Pleasant Streets: Street murals are coming to Over-the-Rhine

Art on the Streets and the City of Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering (DOTE) partnered to apply for the $25,000 grant and were one of just 16 awardees, though the pool of potential grantees was vast with more than 200 applicants.

The project is titled “Street Paintings on Pleasant” and will provide an opportunity to not only engage artists but also promote community building and equitable development, which is the mission of local nonprofit, Art on the Streets.

“For ‘Street Paintings on Pleasant,’ we are celebrating two beloved and historic places the street connects: Washington Park and Findlay Market,” says Margy Waller, Art on the Streets’ founder. “These are places where we come together, not just as a neighborhood, but as a region.”

Chosen artists will be determined later this summer. They’ll then collaborate with community members to develop designs, affirming a sense of place for those who frequent and inhabit it.

“When we do street painting, we always ask the community to provide inspiration for the artists so the design represents the perspective of neighbors and users of the street,” Waller says. “We know co-created art builds relationships among people of different experiences and enhances the sense of belonging to a place.”

In the past, Waller says people have been invited to respond with words and drawings of their own as they engage with artists.

“We've gone to street parties and community councils and neighborhood dinners to ask for inspiration,” she says. “We're already thinking about how we can do these things while maintaining physical distancing and safety for everyone.”

Public engagement events are slated for the fall and will be open to anyone in the region, though outreach among residents of Pleasant Street has already begun, as they are the key partners.

“Talking to the people who live nearby and use the street is important to learn how the street works, and how they want to improve it with the murals,” Waller says.

Both Art on the Streets and DOTE have experience when it comes to managing and designing projects that support pedestrian activity and a sense of community, with DOTE most recently having piloted a project to calm the streets via murals as part of the Vision Zero initiative.

Look for the transformation of Pleasant Street next year, and stay tuned for updates regarding how you can interact with artists this fall to add your voice to the region’s enhancement.

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Read more articles by Brittany York.

Brittany York is a college educator, freelance writer, and the event producer for Ohio Civics Essential. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.