Latest CRC, ArtWorks mural adorns Bond Hill Rec Center

ArtWorks and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission are once again teaming up to bring a pop of color and a whole lot of positivity to a local neighborhood.

The newest collaboration between the local institutions is the completion of a pair of new murals that adorn the walls of CRC’s Bond Hill Recreation Center. 

Designed by Cincinnati-based artist Ciara LeRoy, the murals feature a bright, color-blocked style inspired by Bond Hill’s architecture and what ArtWorks described as “African American/Black textile patterns.” LeRoy worked alongside teaching artist Kelsey Gray and nine apprentices, ages 14 to 21, to bring this artistic vision to life over the course of several weeks last fall.

To mark the completion of the pieces, the organizations will host a formal unveiling on Thursday, March 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. 

The event on Elizabeth Place will feature music and art activities, and also serve as a preview of other changes that will take place at the Bond Hill facility this summer. The beautification efforts are led by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, with support from Procter & Gamble, the Cincinnati Reds, General Electric and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens.

Those interested in attending the ceremony to register in advance.

“Our partnership aims to beautify recreation centers, creating welcoming spaces that honor the commission’s values and the history of the neighborhoods they serve,” said Sydney Fine, senior director of impact at ArtWorks.

A Bond Hill ‘renaissance’ 

Fine noted that when her organization looks to young artists, it looks for diverse individuals who have a connection to the neighborhoods we work in. That was the case in Bond Hill and for so many of ArtWorks other projects, she said.

Chris Pike, who leads communications for CRC, described the most recent collaboration with ArtWorks as fitting given his organization’s commitment to Bond Hill. The historic, largely Black-occupied neighborhood welcomed a mini pitch provided by FC Cincinnati in 2023. Other recent additions include a new playground and pickleball courts, and there are plans to add a top-tier ball field in the near future.

Those enhancements – along with at least one major mixed use development project proposed last year – are part of a neighborhood-wide “renaissance,” Pike said.

“The addition of these bright and impactful works of art will welcome all ages and cultures for years to come, while still rooted in the history of Bond Hill,” he added.

Ten down, many more to go

The ArtWorks-CRC partnership began in 2018 with the creation of the mural “Early Bird” by globally known artist Bongang at the Over-the-Rhine Recreation Center.

Subsequent projects included murals at the Hirsch Recreation Center in Avondale that pay homage to civil rights anthem composer Louise Shropshire. ArtWorks also introduced light-based installations in the community through the “Switch on Avondale” series, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

While known for its outdoor gallery of murals across the city, ArtWorks created a collection of indoor works at CRC facilities across Cincinnati – West End, College Hill, Oakley, Winton Hills and Westwood, to name a few.

Building on this success, 2022 saw the creation of murals at Evanston Recreation Center that celebrate the neighborhood’s history. For example, the piece “Elevation through Education” recognizes Evanston’s nickname as the “Educating community” because of its proximity to Xavier University, Walnut Hills High School and various other schools at various levels.

To date, ArtWorks and CRC have completed 10 projects. They already have their sights on No. 11 – a not-yet-revealed piece at Price Hill Recreation Center this spring. 

Young artists aged can apply to work on the Price Hill CRC opportunity project until March 3. The mural will be in construction from April 2 through May 25.

Fine stressed a desire to see plenty of applications roll in from the West Side community.

“This collaboration [between ArtWorks and CRC] exemplifies the power of community engagement and art to make a meaningful difference,” Fine said.

ArtWorks Murals

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