Welcome! This is a walking tour of public art in Downtown Cincinnati centered around artists from Cincinnati, with stops at restaurants, shops, and interesting spots along the way. This tour could take a few hours, depending on your speed and how long you spend at each place. Have fun!
Cincinnati has a long and proud tradition as a home to many great artists and musicians. The Art Academy of Cincinnati, founded in 1869, has produced artists – Chidlaw, Farny, and Harper – whose work can be seen locally at the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Taft Museum of Art and galleries around the city. But work by, and influenced by, many other Cincinnati artists can be found while walking around downtown and Over-the-Rhine.
Start your tour of local heroes at The Banks, with a painting two-fer. The ArtWorks mural The Cobbler’s Apprentice Plays Ball, 120 East Freedom Way, was painted by local artist Tim Parsley and a team of 12 youth apprentices. The mural is a warm-hearted and baseball-tinged homage to The Cobbler’s Apprentice, a painting by Covington-born Frank Duveneck, who taught at the AAC in the early 1900s.
In the mood to watch a baseball game? (Or football, basketball, or hockey – depending on the season.) Stop by The Holy Grail – Banks. The Holy Grail Tavern & Grille is a home-grown sports bar owned by lifelong Cincinnatians. The bar is just 100 yards from home plate at Great American Ballpark. Enjoy local beers while you discuss the home teams’ prospects with other fans.
After you’ve fueled up on good food and conversations, head north on Vine Street to the Carew Tower. Built as a “city within a city,” this forerunner to Rockefeller Center boasts 25 shops and restaurants. With French Art Deco motifs throughout the building – check out the elevators – with Brazilian rosewood paneling, indirect German silver-nickel light fixtures and magnificent ceiling murals. The arcade features Rookwood Pottery. Rookwood was founded in Cincinnati 1880 by Maria Longworth and was soon recognized around the world for its innovative and beautiful work. The colors and floral pattern of Arcade tiles are stunning – you’ll want to have your camera handy.
After that bit of Art Deco time travel, head north on Vine Street toward Seventh Street to celebrate two Cincinnati icons. Martha, The Last Passenger Pigeon, at 15 E. Eighth Street, depicts Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who lived out her last days at the Cincinnati Zoo and died in 1914. This mural reproduces an original masterpiece by wildlife artist and conservationist John A. Ruthven , a Cincinnati-based painter, that shows Martha and her flock soaring over the historic Bird Run at the Cincinnati Zoo,
Head west on Seventh Street to Central Avenue, where you will find Cincinnati Venus at One Centennial Plaza. This statue, a re-interpretation of Venus di Milo, was created by internationally renowned artist Jim Dine, who attended Walnut Hills High School and the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Ready for a little pick-me-up? Try Izzy’s at 800 Elm Street, just a short walk from Central Avenue. Izzy Kadetz opened the first kosher style delicatessen West of the Alleghenies in Cincinnati in 1901. See why Izzy’s has been a stop for Man vs. Food, and sample one of the eight Reubens on the menu, plus potato pancakes and chicken noodle soup.
Need to walk off all that ‘kraut? Head north on Elm Street and turn right onto Court Street. Walk three and half blocks east to the mural Homecoming (Blue Birds) at 119 E. Court St., based on the “minimal realism” style of Charley Harper. Harper, one of Cincinnati’s most accomplished and celebrated artists, studied and taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Harper’s work is familiar to generations, who have enjoyed his illustrations for Golden Books and posters for the National Parks and other wildlife organizations.
Turn east to Walnut Street, then continue north. At Twelfth Street, turn right to just past Jackson Street. A current professor at the Art Academy, Kim Krause, designed the mural at 16 E. Twelfth St., Energy and Grace. This mural celebrates the school’s commitment to reviving the historic Over-the-Rhine community, and is ArtWorks first abstract mural.
Now that you have indulged in some of the best art in Cincinnati, why not treat yourself to some delightful local ice cream. Visit the Graeter’s at 1401 Vine Street, for sundaes, sodas, and Oprah’s favorite flavor, black raspberry chip.