In the tradition of celebrating Black History Month we wanted to showcase Art and Creators of Color in Cincinnati! This city has always been considered a melting pot of culture. You can truly see that throughout the artwork that is abundant in each and every neighborhood. From fine art galleries to murals on the sides of buildings and the amazing street art that has risen from the Black Lives Matter Movement, there’s a lot to discover and learn about the beautiful community of People of Color in Cincinnati!
One of my favorite murals and a must see is the “We Shall Overcome” mural in Avondale titled, “A Song of Freedom”. This marvelous art piece is a tribute to the life and legacy of Louise Shropshire. Louise was an extraordinary woman that was a civil rights activist, music composer, and personal friend of Martin Luther King. She wrote one of the most influential songs of the 20th century and her essence lives on through this mural created by ArtWorks. After you visit with this incredible piece of art and piece of local history take a stroll through Martin Luther King Park right down the street to reflect on the powerful impact that this work continues to encourage.
Not only do the museums of Cincinnati have a constant flow of diversity in their rotating exhibitions, but they also feature local artists and offer residency programs! One of the most compelling shows that has transformed the space of the Contemporary Art Center has been the work of Robert Colescott, titled “Art and Race Matters”. His captivating paintings brought another perspective on ethnicity, heritage, culture, and everyday life.
The Contemporary Art Center has a wonderful way of bringing artist from all over the world to Cincinnati as well as the Cincinnati Art Museum! Another recent and profound exhibition that embodied the essence of Black Culture was the “Black and Brown Faces“ show by Paloozanoire. Gee Horton, one of the ten artists included in this exhibit creates storytelling art and his piece was a standout during this exhibit. You can see his work by visiting geehorton.com. He also contributed the spectacular “Black Lives Matter” mural on Plum street that speaks to hope and equality! He worked on the letter “L’ for the mural and incorporated text from the famous African American poet Langston Hughes poem “I, Too”.
While you’re paying homage to Black History Month, check out the first Black and Filipino owned brewery in Cincinnati, Esoteric Brewery. This community driven company is located in Walnut Hills and is so much more than a brewery! Their craft beers are impressive, bursting with unique flavors for all types of taste preferences. Enjoy a flight on your first visit in so you get a chance to experience the diversity the beers have to offer! Transcend through time from prohibition to the pandemic, imagine a brewery as a speakeasy with social distancing and a modern aesthetic with sophistication and comfort. The space has a welcoming lounge with an art deco influenced gallery. Elliot Jordan is the featured artist and uncle of one of the owners. His mixed media paintings reflect the history and diversity of Cincinnati while incorporating themes of music, nightlife, and travel. With a relaxed elegance this is the perfect place to come to cultivate creative energy. They seamlessly combine art, culture, and dining that makes you almost forget that you’re at a brewery! They pride themselves on social impact and providing a welcoming place for all people especially minorities and woman. As a proud member of the Walnut Hills Community, I’m thrilled that we have this great place in our neighborhood. As you leave Esoteric take a short walk a few blocks down to the parking lot of Parkside Café to see the “We Are Walnut Hills” mural, which is our community motto! This vibrant mural and mantra celebrate the people of Walnut Hills and their passions. Murals like this can be seen all over the city and continue to pop up, so keep an eye out for what’s next!
There are many more places to enjoy art made by People of Color and ways to celebrate Black History all year round, not just during this month! In addition to the incredible art that you can experience here you can also make an effort to show support by shopping at local black owned businesses and learning more about the history of black culture through the music, theater, and literature that is prominent in each area of Cincinnati.
Author: Christen Collins