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.

Cincinnatus

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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)
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Elizabeth Nourse
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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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Two Jims in One
TarbellPeanutJim

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)
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Golden Muse
GoldenMuse

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.

On a Visual of Local History

King Gambrinus is European folk hero and beer aficionado – and traveled to Cincinnati on this mural … but who is he toasting?

Gambrinus

Many consider one of the cities leading ladies to be the Roebling Suspension Bridge (the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge)

Bridge

Cincinnati’s own Genius of Water is the one toasting King Gambrinus while she is leaning against the bridge – but they are actually toasting the city’s beer making tradition.

Bridge and Genius of Water

By 1850, Cincinnati’s population was over 20% German.

The wave of German immigrants into Cincinnati have given this area numerous traditions: such as Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (one of the Oktoberfests outside of Munich), Music Hall (an outstanding venue), and beer.

“Cincinnati is one of the great brewing centers of the continent…. The Cincinnati brewers fear no competition, because the excellence and fame of their brews create a demand for them even in cities whose brewers have a greater aggregate capital invested.” (Over the Rhine Historic Brewery District)

Cheers

Fertile farmland, excellent transportation options, and the German heritage fueled Cincinnati’s brewing industry.

Grain

The first brewery started in 1812, and grew to almost 40. By 1890, Cincinnati brewers production of 1.115 million barrels was the 3rd largest (per capita) in the country.

That’s 40 gallons (151.4 liters) per year for each person resident – including children.

Kettle

Cincinnati’s breweries and associated activities such as shipping, cooperage, malting, farming, and of course drinking; at one time was one of the largest industries in the city.

Ind Delivery

Beer gardens became social centers.

Beer Garden

Prohibition (11919) drove the brewers and the associated companies out of business. Although many of the buildings still stand today, outside of local craft brewers, Sam Adams is the only active brewer in this part of the city. On a wall outside the Adam’s facility  at 1625 Central Parkway, “Cheers to Cincy, Past and Present” celebrates Cincinnati’s brewery heritage.

Image from ArtWorks site, which is better than mine

Image from ArtWorks site, which is better than mine

PS: Another ArtWorks mural dedicated to beer in Cincinnati is about 10 blocks away.

Additional Information

On the Singers of Cincinnati

When locals think of a title of this blog post, people like Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Andy Williams, and Nick Lachey come to mind. So do groups such as the Isley Brothers, The Lemon Pipers, Blessid Union of Souls, Pure Prairie League, Walk the Moon, and 98 Degrees. We old timers can add Roy Rogers, Homer & Jethro, and Grandpa Jones to the list.

But this post isn’t about any of the above. If anyone influenced this post, it’s Resa – the Canadian lady in Toronto who features murals on her blog (Graffiti Lux and Murals).  After all, because of Resa, I notice murals now more than I ever did.

Special thanks to Art Works: “an award-winning non-profit organization that employs and trains local youth and talent to create art and community impact through three strategic programming areas: Public Art, including an extensive mural program; an art therapy division, ArtRx; and an entrepreneurial arm, Creative Enterprise.” (from their website)

FYI: ArtWorks recently announced that local icon Rosemary Clooney (a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner) will be honored with her own mural, which is to start this summer.

Mr. Dynamite @ 1437 Main Street
Yep, that’s The King of Soul. No, James Brown wasn’t born in Cincinnati nor did he live here, but many of his early hits were produced at Cincinnati-Based King Records.

Singers Brown

The Singing Mural @ 1223 Central Parkway
This mural is a celebration of the arts and a salute to Cincinnati’s cultural legacy with the arts. Fittingly located near Music Hall, the mural features locals, cultural icons, and classic characters. Do you recognize anyone? (The list of people is below the last image.) What song do you think they are singing?

Singers 1

singers 2

singers 3

Singers 4

Singers Whole

Top row, left to right: Cincinnati arts patron Patricia Corbett, Sesame Street’s Grover, the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, rock artist Elton John, opera singer Beverly Sills, a euphonium player to represent Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, jazz singer Cab Calloway, the lead role from opera Madame Butterfly, and legendary composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

Bottom row, left to right: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker to represent Cincinnati Ballet, opera singer Leontyne Price as lead role in opera Aida, beloved Cincinnati Pops conductor Maestro Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Police Officer Al Staples, PBS icon Mr. Rogers; the lead role from opera Pagliacci, Cincinnati broadcasting legend Ruth Lyons, a local youth, and the Cincinnati Reds’ own Mr. Redlegs.

