes and returning the original lightbulb sign to its 1913 glory. With the help of local metal fabricator Kate Schmidt, as well as an architect and structural engineer, the Woodward's marquee restoration project should be completed by the end of 2018.

The sign will be constructed of copper, maintaining the original beaux-arts (think pre-Art Deco) aesthetic. “It’s going to be an attraction,” McCabe says. “I expect people to get off the streetcar and walk up. It’s going to be bright and shiny and a destination for people exploring OTR for the architecture.”

Cincinnati is rich in architectural heritage, especially period Italianate architecture, which is part of what McCabe attributes to the community support for the project. “Cincinnati loves its history,” he says.


The permitting process is expected to take some time, but McCabe is confident in the project, which he says will include some fun and surprising touches as they ramp up to the big reveal. Stay tuned to the Woodward's Facebook page for progress updates and for announcements related to the reveal. “It’ll be worth celebrating,” McCabe promises.
 


Community event this weekend to highlight the people and stories in Price Hill


On Dec. 9, Cincy Stories will host the Price Hill People’s Celebration to cap off its residency in Price Hill and celebrate the community they’ve gotten to know over the past four months. The event will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater; the event is free, and attendees will be able to hear stories and interviews, enjoy catered food and converse with neighbors from all corners of Price Hill.

Cincy Stories strives to use storytelling as a way to encourage those from diverse backgrounds to come together and connect. Its goal is to explore, research and connect the residents of all 52 of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods.

The success of its residency in Walnut Hills attracted the attention of Price Hill Will, which reached out to Cincy Stories.

Shawn Braley, co-founder and executive director of Cincy Stories, says that Price Hill is both interesting and important to Cincinnati because it comprises 10 percent of the city’s population. The contrasts of a growing population of Guatemalan immigrants, battles with addiction, locals who have lived in the neighborhood for decades and new growth gives Price Hill a “level of tension.”

Braley explains that Cincy Stories' goal is to not just tell stories, but to have an impact. "Storytelling makes people aware that everyone is human. Sharing stories gives them a chance to hear each other."

Price Hill's diverse stories range from a profile on Mayor John Cranley to an interview with Aaron Head, a recovering heroin addict now working with men's group homes. Other stories feature Buddy LaRosa, founder of LaRosa’s Pizzeria; local singer/songwriter Tray Walker; and Margherita Gonzalez, a woman who survived an arduous upbringing and immigrated to the states to give her daughter a better life.

Cincy Stories also worked with local organizations like Holy Family Church, which recently hosted an event called Turkeys and Tamales, where everyone brought food from their own cultures to share; the infamous Price Hill Chili, a Price Hill staple; and some of the newer businesses moving to the neighborhood.

“We call it a celebration because we want to highlight the people,” Braley says. He's looking forward to Saturday’s event because it will bring together the beautiful and diverse population of Price Hill all at once.

The event will also kick off Cincy Stories' online content, which will include 60 stories in video and podcast form that will be released gradually over the coming weeks.
 


You'd better not pout: Six events to get you in the holiday spirit


With Thanksgiving over, it’s now time for frenzied holiday shopping, gatherings with loved ones and making as much merry as possible before winter settles in and stays a while. Soapbox rounded up some of the biggest and best events that Cincinnati has to offer this holiday season, and sprinkled in a few fun and unexpected ideas for a little extra festive magic.

Victorian Holiday Village
Dec. 1, 2, 7 and 8, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

For 16 years running, Ohio National Financial Services has hosted a festive holiday event at its headquarters near Kenwood. The family-friendly, walk-through display features thousands of twinkle lights adorning fully decorated miniature Victorian homes, cookies and cocoa, live entertainment and photos with St. Nick. The event is free and open to the public. Visit the Facebook page for more information.

Over-the-Rhine Holiday Home Tour
Dec. 1, 6 to 9 p.m. and Dec. 2, 3 to 6 p.m.

Get out and work off some Thanksgiving calories at the Over-the-Rhine Holiday Home walking tour. The self-paced, family-friendly event, now in its fourth year, offers an exclusive peek at some of the neighborhood’s most historic homes. Tickets are $25, with proceeds benefitting Future Leaders OTR, a nonprofit working with neighborhood youth. Visit the Facebook event for more info and tickets.

Crafty Supermarket
Dec. 2, 11 a.m.

