New ArtWorks mural by MOMO coming to downtown Cincinnati thanks to SHP

Fans of Cincinnati’s growing mural collection will soon have a new larger-than-life piece to enjoy in the eastern part of the Central Business District.

The 90-foot-tall work by internationally known artist MOMO is going up on the side of the Sycamore Place building on Seventh Street.

The commission is a collaboration between ArtWorks and SHP, an architecture, design and engineering firm with offices in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and elsewhere.

ArtWorks apprentices work on a Sycamore Street mural by MOMO.
Street artist and mural designer MOMO joined the ArtWorks team on July 21. (Scott Beseler/ArtWorks)

Originally from San Francisco, MOMO is known for his post-graffiti murals and studio painting. He began large-scale experimental outdoor work in public spaces in the late 1990s.

Notable mural commissions for MOMO include Facebook, Pepsi, the NFL and the World Trade Center. He’s also marked his designs on numerous previously nondescript walls around the world.

MOMO’s murals typically feature vivid colors, geometric shapes and abstract forms that complement and emphasize the surrounding architecture.

This newest piece continues that style by incorporating an eye-popping color scheme and jarring linework. He described its composition as “music without lyrics.”

“There are sensual qualities of color, harmonies and rhythm,” MOMO noted of his first mural in Cincinnati. 

“I’m excited to have ArtWorks bring this design to life to this mark on this gorgeous city,” he added.

Making art while supporting artists

Teaching artists Adrienne Dixon and Thomas Osorio are leading a team of 12 ArtWorks apprentices. They’re working on scaffolding to construct the multistory piece.

The goal is to finish the project by late August.

One of the apprentices, Fiona Flanigan, 17, said she especially appreciates the fact the work aims to celebrate the work of retired architects and engineers.

“The environments they create help people engage in better human experiences. I hope our mural highlights the positive work they do for our community,” the Cheviot resident added.

Colleen Sully, another apprentice, voiced excitement that she’s getting a chance to add to the “attraction and appeal to the city.” But one of her favorite aspects of the job is getting to work with a talented, “great and fun” group of artists.

She’s learned several painting techniques and skills over the past few weeks. That includes things like gridding with chalk lines and manipulating paint rollers “just like MOMO.”

“I feel connected to the project I am working on because I am proud to be a part of something this big in Cincinnati. It feels good to make that area brighter,” Sully said.

“I would tell anyone who is interested in this program to 100% go for it,” she added. “The people you meet are great and inspire you. It is the best work experience I’ve ever had.”

MOMO praised ArtWorks’ mural program for giving young artists a “unique, hands-on” opportunity to improve their craft.

Over the years, ArtWorks’ team of Youth Apprentices have completed nearly 300 outdoor permanent murals across Greater Cincinnati.

“When you combine that with a fantastic site, SHP support and top-quality materials, it made for a beautiful opportunity,” he said of the opportunity.

‘Painting’ it forward

SHP is one of the oldest architecture and design firms in Ohio, specializing in schools, businesses and communal gathering spaces.

The firm sponsored the project to honor a “generation of leadership” that built its Cincinnati office, according to Lauren Della Bella, president of SHP. Its local headquarters is on Third Street.

Della Bella described ArtWorks as having displayed a longstanding commitment to using public art to “change communities and raise awareness about the impact of art.

“Throughout SHP’s 120-plus year history, our work has been about transformation. We have embraced the idea of ‘simply helping people’ by creating environments and experiences that improve lives and raise people and communities up,” she added.

Below are more photos of the in-progress mural, taken by Scott Beseler.

MOMO trained the ArtWorks apprentices on painting techniques during a visit to the mural site.
ArtWorks’ lead teaching artist Adrienne Dixon and MOMO review designs for the mural.
The apprentices scaled scaffolding to paint the 90-foot-tall mural. 
ArtWorks teaching artists Adrienne Dixon and Thomas Osorio watch the apprentices.
ArtWorks apprentice Fiona Flanigan, 17.
ArtWorks Apprentices Ellen Casey (left) and Colleen Sully, and ArtWorks Board Secretary Ron Houck (right) stand on scaffolding during a painting day this July.

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