This summer two current Thomas More College students and one 2013 graduate took advantage of an exciting opportunity to work for ArtWorks Cincinnati creating murals for six weeks from June 15-July 17. Chris Beiting ’13 has been hired as a teaching assistant, while rising seniors Karen Cress and Jacob Condon have been hired as apprentice artists. Moreover thought it would be interesting (and fun) to follow them on their summer adventure creating public art. To start the process we asked our artists the following questions:
Q. When did you become interested in art?
KC (Karen Cress): My whole life I grew up walking around with sketchpads and pencils. From my dad’s camper and our house, to the cars and boats I saw in Bass Pro Shop’s parking lot, I drew everything. I started painting when I was in 6th grade and haven’t stopped since.
CB (Chris Beiting): I’ve been painting and drawing ever since I was a little kid. My parents nurtured that interest by getting me involved in a variety of different summer art programs, but at that point I was much more interested in playing and being a kid. I really began to identify myself as an “artist” while in high school at Covington Catholic. That’s such a formative time in everyone’s life, and for me, I found my voice through art.
JC (Jacob Condon): I first became interested in art around fifth grade. I started carrying around a 3-subject notebook with me that I used specifically to draw little weird drawings in, and I made sure to name each one. I definitely wasn’t the best back then, but that is the first time I remember having a lot of fun creating art.
Q. Is there a particular medium you like or are most comfortable with?
KC: I prefer painting with oils or drawing with charcoal.
CB: I’d say my strength lies in painting and drawing, but I’ve always been all over the place. Recently I’ve been interested in music, video, and installation, so that’s where my focus has been as of late.
JC: I used colored pencils a lot in high school so I am comfortable using those for the most part, but this year I started using oil paint and have liked it quite a bit. I could see myself using oils a lot in the future.
Q. Tell us a little about your art experience at TMC.
KC: I made it into WORDS 2013 and 2014. From WORDS 2013 President Armstrong asked me to share my piece “Life of the Mind” at the President’s Conference. For Words 2014 my painting “Soul Comfort (Study)” made the cover. In the spring of 2014 I was nominated to represent the Thomas More College Art Department at Semantics Gallery, and this past spring I was involved with Summerfair as an “Emerging Artist.” My involvement with Summerfair opened the door for me to show in the Mt. Adams Artwalk this past April and May.
CB: As an alum of TMC I have some very fond memories of my education, and the wonderful friends and staff that have allowed me to excel creatively. I had the pleasure of being a student under Barb Rauf and Alison Shepard before their departure, and I owe a lot of what I do now to their unapologetic and fearless drive to create. I worked as an apprentice under the direction of Alison and alongside friends Lee Schatzman ’13 and Carolyn Wagner ’13 to produce work under the moniker “Love Conquers Fear” in 2011. We were “guinea pigs” for the Art Apprentice Program, and it’s such a wild trip to look back and see what it has grown into now! Professor Kirk Mayhew was crazy enough to invite me up to Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park (in Hamilton, Ohio) to help assemble a site-specific installation with his creative partner Chris Daniel (Thin Air Studio) in 2012, which in turn led to friendship, ArtPrize 2014 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and our band space hands, which will have be the topic of a later Moreover interview… but I’d have to say my crowning achievement looking back was the completion of our Senior Thesis Exhibition “Revelations.” The show was a multi-media collaborative effort with my creative partner Lee Schatzman, with whom I continue to make work as “Foolhearted Studios.”
JC: I started a bit late into the art program since I switched my major from education to art the second semester of freshman year, but it has been an awesome experience ever since. My favorite class was printmaking because it was the first college art class I took and it really inspired me to try to take my skills to the next level. That is also were I made the “Little Baby Peanut” that appears on the cover of the Words 2014 issue, so I was a happy camper about that. And as for rewards, so far I’ve received the Most Outstanding Sophomore Award from the art department and an Award of Recognition for having some pieces in Semantics Gallery last year.
Q. Is there a piece of artwork you created that you are particularly proud of and why?
KC: I’m really proud of the attention I received for my piece “Soul Comfort (Study),” it came out better than I imagined! The piece was initially intended as a study for a future piece that allowed me to try my hand at something new. I had no idea that it would open up such large doors for me and become the basis of my series We Are the Universe that followed the next semester. I learned a lot from creating that piece and cannot wait to make it life-sized!
CB: I’m most proud of what Lee (Schatzman) and I accomplished with our senior show “Revelations.” We created a set, shot some short films, wrote a score, and re-assembled the set within the gallery as an interactive installation that also served as a means of displaying some phenomenal paintings that Lee had done. It was such an emotionally draining, cathartic, and exhausting process, but we walked away from TMC knowing that we were finding our voice and that we were setting off to make a name for ourselves.
JC: I’m more proud of a group of works that I did rather than one in particular. Last semester we had to pick our own project and run with it, and my painting project as a whole I am really proud of just because of how much progress, in terms of artistic ability, I have made from senior year of high school to now.