On a Playful Brick

To me, art is one of the (if not the most) ultimate expressions of human creativity. It’s easy to apply that thought to paintings, drawings, and sculptures – but it also applies (and not limited to) music, architecture, closing, photography, and countless creations of woodwork, jewelry, knitting, pottery, and embroidery..

For many months, my wife and I looked forward to visiting an exhibit before it left Cincinnati’s Museum Center – an exhibit of something many of us played with – a toy – yet, the fundamental ingredient of an art form – LEGO® bricks.

Art of the Brick is an exhibit featuring the work of Nathan Sawaya – a contemporary artist who uses LEGO® bricks to replicate his expressions of great art and his own original art through these toyful bricks.

Lego Entrance

Although the exhibit contained over 100 pieces, the comparative images of Sawaya’s work to the originals impressed me …

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… but so did his replications of the Mona Lisa (da Vinci), Starry Night (Van Gogh), and others …

… and so did this (I’m guessing) 10 ft (3 m) version of the iconic Moai on Easter Island composed of over 75,000 individual bricks …

Lego Moai

.. Sorry to say I didn’t get of a good picture this 20 ft (6 m) long replication of Tyrannosaurus rex of over 80,000 bricks, but The Guardian did (which I will list in the Additional Resources at the end of this post)

Mr. Sawaya also created original contemporary work How could one not love the swimmer in the pool of bricks …

Lego Swimmer

… and Yellow: the expression of a life-sized man ripping open his chest …

Lego Yellow

.. and a unique collection of other originals …

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… and even the Flying Pig specifically done for the people of Cincinnati in this exhibit.

Lego Flying Pig

Art of the Brick is a fun and impressive exhibit. Although it’s run in Cincinnati is ending, multiple exhibits are currently touring across the globe. See the Additional Information at the end that includes the tour’s world-wide schedule. Any favorites?

Videos
The Exhibit

From the artist

Testimonials

The exhibit challenges the concept of what is art. What is a toy. And even the limits of human imagination. It’s a playground where pigs are let loose to fly. – Carol Motsinger, Cincinnati.com

Is it a grown-up version of child’s play? Yes. Is it art? Yes — and not merely in the kitschy tradition of Warhol. In addition to presenting an 80,020-piece Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and plastic reproductions of famous masterpieces, the exhibition is surprisingly contemplative. – Kathy Schwartz, CityBeat

Sure, it might start with a brick, but it takes an impressive amount of vision to build upon that first step and take the concept to the finish line. Because while we’ve all, at one time or another, built a house out of LEGOs, we haven’t built the world’s largest display of LEGO art. That claim belongs to Sawaya. – Leah Zipperstein, Cincinnati Refined

While I loved seeing the well-known works of art re-imagined and created in LEGO® bricks, I was totally enamored with the creativity displayed by the original works of Nathan Sawaya.” – Bridgett Raffenberg, 365Cincinnati.com

This exhibit isn’t just for LEGO fanatics…everyone is going to love this collection of works of art using LEGO bricks. – Katie S., TheLittleThingsJournal.com

Each room of the exhibit has a WOW factor! It’s hard to pick a favorite when you see how diverse Nathan’s skills are. It’s incredible to think of the foresight and planning that went into creating each sculpture. – Nedra McDaniel, AdventureMomBlog.com

Additional Information
Exhibit’s website
The Touring Schedule
The Artist
Images from The Guardian

Art of the Brick is something to think about. After all, this exhibit may be near you.

Lego Ponder

On the Headstone’s Story

Many of us remember Charlie Rich – the country music singer and songwriter known as the Silver Fox. His biggest hits were Behind Closed Doors and The Most Beautiful Girl, and the latter earned him two Grammy Awards.

