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Canvassing the Community

by Carrie Atkins Maras


Carrie Atkins Maras , learning & interpretation , education , community outreach , murals , Edward Henry Potthast

During winter in Cincinnati, we dream about summer. We picture a large expanse of blue water in our minds and try to conjure up the smell of sunscreen and the sound of flip flops slapping the ground. These memories sustain us while we shovel snow and grip the steering wheel through ice storms. I think summer memories are particularly meaningful to those of us living in climates that changes so drastically from season to season. If it is warm and sunny all year long, do you still associate these things with summer? Do you pine away your winter months recalling these summer memories? These memories of ours, here in Cincinnati, fueled our summer programming at the Cincinnati Art Museum. We looked to the images of Edward Henry Potthast, our Cincinnati-born, summer-loving hero, and followed his lead, developing a whole summer of awesome memory-making events and activities including the development of ten Community Canvas murals located throughout the city.

Some of our favorite Cincinnati summer memories were at the local pools, and we wanted desperately to figure out a way to combine our work at the Art Museum to all of the fun going on at the pools. So, we partnered with local art organization, Happen, create Community Canvas murals for ten local Cincinnati Recreation Commissionpools. The murals are of Potthast paintings from the current exhibition, Eternal Summer: The Art of Edward Henry Potthast. The murals are created by blowing up the paintings on vinyl, and then cutting the vinyl images into strips. These strips are numbered and woven into chain link fencing to create a mural for the community to enjoy. You can find out more about Happen, Inc., and the mural making process here.

We are just about halfway through the murals, and we’ve been really pleased with the way they are turning out. We knew we wanted these murals to be created in the community, by the community, and we knew that Happen, Inc. had the perfect program to implement & make this happen (no pun intended), and would be a great fit for the project. However, we hadn’t yet had the opportunity to work with the CRC, but we just had to make a cold call to the Cincinnati Recreation Commission folks and just hope they would be interested. They responded immediately and totally got on board with our idea. They’ve welcomed us with tons of cooperation and warm smiles from all the children helping to weave the murals. We’ve been really excited to have not one, but two awesome partners for the canvases. Lucky us! There are still more murals to go up, and we hope that you will consider joining us for their installation and creation – or at least come out and see a few at the pools.

Here is the information about where the murals are and when they’ll be up.

Community Canvas murals are already up at the following locations:
• Millvale CRC
• Pleasant Ridge CRC
• Winton Hills CRC
• Bush CRC

Do you want to be a part of the Community Canvas mural making programs? We still have these murals to create & would love your help!
• 7/11/13 Hanna, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.
• 7/16/13 Mt Washington, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.
• 7/20/13 Hirsh, 4 – 6:30 p.m.
• 7/23/13 Evanston, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
• 7/27/13 Mt. Adams, 2:00 – 4:30 p.m.
• 8/3/13 McKie, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.

For directions to these pools, please click here.

– Carrie Atkins-Maras, Associate Director of Community Engagement


Images from the Community Canvas installation at Bush CRC, July 2, 2013