CINCINNATI — A massive new mural being developed at Great American Ball Park aims to celebrate the various gems in the Queen City’s “CROWN.”

What You Need To Know

  • A 165-foot mural at Great American Ball Park aims to celebrate local Cincinnati landmarks

  • The project is a collaboration between the Cincinnati Reds, ArtWorks and Tri-State Trails, which is leading the development of CROWN trail system

  • The mixed-used path aims to connect dozens of local communities through the creation of a 34-mile urban trail loop

  • The landmarks featured on the mural are found along the proposed trail pathway

The organization ArtWorks is creating a 165-foot piece of public art that wraps around the corner of Joe Nuxhall Way and Mehring Way in downtown Cincinnati. The mural is on a wall between the Reds Hall of Fame and Smale Riverfront Park.

The design came from local artist L.D. Nehls. Her stated goal is to create a piece that sparks “excitement, curiosity and discovery” of notable Cincinnati landmarks along the planned 34-mile CROWN (Cincinnati Riding or Walking Network) trail being developed around the city. It also features people of different ages doing things like riding a bike or skateboarding.

Nehls hopes the work encourages visitors and residents to want to learn more about Cincinnati and to celebrate how the urban trail loop will connect residents to amenities and resources without needing to use a car.

“I love Cincinnati and I love trails that are both walkable and bike-able, so I could not have been more excited to work on a project that celebrates both of them,” she added. 

A rendering of the CROWN-inspired mural being painted outside Great American Ball Park. (Photo courtesy of ArtWorks)
A rendering of the CROWN-inspired mural being painted outside Great American Ball Park. (Photo courtesy of ArtWorks)

Preliminary work on the mural began in August featuring a team of ArtWorks’ youth apprentices. A public dedication is planned for mid-October. 

“The Reds are excited for the CROWN to connect this beautiful stretch along the Ohio River, where Great American Ball Park sits, with other trails throughout Cincinnati,” said Phil Castellini, president and COO of the Cincinnati Reds. “Using the exterior walls of the ballpark as Artwork’s canvas is the perfect way to showcase the CROWN’s vision of bringing people together, just like Reds baseball has been doing for over 150 years.”

Funding for the mural included a $30,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation as well as $25,000 from the City of Cincinnati’s Youth to Work program. Through Youth to Work, ArtWorks employed a team of local young artists, 14 to 21, to work on the project.

Youth apprentice Phoenix Brumm-Jost, 17, works on a section of the mural. (Photo courtesy of Lora Jost)
Youth apprentice Phoenix Brumm-Jost, 17, works on a section of the mural. (Photo courtesy of Lora Jost)

The youth apprentices include Jeff Samual, Rashad Manuel, Greg Beridon, Piper Vice, Phoenix Brumm-Jost, Kee kee Stokes, Eve Miller, Aaliayah Ruff, Grace Pearson and Pekko Meyers. The group worked under the mentorship of professional artists Brandon Hawkins and Sophie Shiff.

Throughout the project, the young artists have developed a greater sense of civic pride, according to ArtWorks’ Sydney Fine, by allowing them to celebrate Cincinnati’s history while also making a lasting mark on their hometown.

“We believe that art is important for an active, safe, and thriving trail system, so we are thrilled to produce public art in partnership with the CROWN,” Fine said.

Once complete, the CROWN will create Cincinnati’s first urban trail loop by connecting several key regional trails that are currently noncontiguous—Ohio River Trail, Little Miami Scenic Trail, Wasson Way and Murray Path.

Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails and campaign manager for the CROWN Capital Campaign, said the location of the new mural is at mile zero of the Ohio River Trail and the Ohio to Erie Trail, which runs 326 miles to Cleveland.

The multi-use paved trail will exist along many of the city’s iconic landmarks and hidden gems, including Great American Ball Park, the Cincinnati Observatory, Lunken Airport and Union Terminal.

Just as significant, Johnston said, is that the CROWN will connect more than 356,000 people in 54 communities to parks, schools, centers for employment, retail, recreation and entertainment. 

To date, the CROWN Capital Campaign has raised $10 million in private funds that will leverage $44 million in federal and state grants for trail construction through a public-private partnership with the City of Cincinnati, Great Parks of Hamilton County and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.

By constructing key connectors between these trails, the CROWN Capital Campaign will complete the eastern 24-mile portion of the planned CROWN loop.

“It’s thanks to the incredible generosity of our community that the CROWN trail network is coming to life, both with more trail miles and new public art enhancements,” Johnston said. “We hope this project reminds residents and visitors of all the iconic gems the CROWN will connect once complete.”