Cincinnati Murals – Self-Guided Walking Tour

Since accepting a challenge from former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, ArtWorks has created more than 130 murals in 44 Cincinnati neighborhoods. Follow my one-hour walking tour to experience more than 20 amazing murals located downtown and in the Over the Rhine neighborhood.

ArtWorks is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 by Cincinnati native Tamara Harkavy with a powerful mission:  we transform people + places through investments in creativity.  And invest they have!  Over the past 21 years, ArtWorks has hired over 6,000 local youth and professional artists to create more than 130 murals bringing beauty to the Queen City and reducing youth unemployment.

Fun Fact:  Watch the mural counter about halfway down this page of the ArtWorks website.

This walking tour does not cover all 130+ ArtWorks murals.  Rather, I designed it to cover as many murals as I could in the window of opportunity I had last Saturday morning, starting from my hotel by the Fountain Square.

That said, it does cover all but two of the “must see” murals listed by Cincinnati USA, the Official Travel Guide of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and several murals that aren’t on ArtWorks’ current walking tour map.

Pro Tip:  For a larger list of Cincinnati murals, download this map from the ArtWorks website. The map only lists about one-third of the ArtWorks murals and is a little dated, but it’s still the best printable resource that I could find.

According to Google Maps, you can walk my tour in about an hour.  It took me closer to two hours, but that’s because:

  • I had to stop for coffee. Twice. (I’ve already admitted I’m not a morning person!)
  • The security guard at the Hamilton County Corrections facility and I had a nice chat about the Dawn is Coming:  Open Your Eyes mural.
  • I was taking a lot of photos and notes to be sure I created a solid Cincinnati mural walking tour for you!

Pro Tip:  If you’d prefer to take a guided tour, Art Works offers two tours every Saturday from 2:00 to 3:30 PM, May through October. Learn more here.

Google Maps will only let me enter so many stops at one time, so the walking tour has been broken down into two images. I tried to keep Fountain Square and Washington Park consistently visible in both screenshots so it woud be relatively easy to put the two halves together.

Google Map view of the first half of the walking tour

Google Map view of the second half of the walking tour

 

Pro Tip:  Read the brief snippet for each mural on the route before (or during) your walking tour.  It adds a rich context to each piece, and I wish I’d done that before I set out last Saturday.

1. Self-Portrait, Elizabeth Nourse

ArtWorks Map #32

Location:  8th & Walnut

Artist:  Elizabeth Nourse

Completed:  2015

Cincinnati artist Elizabeth Nourse painted this self-portrait in 1892 (although, obviously, not on this wall as a mural). What’s notable about her self-portrait is that she is looking directly at the viewer, a pose that was usually reserved for men in the 19th century because it suggests strength and dominance. You go, girl, you trend-setting, bad ass!

Elizabeth Nourse Self Portrait Mural in Cincinnati

2. Still Life #60

ArtWorks Map #33

Location:  811 Main

Artist:  Tom Wesselmann

Completed:  2014

This billboard-sized mural was inspired by Cincinnati native Tom Wesselmann’s photorealistic painting of the same name. The original piece is shaped from six canvas panels that were positioned to create a dimensional still life. 

Still Life Mural by Tom Wesselmann

3. Dawn is Coming:  Open Your Eyes

ArtWorks Map #28

Location:  1000 Sycamore

Artist:  Tina Westerkamp

Completed:  2015

I wondered why this mural was inside the Hamilton County Corrections facility when I was out on my walking tour. Later I learned that former inmate, John Wedge, helped design this piece in honor of the Re-Entry program that he credits with transforming his life.  The guard at the facility was incredibly nice and let me inside to get a closer look and snap photographs without window glare at 7 AM on a Saturday.

Close Up of Dawn is Coming Mural

This mural is very long, taking up an entire wall as visitors wait in line to go through a metal detector and further into the building.  This view still only shows a fraction of this piece.

Dawn is Coming Mural in Cincinnati

Pro Tip:  The Queen Shares (ArtWorks Map #22) is also located at 1000 Sycamore, but I wasn’t able to locate it.

4. Homecoming (Blue Birds)

ArtWorks Map #27

Location:  119 E. Court

Artist:  Charley Harper

Completed:  2012

This mural was painted as a tribute to Cincinnati’s Charley Harper. His original piece features two bluebirds — a male and a female — returning home to roost.  Mr. Harper was a graduate of the Cincinnati Art Academy who was known for his flat, geometrical animal portraits.

bluebird mural by ArtWorks in Cincinnati

 

5. What’s Happening Downtown

ArtWorks Map #26

Location:  1005 Walnut

Artist:  Ted Hendricks

Completed:  2008

With all the renovations underway in downtown Cincinnati, especially in the Over the Rhine neighborhood, this mural came to life for me as it felt like these could be real residents watching the activity in the street below.

