The heART of Cincinnati By: Audrey McQuillan

Have you ever been to an art festival? Have you ever seen extravagant murals on the sides of buildings come to life? The art organization BLINK visited downtown Cincinnati October, 2017. BLINK is a homegrown Cincinnati product that showcases the Cincinnati region as an innovative, inclusive and creative future city.  Cincinnati is now introducing new art museums and festivals. Art has influenced both lives of citizens and many countries throughout the world

Art falls on a grand scale and a personal level. In this case, BLINK falls on the grand scale of art. According to Rich Walburg,BLINK communications director, “Artists were asked to submit their ideas and concepts. Additionally, the BLINK team traveled to similar events in Australia and Europe”. Artists from all over the world came together, and developed their different ideas to create BLINK. Sixty of the one hundred artists from BLINK are from the Cincinnati region. This statistic makes this event even more special, now that Cincinnati artists have contributed their masterpieces. This festival is an excellent way to highlight the different art found in Cincinnati; however, the real question here is how did they project all of the animations onto these murals? Walburg continues to explain, “BLINK worked with Production Resource Group (PRG), a company that has worked on the Super Bowl halftime show, the Grammys, Oscars, Broadway and Las Vegas productions, and national concert tours. They provided the technology for projection mapping on 22 buildings as well as lighting effects on three additional buildings”.  The Production Resource Group teamed up with some of the other special events that are popular or have even been aired on TV. Why would someone not want to witness the different murals come to life? This way of projecting art on to buildings with special technology is what makes the BLINK festival so popular. All of these different factors of displaying Cincinnati Art, Art from around the world, and the special effects and animation from the PRG would contribute to well attended event. Rich Walburg discusses the positive effects for the Cincinnati Region, “BLINK brought over one million visitors to downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine during its four-day October run. Many of those visitors visited restaurants, bars and shops for the first time – and they’re likely to come back for more. More importantly, BLINK put Cincinnati on a new international map as a creative future city. Artists and techies know that the Cincinnati region is a community they’d be proud to call home.” As Walburg explained, the BLINK festival also aided in introducing the newly opened bars, restaurants, and shops. The BLINK festival also opened doors for Cincinnati on the international map. This event helped get Cincinnati back on the market, and informed people on what Cincinnati has to offer. The BLINK organization like any organization has a history. Walburg illustrates the history of BLINK, “The concept started with two separate ideas. On the same day in 2015, both Brave Berlin and The AGAR approached Tim Maloney of the Haile Foundation with ideas for art events. It was Maloney’s genius that realized the projection mapping and Over-the-Rhine mural events would be better together. ArtWorks was then invited to curate light-based, immersive art. The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber joined BLINK in 2016 because of our expertise in producing large-scale events, like Taste of Cincinnati and Oktoberfest Zinzinnati.” The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is educated in planning enormous events with a history of successful Cincinnati events such as Oktoberfest and the Taste of Cincinnati. BLINK’s partnership with them has aided them in becoming more improved event, with over one million in attendance. This mixture of ideas aided in a successful event. Aside from becoming an outstanding and famously known artists, like some featured in BLINK, it takes work and determination.

Art, on a personal level, is found throughout many high schools. Seton High school’s art and photography teacher Erin Vanover discusses the factors of a great artist “Perseverance.  accepting that you will fail and that is okay. Accepting that there is a lot of artists and art varieties.  You must be able to take criticism.  People will either hate your work, love it, find something wrong with it… just stay strong in knowing what the value is to you. Every person is an artist in his or her own way. Some people can design, some can take amazing photographs, some people just “think” creatively.” With these traits anyone could become an artist. At birth everyone is an artist in their own way and might not even know it. Art can be both relaxing, and or stressful it’s just the way the audience and the artist views the piece of work. Vanover continues to explain her own personal experience with art, and how it has impacted the community, “ Art has impacted communities by bringing them together.  All cultures and people can relate to art and find meaning and evoke feelings. BLINK was a huge success!  It brought thousands of people downtown.  On the other hand, some art can be controversial, it can spark disagreements and unrest.  But, overall, I feel that art has a positive impact on our communities.  

In Price Hill, the community holds a cultural festival. People may not speak the same language, but can visually see the same subject matter, so it can be a form of communication.  The Cincinnati Art Museum has many programs and evenings where people can gather around art and have fun events such as Art After Dark.” Between the different art museums, murals, and events, Cincinnati is an uprising city of art. Art is a way of expression of the different feelings, cultures, and talents of many citizens in the Cincinnati area.

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