A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

The brand-new mural A Day in the Life of Sayler Park, by artists Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd and a team of ArtWorks apprentices, is located on the corner of Gracely Dr. and Revere Ave. in Sayler Park, Cincinnati’s Western-most neighborhood.

To my ignorant eyes, Sayler Park seems to be one those Cincinnati neighborhoods that time has forgotten. [I’ve come across several like that, mostly on the West side.] Sayler Park seems quiet, maybe even sleepy and, from examining this mural and learning about the community-driven process behind it, it’s obvious that residents have deep roots in their community. So, the mural is a collection of photographs of neighborhood icons and neighbors, past and present.

That’s all well and good, except for my overhearing one of the artists admit that some of the images are based on stock photography. Arrgh, I really wish that weren’t the case, but perhaps that was the only practical way of obtaining the appropriate range of photos.

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

The building that serves as the mural site was once owned by the Strassell family, which operated a meat market in the storefront. Below, an actual historic photo, and also one of my favorite moments in the mural, in which the building’s brick becomes one with the brick in the photo:

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

The storefront later became a Kroger, then a video store, and is now a police sub-station. Below, photos of neighborhood landmarks line the bottom of the mural:

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

Of course, these strips of “negatives” actually show positive images. The rest of the photos are modular, three-dimensional blocks stacked together:

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

Apparently, purple irises used to line Gracely Dr. That’s one of my favorite flowers!

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

Jim Tarbell in costume!

A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

Cincinnati-area murals seem to fall into two general types — those that represent their communities and those that don’t. For instance, Daybreak in O’Bryonville by Kate Holterhoff does not:

Daybreak in O'Bryonville by Kate Holterhoff

Nor does Ice Cream Daydream by Amanda Checco:

Ice Cream Daydream by Amanda Checco

Meanwhile, An Epic Tale of Time and Town by Christian Schmit certainly represents its community of Covington:

Covington mural by Christian Schmit

As does Campy Washington by Scott Donaldson in Camp Washington:

And, Wilkommen to Clifton Heights by Jenny Ustick:

Clifton Heights mural by Jenny Ustick

The above three murals all synthesize aspects of the communities in which they’re located. They all include more and less obvious community landmarks and serve, to some extent, to teach neighborhood residents and visitors about these areas. A Day in the Life of Sayler Park falls into this group, but there’s very little synthesis of source imagery. It’s all been collected and plugged into appropriate spaces within two grid systems. And why the distinction between the two grids? I’m not sure.

The two images that teach me, as an outsider, something distinct about the neighborhood’s history [the purple iris] and about the mural’s site [the meat vendor] are presented at the same level as images that don’t — photos of old homes and churches, children and families, historic photos of neighborhood residents and contemporary ones. These images presumably hold meaning for the people who live there, so I think this mural is primarily for their benefit, not for the benefit of visitors. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of Sayler Park by Evan Hildebrandt and Allison Sheperd

  1. Just for the record, only a couple of the photos were stock, not the majority! We simply did not have time to get all of the images we needed.
    Thanks so much for writing about Artworks and the Sayler Park Mural! Artworks is a really great organization.

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