This June marks the halfway point for the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s 150th year. On Friday, May 3, the academy will celebrate the possibilites of its next 150 years by hosting AAC 150: Block Party, an epic art show-meets-block party on the 1200 block of Jackson Street in Over-the-Rhine. “We’ve spent the first 6 months of this year celebrating our past,” says Amanda Parker-Wolery, the academy’s director of marketing and enrollment. “Now we’re looking toward the future.”
One of the most visible changes expected for the school’s next chapter is a complete reimagination of its ground floor and former Barrelhouse Brewing Company space. You can get a sneak peek of it during the free block party event, where over 30 independent pods—immersive micro-exhibits—created by local artists, alumni, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Foto Focus, and more, will transform the space into an experiental art museum.
Outside, live entertainment by musicians like headliner Diane Coffee—former Oxygen drummer and solo performer Shaun Fleming—and local hip-hop artists Aziza Love and Ronin Halloway will set the tone for a party much different than your typical cul-de-sac grill out. Other festivities include a fashion show hosted by Lindsey Whittle, whose avant-garde, sculptural looks were recently exhibited at the Contemporary Art Center, and a parking lot exhibition titled 9 x 18 that’s organized by Camp Washington’s Wave Pool art gallery. If you’ve reached complete sensory overload—which, we’ll forgive you for— take solace in bites from local restaurants Ché and Red Sesame and a specially made tangerine beer by 3 Points Urban Brewery.
While the academy is still deciding its next official president (expect an announcement soon!) current Interim President Mark Grote says the academy has a very clear vision for its future. It’s expected to break ground on the expansion of its ground floor next spring. The expansion, called Future House, will house high-tech film and animation programs, which represent the future of art and design. Future House will also act as a much needed community gathering space that enables the academy to better engage with surrounding neighborhoods. “We want to become outwardly focused versus inwardly focused,” Grote says. “We want to become part of the fabric of Cincinnati that makes this city a better place.”