OTR pride flies high in Washington Park

Joan Kaup and Angela Morrow both live and work in OTR. On a fall day, Morrow struck up a conversation with Kaup about several silk workshops she was doing through her gallery, c4yourself, where people paint out their hopes and dreams for the city of Cincinnati. Morrow shared how hanging these silks in her gallery reminded her of the Gates installation in Central Park designed by Cristo and Jean-Claude, which consisted of more than 7,000 silk flags lining 23 miles of pathways.

During the conversation, Morrow said, “Wouldn’t it be great if something like the Gates could happen here in Washington Park?” Kaup quickly responded, “Why not?” and OTR Flags was born.

Morrow has been the project visionary since the beginning and is managing the entire process. Emanuel Community Center, known as a community connector, introduced Morrow to 3CDC and Cincinnati Parks board about creating the installation in OTR's Washington Park. The women caught the organizations in the planning phases of the renovation of Washington Park, and was able to secure permit 1 to celebrate the opening of Washington Park.

Since then, partnerships with ArtWorks, ArtsWave, Music Hall and the YMCA, just to name a few, have been formed to collaborate with as much as the community as possible. Which is the same goal OTR Flags is working towards. The flags will represent everyone who lives, works, plays and loves OTR.

“We want to celebrate this park as an inclusive landmark in the city,” Kaup says. “It’s everybody’s park, so everyone should be able to participate.”

The flags will come in two different sizes. Larger flags will be sponsored by companies or organizations, which will then coordinate with a local artist and facilitator. The groups will talk about the organization’s commitment to OTR, the park and the community. The artists will then tell the story of that involvement in a painting on the flag. Smaller flags, painted by individuals, will hang from wired lights that surround the park's gazebo. Once completed, there will be 25 large flags and 80 to 100 small flags.

While there is a fee to claim flags, the team realized if everyone had to pay, it wouldn’t be a true representation of the community. So OTR Flags teamed with OTR Community Housing to raise scholarships for community members who can’t afford their own flag. All proceeds from OTR Flags will go back to Emanuel Community Center to help create more grassroots community campaigns that give the entire community a chance to participate

Interested in being a paid artist to tell someone's story? Get more info here.

Interesting in painting your own small flag? Get more info on the workshops here.

By Evan Wallis

Photo by Brittany Skelton

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