BLINK Took Over Cincinnati with Massive Citywide Installations
BLINK, illuminated by ArtsWave, went above and beyond with their first event since 2019, deftly tackling the entirety of Cincinnati and Covington, KY as a canvas. While just this concept would be an ambitious undertaking, it is not simply the logistics that made BLINK a wild success, but rather the community. The Chamber's Director, Center of Research and Data, has estimated over 2,000,000 attending the event over the 4-day experience. By uniting so many artists from local to international, with local and international visitors alike, BLINK was able to do the truly remarkable and build community in just a weekend.
“Yet again, our community has come together to celebrate and support each other,” said Mayor Aftab Pureval. “The excitement and energy BLINK has created is an experience you won’t find anywhere else. Only in Cincinnati.”
The murals themselves are nuanced and complex, complemented by layered projection mapping and light installations that take Cincinnati from a mural city to something even more elevated, and more akin to an outdoor museum. The collaboration that is at the heart of these projects yielded truly immersive experiences and ultimately united generations for an awe-inspiring event.
The intricacies of each piece were astounding. From Mz.Icar Collective and Kendra Stepp-Davis’s The Full Set: Their Flowers Edition which took the concept of nail art and quite literally elevated it with a sculpture that towered above eager viewers, to Faith XLVII and Inka Kendzia’s collaboration which showed the artist’s existing 2019 mural in a new light, the results are mind-blowing.
BLINK’s dedicated supporter ArtsWave presented the first instance of purely visual art in their exciting Flow Series, which thus far had consisted of quarterly performances by renowned Black artists and ensembles from around the country whose work is unique and exciting. The series, which is designed to attract a highly diverse, culturally adventurous audience and create a shared and elevated appreciation for artists of color, got its next installment with a brand new mural by Max Sansing and projection component by Chaske Haverkos.
Insane 51 and GODUTCH presented Euthenia, the ancient Greek female spirit of prosperity, complete with a layered design revealed to the viewer via 3D glasses. Iconic visual artist Shantell Martin brought her signature black and white style enriched by her background as an intuitive philosopher and cultural facilitator. Joining forces with ArtWorks, Martin collaborated with young local artists, creating a new mural prominently placed at the heart of arts and culture in Cincy, situating it right outside Ohio's oldest continuously operated public market and one of Cincinnati's most cherished institutions, Findlay Market and the Findlay Playground. Danke is a thank you to Cincinnati and creativity. The duo PichiAvo fromValencia, Spain, created a unique mural, bridging the gap between classical art and graffiti expression, adding to their presence in over 20 countries around the globe.
Portuguese visual artist and illustrator Add Fuel emphasized the rich history of Cincy, creating a mural inspired by Cincinnati mainstay Rookwood Pottery & Tile’s over 140 years of work in the city. LINEAGE pulls from the over a century of ceramic work Rookwood has created in the city, re-imagining geometry and bass relief fauna and floral ceramic imagery into a colorful and dynamic space between pattern and figurative, expanding the deeply present ceramic history of Cincinnati into a modern urban presence. Further highlighting the cultural roots of the city, Afro-surrealist visual artist Vince Fraser worked with Underworld Black Arts Festival and Napoleon Maddox to tell the history of Little Africa with a large-scale projection installation. The Iconic Toy Heritage Mural was also brought to life with a lighting installation by Graffmapping. The legacy of Kenner Toys, a Cincinnati-based toy company founded in 1947, is documented in this work of art which showcases some of the most popular toys that were designed by the company.
Not bound by the mere city limits, BLINK made quite a splash in Covington as well, with one of the most popular projections across the bridge at the Mother of God Church. In the Middle by Antaless Visual Design, a breathtaking visual study of contradictions, opened a dialogue about existence and coexistence.
The community support and energy was truly outstanding. As Co-founder and executive creative director Andrew Salzbrun says, "We're grateful and humbled by the public that showed up this weekend for what was a historic event. As BLINK strives toward our shared vision for a FUTURE CITY, it takes an incredible team to run after that vision. From our production partners, who worked tirelessly over the last few months, to our sponsors who believed in a vision and supported it generously, and our community who showed up and created the magic that is BLINK, we say ‘thank you.’”
"What an incredible weekend for public art and community in the Cincinnati region. We are so honored to have shared BLINK with residents and visitors to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. We want to thank the artists, partners, and sponsors who truly made BLINK possible,” said Justin Brookhart, Executive Director of BLINK. We are proud to have BLINK back at the quality and scale the region deserves and look forward to what’s next.”
Multidisciplinary artist Tristan Eaton, a veritable superstar in the world of public art, extends the BLINK experience for the next two weeks, completing the largest mural in Ohio. Taking his signature collaging and layering style to new heights–literally–weaving even minute details into the image to create a comprehensive tableau, Eaton highlights the musical icons who have come from Cincy, including James Brown, Bootsy Collins, and Doris Day. His contribution to the cityscape on the side of the 84.51 headquarters will be the largest mural in Ohio, standing at an estimated 17,000 sq ft, marking Cincinnati’s deep-rooted commitment to public art and preserving history.
Beyond the next two weeks, the team is already looking forward to BLINK 2024. With a clear plan to return in two years, once again leaving a lasting mark on the Cincinnati cityscape, there is plenty to look forward to.