On Honoring Local Notables

DSC03343Thanks to blogger friend Resa in Toronto, Canada, I’ve taken notice of the wonderful murals on display in Cincinnati. ArtWorks, a non-profit organization founded in 1996, is leading the way with its creative vision, energy and focus on employing and training youth.

This post is about the murals that feature prominent Cincinnatians – some who you may know, and others you may not. By the end of summer, ArtWorks hope to have completed the mural of another local treasure – Rosemary Clooney. Meanwhile, enjoy this with the brief story that goes with each that I listed in a timeline. Let me know what you think of this collection.



Cincinnati is named after Cincinnatus, a Roman leader and a model of Roman virtue. George Washington (America’s first president) is often compared to Cincinnatus. Whereas Washington quietly retired after serving his country, Cincinnatus retired to his farm after saving Rome.

Commissioned in 1983 and completed by Cincinnati artist Richard Hass, ArtWorks will be renovating Cincinnatus soon.

Cincinnatus is located at the corner of Central Parkway and Vine Street (downtown Cincinnati)

Elizabeth Nourse

This mural is a rendition of the self-portrait by Elizabeth Nourse (1859-1938), a Cincinnati native who went on to a successful art career in Paris. Known for her social realism style, Nourse became one of the few women in her time period to receive international recognition and she became the first American woman voted into the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Self Portrait, Elizabeth Nourse is located at 8th Street & Walnut Street (downtown Cincinnati)

Samuel Hannaford

Image from ArtWorks Cincinnati

Samuel Hannaford )(1835-1911) was a Cincinnati architect. He designed over 300 buildings locally – including business buildings, theaters, churches, apartments, houses, and more. His most prominent landmarks include Music Hall, City Hall, Elsinore Tower (all in the mural), and Cincinnati Observatory.

The mural is a view from the window of his mind looking toward the visions of his creations.

Visit The Vision of Samuel Hannaford at 1308 Race St (Downtown in Over the Rhine)

Henry the Strongman

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Henry Holtgrewe (1862-1917) was a German-born immigrant who settled in Cincinnati. Although he ran a saloon, much of his spare time were performing various feats of strength, many regarded the Cincinnati Strongman as the Strongest Man in the World. This mural salutes him and his feats, including lifting an entire baseball team with his back. The mural is located Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine neighborhood (just north of city center), which is where Henry Holtgrewe lived and worked.

The Cincinnati Strong Man: Henry Holtgrewe is at 1215 Vine Street (Downtown in Over The Rhine)

Ezzard Charles

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Look at those eyes – the eyes of a boxing champion. Ezzard Charles (1921-1975) (the Cincinnati Cobra) was the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World (1949-1951). Besides naming a street for Charles (noted by an exit on I-75), this mural was the 100th completed by ArtWorks.

Ezzard Charles: The Cincinnati Cobra is at 1537 Republic Street, Cincinnati (Downtown in Over the Rhine)

Two Jims in One

That’s my name for this mural because it features two true Cininnatians. The face is Jim Tarbell, a local businessman, a former member of city council, a popular Cincinnati personality, and a proud Cincinnatian. In this salute, Jim Tarbell is dressed as Peanut Jim Shelton (1889-1982) a peanut salesman who dressed in his tux to sell peanuts before Reds games for 50 years. Peanut Jim once said, “They expect me there. People know me from all over the country. It’s strange how a black guy selling a bag of peanuts can get that much notoriety.”

Mr Tarbell Tips His Hat is at 1109 Vine Street (just south of Over the Rhine)

Golden Muse

The Golden Muse is not a real life Cincinnati, but actually a figurine from an 18th century clock at the local Taft Museum. In this mural, the muse is linked to the notes of famed American composer Aaron Copeland, who wrote Fanfare for the Common Man for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which debuted this well-known composition at Music Hall in 1942.

The Golden Muse is at 28 West 13th Street (Downtown in Over The Rhine)

Do you have a favorite? To see other murals in my series, click here.

37 thoughts on “On Honoring Local Notables

  1. Thanks. I love murals–public art that you cannot really ignore. The surprise factor is part of the impact. My favorite in what you shared is the Vision of Samuel Harraford.


    • Patti,
      Glad you enjoyed this set. ArtWorks has done a fabulous job, plus their model involving youth is outstanding. They have completed over 100 murals throughout the city at this point, and more are on the way. Speaking of more, whereas this post featured notable Cincinnatians, I’m hoping the next mural post is about the ordinary locals. Thanks for sharing your favorite.


  2. Each of these murals is really a treasure, Frank. I do think Cincinnati has bragging rights on being very proud of the project. They are all impressive, but I really liked two in particular. I like the tribute to Henry the Strongman I really enjoy the characters (like Henry) that were once so much a part of our country when we didn’t think we needed to be so sophisticated. And I like the Golden Muse for the direct opposite. It’s very beautiful and I’m appreciative of the integration of Aaron Copeland. I did not know “Fanfare” was written for the Cincinnati Symphony. That’s very interesting. Now I’m waiting for the unveiling of a mural dedicated to your Cincinnati Spaghetti. I have never forgotten that post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      Oh no … another thing we have in common. This is getting scary! 🙂 The murals here are impressive, and I still have many to see. While most I’ve visited are downtown, I have not yet seen many of the ones in the neighborhoods.

      The Golden Muse is very impressive. Fanfare for Common Man is so well known, planners had to include the Cincinnati connection (and so did I). In terms of Henry the Strongman – oh the characters of those days!

      Meanwhile, I love your idea on a mural to our spaghetti!


  3. The murals are wonderful and I have some recordings of “artworks” on the DVR- and recently watched some artists in a Mexico city- I wonder if this is the same artworks ?
    Anyhow – great shits and I bet Jim’s peanuts were
    A tasty treat!


  4. Amazingly beautiful murals! I couldn’t choose a fave – maybe Cincinnatus and Samuel Hannaford, but really they are all brilliant! 🙂 Thank you, my friend and cheers to Resa too!!! 🙂


    • Merril,
      I knew you would catch the mix of culture and history … which is good to see that I met my intent!

      Thanks for the fanfare. Simply an awesome piece. When listening and thinking about the common man, the music (to me) delivers a strong sense of pride – yet to one who prefers to stay in the background … but at the same time, there is a slight sense of haunting to me … well, maybe in the first half.

      BTW – I’m sure there are many versions out there, but your selection was very fitting … yep – Conductor James Levine is a favorite son here.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Val,
      True street art is in a class all to its own (in my opinion). Nonetheless, glad you enjoy these, and ArtWorks has created over 100 of these grand beauties throughout the city. 🙂 …. so more to come here!


  5. Many thanks for making me aware that in the 1109 Vine Street mural Jim Tarbell is dressed as Peanut Jim Shelton (1889-1982). Question: Is there a mural somewhere in Cincinnati saluting the city’s great musical heritage which includes the smiling face of James Levine? If not, there should be!


  6. I do love a good wall mural, sadly there are not enough of them around. When hubby and I went to Quebec City last year, we did see a few, but even more when we were in Havana. I like the one above by Samuel Hannaford very much.


    • Catherine,
      Instead of murals, I’ve got the feeling there are good street art designs in your area. On the other hand, (for us here) ArtWorks has created over 100 murals throughout the metro area. I will post more about them over time.

      BTW … visit Resa who captures much of the street art in Toronto.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. These are very impressive. I don’t remember Cincinnati like this. (Of course it was 50 years ago.) Looks like I need to make another visit, because these murals are awesome.


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