Held in the newly renovated Music Hall, this year’s Crafty Supermarket is a must for one-of-a-kind holiday shopping. The huge flea market-style event brings together more than 90 vendors from throughout the region, offering handmade goods to delight even the hardest to shop for relatives. The free event also features food offerings from local restaurants like Eli’s BBQ and Fireside Pizza, a live DJ, cash bar and craft activities. Visit the Facebook page for details.

Visits with Krampus
Dec. 2 and 9

Cincinnati’s German history runs deep. The city hosts two German-themed holiday markets, Germania Christkindlmarkt and Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt, and Krampuslauf Zinzinnati will be at both. Founded in 2014 with the goal of “putting the ghoul back in your Yule,” the group’s mission is to spread the German tradition of Krampus. Krampus, a legend that predates even Santa, is a creature said to punish bad children and whisk them away to the woods. Unlike the stories about Krampus, Krampuslauf Zinzinnati states that its intention is not to frighten children but to keep this bizarre slice of Bavarian heritage alive. Check out the group's website and Facebook page for upcoming appearances to get a photo with Krampus.

Mt. Adams Reindog Parade
Dec. 9, 12:30 to 4 p.m.

Hosted by SPCA Cincinnati, the annual Reindog parade is a fun outing for pups of all ages and their human families. The parade is free to enter and features a festive costume contest, street food vendors and is led by Santa Claus himself. Visit the Facebook event for all of the details.

The Naughty List starring OTR Improv
Dec. 12-28, 7:30 p.m.

When you’re ready to put the kids to bed and have a few much-needed chuckles to break up the holiday stress, look no further than The Naughty List. This holiday-themed improv show held in the courtyard at Arnold’s Bar and Grill will bring off-the-cuff laughs based on audience suggestions. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on the Know Theater’s website. Check out the Facebook page for more info.
 


New fine art gallery adds to Oakley's diverse, growing scene


Located at 3078 Madison Rd. in the heart of Oakley Square, Caza Sikes offers art and fine craft featuring diverse media from regional artists. The gallery features monthly exhibitions, live music, a rentable event space and appraisals.

The gallery opened this fall after an 18-month renovation of the historic building that once housed a paint store.

Owner and licensed appraiser Evan Sikes says he wanted the space to change the concept of a gallery. It features both high-end and more affordable pieces from everything from paintings to jewelry.

Sikes describes his vision as an “approachable, affordable gallery with cool stuff.”

The gallery features a rotating group of artists that all use a diverse range of media. Along with a collection of different painters, Caza Sikes also features mixed media, jewelry, woodwork, ceramics, photography, fiber arts and glass.

During the month of November, the gallery is hosting a collection of paintings by Cole Carothers, which showcase a 40-year retrospective of his work while living in Cincinnati.

After its successful opening at the end of September, Caza Sikes plans to host more events and hopes to engage all members of the community, from younger visitors to those already very familiar with the gallery scene.

“We’re mixing it up a bit,” Sikes says. Along with displays, the gallery will host a series of events from jazz shows to bourbon tastings. These will start next month with a blues/jazz concert on Dec. 1.

What Sikes is really after is a representation of fine craft because there can be a lack of the diversity of media in traditional galleries. At Caza Sikes, a visitor can see and purchase jewelry, clothes made from recycled fabric, hand-made bowls, ceramic tiles and more.

“It’s been a long time coming, and a hard momentum coming up.”

Caza Sikes joins the art scene in Oakley, along with other venues like Brazee Street Studios, which offers a gallery, events and classes for all ages; Ombré Gallery, which specializes in contemporary art jewelry by art and metalsmiths all over the world; and Redtree Art Gallery & Coffee Shop, which showcases work from locat artsits and serves as a gathering space for the community.
 


Supercade bringing spot for the whole family to Westwood this spring


As Soapbox reported in August, Westwood is on an upswing. The planning efforts of the Westwood Coalition, a group of community members and civic organizations, have begun to pay off with increased city investment and an influx of new businesses like Lillywood Home Décor, Muse Café and West Side Brewing.

Leslie Rich, a long-time Westwood resident and board chair for community building nonprofit Westwood Works, has been instrumental in stewarding this positive change. Now she and her husband Bill are striking out with their own new venture, Supercade, to bring some added fun to the neighborhood.


“I spent the last nine years promoting the neighborhood, so it made sense for us to invest in it,” says Rich. "We saw a lack of spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds to gather in a fun way.”

