Andrew Salzbrun, co-founder of Agar and BLINK®, sits down with ArtsWave's president & CEO, Alecia Kintner, as a special guest for the inaugural episode of ArtsWrap with Alecia.
Photo Credit: Kathy DeBrosse
Internationally acclaimed, Chicago-based artist Max Sansing wants Cincinnati to know something: there's a "gob smacking" collection of street art being amassed in downtown's Findlay Market area. Once considered one of the country's most dangerous neighborhoods, it's now home to 30 murals created during BLINK®, illuminated by ArtsWave, in 2017 and 2019. In 2022, 17 more murals are being added.
"Every mural seems purposely placed," Sansing said in an interview with ArtsWave ArtsWrap. "You come around a corner and then this large piece of art hits you. It makes art accessible to people who wouldn't normally be thinking about it."
The vision behind Findlay Market's mural district comes from local marketing firm Agar and its co-founder, Andrew Salzbrun, also a co-founder of BLINK. He sees the BLINK murals as an evolution of Cincinnati's existing mural gallery. "ArtWorks set the table for what we've been building," he explained, "by getting people comfortable with the notion of large-scale painting on the sides of buildings. But where we differentiate is that we focus heavily on bringing the outside in."
Sansing, who has been creating art professionally for 20 years, is impressed: "Few people understand how difficult it is to get some of the artists you have," he said. "A lot of these artists aren't even painting on the street art festival circuit anymore. You've managed to get that much talent, in a consolidated space. To see what's been done there is gob smacking."
It's all part of a strategy to entice residents and tourists to linger longer in the neighborhood. "We wanted to create an opportunity for people to stick around," Salzbrun explained. "We thought we could do that by creating a large density of world-class public art, specifically murals, around the market shed."
For the first two BLINK festivals, organizers traveled to recruit artists. This year, artists from around the globe submitted proposals to participate. "Once we're done with about 45 total murals, we believe the district will rival just about any collection of public art in the country and even the world," Salzbrun said.
It's the latest way that the arts put Cincy on the map.
BLINK is a trademark of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr.,/U.S. Bank Foundation exclusively licensed by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.