What's Happening Downtown Mural in Cincinnati

6. Fresh Harvest

ArtWorks Map #25

Location:  1014 Vine

Artist:  Jonathan Queen

Completed:  2012

In partnership with the Cincinnati-based grocer, Kroeger, this mural painted on the side of their headquarters features a variety of tasty, realistic-looking produce. 

Fresh Harvest Mural in Cincinnati

 

7. Crazy Cat, Crazy Quilt Cat 

Bonus mural not on the ArtWorks Map

Location:  30 E. Central Parkway

Artist:  Edie Harper

Completed:  2017

This new mural is based upon Art Academy graduate Edie Harper.  Her patchwork cat and quilt piece was one of her favorite works, one that she loved so much that she used the image on her business card.  

Crazy Cat, Crazy Quilt Mural

Fun Fact:  Edie Harper is the wife of fellow artist Charley Harper, the artist behind mural #4 on this walking tour, Homecoming.

Pro Tip:  The same parking lot also includes a mural signed by the Know Theatre of Cincinnati. The photo below is a portion of the mural. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any other details about it.  If you can provide any specifics, please share in the Comments section below!

Know Theatre Mural in Cincinnati

 

8. Ice Cream Daydream

ArtWorks Map #19

Location:  33 E. 12th

Artist:  Amanda Checco

Completed:  2010

Although a tree covers a large portion of this mural, its vibrant colors help it stand out.  (Is it just me, or is anyone else suddenly humming The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?)

Ice Cream Daydream Mural by ArtWorks in Cincinnati

 

9. Lookin’ Good

Bonus mural not on the ArtWorks Map

Location:  1120 Jackson (Same parking lot as Ice Cream Daydream)

Artist:  Unknown

Completed:  Unknown

This mural is painted on the side of the Know Theatre of Cincinnati’s building.

 

10. Energy and Grace

ArtWorks Map #18

Location:  16 E. 12th

Artist:  Kim Krause

Completed:  2013

Completed in 2013 by Kim Krause, a professor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Energy and Grace was the first abstract mural completed by ArtWorks.  It was designed to celebrate the energy and momentum of the rival of this part of Cincinnati. 

Energy and Grace ArtWorks Mural in Cincinnati

 

11. Cincinnati Strong Man:  Henry Holtgrewe

ArtWorks Map #17

Location:  1215 Vine

Artist:  Jason Snell

Completed:  2014

On the side of a building in the Over the Rhine neighborhood, former resident Henry Holtgrewe’s story unfolds.  

Henry Holtgrewe Mural by ArtWorks in Cincinnati

Henry was a German immigrant and local legend who was once considered the world’s strongest man, especially after he lifted the entire 1904 Cincinnati Reds baseball team by himself.

Cincinnati Strongman Mural by Artworks

 

12. Faces of Homelessness

Bonus mural not on the ArtWorks Map.

Artists:  Icy + Sot

Location:  1225 Vine (in the same parking lot as Cincinnati Strong Man:  Henry Holtgrewe)

Completed:  2017

With its dedication earlier this week, this is one of Cincinnati’s newest murals.  It was designed by brothers Icy + Sot who also designed the Christ Church Cathedral’s mural, We Need Education, Not Violence.  The artists hope that their mural will help raise awareness for and action toward Cincinnati’s homeless population.

Faces of Homelessness Mural in Cincinnati

 

13. The Vision of Samuel Hannaford

ArtWorks Map #13

Location:  1308 Race

Artist:  Scott Donaldson

Completed:  2009

Born in England, but raised in Cincinnati, architect Samuel Hannaford is known for designing the city’s Music Hall and City Hall.  Through the window of this mural, we collectively gaze on some of his most prominent works.

Vision of Samuel Hannaford mural by ArtWorks in Cincinnati

 

14. The Golden Muse

ArtWorks Map #14

Location:  28 W. 13th St (but essentially the same parking lot as The Vision of Samuel Hannaford)

Artist:  Tim Parsley

Completed:  2012

The golden muse is the figurine from an 18th-century mantel clock displayed in the Taft Museum of Art wrapped in notes from Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. The song is significant because it was written for and performed by the Cincinnati Symphony at Music Hall in 1942.  

The Golden Muse Mural by ArtWorks in Cincinnati

15. No Place Like Home

ArtWorks Map #16

Location:  27 W 12th

Artist:  Kenton Brett

Completed:  2013

This mural was completed in partnership with Tender Mercies, a non-profit organization that helps transform the lives of homeless adults with mental illness.  The piece features a variety of common household items that many of us take for granted — like toilet paper and toothpaste — but are important to those who are homeless.

No Place Like Home Mural by ArtWorks in Cincinnati

Pro Tip:  According to the ArtWorks map, Canal at Vine Street circa 1900 is located at 101 W. Central Parkway.  However, I was unable to find it at that address.  Meanwhile, The Face of the Arts was clearly the mural at that location rather than at 1100 Race as indicated on the ArtWorks map.