To fill this gap, the couple will be opening a retro arcade with upright cabinet games, pinball machines and air hockey. Though Supercade will serve alcohol, “it’s not going to be a place where you have to drink to play,” Rich says.

The arcade will also offer local snacks, popcorn and cane sugar sodas, and is hoping to work with West Side Brewing to develop a signature root beer.

Supercade, which is slated to open by March, will charge $7 for one hour of free play or $12 for two hours of free play access, and will also be available to host parties and team-building sessions for local companies.

The Riches began collecting game consoles back in 2016, and turned their living room into a mini-arcade before securing the former Keidel Plumbing building at 3143 Harrison Ave. for their new venture.

“We’ve been driving all over the Midwest to build our collection,” Rich says. That collection includes a Donkey Kong cabinet signed by world record holder Billy Mitchell, whose high score is still on the machine.

The couple is excited about how the arcade will be more than just a business, but also a way of building community. “We think there is a physical community that can be built on top of the virtual community,” Rich says.

In an increasingly tech-driven world, Rich believes that people are looking for those places where they can have relationships, physical interactions and conversation.

Supercade has a Kickstarter campaign running through Dec. 11, with a goal of raising $20,000 in additional capital. “Up until this point we’ve bootstrapped and done it ourselves, but this will help us get up and running even faster,” Rich says.

Visit Supercade's Facebook and Instagram for more information and to stay up-to-date on the storefront's progress.
 


Developments at Newport on the Levee to provide a more integrated experience


Newport on the Levee is undergoing major changes to contemporize its attractions and everyday offerings. The Northern Kentucky destination is slowly moving away from the 21-and-over nightlife scene to more of a family experience.

Across the country, the entertainment game is changing: Shoppers are choosing online shopping over retail stores, and fewer movie buffs are filling the seats in theaters.

“In the past, it was about outdoor shopping and eateries,” explains Levee spokesperson Vanessa Rovekamp.

Longtime dining favorites Mitchell's Fish Market and Brio Tuscan Grille are being joined by newer, locally owned spots like Greek Burrito and The Dog House hotdog restaurant.

The Levee wants to become an entertainment destination. Current attractions like the Newport Aquarium, Axis Alley and an AMC movie theater will provide the backbone for that plan.

On top of that, the theater, which was built in 2001, is undergoing a major renovation that will be completed in late November. Updates include power reclining seats, an updated snack bar menu and new screens, sound systems, speakers, carpet and paint. The changes aim to broaden the theater's demographic. While young adults used to make up its largest group of visitors, the updates are intended to create family entertainment for all ages.

Most of the changes at the Levee are not public at this time, but they are expected to reveal themselves over the next two years.

Two developments recently opened at the Levee: a new 238-apartment complex, Aqua on the Levee, offers one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and another 8,300 square feet of retail space and a 144-room Aloft Hotel. Apartments and a hotel are totally new concepts for the Levee area, and encourage a new "stay and play" atmosphere.

Over the past few years, the Levee has also experienced a revolving door of tenants. Despite empty properties, the Levee holds events to keep the entertainment going as renovations continue.

Recent events include the 11th annual Wine Walk (March), supported by Levee tenants and featuring local wines; LIVE at the Levee summer concert series showcasing local bands; Local Brews and Blues (June); Margarita Madness (August); fall events and country concerts to complement the winding down of Riverbend’s schedule; and Light Up the Levee, which will kick off the holiday season on Nov. 21 with festive activities for kids on the weekends.

Visit the Levee's events page for a full calendar of events, which includes tenant-related events and specials too.


Tether Cincinnati connects local creatives to job opportunities, other creatives


One local woman is using her $100,000 Haile Fellowship grant from People’s Liberty to start Tether Cincinnati, a way to connect local image makers (photographers, wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, models, creative directors and fashion designers) in the Cincinnati area.

Tether’s mission is to make it easier for local image makers to connect to each other, and to opportunities for work so they can thrive — and stay — in Cincinnati.

The idea ignited when fashion blogger and former Cincinnati Magazine stylist Tamia Stinson traveled to London. She did a co-op at a British magazine and was inspired by the international image maker directory book, Le Book.

“It was extremely valuable because that was how you found people to execute those types of jobs,” she says.

