The ArtWorks Cincinnati Summer 2015 Apprentice Projects have wrapped up and the TMC artists involved, Karen Cress, Christopher Beiting, and Jacob Condon have a lot to share about their unique job experience. Spending the summer among other artists creating artwork is sure to have short term and long terms affects on these talented young people. Enjoy this final edition of the adventures of Karen, Christopher, and Jacob:
What was your most favorite part of the ArtWorks project?
Karen Cress (KC): Literally watching and experiencing art change people.
Jacob Condon (JC): My favorite part of my ArtWorks experience was being able to work outside everyday just doing something I love. I’ve never had a job before that made me feel so relaxed and calm while actually doing it. Admittedly at the end there was a bit of a rush to get some things done before our deadline, but even then I enjoyed the experience because it was not a stress-filled rush like when serving at a restaurant. I always felt like behind everything we did, we were all having fun because we were all just doing it to make good art.
Christopher Beiting (CB): I’d have to say the most enjoyable aspect of working for ArtWorks has been having the opportunity to use art as a means of creating a lasting impact on those involved with the project and the Cincinnati community as a whole.
Share the top three take-a-ways you gained from this experience.
- Always make art, whether for a cause or for fun, never stop. Your talent may not affect everyone who sees it but it will in fact touch someone, and that one makes the difference.
- Always choose love. You may not agree with a person’s choice or action, but presenting your feelings towards that with anger or hatred helps nothing. If you want someone to change for the better, you have to love and forgive to be effective in your own actions.
- Not only did I make money painting everyday but I gained so many tools like painting techniques, knowledge of mediums, and I made some pretty good friends.
JC: My top three take-a-ways I gained from this experience would probably be:
- Definitely aim for a job doing something you love. It makes the work day go quicker, and keeps you in a much better and motivated mood all the time.
- Teamwork is the most important part of any large-scale project. Keep your coworkers happy and laughing and it will make any project go smoothly regardless of size.
- Always wear a hard hat on scaffolding if you are tall. I would most likely be in a coma from all the low bars I hit my head on if I wasn’t always wearing my hardhat.
- The value of collaboration: It’s such a humbling and informative experience when you have the opportunity to work side by side with a strong and supportive team.
- Be mindful: Working in Over-the-Rhine everyday was an eye-opening experience. It’s difficult to see the same people struggle to survive every morning on your way to work. Makes you wonder why you have the privilege of having what you do when so many others have so little.
- Accept your blessings: There was a lot of time spent after my graduation second-guessing and doubting my capabilities as an artist. It was a daunting task staying motivated and inspired without having a group of creatives around me at all times. ArtWorks has breathed new life into me in the sense that I’ve gotten a lot of my confidence back. Stay tuned; I’m going to change the world.
Have you seen an affect on your personal art because of this summer job?
KC: Most definitely, I saw that adding non-natural skin tone colors to people really makes them glow! I loved it.
JC: I don’t really know if I have yet or not. During the summer I didn’t work too much on my own stuff because I was always busy working on the mural, and by the time I made it home, I was pretty much all “arted” out. I am excited to see if there has been any effect, though, during the course of this year while I am working on my Senior Show.
CB: Yes, more so in the sense of my confidence, not so much stylistically. I applied earlier this summer to have work on display at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Mich. and made it in! The piece is a collaboration with another former TMC alum, Lee Schatzman. We’ve worked together for years, so after having worked with my ArtWorks team all summer, Lee and I felt compelled to get back to work as well. We’ve been rather productive.
Are there any aspects of the ArtWorks project that helped you with art in general or opened doors to the Cincinnati art community?
KC: I made a lot of new contacts and pretty good friends.
JC: The best aspect of ArtWorks that has helped me the most would probably be the connections that I have made through the people I have met while working there. ArtWorks hires a lot of great Cincinnati artists, and just knowing that I know a couple of them that are open to helping me out in the future is much appreciated.
CB: Absolutely. As I had mentioned Lee and I (we call ourselves Foolhearted Studios) have had a rather productive summer shooting a few films that are in post-production right now, and we’re currently getting ready for ArtPrize in September. I was also re-hired by ArtWorks to work on a mural this fall that celebrates Cincinnati artist Elizabeth Nourse. I’ve been very blessed.