Q. Give us your idea of what ArtWorks is about.
KC: For me, ArtWorks really helps liven the community. The murals break-up the dull everyday commute with lively colors and images that brighten your day and inspire those who need a break from the generic. Not only is ArtWorks beneficial for the community but it’s equally beneficial for the apprentices and artists it employs considering each project requires teamwork to make it all so successful and beautiful. I’m really proud to soon be a part of a program that helps so many lives through not only the murals outside but the work they do for hospitals and children as well.
CB: I think ArtWorks is an incredible means of showing people what art is really about. At the end of the day it isn’t about the imagery, its how you use it. ArtWorks brings so many people together and provides so many opportunities for artists young and old to be a part of something bigger then themselves, and that’s a beautiful thing.
JC: To me ArtWorks seems like a program that helps get a lot of youth with a common interest involved in their community in a lot of really cool ways. It also opens up doors to a possible career in art that young artists may not have known about before.
Q. How did you become involved with ArtWorks?
KC: My former professor Alison Shepard had worked with ArtWorks in the past and always had good things to say about it. Professor Liz Neal really encouraged us to consider applying. So I did, and I got the job.
CB: I’ve known about ArtWorks for a number of years because of Alison Shepard’s involvement, but recently while visiting the TMC Art Department I sat in on a pitch being given for this year’s opportunities. I’ve always wanted to be a part of ArtWorks, so I decided to apply for a Teaching Assistant position. After filling out a questionnaire and supplying my resume and necessary letters of recommendation, I had two phone interviews before being called in for a final interview.
JC: Professor Elizabeth Neal brought in a representative to tell us all a bit about the ArtWorks program and this representative told us how we could sign up. After that presentation I decided to give it a shot and sign up for an interview.
Q. Have you participated in an ArtWorks project before?
CB: I’ve never had the pleasure of participating in an ArtWorks project before, so I’m really looking forward to this opportunity. I love seeing all of the murals when I’m downtown, so it will be a distinct privilege to be able to say that I was able to lend my hand in creating one this year.
Q. Can you tell us a little about the project you will work on?
KC: I will be working on a mural inside the Justice Center that will replace an existing metal etched mural that has begun to deteriorate.
CB: My knowledge of the project is limited at this point, but I will be involved with the Cincinnati Sound Mural located on the corner of Liberty and Main. This mural will be a celebration of Cincinnati’s musical heritage.
JC: As far as I know, I will be helping paint a mural of Ezzard Charles, the famous Cincinnati boxer, on Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine.
Q. What do you hope to take away from this experience?
KC: I’m excited to be creating something in a group setting that is so important and impactful for Cincinnati. I can’t wait to meet all the people and to gather connections and be a part of something much greater than myself.
CB: I hope to have a positive influence on the young artists involved, as well as the Cincinnati community. I hope to reflect the lessons I learned as a student of TMC, and inspire a new generation of artists that understand the importance of the creative process, and that the finished product is not simply a means to an end. Likewise, I see this as an opportunity to further myself as a professional artist, and establish lasting connections. I’m very thankful for this opportunity, and I eagerly await the challenges ahead of me.
JC: Hopefully I will be able to make some nice art connections for after I graduate from TMC next year, but really I am just excited to work in a real world setting with all these different artists that live in the area. I think it will be a much more enjoyable summer job than serving tables.
TMC artists’ ArtWorks projects:
Justice Center Interior Mural
In Partnership with the Hamilton County Administration
Location: 1000 Sycamore Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Project Description: ArtWorks and the Hamilton County Administration will partner to bring a new mural to the interior lobby of the Hamilton County Justice Center greeting visitors and staff with a beautiful and uplifting design that inspires the hopes and aspirations of individuals going through the re-entry program. This mural project will replace an existing metal etched mural that has begun to deteriorate.
Ezzard Charles Mural
Location: 1537 Republic Street at W. Liberty St. Cincinnati, OH 45202
Project Description: ArtWorks will be producing a mural on Liberty St. in Over-The-Rhine that celebrates the World Heavyweight Champion boxer and Cincinnati native Ezzard Charles. Known as “The Cincinnati Cobra,” Charles was one of boxing’s most successful and respected figures during the golden age of boxing.
The “Cincinnati Sound” Mural
Location: 1437 Main Street at E. Liberty St. OTR, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Project Description: ArtWorks will create a gateway mural to the Main Street District that celebrates Cincinnati’s unique music heritage, as well as the vibrant music scene of Main St. today. The mural will honor the unique figures which helped shape the “Cincinnati Sound” and influence music as varied as Funk and Bluegrass.
To see how ArtWorks projects are progressing on social media use #ArtWorksHere. For more information on ArtWorks go to artworkscincinnati.org.
For Part 2 of TMC Artists Connect to ArtWorks click here.
For Part 3 of the TMC Artists Connect to ArtWorks story click here.