When she started working, Stinson received many requests from clients, especially from out of town, about the image making industry in Cincinnati.

“I was getting all these inquiries from people and they wanted to know who do I follow, who I get in touch with, what's the best resource for doing this or that,” says Stinson. “And I thought it would be really cool to have a one-stop shop for that information.”

Her passion for design mixed with the resources at People’s Liberty, which helped jumpstart her entrepreneurial career.

“I think it's important to be a part of that creative community and to make sure that I'm supporting people financially in much the same way that I'm trying to get people to do for this community,” Stinson says.

Since its launch in May, Tether has a growing community of about 91 members — and that's just online. Anyone can connect through the Tether Cincinnati website, the print sourcebook and through networking events.

“I think people really get a lot out of that face-to-face interaction, which is why we do events,” says Stinson. “Probably about once a month there's an opportunity for people to actually gather together.”

As much as face-to-face communication is important to her brand, social media is also a key ingredient. “This is a very visual community. So Instagram is where people would tend to hang out the most, but also Facebook and Twitter.”

Aside from social media and events, Stinson also helped organize a sourcebook — a combination fashion magazine and phonebook that features Cincinnati image makers. It will launch in December to agencies and brands nationwide. At the launch, Stinson is planning to "make the sourcebook come to life".

“The plan is to have guests walk in and get the experience of walking into a photoshoot; there will be some kind of interactive part on set to create some of the imagery for the book itself,” Stinson says.

Stinson has been working on this since the beginning of the summer and as of now, the date for the sourcebook launch is Dec. 13. The plan is to have the book come out annually.

The next Tether event is scheduled for Nov. 15 at Alias Imaging, where people from different communities will meet.

Keep tabs on all things Tether by signing up for its newsletter.
 


Writers join together for bi-monthly social engagement series


This July, Union Institute & University launched its Live Reading Series to offer a free event for the public where writers, journalists and poets can converge to read and speak about their works — all of which target important societal issues. The new series is also meant to help start a dialogue that furthers knowledge and initiates forward thinking.

The university, which has campuses in five states, specializes in adult education and offers a curriculum that takes flexibility into account with online, hybrid and face-to-face course options.

Ohio’s campus is located in Walnut Hills and seeks to not only deliver high-quality education to its students, but also play a prominent role within the community.

“We chose topics for our series that touch or impact everyone’s life,” says Donna Gruber, executive director of Cincinnati’s Academic Center. “The series is designed to open dialogue in a non-threatening way.”

The series occurs bimonthly. Last month’s topic was “Women’s Issues in Society,” and featured Bhumika Patel, a regional coalition specialist for the Salvation Army's Anti-Human Trafficking Program.

“Bhumika sees human trafficking as an issue that is often misunderstood and unrecognized in our community and seeks to address misconceptions and offer resources,” Gruber says.

Lo Kwa Mei-en, a poet and author, was another featured speaker at the Sept. 29 event. She addressed trauma and survival.

“The community doesn’t have to come up with solutions, but think and reflect on what they hear,” Gruber says. “Often change comes from within.”

Upcoming Live Reading Series events are Nov. 17, Mental Health Issues in Society, and Jan. 26,  Business, Industry and Leadership in Society. The next event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Union's Cincinnati Center.
 


King Records' legacy lives on through new collaborative education program


Despite launching the career of James Brown and spawning major hits like “The Twist,” Cincinnati-based King Records fell into relative obscurity. The studio on Brewster Avenue was once a bustling hive for both country and R&B recording artists, but was closed in 1975 and all but forgotten in the years that followed.

A new educational initiative led by King Studios LLC — a collaboration between Xavier University and the neighborhood of Evanston — seeks to change that.

The King Studio’s Traveling Suitcases are a set of five different kits filled with replica historical objects and lesson plans in key subject areas. K-12 Cincinnati teachers can check out a suitcase for a week at a time from local nonprofit Crayons to Computers, which is handling pick-up and drop-off logistics.

The cases were fabricated by the Cincinnati Museum Center and contain curricula developed by a group of classroom teachers and Xavier professor Dr. Christine Anderson in one of five subject areas: Great Migration, Civil Rights, Science, Math and Music.

According to education committee co-chair Sean Rhiney, who also serves as director of the Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning at Xavier, the traveling suitcase project has been eight years in the making. Part of the reason for the long period of development is that the cases were collaboratively made, drawing on community and teacher feedback to ensure they would be relevant in today’s classroom.

