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Art For Kids Classes Offered this Fall!
The other problem the Academy faced wasn’t so easily solved. The accreditors said the Eden Park building didn’t have enough classroom space per student. The technology was outdated without even a copy machine. Then, in the 1980s, the age of computers drastically changed the field of graphic design and how it was taught, necessitating the purchase of expensive new equipment.
For 114 years, the Art Academy and the Art Museum had been under the purview of the Cincinnati Museum Association. The CMA Board decided to separate the Academy and the Museum effective September 1, 1998. Smith took on the title of president of the Art Academy, and a new board was created to oversee the school. The split was beneficial to both institutions, although having been together so long, the separation was a complex process
In May 2000, the Art Academy announced that it was leaving Eden Park and moving to a new campus in Over-the-Rhine. The AAC moved into their new building on Jackson Street in the fall of 2005.
The Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) the degree program was launched in 1995 to provide a master’s degree for art educators. When the State of Ohio instituted the requirement that all art educators had to have a Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) degree, art schools scrambled to set up a program for the surge of art teachers suddenly in need of a master’s degree. The MAAE program launched at the Art Academy in 1995 and was directed by April Foster. Designed to accommodate teachers who worked the nine months of the traditional school year, the MAAE course load could be taken during three summers.
The Art may be small-no piece larger than two inches in any dimension- but the impact of the Minumental Exhibition has loomed large at the Art Academy. It started in 1987 by liberal arts professor Gary Gaffney, and it has become, well, a big deal. The annual exhibit has grown, with faculty, students, and alumni all submitting tiny works with an affordable price point.
Tens of thousands of students have received art lessons through the Art Academy’s Community Education program since the first courses were offered in 1972. Classes led by professional artists have given teens and adults the chance to learn visual arts at different skill levels without committing to a degree program. Art for Kids, introduced in 1985, gives kids ages 5-12 a Saturday art class just like the Saturday morning museum classes taught by Academy students that inspired young John Ruthven and others. Today, Community Education (CE) programs reach 7,500 students a year through art and design classes, Camp Art Academy, Portfolio Prep for high school students headed to art school, and outreach programs for schools. Started in the mid-1990s and funded largely by Procter & Gamble, the outreach program provides art-based lessons to Greater Cincinnati schools that stress art integration through hands-on projects centered in abstract concepts relating to mathematics, science, and languages, such as using wax encaustic to demonstrate the molten and cooling layers of lava. CE is also the affiliate of the Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Community Education is a key component in the Art Academy’s engagement with people and neighborhoods.
When Roger L. Williams took over as director in 1977, the Art Academy
was still, in essence, a 19th-century studio school. The Academy had cooperative agreements with UC and Northern Kentucky University that allowed its students to transfer credits to receive degrees from the universities, but the NASAD accreditors leaned heavily on the Art Academy to create its own degree program. In 1979, the Academy finally instituted a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program, which required introducing traditional academic courses to the curriculum.
Fresh blood and familiar faces made up the core faculty in the 1950s.
Arthur Helwig spent four decades teaching drawing and painting.
Paul Chidlaw (AAC 1927) brought his experiences in Les Années Folles in Paris to usher the Academy to Modernism.
Sculpture teacher Chuck Cutler was a burly rebel with a chisel.
Charley Harper (AAC 1947) returned to teach illustration and commercial design with his flair for minimalism.
Noel Martin (AAC 1947) had a long tenure as an instructor and as the graphic designer for the Cincinnati Art Museum, designing everything from the museum’s logo to the exhibition catalogs and signs. Noel Martin was “one of the most creative graphic designers and typographers in the United States,” wrote Allon Schoener, former director of Contemporary Arts Center (CAC).
Julian Stanczak, a Polish refugee during World War II, taught at the Academy for seven years before his optical paintings launched the brief Op Art movement.
These instructors inspired the likes of Tom Wesselmann, Malcolm Grear, Tom Marioni, Joseph Marioni, and Jim Dine.
