This blog post is sponsored by Cincinnati Experience and BLINK Cincinnati. All opinions shared are 100% my own and are not by any being or brand.
Growing up in Ohio, the city of Cincinnati holds a special place in my heart. However, it’s usually not one of the first destinations that comes to mind on people’s bucket lists of places to visit (although it should be!) Those who don’t live in the Midwest may not know much about this city at all, but its vibrant arts and culinary scene, diverse neighborhoods, and walkability makes it one of the most underrated cities to visit.
A couple months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Cincy again with Cincinnati Experience to explore all that the city has to offer, and in particular, to experience the BLINK Cincinnati festival which took place from October 13 – 16 after a two year hiatus due to COVID. As the nation’s largest free public art event, it transforms over 30 city blocks into an immersive art, light, and projection mapping experience throughout the evening. A key part of the experience is walking throughout the city during the day and night, taking in the multitude of art murals you’ll find at every corner and turn.
These murals are not only showcased during the BLINK event, however. In fact, Cincinnati is known for its burgeoning art scene, inspired in the 2000’s by then-Mayor Mark Mallory who challenged the local art community and non-profit ArtWorks to create murals in all 52 of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods. To date, Artworks has created more than 230 murals in over 36 Cincinnati neighborhoods and seven nearby cities.
It was impossible for me to check out every single mural during my short stay in Cincinnati, but I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite murals that I did have the chance to see. While this article will be focusing on Cincinnati’s dedication to the arts through its public street art, you can learn more here about BLINK Cincinnati and the perfect weekend itinerary for first time Cincy visitors!
And now without further ado, here are 10 of my favorite murals in Cincinnati!
1. Martha, The Last Passenger Pigeon
Location: 15 E. Eighth St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
When I first saw this mural without knowing its backstory or history, I was struck by how peaceful and graceful the birds looked, and yet there was a bittersweet and delicate feeling to the art as well. Later, I learned that this mural was created in partnership with the Cincinnati Nature Center about a bird named Martha, who was the last known passenger pigeon to have ever lived. Despite once being the most numerous bird species in North America, widespread hunting and deforestation of the passenger pigeon’s natural habitat led to its extinction. Martha lived out her last days at the Cincinnati zoo until 1914. Over a century later, Cincinnati remains committed to wildlife preservation, and this mural, which shows Martha and her flock soaring over the historic Bird Run at the Cincinnati Zoo, serves as a daily reminder of the importance of wildlife conservation and the reality of extinction.
2. Mother’s Bouquet
Location: 18 E 7th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for pretty flowers, so I had to check out this colorful floral masterpiece. Mother’s Bouquet was designed and painted by Detroit-based artist Louise “Ouizi” Jones (formerly Chen). She is best known for her large-scale floral mural installations, which can be found in public spaces all over the U.S., from museums to public parks. This bright, beautiful mural was completed in time for BLINK 2019 and makes for a great photoshoot backdrop as well!
3. Homage to Cincinnatus
Location: 1015 Vine St. at Central Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202
This elegant and regal-looking mural was actually completed back in 1983, and was later restored by ArtWorks in partnership with the Kroger Co., Thomas Melvin Studio, and the artist Richard Haas. It was even a source of inspiration for ArtWorks’ own mural program, which began in 2007. I particularly liked how this mural stood on its own in a very open space.
4. Crazy Cat, Crazy Quilt
Location: 1107 Walnut St. Cincinnati, OH 45202
As a self-confessed crazy cat lady, I knew I had to pay this mural a visit! Crazy Cat, Crazy Quilt pays tribute to Cincinnati Master artist, Edie Harper, whose work spans many media, from photography to textiles, sculptures and painting. She drew a lot of inspiration from her childhood and love for animals; this particular mural is a colorful depiction of her favorite cat, Katrinka.
5. Lookin’ Good
Location: 1120 Jackson Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
This mural is special to me, because it was the one my friend showed me during my first visit to Cincinnati when I was in college. I was so happy to see that it’s still up and looking just as good as I remembered! I love the use of the colors in this mural and how the paint outline really makes it glow like a neon illuminated sign. Also right next to this mural is another fun and colorful mural called “Ice Cream Daydream” which I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to photograph, but would highly recommend checking out as well!
6. Cincinnati Toy Heritage
Location: 23 West Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
This is a mural you absolutely cannot miss in my opinion, because it’s even grander in person. It’s truly larger than life and really hits the nostalgia factor hard with such familiar characters and action figures depicted together. This work of art celebrates Cincinnati’s rich toy history and the legacy of Cincinnati-based toy company, Kenner Toys, who designed some of the most popular toys in history – Star Wars characters, Care Bear, Strawberry Shortcake, Batman, and even Play-Doh, just to name a few. There’s a lot to soak in with this mural designed by local artist Jonathan Queen, and you’ll definitely want to use a wide angle lens if possible to be able to try and capture the entire scene!
7. Sister City
Location: 2020 Dunlap Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Located in the Over-The-Rhine (OTR) neighborhood, Sister City is a new mural that was created for BLINK Cincinnati, and is a visual love letter to the people, history, and culture of Ukraine. This mural, sponsored by the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership, Cincy4Ukraine, and the College of DAAP at the University of Cincinnati, was created to remind us of the strength and beauty of Ukrainian culture and the enduring friendships between the people of Kharkiv and Cincinnati. Although I didn’t have time to see this mural during the day, it was really cool to witness the projection mapped animation created on it during BLINK.
Location: 2020 Dunlap Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Also in the same OTR area is an amazing mural from PichiAvo, a duo of artists from Valencia, Spain. As can be seen from the artistic style on this mural, PichiAvo is recognized for their unique style that combines Classical art and graffiti expression. Their creations can be seen in more than 20 countries all over the world, so it’s pretty neat that they came here to Cincinnati to create one specifically for the city and BLINK!
9 & 10. Court Street Plaza Murals
Location: 34 Court Street East, Cincinnati, OH 45202
I couldn’t find the names for these two murals, but they are along Court Street Plaza, an outdoor pedestrian promenade that’s a great public gathering space with a lot of cool unique small businesses and restaurants around. There’s actually quite a bit of community artwork in this area with pedestrian-friendly sidewalks as well, so I definitely recommend taking a stroll or grabbing some food while checking out the street art scene here!
How to Explore Cincinnati’s Murals
Artworks has a complete list of all their murals, the locations, as well as the story and artist behind them that you can check out here.
Self-Guided Walking Tour: Artworks created a handy pdf map of where to locate many of the murals and installations in the area, so you can easily take a self-guided tour of any murals that pique your interest.
Guided Tour: Artworks also offers guided tours to share the history and special behind-the-scenes look of how these murals came to be, for those who would like to learn more about the rich arts and cultural scene of Cincinnati!