Who would you describe as your favorite person/co-worker from the project?
KC: I really enjoyed Shae Beagle, she was so nice and extremely talented. I don’t think I ever heard her complain and she always seemed so calm and understanding of things most people would be annoyed or aggravated about. She was sweet.
JC: I would probably say that both my teaching artists and lead artist on my project fit in this category well. All three of them always came to work in wonderful moods and always were willing to lend a helping hand. Even when the end was near and more work needed to be done, they kept their good moods and just worked harder. I’m hoping my artistic career can lead me to becoming a happy-go-lucky artist just like them.
CB: I can’t really narrow it down to one person. Everyone I’ve encountered has elevated me in a different way. I was privileged in that the James Brown mural came together so quickly that I was moved around to both the Christian Moerlein and CincyInk murals as well. On each team I worked for, I ended up being the youngest teaching assistant, so getting to work under a variety of artists with different skill sets and varying experience was very inspirational and informative. I learned a lot and laughed often with good people
Talk about the subject of your mural, did the subject intrigue you enough to do research to learn more about it or Cincinnati in general?
KC: Yes. Tina Westerkamp incorporated bits of Cincinnati into her mural and the subject was about the community coming together in regards to the reentry program. So it was not only aesthetically beautiful but the symbols and meanings were just as so.
JC: I was actually kind of glad when I was chosen to be on the Ezzard Charles mural because boxing has always been interesting to me. I didn’t have to do much outside research though because one workday we just spent learning everything about Ezzard Charles and his life in preparation for the presentation we would all have to do on the mural. Learning about Ezzard Charles’ life definitely convinced me that he was worthy of a mural since he was always a hard-working man that was never in it for the fame. He just simply loved what he did. A message that deserves to be put up on the side of a building to hopefully inspire others to do the same with their life.
CB: The day I found out I was painting a gigantic portrait of James Brown, I immediately drove out to Shake It Records in Northside and bought five of his albums. His connection with Cincinnati through getting his start at King Records is such an awesome claim-to-fame for our city. He was a remarkable person in many ways having come from such humble beginnings. There’s a reason he was given the title “the hardest working man in music,” and I think that message can resonate with a lot of people in a positive way.
Give us your elevator pitch for the benefits of public art.
KC: This brings us to my first take-away; no matter what you do, your talents will in fact affect somebody. What do you want to be known for? What do you want to say? What do you want people to think? Public art speaks without words; all art speaks without words. You can say whatever you want with public art and someone will hear it.
JC: Public Art is one big thing that can really bring a community together, especially if you get that community involved in the art making. I can not tell you how many times during the painting of our mural people from the OTR community came up and offered to help us paint it. We weren’t allowed to accept outside help, but just the enthusiasm they showed for wanting to artify their neighborhood was impressive. This on top of all the compliments we received from people passing by, really showed how much of an effect Public Art has on the community. Exposing people of all ages to giant public murals like this can definitely cause small moments of happiness throughout regular peoples lives, and improve enjoyment of their hometown overall.
CB: ArtWorks brings people together by starting a conversation that bridges social gaps, brings money into the city, and pays artists to have lasting impacts on their community. Seems like a no brainer to me.
Knowing what you know now, would you apply for this job again?
KC: Luckily for me, my mural was indoors in the A/C. So painting inside again? Most definitely! I’m not sure how I would do being out in direct sunlight six hours a day but who knows? There were hundreds of people who were fine so I might survive that. So yes, I would apply again.
JC: I would definitely apply for this job again! It has been one of the most fun jobs I have had, and like they kept saying, there is nothing better than actually getting paid to do art. I am too old now to be an apprentice again, but next year I hope getting a teaching position on a mural at ArtWorks isn’t something that is too far out of reach.
CB: Already did! And I’ll do it for as long as they’ll have me involved. It’s an honor and a privilege.
For Part 1 of the TMC Artists Connect to ArtWorks story click here.
For Part 2 of the TMC Artists Connect to ArtWorks story click here.