Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Covington to showcase artists

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - For one night next week, a section of downtown Covington will transform itself into a miniature arts district.

Everything from mom-and-pop restaurants to hardware and jewelry stores will convert their front windows into showcases for Tristate artists on the evening of April 11.

What: Art of Discovery Gallery Hop
When: 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. April 11
Where: Various businesses on Madison Avenue and Pike and Seventh Streets
• Information: (859) 292-2166
It's all part of the Art of Discovery Gallery Hop, a free event that's a joint effort of the city of Covington and downtown businesses.

"We're doing it to help people rediscover the downtown area and promote the arts community," said Telly McGaha, Covington's downtown renaissance manager.

"About 10 businesses are donating storefront space and letting artists display their work. The businesses also have agreed to serve refreshments."

McGaha said the event's name pays tribute to the Lewis and Clark expedition, a mission with Tristate ties that's marking its 200th anniversary this year.

A group of jurors made up of Tristate artists and arts educators will select participating artists Friday,

Representatives of participating businesses say they see the gallery hop as a novel way to acquaint a new audience with their establishments.

"We have a restaurant on Pike Street that's a training facility for some of our clients," said Stacey Seltman, special events director for The Point, an organization that aims to improve the quality of life of mentally retarded and developmentally disabled citizens. "This seemed like a great way to help people see what we have to offer."

At the Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing law firm at 40 W. Pike St., employees hope to show off the firm's late 19th century building, a historical landmark featuring a tin ceiling in the lobby.

Covington City Commissioner Alex Edmondson suggested the event as a way to showcase inner-city artists and help build a sense of community.

"Edmondson has proposed creating a fund for the creation and evolution of passive parks. Covington could commission local artists to create pieces of art for neighborhood parks, he said.

"You need more than just baseball diamonds and soccer fields in a parks and recreation program,'' Edmondson said. "You want places where people will want to sit on benches or walk their dogs - places that create a sense of neighborhood and belonging and beauty."

Edmondson would like to see money set aside and special incentives offered to artists to create and nurture arts districts in some of the city's distressed areas.

Representatives of the Madison E-Zone, a Covington-based technology incubator now serving 14 companies, share Edmondson's philosophy. During its nearly two years in existence, the business has displayed art from a Fort Mitchell gallery in the public areas of its Madison Avenue headquarters.

"We've received great support from the city of Covington," said Casey Barach, the Madison E-Zone's executive director. "We feel like the gallery hop is one small way that we can give a little something back to art lovers and the community that's supported us."

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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