AAC Community Education, Eyeball Luminaries

Eyeball Luminaries

Students participating with AAC CE’s Programs for Schools at Dater High School were honored to join the BLINK Festival Parade, collaborating to create faux stained-glass Eyeball Luminaries, using translucent spray paint and stenciling techniques, while exploring themes of self-discovery through iconography, and learning about the science of the eye and light refraction.
Programs for Schools partners with area schools to provide educational opportunities for students to participate in hands-on visual art activities integrating academics, 21st century skills, and college and career preparedness. In 2017, external funding continues to allow AAC CE to provide outreach to Greater Cincinnati Area school through Programs for Schools, celebrating 25 years of impact made to schools in need. We thank the following: the Charles H. Dater Foundation, the Nellie Leaman Taft Foundation, The P&G Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and our partnered school districts.


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A Community to Draw On

Capturing the human form can be daunting.

The model is on the stand, a pencil or brush is poised and the paper is prepared. But connecting what our eyes see with how our hands move is where many feel a bit lost, like starting a trip without a map.

Irrespective of professional or personal experience, “making art” requires being open. Open to learning, to trying to getting lost and finding ourselves again. Being open requires courage. Surrounding ourselves with other like-minded adventurers makes the journey less intimidating and exponentially more enjoyable.

The Art Academy of Cincinnati’s Open Studio “session” is an opportunity for the experienced (and less so) to try their hand at figure drawing. This long-standing Community Education offering, moderated by longtime and local artist Larry Griggs, creates a special kind of community where “Open” really means open. Though there is no official or formal instruction, learning abounds. Folks from different disciplines and various backgrounds gather to both focus in and branch out. There is no unsolicited critique or forced fellowship yet those who want input can get it. Various styles, different media, and divergent techniques offer opportunities to orient everyone toward their individual and collective destinations.

Griggs has participated with the Open Studio for twenty years and moderated for the last fifteen.

“If you sit at home and work on your own thing continually, you can just go down one road. You need to have some broader experience and exposure to what other people are doing to prod you and make you look at yourself in comparison,” Griggs offered. “For one thing you can do whatever you want. And we can also make mistakes and try new things because we’re all very forgiving.”

Fran Watson, another veteran of the art world – both in creating and critiquing – found herself drawn to the Open Studio again and again. As an abstract painter and insightful writer for over three decades, Watson contributed to The Art Academy News back in the 80’s. She also graced the pages of City Beat and AEQAI where art advisor and curator Dan Brown wrote a touching tribute. Not only was she a lifelong learner of art, Watson taught abstract art courses at The Barn, Woman’s Art Club Cultural Center,Mariemont, Ohio, and was an active member of the Cincinnati Book Arts Society.

The AAC’s Community Education Open Studio allowed Watson to stay connected to other artists in a very elemental way, as well as to that part of the soul that longs to continually learn and create. To find our own way forward while leaving breadcrumbs behind for others to follow. Watson’s idea to showcase some work from Open Studio developed during the summer of 2016 with the support of Grigg’s, the AAC, and the Woman’s Art Club, Watson began to put together the upcoming exhibit, “Figures” to be on display at The Barn, Mariemont. The show will display a sampling of works to highlight both the diversity and the process of figure drawing itself – including unfinished pieces. Inspired by her hope, fellow participants embraced her vision as their own, and carried the torch to see the exhibit come to fruition after Watson’s passing in October of 2016 at the age of 84.

Figures is a nod to how, like Watson, we are all a work in progress and how the process can be as fulfilling as the “finished” work. Watson embodied the spirit of the Open Studio till the end. Drawing and living require patience and perseverance, a willingness to keep showing up, keep the pencil moving. And always staying open to the next opportunity.

Figures at The Barn (www.artatthebarn.org)


Where: The Barn, Woman’s Art Club Cultural Center, 6980 Cambridge Avenue Mariemont, OH 45227
What: Exhibition, “Figures”
Thursday, August 31, 6-9 p.m. – Opening Reception
Friday, September 1 from 10 a.m – 2 p.m.
Saturday, September 2 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday, September 3 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Continue your own journey with classes at AAC Community Education.


Memories of Merle

By Olivia Suffern

Merle Rosen was my teacher and mentor. She taught me how to draw, helped me prepare my portfolio for college, and was a great friend and role model to me during a time in my life when I was awkward and lacked confidence.

I’m sure my memories of Merle, though incredibly special to me, are similar to many other stories of those lucky enough to have known her. However I feel that if I share them with some of her close friends, even if we’ve never met, that I will feel a little more at peace with her sudden loss.

I met Merle at her “Drawing from the Very Beginning” course at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The class was technically intended for adults. I was only in high school, so I was hyper nervous on the first day. Merle sensed my anxiety quickly, and joked that the grown-ups in the room probably felt much farther out of their comfort zones that I did. This type of calming, down-to-earth energy was so typical of Merle.

I enjoyed her class and improved so rapidly under her instruction that I began taking weekly lessons each Thursday evening from Merle in her Dane Ave. studio. I delighted in selecting old animal bones, sock puppets and natural specimens from her ever growing collection of treasurers to use as props for still life compositions. She always offered advice, warmth, and a cup of tea to each of her students.

Arriving at Merle’s studio felt like entering a sacred dimension. She was my liaison to the art world, and her influence on my life is irreplaceable

I am overwhelmed with emotion and have cried a lot, but I would not categorize my feelings as grief; rather intense gratitude that I had the privilege of knowing and learning from Merle. I will miss her magical presence.


Merle Rosen May 6, 1949 – June 19, 2017

CPS Selects Art Academy of Cincinnati to Partner on Art Integration


The Art Academy of Cincinnati will administer new artistic programming at Chase Elementary and Woodford Paideia Academy schools as part of the CPS My Tomorrow Vision 20/20 plan, it was jointly announced today by The Art Academy of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS).

 “CPS is pleased to partner with the Art Academy of Cincinnati to enhance and expand arts integration in these two elementary schools.  We value their history and tradition of providing exceptional artistic training to students of all ages,” says Dr. Isidore Rudnick, who led this artistic initiative through My Tomorrow, a multifaceted program that is rolling out and expanding throughout Cincinnati Public Schools.  “The Arts & Culture Programs at Chase and Woodford Paideia focus on educating the whole child through a broad range of academic and artistic opportunities including field study days at The Art Academy.

 A driving force behind the CPS My Tomorrow program is preparing students for life by developing the 21st century skills required for success in virtually every profession.  These skills are rooted in critical and creative-thinking abilities. Visual arts disciplines foster these important skills as students combine and apply artistic and intellectual disciplines to imagine, create, realize, and refine new solutions in conventional and innovative ways. The Arts & Culture Program features an integrated and dynamic curriculum that includes residencies with some of Cincinnati’s most respected artists, world culture studies, and music and dance classes. 

 “For nearly 25 years, the Art Academy has supported and strengthened local elementary, junior high and high schools with in-the-classroom art classes, after-school art programs, summertime art camps, and programs offered throughout Greater Cincinnati, throughout the entire year.  To solidify this relationship with a contract signifies that both parties recognize the ongoing value of intentional art integration to enhance the student learning experience,” says John Sullivan, president of Art Academy of Cincinnati.



AAC Helps Sponsor the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The Art Academy of Cincinnati and the AAC Community Education Department are proud to be site sponsors of the this years Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards has grown to be the nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition initiative for creative teens and the largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers.

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