Tender Mercies Mural by Kenton Brett

Tender Mercies Mural by Kenton Brett

This new ArtWorks mural is located in Over-the-Rhine at 27 West 12th St. between Race and Republic Sts. It was painted on the side of a Tender Mercies building by a group of teen apprentices led by local artist Kenton Brett.

Previously, there was a ghost sign on this wall, advertising the American Luggage Co. — leather goods, fibre cases, trunks, luggage, sample cases.

OTR ghost sign

Early this summer, I received a panicked email from a neighbor and checked out the wall for myself, immediately realizing that this scaffolding must be a mural-in-progress:

Tender Mercies Mural by Kenton Brett

Indeed. ArtWorks and Tender Mercies are both fantastic Cincinnati organizations, but I’m not really on board with this mural. That is, it’s nice. It’s fine. It visually represents some of the support and services that address homelessness and its causes.

Tender Mercies Mural by Kenton Brett

I hate criticizing this kind of feel-good work, or any public art for that matter, especially right in my own neighborhood. But this exists at the expense of a piece of OTR history that’s now gone forever.

Tender Mercies Mural by Kenton Brett

Why cover up the ghost sign? It was in an odd location high up on a wall, not visible from a distance. Now we have a low-visibility mural in its place. Why not paint something lower on the same wall? Instead of a mural, why not commission a custom-fabricated fence or sidewalk planters that address the same visual themes?


6 thoughts on “Tender Mercies Mural by Kenton Brett

  1. Amen. The American Luggage Sign was a treat. And not only is it gone, it’s replaced by this mess. I mean, I get it: I get the message of the mural, but I don’t care for it, or for the destruction of the ghost sign.

  2. Does Artworks do anything besides murals? Is it within the scope of their organization to do other stuff? Statues? Fountains? Planters?
    Or would we need another organization?
    pfah – art & bureaucracy…
    per the mural – all those pointy objects arranged around the door look kinda frightening.

  3. Yes, they do different kinds of projects, although murals are the majority of they do. This seems like it could have been a cool opportunity for something other than a mural, but what do I know?

  4. My impression is that many people at Artworks feel the same way we do, but there are one or two neighborhood insensitive people at the top making these decisions. I like their mission and almost everything they’ve done but moves like this leave me scratching my head. I’m torn because I like this one, but I forgot there was a ghost sign there first.

  5. Yeah, I probably was panicking. TMI has a history of helping to clean up crime and vice in their block of W.12th, but obviously the ghost sign was targeted.

  6. You know, the mural is fine. I don’t love it, but I like it enough. It just kills me that a different, older part of neighborhood history was destroyed to create this. I really think there was another way to create a piece of public art on this site while allowing this other historical layer to stay where it’s been. Ugh.

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