“We started by asking teachers how they would share the King story," says Rhiney. "We heard back ‘Well, we’re limited in class time,' so they worked with us to develop the suitcases with tested subjects.”

The King Records story is a unique one. “King was innovative in that everything happened under one roof — recording, promotion, publicity and pressing," says Rhiney. "Very few major studios were doing that at the time and King was independent."

King was also special in that it blended genres, bringing together African-American and Appalachian artists during a time when strict segregation was the norm. These parts of King Records' history are woven throughout the lesson plans in the traveling suitcases, which Rhiney says are a fun, powerful way to tell stories while reinforcing core subjects.

Rhiney is excited about how the traveling suitcases will make Cincinnati history relevant to young people. “It’s our history and I think it’s important," he says.

The first cases were made possible in part by support from the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation and the Charles H. Dater Foundation, but the goal is that the program will grow; there are plans to create five more suitcases, if funding is available.

For more information or to reserve a traveling case, visit the King Studios Education Website.
 


Northside-based station Radio Artifact is set to make a name for itself in independent music


The idea for a radio station in Northside that plays independent artists and brings prominent local people on air came about two years ago, long before WNKU went off the air.


The radio station, Radio Artifact, will be a 24/7 station based out of the Rectory, which is next door to Urban Artifact. It will broadcast all kinds of music — from independent artists on the local and national level to interviews with artists and prominent figures in the Cincinnati area. The brewery will also use this platform to market its beer.

 

Scott Hand, one of the founders of Urban Artifact, had an idea to start a small radio station that pays homage to the arts back in 2015 when the brewery opened.

 

“I think he just wanted a cool little pirate station to be able to feature all the good music that we have around town,” says Urban Artifact's booking coordinator, Jeremy Moore.


Urban Artifact is also a music venue. Moore has booked local acts like The Skulx and the Blue Wisp Big Band. Touring musicians include Emily Davis and John Nolan from Taking Back Sunday.

 

With many touring acts coming to Cincinnati, Moore wants to be able to get them on the radio “to better promote themselves,” he says.

 

Radio Artifact will not just play music, but will feature all sorts of content. “The main goal is to get as much music-like programming out there, but we also want to focus on all parts of the arts community and just the Cincinnati community in general,” Moore says.

 

The station will air in a 2.5-mile radius. For those who do not live within that radius, online streaming will be provided on its website.

 

Radio Artifact won't necessarily fill WKNU’s space, considering it will only broadcast throughout Northside, parts of Clifton, Westwood, Camp Washington, Mt. Airy and Norwood. WNKU had a much wider reach.

 

But Moore says, “We’re just really trying to do something very independently.”

 

Radio Artifact will eventually broaden its antennas to reach a wider audience, but it's heavily relying on reaching listeners through online streaming.

 

“That's kind of how people listen to stuff at work nowadays, anyway — it's usually on the computer,” Moore says.

 

The radio station has received many original music submissions, but it's been experiencing trouble with its servers. You can still submit original music, and the station plans to officially launch during the first week of October.

 


Newly founded The Welcome Project integrates refugees into local community through art


Over the last few years, bringing new life to Camp Washington has been a challenge as businesses (and residents) face a different economic climate and lack adequate resources. However, many of the redeveloped areas of the neighborhood are focusing more on community values to build their businesses, including The Welcome Project, which is run by Wave Pool Art Gallery.

Artist Cal Cullen teamed up with Sheryl Rajbhandari, executive director and founder of Heartfelt Tidbits, to tackle a current local, national and world issue. Through this humanitarian effort, The Welcome Project has become a natural fit to provide solutions to the gaps many immigrants and refugees face within the community.

“Camp Washington's business district has been neglected for a long time and is pretty vacant,” says Cullen. “This endeavor brings a retail location and restaurant, as well as a third space for education, community gathering and cross-cultural development to the neighborhood.”

Empowering immigrants and refugees both economically and socially, helping them integrate into our community and giving a sense of positive contribution can help break down barriers that may naturally occur when dealing with other languages, backgrounds, etc.

“While the city has more than 80 providers that do a tremendous job in assisting with welcoming refugees, we recognize the need to expand this,” Cullen says. “Art enables them to share their voice without a common language, build friendships and provide economic opportunity for them. We think we can do all of this while revitalizing two pivotal storefronts in Camp Washington's business district at the same time.”

