James Brown mural

James Brown produced a majority of his music with Cincinnati-based King Records. The Main Street mural was created between ArtWorks and Urban Sites.

Whether you’re working downtown, studying in Clifton or grabbing a bite to eat on the West Side, you’re more than likely to come across at least one of the multitude of murals in the Queen City.

Behind many of these masterpieces is the nonprofit organization ArtWorks.

Founded in 1996, ArtWorks has been employing and training youth for more than a decade to turn blank walls and buildings into pieces of art. In fact, ArtWorks is the biggest visual arts employer in the region and has employed over 3,000 youth and over 2,000 local artists, according to its website.

“Our city is a gallery of beauty and art,” said Deborah Stevens, development coordinator at ArtWorks. “They tell a story — getting to work for an organization that’s working toward making Cincinnati beautiful.”

Located right down the road on Burnet Avenue, “The Wall of Education” truly makes a bold statement on this one-way street.

Originally painted in the late 70s by Joyce and Gilbert Young, the artwork earned its title due to the variety of lifestyles and gifts the youth exemplify in the city. The Youngs also worked with a group of students to complete this project.

As you walk, drive or bike down Burnet Avenue, you can see a wall of global exploration, Hall-of-Famers and Hollywood stars in bright blues, greens and reds spanning an entire block.

The price of a mural — ranging from $40,000 to $100,000 — depends on the size of the wall, the design and the number of apprentices and professional artists needed.

Typically, one to three professional artists and between four and 12 apprentices are needed to complete a mural.

What appears at first glance to be a divided birdhouse can be seen on East Court Street. But it’s not divided at all; rather, the piece represents the making of the Queen City as a home for Charlie and Edie Harper — an artist and his wife. Charlie was a student and a teacher at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The style of “Homecoming (Blue Birds)” is a minimal, geometric style called minimal realism — a style that Harper used throughout his career.

Mural ideas can come to life with just a phone call to ArtWorks. The organization will work with artists and their ideas to make them a reality.

Walking down Vine Street, flooded with restaurants, bars, taverns and every food venture imaginable, one will eventually come across a mural that makes almost every pedestrian stop and stare.

“Fresh Harvest” is one of the many murals dotting downtown Cincinnati that brings the countryside to an urban core. The mural, designed by Jonathan Queen and youth apprentices, was inspired by timeless European paintings with fresh-grown fruit and vegetables. The group partnered with Kroger for the project.

ArtWorks is an organization that is committed to keeping the Queen City beautiful. It enables local professional artists to work with youth to turn individuals’ dreams into works of art.