6 bird murals finished in Hamilton’s parks thanks to anonymous backer

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6 bird murals finished in Hamilton’s parks thanks to anonymous backer

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NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Melissa Smith (left) and Jenn Acus-Smith paint a mural on the restroom building at Veterans Park on New London Road in Hamilton. Acus-Smith designed murals for different locations in Hamilton parks. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The last of six large artworks of native Ohio birds being painted in Hamilton’s parks — this one, an energetic bald eagle — is being finished this week.

Hamilton artist Jennifer Acus-Smith and Melissa Smith this week were painting the eagle on a restroom building at Veterans Park on New London Road.

The artworks were all funded by an anonymous benefactor.

Acus-Smith designed all the murals, which are in a similar style, “but each one, I’ve worked with a different assistant (who is in college) — mostly, they’re art students who have never made murals,” she said. “So it’s mostly a training process to teach them how to make murals.”

That training gives them the type of expertise they need to produce murals for the StreetSpark program, a partnership between the city of Hamilton and the Fitton Center for Creative Arts that in recent years has created several murals, including one of the late Cincinnati Reds player and broadcaster, Joe Nuxhall, a Hamilton native.

Acus-Smith hopes to provide the opportunities for fun programming, such as scavenger hunts, involving the birds.

But: “We haven’t determined any kind of details with that,” Acus-Smith said. “Definitely, we want to do that. But that won’t happen until probably next year, when it gets warm again.”

“But hopefully we can create a map this year, to help people find everything,” she said.

Hamilton Parks Conservancy Director Steve Timmer said the birds have been creating joy among people at the parks.

“We’re getting just great responses, thanking us for adding art in the parks,” Acus-Smith said. “We talked to a lot of kids, who want to know what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it, and what bird that is, so it’s been fun talking to everybody as we work.”

Eventually each artwork will have signage explaining it, and identifying the bird, “so there’ll be a learning component there,” she said.

So far, she has no plans for next year, although, “I’d like to do more — there are more parks, and more buildings, so I’d love to,” Acus-Smith said.

Here are the locations of the birds. Most are near splash pads, where children play:

  • A great blue heron mural is in Joyce Park, because that’s closest to the Great Miami River, where those water-friendly birds tend to dwell.
  • A pair of cardinals — Ohio’s state bird — is at the LJ Smith Park and spray-ground in the North End, off Joe Nuxhall Boulevard.
  • A great horned owl is at Millikin Woods.
  • A Cooper’s hawk is at Crawford Woods Park.
  • A montage of baby and adult robins is at Jim Grimm Park.
  • The bald eagle will be at Veterans Park, where they often are sighted.

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