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Mayerson snags grant to fund arts program

In April, the Mayerson Foundation was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for its Artistic Excellence Program. The $45,000 grant was matched by the Foundation to fund master classes for students at the School for Creative & Performing Arts, the nation’s only K-12 public school for the arts. 
The Artistic Excellence Program features seven master artists from around the world, seven resident musicians from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and nine dance workshops from the Cincinnati Ballet, all of which take place during the 2012-2013 school year. The Foundation has applied for a second NEA grant to fund the program next year.
This month, contemporary artist Nico Muhly visited SCPA in conjunction with the program. He worked with two student composers, held a Q&A and kicked off the year-long series with a performance for the students. Soapbox caught up with the Mayerson’s grants officer, Jeff Seibert, to ask him a few questions about the program.
Q: What is the Mayerson Artistic Excellence Program?
A: The Artistic Excellence Program supports world-class arts education at SCPA. As a lead funder in the $72 million campaign that created the new SCPA, the Mayerson Foundation recognized the importance of supporting the operation of SCPA. We support what the SCPA faculty are trying to accomplish by bringing the world’s best ‘visual aids’ into the classroom, the theater and the dance studio.
Q: Is it program available for all students at SCPA?
A: Yes. All of SCPA’s 1,400 students can benefit from the Artistic Excellence Program, but direct participation is based on relevance—jazz students attend Fred Hersch’s master classes; dance majors work with the Cincinnati Ballet—and based on students’ stages of development. Students in Advanced Music Theory attended Nico Muhly’s master class in composition, whereas first graders will attend the upcoming young people’s concert with Constella artists Anne Dudley and Libby Larsen.
Q: Does the Excellence Program provide scholarships for students?
A: All of the Excellence Programs are provided free of charge, except private music lessons. Since individual students benefit from private lessons and an enormous commitment to practicing is required, those students pay a small fraction of what the lessons actually cost. 

The Mayerson Foundation heavily subsidizes the cost of lessons, and provides scholarships, along with the Friends of SCPA and the Carlson-Berne Scholarship Fund of the CSO, to ensure that economic hardship is not an obstacle to students’ participation in our programs.
Q: Is there a theme for the program?
A: The theme of the Master Artists Series is ‘responding to opportunity.’ We partner with presenting organizations to bring visiting artists to SCPA. Our goal is to support talented students at SCPA across the artistic disciplines and musical genres. 

SCPA’s incredible faculty help us to create connections with the classroom curriculum. The master artists are living examples of art history that teach students technique, but also show then what a life in the arts is like.
Q: Besides Nico Muhly, what other master artists and artists-in-residence have presented master classes so far this year?
A: Violinist Joshua Bell presented a “career talk” on Sept. 21 and jazz pianist Fred Hersch presented a master class on Sept. 25. 

Later this year are playwright and Taft Museum Duncanson Artist-in-Residence Nikkole Salter on Oct. 24; world renowned violinist Anne Akiko Meyers on Oct. 26; percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who led 1,000 drummers in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, on Nov. 2; violinist Gil Shaham on Jan. 25, 2013; violinist Leila Josefowicz on March 1, 2013; jazz saxophone great Branford Marsalis on March 14, 2013; and composer Jennifer Higdon on March 21, 2013. 

In April, Broadway star and TV actress Bebe Neuwrith will present a master class at SCPA, and one of the greatest living jazz pianists is currently under consideration to visit.
Q: Do all of these artists then perform concerts in conjunction with their master class?
A: Most of the artists perform at SCPA, but not in full concerts. They perform pieces to help illustrate the concepts being taught in their master classes. Whenever possible, SCPA students attend rehearsals and performances by the artists at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra or at the Cincinnati Ballet. Students get the opportunity to go backstage to meet the artists after their performances and then to experience them in the classroom. 

The opportunities provided to SCPA students are unlike any program elsewhere in the country.
Q: Is the public allowed to attend the master classes, or are they exclusively for SCPA students?
A: The community has made an enormous investment in SCPA and deserves to see what their investment is returning. Nearly every night of the year, audiences are treated to some of the finest student performances, plays, dances and art exhibits at SCPA. 

