Thanks to a generous grant from the Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation, the East Walnut Hills Assembly (our neighborhood council) added a new community mural on the northwest corner of William Howard Taft Rd. and Woodburn Ave.
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After a series of virtual and in-person engagements, muralist James Billiter incorporated changes based on the feedback to highlight East Walnut Hills as a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community; full of active people who appreciate the neighborhood’s historic charm and lush greenery and gardens. To complement his original architectural design, he invited collaborators Maria Nacu, Michael Colbert, and Anissa Pulcheon to contribute new elements:
- Michael Colbert depicted the natural beauty of the neighborhood’s many trees, flowers and animals
- Maria Nacu crafted lettering for the corner of Taft & Woodburn that reflects the neighborhood’s historic charm
- Anissa Pulcheon introduced illustrations of the people of East Walnut Hills to highlight that it is people of a community that make it great.
Join in the fun! The design is complete, the wall is being prepped, and now it is time to invite the community out to help paint! Sign up here. Here’s what you need to know:
- There are two large community paint days planned for Saturday, August 28 and Saturday, September 4. A few weekday options will be released as well.
- Due to COVID, each slot is limited to one party of 1-4 people. Each party will be assigned a section of the mural. Only one person in your group needs to sign up to reserve the space for the group.
- Volunteer shifts are offered in two hour increments.
- As the painting will take place outdoors with built in social distancing, masks are not required but are recommended.
- Latex gloves and sanitizer will be provided for use during the paint day.
- Dress for the weather – it is August in Cincinnati, plan on wearing or bringing sunscreen, sunglasses and/or a sun hat and cool clothes.
- Dress to paint – you will be painting outside and may get dirty.
- Shifts may be cancelled if it is raining. In the event of cancellation, an email will be sent up to an hour before your shift.
- We do not recommend bringing children under the age of 12.
- Once you sign up, check your email for a confirmation email and waiver. The waiver will need to be signed by each member of your group.
About the Selection Process
The East Walnut Hills mural project launched in March 2021 with a community survey that reached over 100 people affiliated with East Walnut Hills. Each respondent shared what makes the neighborhood special, provided basic design direction, and had the opportunity to voice concerns about the project implementation.
Simultaneously, an open call to artists was posted soliciting applications from experienced muralists. The call was shared citywide by the East Walnut Hills Assembly (our neighborhood council), members of the business district, community organizations, arts institutions, job boards, and with individual artists recommended by community members.
Artist applications were reviewed by a committee of community stakeholders composed of residents, artists and neighborhood business owners to narrow the applicant pool down to three finalists. Finalists were selected based on their experience leading mural projects from start to finish, as well as on their demonstrated commitment to community engagement.
These three finalists drafted concept sketches, which were put to a community vote. Over 700 people responded, ranking the three mural design options. With 55% of the total first place votes, and 60% of the first place votes among East Walnut Hills residents, James Billiter’s concept sketch “An Urban Oasis” was selected as the mural design.
About the Lead Artist
James Billiter is a designer and artist specializing in illustration and custom typography. He is a graduate of Purcell Marian, where he became interested in art and continued his education at the University of Cincinnati, studying Graphic Design in the DAAP program. Later James studied printmaking in the Art Academy’s Community Education program and created Billiter Studio to develop personal artwork and to work with clients on branding and art projects.
James develops his work with the audience in mind using Design Thinking and brings this work to life using hand-crafted methods such as printmaking and painting. Billiter Studio’s work celebrates place-making and cultural history with the intent of inspiring community pride and belonging in the viewer.
“For the Taft and Woodburn mural I would like to celebrate all of the East Walnut Hills community; I wanted to capture all the natural beauty and cultural diversity —from the edge of Eden Park in the West to Torrence in the East, from Woodburn Avenue’s historic district and residential areas in the north to river views in the south.
“Creating a detailed ‘seek and find’ scene that engages the residents to find their part of the neighborhood as well as inviting them to explore parts of the neighborhood they haven’t visited yet. Illustrations feature buildings from the neighborhood mixed with icons of local culture. For motorists, larger typography and visuals invite them to visit the neighborhood with an abundance of visuals.“
If you have any questions, please contact Ellen Stedtefeld at TaftWoodburnMural@gmail.com.
Thank you for your participation!
Mural Steering Committee Chair