I recall the first time I passed the beautiful and unique headstone near the road in a small town cemetery not too far from my house, but I knew his man wasn’t the Silver Fox – who was actually Charles Allan Rich. However, research would deliver a few surprises about the Cincinnati connection in this tale.

HeadstoneName

I never stopped to look at the headstone, but it’s uniqueness and significance always caught my eye. One day it was gone. I’ve heard different reasons for it being missing, but for the next 10 years or so, I would think about Mr. Rich when driving past the cemetery … especially wondering about the missing headstone.

Several months ago, I noticed the headstone had returned. I don’t know why, how, or if any changes were made, but I was happy to have it back. Much has happened since it last stood tall – especially starting this blog. I knew it had to be featured in a post, so I visited the grave … and now the rest of the story.

Miners formed Deadwood in the Dakota Territory in 1876 as a result of the Black Hills gold rush. The town’s namesake were the many dead trees occupying the surrounding canyon walls. The name stuck and the town is still there today in what is now west-central South Dakota. Deadwood is also a great name for the colorful and lawless legends of the new American frontier of that time … the wild, wild west.

Charlie Rich was born (1859) and raised one county north of Cincinnati. Being unmarried, young and adventurous, he traveled west seeking fortune.

Away from Deadwood, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok was a skilled sharpshooter and quite the character. His legendary status involved time as a lawman, hunter, tracker, winner of duels, and participation in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. He also drank, gambled, and indulged in more than his fair share of fun. In other words, many knew Wild Bill.

In 1871, Hickok met Agnes Thatcher Lake, a widow and experienced circus performer who was 10 years older. They married on March 5, 1876 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Oddly enough, Agnes grew up in Cincinnati – so they traveled to Cincinnati for their honeymoon and to meet Agnes’ friends. After a few weeks in Ohio, Wild Bill felt the need to head west to search for gold – so Wild Bill took the train back to Cheyenne (leaving Agnes in Cincinnati). Later, he joined a wagon train bound for Deadwood – arriving in June or July.

Two interesting things happened on August 1, 1876 in Deadwood. Wild Bill wrote a letter to his wife with these words:

Agnes Darling, if such should be we never meet again, while firing my last shot, I will gently breathe the name of my wife—Agnes—and with wishes even for my enemies I will make the plunge and try to swim to the other shore.

That evening at the Nuttall, Lewis & Mann’s No. 10 Saloon, Wild Bill played poker with several men – including Jack McCall. While Wild Bill won the money, others (including McCall) lost. Wild Bill returned some money to McCall so he could get a meal, but he also cautioned McCall about playing again before repaying his debts.

The next afternoon, Wild Bill Hickok returned to the same saloon for more poker. Charlie Rich, whom Hickok had met in Cheyenne earlier in the year, was the dealer. Rich was sitting in Wild Bill’s favorite seat, so Wild Bill asked Rich to changed seats. Rich refused, but Wild Bill joined the game.

Charlie Rich dealt the game of five-card stud. Jack McCall entered the saloon. He saw Wild Bill seated at a table, and approached him from behind. While saying, Damn you, take that! – McCall shot Wild Bill Hickok in the head from point-blank range, instantly killing him.

Headstone Deal

Wild Bill Hickok’s card hand was two black aces, 2 black eights … thereafter known as Dead Man’s Hand. In this case, the jack of diamonds was his down card.

HeadstoneHand

The townspeople buried Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, the town where he still lies today. Agnes visited her husband’s grave in 1877. While there, she made arrangements to place an iron fence around her slain husband’s grave. She eventually married a third time, and died on August 21, 1907 in New jersey. Interestingly, she is buried here (in Cincinnati) next to her first husband at Spring Grove Cemetery.

But what about Charlie Rich – the dealer – the man whose gravesite is near me? Several years after the shooting, he returned to Ohio where he worked, married, had a family, and died (1929) – three weeks shy of his 70th birthday.

HeadstoneBornDied

In time, the family decided to honored the man who dealt the infamous Dead Man’s Hand with a special headstone – the man who family says never dealt another hand.

Headstone Whole

This is the side that one sees when driving by Evergreen Cemetery on Rt. 126 just outside Miamiville, Ohio. Some of the other images from the other side appear in this post … and this headstone tells quite a story!