Because master classes occur during the school day and because students are intensely engaged in learning, public attendance is by invitation only. Observing the interaction between a master artist and a talented student is really fascinating, so whenever possible, we do try to provide access on an appropriate basis.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Attention coffee-lovers: Collective Espresso brewing in OTR

Dave Hart and Dustin Miller have been friends since junior high, but they went to college on different coasts. After moving to Cincinnati to start a food truck, they are in the process of opening a coffee shop in Over-the-Rhine. Collective Espresso hasn’t opened its doors to the public yet, but Hart and Miller are excited to bring their love of coffee to the Queen City.
While living in Seattle and Portland, Hart worked in the food service industry, which was closely linked to the coffee world. He fell in love with coffee and became “nerdy about doing coffee at home” by trying different beans and brewing methods. Miller became a barista at the age of 16 and has worked in coffee shops off and on since then. Still, coffee wasn’t their first business idea.
When the pair moved to Cincinnati about three and a half years ago, they considered adding to the city's growing fleet of food trucks. Then Hart and Miller talked about opening a creperie. One common thread connected the two ideas: coffee. So, eventually, they settled on opening a coffee bar.
Miller likes the mix of people and businesses in OTR. He hopes Collective Espresso will be a neighborhood place where people meet up to chat and enjoy their favorite coffee drink. Both Miller and Hart want to add to OTR's growing business district.
Hart and Miller designed Collective Espresso around the barista, who will be in the center of the room. The idea is for the barista to be able to make coffee and interact with customers at the same time. Instead of a collection of tables, Collective Espresso has a bar with seating on three sides. There will be a few tables, some of which can be pushed out onto the sidewalk when the weather permits.
Unlike many coffee shops, Collective Espresso will feature different brew methods, such as the Hario pour-over, Chemex and French press. Hart and Miller want to serve great coffee as they create a coffee culture and educate customers.
“Hopefully, seasoned coffee drinkers will seek us out, but we want our coffee to be for everyone,” says Hart.
Right now, Collective Espresso gets its coffee from two roasters: Deeper Roots Coffee in Mt. Healthy and Quills Coffee in Louisville. Both roasters trade directly with farmers, which is an important detail for Hart and Miller. They note the many human elements to coffee, from the picking of the beans to the pouring of the drinks. They want to feel a connection at each of those levels.
You also won’t find four different sizes of coffee drinks at Collective Espresso. Hart and Miller are sticking with the traditional, Italian way to serve espressos and cappuccinos, which means espressos are the smallest drink and lattes are about medium-sized.

While this streamlines the ordering process for customers, it might take longer for drinks to be made. That's ok with Hart and Miller, who want to create the best experience possible for each customer.
They plan to open their shop in late October or early November—check the business' Facebook page for updates.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Modern Makers builds community in Uptown

A collaboration between the Uptown Consortium and Hark + Hark sets its sights on engaging community members in Uptown in the arts in new, creative, and super cool ways.

Together, they host monthly art events as Modern Makers. This month, Modern Makers presents performances from ALICE (in wonderland) by Cincinnati Ballet II Second Company at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center on Wed., Oct. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. Modern Makers is sponsored through Uptown Consortium and Hark and Hark, both nonprofits.

“Bringing and highlighting arts and the arts environment to uptown Cincinnati by featuring and displaying different art programs and opportunities for everyone…is the main key of what we’re trying to do,” says Janelle Lee, Uptown Consortium’s Director of Business and Community Affairs and a member of the Cincinnati Ballet Board of Trustees.

Most of the monthly art shows are held in Corryville on Short Vine or on Glendora Avenue, right behind Bogart’s. 
About a year and a half ago, Uptown Consortium partnered with Hark and Hark, an art and community-based firm started by two former University of Cincinnati DAAP graduates, Catherine Richards and Ahn Tran, to create Modern Makers. The second season of Modern Makers coincides with UC’s school year, with different art shows each month from August until June. 

This year’s MM season kicked off with a chef, who prepared food through art. The event was an overwhelming success, according to Lee.

All MM events are free and open to the public; food is provided by a restaurant on Short Vine. Each event also features an interactive creative art project; for example, last year for Mardi Gras, participants created masks.

In November, Modern Makers will present the second annual “Light Up Short Vine,” Wed., Nov. 28—a Christmas celebration complete with lights, a Christmas tree, Santa Claus and CCM carolers.

By Stephanie Kitchens

Businesses find fresh opportunities on Fourth Street

Fourth is one of the downtown streets that has a little bit of everything. Caffe Barista & Deli sits at the corner of Fourth and Plum. Leftcoast Modern recently opened a few doors down and Aunt Flora will soon open her bakeshop on the same street. On the other side of Fourth is the Lombardy Building, which will soon be home to Marianne Kiely's Everything’s d’Vine, a specialty wine and beer store.
Kiely began her business venture two and a half years ago in Over-the-Rhine, but felt the business didn't fit in. She fell upon the retail space on Fourth Street and knew it would be a great spot for her business.
Everything’s d’Vine is slated to open at the end of this month. Currently, crews are putting in hardwood flooring, and Kiely has a few things left to complete on her “to-do” list before opening day.
Still, she promises to “keep it simple,” which includes maintaining reasonable prices—bottles of wine will sell for less than $20. The majority of beers will be craft beers, with a few mass-market brews such as Budweiser and Miller.

