New CROWN mural dedicated outside GABP

October 21st, 2022

The Cincinnati Reds, ArtWorks and CROWN dedicated a new mural outside of Great American Ball Park on Wednesday.

A project championed by CROWN Vice Chairman Rick Greiwe and designed by local artist L.D. Nehls, the 165-foot mural was created to spark excitement, curiosity and discovery of Cincinnati’s gem landmarks along the CROWN: the Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network. The CROWN is a 34-mile urban trail loop intended to serve as the hub connecting Greater Cincinnati’s regional trails to downtown, transforming the way people move in the community. Over 18 miles of the loop have been completed, and the latest creation at the corner of Joe Nuxhall Way and Mehring Way is one of two completed murals along the trail, the other on Wasson Way in Oakley.

Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails and CROWN Campaign manager, hosted the event outside the ballpark in front of the mural. Representatives from CROWN, Duke Energy and Artworks spoke at the event while Reds president and chief operating officer Phil Castellini, senior vice president Karen Forgus and other members of the Reds’ front office staff were in attendance.

“We believe our city is a gallery,” said Colleen Houston, CEO and artistic director of ArtWorks, a nonprofit responsible for multiple other murals around the city. “The artists have immense value in the power of storytelling honoring and elevating our culture, and that art belongs to everyone. … We hope that the CROWN trails network is catalyst for more art, placemaking and building community across our city.”

This mural is meant to encourage locals to learn more about the city and community they live in and to celebrate how the CROWN trail and the Reds connect people and communities. It contains 19 iconic landmarks that the trail will pass. The mural also contains a QR code that offers a key to identify each of the landmarks.

“There’s a quote on the wall that says, ‘A ribbon of energy connecting the gems and the crown of the Queen City,’” Johnston said. “That quote was from Jan Portman, one of the co-chairs of the campaign. It came to her as we were going through this process, how the trail is forming a ribbon of energy and connecting people to places in the city that they care about. The gold, decorative line work throughout the entire mural is representative of that.”

The preliminary work on the mural began in August and featured a team of youth apprentices from ArtWorks. Funding for this mural project included a $30,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation.

“Duke Energy is incredibly proud to support this project and this mural,” said John Juech, speaking on behalf of the Duke Energy Foundation. “In terms of our charitable giving goals, one of our core commitments is urban revitalization and making sure this is an inviting and welcoming city for us all to live in. I think the murals fit really well into that vision and provide a lot of vitality and pride in this city as you walk around.”

The mural also received $25,000 from the Cincinnati Youth to Work program, which allowed ArtWorks to employ 10 youth apprentices under the guidance of two teaching artists, Sophie Shiff and lead artist Brandon Hawkins. They were there as late as Wednesday morning putting the finishing touches on the wall.

“I went to several games as a youth growing up here in Cincinnati, so I always had a connection to the Reds,” Hawkins said. “I had the jerseys and liked to rep my city through Reds baseball, so it was amazing to get a phone call and be told that I was going to be leading a team with a mural at the Reds’ ballpark.

“As we were painting the wall, it was really cool to see the diversity in those individuals. People asked us questions about the CROWN trail, and it seemed as if they really started to connect to the subjects that were on the wall. We hope that as people continue to walk past and learn more about CROWN trails, they can see themselves riding the CROWN trails throughout the city. And if that’s the case, then this mural will have done its purpose.”