Get Smart: Women Helping Women's Sunday Salons are a win for everyone

If your idea of fun is hearing behind-the-scenes stories from local newsmakers and creative leaders while sipping wine in historic homes, then you need to check out the Women Helping Women 2015 Sunday Salon series kicking off this weekend. If that's not your idea of fun, well, why not?

Sunday Salons are one of two annual fundraising events for Women Helping Women, which serves more than 13,000 people each year in Southwestern Ohio who are survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.

This year’s series features 12 salons between Jan. 25 and March 29. Tickets are $65 for each session, with a capacity of only 25-35 people depending on the size of the host home.

Speakers include Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Kode Sammarco, M.D.; Kristin Erwin Schlotman, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission; Jeff Sheldon, program director of the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State; and Cameron Kitchin, the recently appointed director of Cincinnati Art Museum. Each will present in an intimate setting, with plenty of time for discussion, food and drinks.

It's a win-win for everyone: You get smart by interacting with the city's brightest minds, and Women Helping Women gets much-needed financial assistance to advance their critically important work.

This Sunday’s opening salon focuses on the impact of Cincinnati’s arts and culture on the region, led by Dan Reynolds, one of the creative forces behind LumenoCity. Funded by the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, Reynolds and Steve McGowan produced LumenoCity in 2013 as a celebration of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Music Hall.

“That first year of LumenoCity was a real revelation,” Reynolds says. “Steve and I were hoping it would be a fun diversion and creative challenge, but with the amazing community turnout we really felt the weight of its civic impact, how it brought so many people to Washington Park and how it gave courage to businesses to open afterwards in Over-the-Rhine. We never imagined a light show would mean so much to so many people, including us.”

Reynolds says his partnership with the Haile Foundation allowed him and McGowan to start their own production company, Brave Berlin, which led to a second LumenoCity in 2014. He hopes to helm a third iteration later this year.

“Steve and I are artists at heart who took professional detours into advertising and branding for 25-30 years,” he says. “Our relationship with Haile and CEO Tim Maloney has opened doors for us to bring that design and branding expertise to the local arts world. And we’ve been welcomed as family by the arts community. We’re very fortunate.”

This is the 19th year for the salon series, says Women Helping Women Executive Director Kendall Fisher, who credits much of its success to the intimate audience size that makes it possible for attendees to have a more meaningful experience with the speakers, hosts and other guests. Hosts aren’t necessarily connected to Women Helping Women but are recruited by previous hosts and speakers.

“Often hosting a salon is the first connection hosts have to Women Helping Women,” Fisher says, “(and) sometimes it’s just a house that we think is awesome and would like to have involved. We have different hosts each year in different areas of Greater Cincinnati. Some venues have been repeated over our 19-year history, but it is rare.”

Speakers and hosts are matched fairly randomly, Fisher says, but her salon committee does try to take “synchronicity” into account.

“We’ll match a speaker on modern art and a host with a great modern art collection if we can,” she says, “or a chef preparing food as part of the salon and someone with a large gourmet kitchen (or) a speaker on Over-the-Rhine and a home in OTR.”

Go here to register for any of the 2015 salons.

Find more about Women Helping Women’s mission, services and history here.

2015 Sunday Salon Series

Jan. 25: LumenoCity: Behind the Scenes of a City Inspired
Dan ReynoldsSpeaker: Dan Reynolds, Brave Berlin co-owner and media artist
Hosts: Barbara and Richard Homlar, Carol Grasha, Christopher Knoop (Hyde Park)

Reynolds, one of the creative minds behind LumenoCity, will take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of how the event paired light and music to make magic in Washington Park in 2013 and 2014 and help imagine what the future holds for Cincinnati’s vibrant arts scene. The Homlars’ traditional brick home boasts an Ohio River view and houses an eclectic collection of art.

Feb. 8: John Hearts Marsha: A Medium for a Special Message
Speaker: Chris Gliebe, Lightborne creative director and designer
Host: Jim Raphael (East Walnut Hills)

Mural artist/graffiti pioneer Gliebe will explain the rise of “street art,” how it differs from graffiti and how he bridged the gap between graffiti artist and design professional. Raphael’s unusual contemporary home is tucked among the East Walnut Hills Victorians.

Feb. 8: CSI, SVU? The Real Forensics of Crime Detection
Dr. SammarcoSpeaker: Lakshmi Kode Sammarco, M.D., Hamilton County Coroner
Hosts: Terry and Christy Horan (Montgomery)

Dr. Sammarco presents might be called Coroner: 101, discussing the realities of her role and the responsibilities of her office in light of what we think we know about the subject from our favorite TV crime dramas. The Horans’ traditional suburban home graces a beautiful wooded lot.