Tom Wesselmann made his mark in the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, blurring the line between
commercial and fine art by taking inspiration from advertising, billboards, and food labels.
The zany, frenetic jazz album-cover illustrations of Jim Flora were unlike anything else being done in the 1940s. “Flora’s designs are magically simple distillations of Cubism, Surrealism and cartoon madness, with playful figures and instruments floating in planes of color,” Ben Sisario wrote in the New York Times.
The Art Academy has always been a small school with intimate class sizes, allowing for personal interaction with instructors. In that sense, the school is much the same as it has always been. After having 30 students in the first year, in 1872 the school had 465 students taking day and evening classes, then enrollment generally stayed in the 300 to 400 range through 1927. Despite a spike in tuition from $25 a year to $100, the school topped 500 students each of the next four years before the impact of the Great Depression finally caught up. Enrollment plummeted until bottoming out at 193 students in 1940,
a significant 62 percent drop enrollment leveled out to about 150 to 250 students a year, which the school has maintained since. But that post-war boom helped change the character of the school and some of the students of that period emerged as major artists.
The rise of commercial art really changed the complexion of the Art Academy. Spurred by the many Cincinnati companies utilizing advertising and graphic design, including Procter & Gamble, Rookwood Pottery, Gibson Greetings, and Strobridge Lithography, the Academy became a breeding ground for artists working in the more practical arts. The Art Academy had come full circle. Much like the industrial design movement during the school’s early days, art could help industries by making products more attractive; but rather than decorative arts, design, and graphic arts were employed in
advertising. The Academy offered more design courses such as graphic design, illustration, photography, and even fashion drawing and scenery design for television. The Academy catalogs in the1930s noted, “We have only to notice our textiles … our automobiles, lighting fixtures, architecture, metal grills, glassware, china, carpets, rugs, advertisements, posters, cards, and all sorts of printed matter to realize the vast field covered by industrial design.”
In 1944, the Art Academy was one of 22 design schools represented as a charter member of what became the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), which was focused on design education programs.
Benn Pitman’s many talents extended into art. He introduced woodcarving courses at the School of Design, as well as china painting, which attracted many upper-crust society women.
The leading ceramic artists that made Cincinnati “the cradle of American art pottery” were also longtime rivals. Mary Louise McLaughlin and Maria Longworth Nichols Storer were more alike than not. Nichols was the daughter of Joseph Longworth, who had funded the School of Design.
Elizabeth Nourse and her twin sister, Adelaide, both began attending the School of Design in 1874 when they were 14 years old. Adelaide preferred the woodcarving courses and went on to marry the instructor, Benn Pitman, while Elizabeth studied everything she could. In 1887, accompanied by her older sister, Louise, Nourse went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. After three months, she was told she needed no more instruction, but the art world was not so open to women artists, who often got married or became teachers.
Joseph Henry Sharp is noted as much for the subjects of his paintings as his skills with a brush. He made painting Native Americans his life’s work, putting hundreds of portraits to the canvas and portraying their quickly changing way of life.
Frank Duveneck left an indelible mark on American art. His vigorous brushwork and dark-toned realism liberated American painters. John Singer Sargent is said to have declared, “After all’s said, Frank Duveneck is the greatest talent of the brush of this generation.” Students of Duveneck are among the most important American artists of the late 19th century. Devoting the last decades of his life to teaching in Cincinnati may have caused his luminance to fade, but even today, Duveneck occupies the highest place among Cincinnati’s visual artists.
Clement J. Barnhorn managed to cultivate a national reputation while spending his career in his hometown. He enrolled in the School of Design in 1880, where he studied under Italian sculptor Louis T. Rebisso and woodcarver Henry L. Fry. Barnhorn went on to study drawing at the Académie Julian in Paris under William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Barnhorn’s sculptures were executed in stone, metal, or ceramic faience, as for Rookwood Pottery. His Magdalen received honorable mention at the Paris Salon, and bronze at the Paris Exposition. Barnhorn began teaching at the Art Academy in 1900 and served as head of the Academy’s sculpture department.