On a Martha

Sorry … not Martha Stewart, Martha Graham, Martha White, or Martha Raye. Nope … not Martha Reeves, Martha Plimpton, Martha Quinn, Martha Raddatz, Martha from the Bible. Not even Martha in another language as Marta, Martina, Martine, Martella, Maruska, Marte, or even just simply Marti. I know some are guessing Martha Washington, wife of the first US President – na-baby-na … but this Martha is named the First Lady.

Martha literally means lady, so yes, the name fits. Martha has a royal significance in Scandinavia, so royalty is a suitable adjective, but this Martha isn’t Scandinavian and possibly never visited that beautiful part of the world.

There isn’t consensus on or where Martha was born, but there is no doubt about when and where she died .. nor her significance. This post is about Martha – Ectopistes migratorius – a passenger pigeon.

Living in enormous colonies, passenger pigeons were the most common bird found in the US. Their migratory flocks could darken a sky, causing famous bird painter James Audubon wrote in 1813,

I observed the Pigeons flying from north-east to south-west, in greater numbers than I thought I had ever seen them before, and feeling an inclination to count the flocks that might pass within the reach of my eye in one hour, I dismounted, seated myself on an eminence, and began to mark with my pencil, making a dot for every flock that passed. In a short time finding the task which I had undertaken impracticable, as the birds pouted in   countless multitudes, I rose, and counting the dots then put down, found that 163 had been made in twenty-one minutes. I travelled on, and still met more the farther I proceeded. The air was literally filled with Pigeons; the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse, the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow; and the continued buzz of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose. The Pigeons were still passing in undiminished numbers, and continued to do so for three days in succession.

Overhunting, habitat loss, and possibly diseases sharply decreased their population. By mid-1910, Martha was the only remain of her species – and living at the Cincinnati Zoo. At 1:00 pm on September 1, 1914, Martha died. Shortly thereafter, zoo workers packed her in a 300 pound (140 kg) block of ice for transportation to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

Enter my ties to Martha. Although, I’ve seen her memorials on numerous occasions at the Cincinnati Zoo and Cincinnati Museum Center, in 2014 I posted this image of a mural in downtown Cincinnati. The mural is a project by ArtWorks, a non-profit organization with one aspect being providing murals as public art. (For the interested, here’s a short video about ArtWorks)

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Later, I discovered that the mural is based on a painting by a famous wildlife artist, John Ruthven. His style is not only similar to John Audubon’s, Ruthven’s world has also traveled the globe and is found in numerous museums. Currently at the age of 91, he still resides in the Cincinnati area. In 2013, Ruthven completed an acrylic painting – Martha: The Last Passenger Pigeon.

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In the summer 2013, ArtsWork transformed Ruthven’s painting into a very large mural. Enjoy the time-lapse as Martha flies again.

 

On a Day at a Museum

In late December, my wife and I spent the afternoon at the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC). The fabulous day included two Omnimax movies, an exhibition, the holiday train display, and sometime in the history portion of the CMC … so here’s your chance to explore what we saw.

The CMC occupies Union Terminal. With its Art Deco, rotunda, tile mosaics, and architectural structures, Union Terminal is quite the building. In 2007, the American Institute of Architects listed this wonderful structure by placing it #44 on the AIA’s favorites of American architecture. Learn more about Union Terminal here.

Jerusalem, a National Geographic movie, was fascinating! We’ve seen most of the Omnimax movies through the years, and this one ranks as one of the best. The trailer is below, but here is the list of locations the movie is currently playing throughout the world.

Mummies of the World is a travelling exhibit that is currently in Cincinnati. The exhibit trailer is below, and click here for the exhibit’s main website. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a schedule of future tour stops.

In the Omnimax theater, we also saw Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs. To me, the movie was OK and worth seeing, but doesn’t make my list of favorite films at the museum’s theater. Explore the trailer.

On our way to the holiday train display, the Cincinnati in Motion exhibit is a personal favorite. It’s a model of the city in the first half of the 20th Century. Life in cities during pre-suburbia and interstates fascinates me. The video below will give you a ride through the display, and you can see some images here.