Artists, makers creating a new sense of community in Camp Washington

Studio tours, demos offered at Oct. 21 event

CINCINNATI -- Camp Washington is quietly becoming an arts district for Cincinnati.

The neighborhood is home to more than 40 artists, makers and galleries, and you'll have a chance to check them all out this month during the Made in Camp studio tours.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 21, you can take a choose-your-own-adventure tour of the neighborhood. A new brochure with a locator map will list all the artists, makers and galleries, and people can walk or drive the art route themselves or use the services of four vans circulating through the neighborhood.

The vans will begin their routes at the American Sign Museum, where Made in Camp brochures also will be available. Tickets to the museum will be reduced to $10 for the event.

Neonworks will demonstrate tube-bending at 11 a.m., while Casting Arts & Technology will show visitors the casting process at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. All demonstrations are free.

Camp Washington, once the hub of Cincinnati's meatpacking and livestock industry, still is home to businesses such as Queen City Sausage, Meyer Tool, SpringDot and Kao USA. However, the neighborhood also saw population decline after Interstate 75 was built -- about 1,300 residents live there now, down from a peak of 12,000 in 1930.

The Camp Washington Community Board has worked for decades to rehabilitate deteriorating buildings and find good homeowners for them. Director Joe Gorman said artists and makers, attracted by affordable rents and interesting spaces, have become major players in revitalization.

"Often times artists, when they move in, they're on the front lines of investment," Gorman said.

Brush Factory, Hive 513 and Wave Pool Gallery all call the neighborhood home, and they're attracting more artists to the community. One of the newest Camp Washington artists, Lacey Haslam, will have her mobile museum, the Archive Project, out during the Made in Camp tours.

Housed in a silver Airstream trailer renovated by Haslam, the Archive Project is a collection of books that have inspired or informed the work of modern artists. Each book is the artist's own -- not one bought for the Archive Project -- and includes a handwritten note that explains its significance.

Each artist is connected to another in the collection because when an artist donates a book she has the opportunity to invite another artist to participate.

Lacey Haslam is one of many artists now entrenched in Camp Washington. Her Archive Project will participate in the Made in Camp event Oct. 21. (Photo courtesy of Henrik Kam and the Museum of Craft and Design)

"It's a way of documenting arts and culture outside of any one medium," Haslam said. "It's about their lives, their thought process, how we connect with each other, influence each other and keep each other going."

Like Wave Pool Gallery owner Calcagno Cullen, Haslam has previously worked in and been priced out of San Francisco. Cullen connected Haslam to Gorman, and now Haslam is working to create a permanent gallery and gathering space for the Archive Project, as well as two apartments, in an abandoned building in the neighborhood.

Working with the existing community to tackle issues like maintaining housing affordability and providing the neighborhood with necessities such as food stores is important to the new population of makers and artists.

They also make cool things and bring people to the neighborhood, Gorman said.

"We've been able to build really good relationships with the artists, businesses," Gorman said. "(People) used to live and work in the same neighborhood. We're seeing that again."

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