 

16. The Face of the Arts

ArtWorks Map #23

Location:  101 W. Central (address listed on the ArtWorks Map, 1100 Race, is incorrect)

Artist:   Tim Parsley

Completed:  2012

Wrapping the Rothchild Law Office in art, this mural features dancers, musicians, photographers, and other artists.

Faces of the Arts Mural by ArtWorks in Cincinnati

Second view of Faces of the Arts Mural in Cincinnati

 

17. Mr. Tarbell Tips His Hat

ArtWorks Map #21

Location:  1109 Vine

Artist:  Tim Parsley

Completed:  2009

Local businessman and politician, James Tarbell, was a member of the city council and Vice-Mayor of Cincinnati. He holds the title “Mr. Cincinnati” for life.

Mr. Tarbell Mural by ArtWorks in Cincinnati

 

18. Homage to Cincinnatus Restoration

ArtWorks Map #24

Location:  1015 Vine

Artist:  Richard Haas

Completed:  1983

Restored:  2015

Did you know that Cincinnati was originally named Losantiville?  In 1790, Governor Arthur St. Clair renamed the town, Cincinnati, after Roman statesman Cincinnatus.  Cincinnatus was famous for leaving his farm to defeat an enemy and save Rome in a day, before resigning his post and returning to his farm.

The original mural was funded by the Kroeger Company in 1983 in celebration of 100 years in business.  ArtWorks restored the mural in 2015 in collaboration with the artist, Richard Haas.

Cincinnatus Restoration Mural in Cincinnati

Here’s a closer look at Cincinnatus.

Closer look at Cincinnati Mural

 

19. Cincinnati Toy Heritage

Bonus mural not on the ArtWorks Map

Location:  23 Court

Artist: Jonathan Queen

Completed:  2016

This mural was featured at the end of the Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  It showcases well-known toys created by Cincinnati-based Kenner Toys including Strawberry Shortcake, Mr. Potato Head, spirograph, and Star Wars action figures.

Kenner Toy Mural in Cincinnati

Zooming in to get past the parked cars, street lights, and other distractions to take in C-3PO creating a Spirograph masterpiece with Strawberry Shortcake while Yoda thinks about The Force and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man hitches a ride on Batman.

Kenner Toys mural featuring Yoda and C-3PO

This closer look shows a Care Bear patting Star Wars’ R2-D2 on the head while an X-Wing Starfighter zooms overhead and the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future is parked nearby.

Kenner Toys Mural featuring R2-D2

Fun Fact:  Before the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977, a license to create action figures was offered to the Mego Corporation, the leading manufacturer of action figures at that time. Mego turned down the offer, and Cincinnati-based Kenner Toys picked it up.  They ultimately created 100 unique action figures related to the Star Wars movie empire and sold more than 300 million units in the first seven years after Star Wars:  A New Hope was released.

 

20. Riverside Vineyard

ArtWorks Map #29

Location:  908 Race

Artist:  Tim Parsley

Completed:  2008

Completed in 2008, Riverside Vineyard was ArtWorks first landscape mural and features a river valley landscape not so unlike the Ohio River banks a few blocks away.

Riverside Vineyard Mural

 

21. Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon

ArtWorks Map #31

Location:  15 E 8th

Artist:  John A. Ruthven

Completed:  2013

Martha was the last known passenger pigeon who died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, making passenger pigeons extinct. This mural, by wildlife artist and conservationist John A. Ruthven, shows Martha and her flock flying above Bird Run at the Cincinnati Zoo.  

Mural of Martha the Last Passenger Pigeon

 

22. Cincinnati’s Table

ArtWorks Map #30

Location:  713 Vine

Artist:  Scott Donaldson

Completed:  2011

This was probably my favorite mural! This mural features a fun combination of food and fantasy, including Cincinnati’s iconic flying pigs.

Cincinnati's Table Mural by ArtWorks

 

What about you?  Have you had a chance to tour Cincinnati’s murals?  What did you think of your experience?  Did I miss any murals along this route?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Don’t just take my word for it!   Here is what other bloggers have said about Cincinnati and its murals:

  • Be sure to check out Jamie Dawn’s post about Cincinnati’s murals because it features nearly 100% different murals from my walking tour
  • A Frank Angle has several posts about Cincinnati’s murals, with each one getting up close to each work of art.  I especially like the post dedicated to the singers of Cincinnati
  • Less Beaten Paths‘ blog features several murals that aren’t included in my walking tour

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Cincinnati Murals – Self-Guided Walking Tour

    1. I know, right? And this one-hour, self-guided walking tour only starts to scratch the surface of 130+ amazing murals. I’m already hard at work to get back to Cincy after winter and explore another neighborhood’s building art! 🙂

  1. I had no idea that Cincinnati had this many murals! I’m adding these to my list of things to see next time I pass through Cincinnati.

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