Highly visible area along river in Hamilton slated for major artwork

StreetSpark is seeking qualifications from artists and will ask a narrowed list of finalists to submit design ideas.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The next StreetSpark mural will be huge. Literally.

The next concrete canvas in Hamilton will be on the banks of the Great Miami River, and will be the city’s second-largest mural to date, 260 feet long and about 15 feet high. The largest StreetSpark mural is at the McDulin Garage in downtown, which is around 4,500 square feet, some 600 square feet larger.

The mural along the Great Miami River will not be the full wall because there needs to be some leeway at the bottom because of the rise of the water and the top as it curves out, said StreetSpark program manager Jenn Acus-Smith.

“There’s a lot of potential for something really cool that can be seen from all those windows from that (Warehouse Hotel at Spooky Nook) and the people on the bike path,” she said. “It’s kind of a different location for a mural.”

StreetSpark is a public art program created to enhance Hamilton’s arts identity and founded in a partnership among the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, the city of Hamilton, and the Hamilton Community Foundation. Since the summer of 2016, 19 murals and 17 utility boxes have been painted around the city. Artists are annually invited to submit designs, and a selection committee of local arts professionals and appreciators chooses the winning mural designs.

In a typical year, a handful of projects are funded ― there were two walls and three utility boxes in 2023 ― but for 2024, it will be just the one.

“The city and the Community Foundation were really interested in that location,” said Acus-Smith.

The mural will be just below part of the Crawford Hoying planned development which is directly across from The Warehouse Hotel at Spooky Nook. There will be one lead artist and likely five supporting artists chosen to create the mural.

After the Sept. 29 request-for-qualifications deadline, a handful of artists will be selected to submit a design for the project. A StreetSpark committee will select a design, which also needs approval from the Miami Conservancy District, the river management agency in southwest Ohio that oversees the Great Miami River and its tributaries.

Fitton Center Executive Director Ian MacKenzie-Thurley called the relationship among the city, Hamilton Community Foundation, and Fitton Center a “strong partnership.”

“The Miami Conservancy District has offered a magnificent canvas on the banks of the Great Miami, which offers an incredible opportunity for the talented mural artists that will bring this project to life,” he said.

The mural program “just adds life and happiness” to the city, said Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill owner Sam Beiler, and will complement everything beginning to happen around the city, and said it would add to the culture of Hamilton with additional murals along the riverbanks.

He said beautification efforts, like the mural program, will bring the city to the point where people “will be very comfortable” walking because “if it’s bright and happy, it feels safe, and when people feel safe, they walk.”

Acus-Smith said they have received several qualification submissions from artists, and expect to have a flood of submissions in the few days prior to the deadline.

So any artist believing they’ll be up to the challenge of creating a 3,900-square-foot mural, they can submit their qualifications application at https://tinyurl.com/StreetSpark2024RFQ.

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