People's Liberty is a philanthropic lab that empowers individuals eager to make positive change in Cincinnati—but don't just take our word for it! We're passing the megaphone along to our 2015 Project Grantees in a series we're calling "Grantees Takeover the Blog," in order to better capture their projects, process and unique stories. Read on...
Alyssa McClanahan & John Blatchford
Kunst: Built Art; Grantees: John Blatchford & Alyssa McClanahan
Today, Kunst Magazine is one week away from being sent to the printer. This month, we have met every Thursday afternoon at the Globe Building with our design director as we finalize content and he finalizes the layout. In about one month, at the end of August, we release the first edition. We’re excited and anxious.
Kunst: Built Art is a print magazine about old buildings and the people who care for them. In this edition, broadly themed “preservation,” we feature two showcase articles on individuals renovating historic buildings in Over-the-Rhine and Mt. Auburn/Prospect Hill—one, a woman actively involved in her community who inherited a passion for development from her mother and grandmother, and the other, a man of almost 80 years who has been rehabbing old buildings in Cincinnati and beyond for four decades. We had amazing contributors for this issue too—we have pieces from Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) Executive Director Paul Muller, 3CDC Senior Developer Officer Nick Dewald, designer Derek Scacchetti, and Doug Hart, the founder of Cincinnati’s’ first curated design fair, DesignBuildCincy.
Kunst—we hope—showcases people as much as buildings because individuals like the ones in our first edition who renovate with care, intention, good design in mind and a respect for the past deserve the spotlight. Last week, as he was exploring and taking cues from Bauhaus and Dadaism for the magazine layout, our designer told us that the mission of our magazine had something in common with these early 20th-century art schools. Born out of World War I, Dadaism reflected anti-war and anti-capitalist sentiments amongst many European artists. Art served as a form of activism as it reflected their political values. Likewise, Kunst is a bit of an activist magazine. It impels people in Cincinnati to reconsider buildings as art, to renovate these historic structures only through the highest quality, thoughtful and patient (re)design. Plenty of individuals in multiple neighborhoods already exercise this kind of intentionality. Kunst applauds them and explains what they do and how. This, for one, hopefully serves to create a sense of community among these developers, and also will ideally raise others’ awareness of these projects and the ethos behind them.
Old buildings and how to care for them are on our minds a lot. John purchased one last year—“the Tailor Shop,” so-called because it used to be a tailor shop around the turn of the 20th century—in the Northern Liberties of Over-the-Rhine. Now the general contractor for the renovation, John has chosen to redevelop the Tailor Shop with historic preservation and modern functionality in mind. The building will be three one-bedroom apartments, each with a distinct impression (modern, whimsical and historic) created with the assistance of an interior designer, and will retain many of its original features—windows, baseboards, large sections of plaster, flooring on the second and third stories and early floor plans. It’s been slow this way, for sure. John, myself and his crew work on the building most days of the week, and he often comments that the project would have gone a lot faster if he had been less interested in preservation, interior design and crafting three unique spaces for tenants to love to live in. But he cares very much about the building, its past and its future. Over the last year, as I’ve worked more with John at the building, I researched and wrote a history of the Tailor Shop since its built date in the 1840s. It’s hard—I would say almost impossible—not to care very deeply about a space once you know the names, faces, deaths and births all contained in four walls. We believe a lot of people think this way too and develop buildings this way too, and Kunst seeks to tap into their stories.
Finding and covering these stories has not been the hard part. Finding the time to produce the magazine has been a struggle as we both have other jobs and obligations. Making the money work has also proven challenging. We received a very generous $10,000 grant from People’s Liberty but making a print magazine is a costly endeavor. We’re still struggling to figure out an advertising structure so that ads in the magazine can help pay for Kunst, but ideally we want to have control over what those ads look like. A huge part of Kunst is that we want the magazine itself to be as handsome and intentionally designed as buildings should be. Ads can often disrupt the flow and beauty of a magazine. We’re also still debating what kinds of ads we want in Kunst and how to get them.
Once the final product goes to the printer at the end of this month, we wait patiently for our hard proof and then a shipment of 300 final copies. We will be selling the edition for $10 at the Pendleton Art Center in Studio 405 (1310 Pendleton Street, Cincinnati, OH, 45202) on Final Friday, August 28, from 6-10pm, and again the following week, from September 1-6, 6-10pm each night, at Brick OTR (1327 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH, 45202). Selling all 300 copies would be a huge success for us, so please come join us!
We hope you've enjoyed this sneak peak into the hearts and minds of the people driving this amazing project. Be sure to check us out next week for another exciting installment of the "Grantees Takeover the Blog." Think you've got what it takes to be a Project Grantee? We'll be accepting applications for our next round of Project Grants August 5 - September 9. Grants range in size depending on the scale of the project with a maximum award of $10K. Applicants should be risk-takers and doers with entrepreneurial spirits. Check out peoplesliberty.org/apply to download our Grant Guide, find important dates, schedule a one-on-one & apply!