The refugees participating in The Welcome Project yield from many areas of the world, including Bhutan, Eritrea, Somalia, the Congo, Syria, Guatemala, Mexico, Sudan and Iraq.

Refugee service organization Heartfelt Tidbits focuses on the “long welcome,” and supports refugees and immigrants through the transition of moving and adjusting to a new cultural environment. It helps with housing, language, employment, education and everything else that is needed that they may not receive during the first 45 days of support from the government.

“We're doing programming 3-4 times a week, which includes art and sewing classes, as well as a gathering space for refugees and immigrants to socialize and learn soft skills while making friends, learning English and picking up talents like crochet, needlework, beading, ceramic, and more,” Cullen says. “Right now, we only have the boutique half of the endeavor open, and only part way.”

The end goal is to have a full-service boutique that sells refugee-made goods and is able to employ and train them in both product development, manufacturing, store management and sales, as well as have a kitchen/cafe that does workplace training for restaurant and cooking/kitchen skills.

As for funding, The Welcome Project recently received a grant from the Haile Foundation to start a pilot for the retail half of the project. The program will bring much needed employment and workplace training to local refugee and immigrant women while paying them a live-able wage and offering childcare during their work hours. Mid-range art objects will be available for sale from contemporary artists in an effort to continue to support the refugees.

“The pilot is just starting — we're hoping to have fabrication begin this fall and have items for sale in the winter,” Cullen says.

For more information regarding The Welcome Project, as well as upcoming events and ways to get involved as a community member, click here or visit its Facebook page.
 


Jen Meeks has a unique relationship with one of the Zoo's biggest stars


At 5:30 on the morning of Jan. 24, Jen Meeks, dive safety officer at the Cincinnati Zoo, received an alarming text message: “There’s a hippo in your office.”

Meeks’s first thought, “Am I being punked?”

She was not.

In fact, this little surprise was merely the beginning of an extraordinary interaction between Meeks and the Zoo's famous Fiona.

When the premature baby hippo was born on a cold winter morning, the staff needed to find the warmest place — and fast. That just so happened to be a room adjacent to the dive office, located in the same building as the hippo enclosure.

“That’s really why I had anything to do with her in the beginning,” Meeks says. “At first, I just stayed out of the way. I didn’t get involved until it was time to dive.”

Before Fiona could be reunited wither her mother, she needed to learn to handle herself underwater.

In the wild, mother hippos guide their newborns through the water until they are capable of independence. But hippos don’t technically swim. They're negatively buoyant so they can settle on the bottom and feed on grass. When it’s time to come up for air, their bodies have just the right amount of buoyancy to help them jump to the surface.

Fiona's swim lessons started in baby pools and gradually moved up to the 5-foot indoor hippo pool.

For these deeper swims, the Zoo needed a safety diver in the water should Fiona need assistance.

Although Fiona knew Meeks before that first dive, she turned and took off the other way, into the arms of her favorite keeper when she saw Meeks in her underwater dive gear.

This left Meeks with a problem to solve. Before working at the Zoo, she dove for the Newport Aquarium, where her interactions with fish, sharks and rays meant wearing gloves and a mask that hide your eyes. She was used to simply ignoring the animals to prove she wasn't a threat.

But Meeks knew Fiona was different. “A lightbulb went on. She’s a toddler. She’s a baby mammal. I came back with a clear mask, took off my gloves and talked through my regulator. This was completely new. Here I am under water going, ‘Come on girl.’”

And it worked.

“It wasn’t long before she started ignoring the gear and we started playing chase games.”

For one hour five days a week, Meeks and Fiona played tag under water. Then it was time for the big pool, which is outside and with a depth of 10 feet.

They took it slow. The plan was to let Fiona swim into the deep end and give her two attempts to jump to the surface before helping her out.

The first few attempts at a big jump didn’t go smoothly and Fiona panicked. The divers reminded her of their support. And before they knew it, they were playing chase.

While she ended up standing on a diver’s head at one point, she quickly got the hang of it.

“I’m fairly certain I’m the first person to knowingly dive with a hippo,” Meeks says.

In Africa, hippos kill more people every year than any other animal. But not at the Zoo. “I knew it was going to be a one-time thing. Everyone did such an amazing job. That was just my little job. I learned something too.”
 

523 Arts + Culture Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts