CINCINNATI — Whenever she can find the time, Melissa Baker’s hands are busy making art she and her neighbors can use. Usually, that’s face cloths, bags or knitwear she sells through her small business, MB Crochet.
A lifelong Lower Price Hill resident, Baker said she’s proud to be a part of her neighborhood’s growing art scene, and now with the debut of the LPH “Outerspace,” she’ll have a permanent space to put her work and her business on display.
Opening in mid-March, the Outerspace is the second phase of the “Your Store of the Queen City” project. The redevelopment effort aimed at improving conditions in Lower Price Hill. According to the American Community Survey, one in three LPH residents lives in poverty, making it one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cincinnati.
Meiser’s Fresh Grocery and Deli was the first phase of the project, opening as a nonprofit grocery store at the end of 2021. The store provides fresh, affordable food for families in LPH.
Now that Outerspace is open, it provides opportunities for locals to make and sell their own homemade works. The space is also meant to act as a community gathering space for neighbors of all ages.
“It just opens up the community that much more and gives them more exposure,” Baker said.
As a member of the Lower Price Hill Collective, a group of artists and activists in the neighborhood, Baker will help manage the Outerspace and its events as well as a permanent spot in the building to make and sell her crochet goods.
“It’s wonderful. It’s like a door has been opened for everybody to see what we’ve been trying to create,” she said.
Besides the work of Baker and her fellow collective members, the Outerspace also plans to provide space for other neighborhood work to go on display, as well as supplies and educational opportunities for those in Lower Price Hill interested in pursuing art.
The first few displays in Outerspace included paintings kids put together at the local library.
“Just because some of the schools don’t offer arts for the kids to do,” Baker said. “It just gives the kids a space to be creative and show what they can do.”
Besides an artist in residence, Baker also works at Meiser’s selling directly to her neighbors. She said the store served as a positive influence on the neighborhood, helping to fight food insecurity.
Now she said she’s looking forward to seeing how much good the Outerspace can do and how she can help as an artist, a small business owner and a neighbor.
“You support your community,” she said.