Feb. 15: Who Are Cincinnati’s Leading Ladies?
Wendy Hart BeckmanSpeaker: Wendy Hart Beckman, Author, Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati
Hosts: Jeff and Kathy Besecker (Hyde Park)

Beckman will share interesting tidbits about Helen “Nellie” Taft, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, Mary Emery, Anna Sinton Taft, Patricia Corbett and Louise Nippert, women behind, beside and in some cases in front of the men who built this city. The Beseckers’ home, an adaptation of Edwin Lutyens’ design in Hertfordshire, England, was designed and built by architect Rudolph Tietig as his own family residence.

Feb. 22: Cincy on the Silver Screen
Kristin Erwin SchlotmanSpeaker: Kristin Erwin Schlotman, Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission executive director
Hosts: Susan Haas and Craig Decker (East Walnut Hills)

Schlotman shares insights on our city’s past, present, and future relationship with the film industry and the economic implications of that partnership. The hosts’ Colonial Revival home was built in 1904 and underwent a major interior renovation in 1926 by architect Charles Cellarius, known for his work in Mariemont and at Miami University.

Feb. 22: The Right Ingredient
Jeff SheldonSpeaker: Jeff Sheldon, Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State program director
Host: Diann Bridenbaugh (Columbia-Tusculum)

A major contributor to Cincinnati’s recent food frenzy is the Midwest Culinary Institute, and Sheldon and selected students will prepare appetizers and desserts while discussing what’s on the horizon for MCI. The host’s condominium features a spectacular river view and a collection of Russian impressionist art.

March 1: Dean of the Dead Speaks
Phil NuxhallSpeaker: Phil Nuxhall, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum historian, docent trainer and author
Hosts: Lucy Allen, Jeff Thomas and Kent Shaw (East Walnut Hills)

Nuxhall will share stories of the embalmed, the entombed, the cremated and the encased of Spring Grove Cemetery, one of the city’s top tourist attractions and the second largest cemetery in the country. Two sixth-floor contemporary condos in the Husman House, the first condominium conversion in Greater Cincinnati, will host the presentation and desserts.

March 8: Is It Organic? The Evolution of an Artist
Speaker: Brenda Tarbell, ceramic sculptor and artist
Hosts: Deborah and Louis Ginocchio (Prospect Hill)

Tarbell creates pieces that look like they’ve grown, might have once been alive and perhaps hold seeds or are in decay. Learn how her fascination with the forms of things that grow led to her evolution from potter to ceramic artist extraordinaire. The Ginocchios’ home blends the old and the new with views of downtown, Mt. Adams, Over-the-Rhine and a garden.

March 15: The Kaleidoscope of Cincinnati Dining
Joanne DrillingSpeaker: Joanne Drilling, Cincinnati Magazine dining editor
Host: Shayne Byer (Pleasant Ridge)

After 13 years as a chef, Drilling is now primarily occupied with spotlighting local products and producers and updating diners on new restaurant openings. Byer’s century-old Grand Vista home has a funky mix of old and modern, complemented by fun art and pops of girly glamour.

March 22: Creator, Provocateur, Rebel, Idealist: What’s Your Brand?
Speakers: Kathy Evans and Mike Taylor, Epitome Branding founders
Hosts: Joan Kaup and Rick Pender (Over-the-Rhine)

Evans and Taylor combine the science of branding with the art of emotional storytelling to craft personal brands, incorporating Carl Jung’s archetypes enable others to understand and connect with your own brand. Kaup and Pender’s 1885 five-story building holds their own two-floor living space, apartments, a business and an ArtWorks mural on the west side that makes it a neighborhood landmark.

March 22: Art, Anew, for All
Cameron KitchinSpeaker: Cameron Kitchin, Cincinnati Art Museum director
Host: Jan Bartel (Wyoming)

Arriving in October from Memphis’ Brooks Museum of Art, Kitchin espouses the philosophy that the Cincinnati Art Museum is a public service organization whose mission is education and intends to create an “Art Museum for All Generations” to change the way in which visitors interact with art. Bartel describes her home as “midcentury modern with a facelift.”

March 29: See You in the Funny Papers!
Speaker: Jenny E. Robb, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum curator
Hosts: Courtney and Michael Jones (Clifton)

Robb shares her personal obsession with comic art as well as insight into the largest collection of cartoon and comic materials in the world, which includes editorial cartoons, newspaper comic strips, magazine cartoons, comic books and graphic novels. The Jones’ mid-19th century home is a stately example of romantic Italianate architecture and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Read more articles by John Fox.

John Fox is an experienced freelance writer and editor who served as managing editor of Soapbox from December 2014 to August 2016.
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