The “Crown the Queen” bench is a new jewel on Cincinnati’s CROWN

In late October 2022, artists and designers gathered to dedicate the Crown the Queen Tiara Bench, a collaborative art installation along the CROWN bike path. The tiara-themed bench is a resting spot for those using the trail and a tribute to the visionary CROWN project’s supporters.

The 20-foot-wide concrete bench features informational donor plaques and is banded with mosaic tiles and topped with jewel-inlaid metalwork. It stands at Yeatman’s Cove, one of the trailheads to the riverfront segment of the CROWN.

Cincinnati’s CROWN

The CROWN is a public and private partnership to establish a 34-mile urban bike trail loop across Cincinnati—aka: The Queen City. When it’s completed, the CROWN will connect 54 Cincinnati communities through new and existing infrastructure like bike paths, mixed-use paths, and bicycle lanes.

The CROWN network of pathways will give pedestrians and bicyclists access to some of the city’s best amenities—shopping, restaurants, the downtown riverfront, schools and employment centers, etc.—via safe pathways right outside their front door.

The CROWN is a massive undertaking supported by state and federal grant money, as well as individual, corporation, and foundation donors. The Crown the Queen Tiara Bench was commissioned in 2021 as an art installation at Yeatman’s Cove, envisioned as both a donor recognition display and a trailhead.

Artist Jan Brown Checco served as the design and art director for the project and recruited two other artist collaborators, as well as a design and construction team. After months of planning, installation began in Spring of 2022.

Meet the artists and designers and their work

Jan Brown Checco
Jan Brown Checco with the completed tiara bench.Where you might have seen her work:

Jan Brown Checco is a multi-disciplinary artist who frequently works on public commission pieces that call for extensive community engagement. She was involved in the OTR Flags project in 2012 and the Vine Street Murals project in 2005. She has worked extensively with the Cincinnati Park Board on projects such as Carol Ann’s Carousel at the Smale Riverfront Park and multiple butterflies exhibits at the Krohn Conservatory.

Her role in the project:

Brown Checco served as the design and art director for the Tiara, coordinating the other artists and contractors. She oversaw the design process and contributed along the way with installation and painting. She has also been the project’s greatest cheerleader.

What she had to say about the project:

“The Tiara Bench project gave me a chance to meet a specific design challenge posed by the CROWN leadership team. After parameters were defined, I was thrilled to invite in some masterful talent I’ve admired here in Cincinnati.”

“The siting of the bench on the river within Cincinnati Parks – an organization whose staff are familiar and dear to me – made for absolute confidence and a feeling of homecoming for me.”

Suzanne Fisher
Suzanne Fisher and Sergio Contreras install Suzanne's mosaic band.
Where you might have seen her work:

Suzanne Fisher has contributed her tile mosaics and murals to various highly visible public art projects around Cincinnati. You may have seen her work in Imagination Alley in Over-the-Rhine or at in the children’s department at the Covington Public Library and at Children’s Hospital’s Liberty Campus.

Her role in the project: mosaics

What she had to say about the project:

“What a fun adventure, creating mosaic elements to complement other artists’ work on the Tiara! My mosaics express the whimsical adventure of traveling up and down Cincinnati’s hills, using the geometry of natural and manmade elements a traveler sees along the way - bridges, red bricks, flowers, vines, insects, steamboat paddlewheels on the river, insects, bike wheels, stone pavers, bike chains, a compass. Circular, curving elements suggest movement as the viewer moves around the bench.”

“The mosaic materials I used include flat glass gems, teeny glass tiles, larger dark gray ceramic tiles, a few handmade fused glass elements, round porcelain circles in various colors, bright red crackle glass and rectangular tiles, and some broken blue and white plates. For me, each piece is like a jewel in the crown.”

Ursula Roma
Ursula Roma with her fabricated metal tiara.
Where you might have seen her work:

Ursula Roma creates functional metal sculptures for public and private installation. Many of her pieces are created for private clients, but you may have seen her pieces on display at Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center in Covington, Kentucky or at the Civic Garden Center.

Her role in the project: metal and glass “jewel” work

What she had to say about the project:

“When Jan called me about the bench project, I felt excited and intrigued by the prospect of collaborating with her and Suzanne. I thought our styles would match well, and they did! Over the course of a year, my design changed several times as the bench changed shape. I integrated Suzanne’s shapes of movement, water, bridges, steamboats, bikes, roads, hills and flowers.”

“I could not have completed my work without my team of helpers, designers and fabricators: Patrick Schreiber, Jean Tuttle, Matt Murrie, and especially Dan Augur of Augur Metals who worked closely with me to fabricate these amazing fans.”

“It’s an honor and humbling to have had my hand in this beautiful, collaborative sculpture on the Cincinnati Riverfront.”

Matt Kroell | Prus Construction
Mark Kroell and the Prus Construction crew begins the construction of the 20-foot concrete bench.
Where you might have seen their work:

Founded in 1888, Prus Construction has been a part of many of the region’s large infrastructure and renovation projects, including the Cincinnati Streetcar project and Yeatman’s Cove. Some of their more recent projects include the Cincinnati Museum Art Climb and the renovation of the Union Terminal’s front plaza and fountain.

Their role in the project: forms and concrete structure

Kolar Design
Plaques tell about the CROWN project and commemorate its donorsWhere you might have seen their work:

Kolar Design is a design firm that “specializes in insights, interiors and experiential graphic design.” They’ve completed over 5,000 projects in over 17 countries. You may have seen their work at the University’ of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute’s wayfinding and donor recognition systems. They also contributed to the design of Cincinnati’s Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park.

Their role in this project: donor signage

Where to see the tiara:

The Crown the Queen Tiara Bench is located on the riverfront at Yeatman’s Cove, at the western end of the Serpentine Wall, near the Taylor Southgate Bridge.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Liz McEwan.

Liz McEwan is a proud wife, mama, urbanite, musician and blogger. Follow her at The Walking Green and on twitter at @thewalkinggreen.