Kiely wants to offer an individualized experience for every customer, plus a tasting bar and delivery service. She also hopes to team up with local restaurants and offer wine and food pairing events.
Royal Sapphire Tattoo, a custom tattoo parlor, will also open its doors at the end of October on Fourth Street. A year and a half ago, Rick Potter was getting a tattoo from Chris Sanders when the the two happened upon the idea for Royal Sapphire. Sanders has always wanted his own shop, and Potter wanted to help him get his dream rolling.
The two began looking for locations right away, and they finally decided on the building at 315 W. Fourth Street because of its accessibility. As a destination location, Potter says the tattoo parlor could be in any neighborhood, but they liked the feel of the other businesses on Fourth Street.
The three artists of Royal Sapphire have a combined experience of 35 years. Sanders alone has been tattooing for 21 years, Megan Dietz Staats has been doing custom tattoos for three years and Brett Hoersting has been tattooing for 11 years. Sanders, Dietz Staats and Hoersting have all been working at different shops and look forward to taking their work to Royal Sapphire.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Food Truck Festival motors into Walnut Hills

Cincinnati's food truck culture, energetic and scrappy, takes center stage for a change at the first Cincinnati Street Food Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 in Walnut Hills.

Soapbox talked with The City Flea's Nick DeWald, who helped organize the celebration and lent his design skills to the event, to get the scoop:

Q: Why is this event important? And why in Walnut Hills?
A: Celebrating first-ring suburbs such as Walnut Hills is critical for the future of the city. The urban core is really rolling right now, but having livable, vibrant neighborhoods all around it is what will continue to make Cincinnati great. Walnut Hills is an area that is aggressively pushing to be the center of the next culture and development boom. 

Q: What makes it different from other events?
A: You can find food trucks at many events around town these days, but they are generally accessories to a larger theme. This event will celebrate street food and have a larger lineup of food trucks and trailers than any previous local event.  

Q: How long was it in the planning stages? 
A: The concept of a food truck festival is one item on a long list of progressive ideas of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation that have been talked about since Kevin Wright became the director last year. There is a lot of energy in the neighborhood and city right now and ideas are being put into action rapidly and effectively. 

Q: Finally, what are you most looking forward to, and will this happen again if all goes well? 
A: The hope is that this becomes an annual event in the city. This will be a great opportunity to show the city's food trucks some appreciation. It is a tough business to be in, yet they are all such friendly and energetic people who are making the city more colorful and unique. 

The organizers are most looking forward to showing people what Walnut Hills is capable of adding to the city. If all goes to plan, people will see the energy, diversity and proximity to the urban core that Walnut Hills offers. It will also be quite a sight to finally see the ever-growing local community of food trucks all in one place.

By Elissa Yancey
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CoSign unveils winning sign concepts for Northside

If you want to be incrementally better, be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better, be cooperative.

In announcing the 11 Northside businesses who have won its CoSign signage design contest, the Haile U.S. Bank Foundation is proving that point. Collaboration between businesses and artists, non-profits and city zoning departments, fabricators and museum administrators has succeeded in producing imaginative new signage for Northside’s eclectic streetscape. 

After a lively competition between more than 20 Northside locales, the Foundation upped its original plan to fund 10 signs and chose 11 for the project. Business selected are:

Casablanca Vintage

Northside Surplus

Northside International Airport


Tone House Music

WordPlay/Urban Legend Institute

Django Western Taco

Off the Avenue Studios

Northside Tavern

Market Side Merchatile


The new signs, now being fabricated, will appear first in the American Sign Museum before their unveiling on the morning of Black Friday, Nov. 23, in Northside. Signs were chosen by a jury who judged the designs based on concept, construction and context.  

In five, short months, the Haile Foundation has taken the idea of supporting new neighborhood signage from concept to creation. Initially proposed on a grander scale for three Cincinnati neighborhoods, the Haile Foundation scaled back to just one when ArtPlace rejected its grant proposal last spring. Funding the project on its own with $150,000, the Haile Foundation found itself in a new situation.

“This was a collaborative idea from the start, and a huge learning experience,” says Eric Avner, vice president and senior program manager in community development for the Carol Ann and Ralph V Haile Jr. U.S. Bank Foundation (and lead Soapbox provacateur).  “We were funding a project AND designing it, which is not normal for us.”

The plan – to pair Northside businesses with artists, who would design signs that conformed to City of Cincinnati signage regulations – required building close relationships with city zoning departments, educating artists and businesses through workshops on those regulations, and working with the American Sign Museum to provide expertise and exhibit space for the signs before their installations on the street.  

With its success, says Avner, “Haile plans to share this collaborative idea with granting agencies, other Cincinnati neighborhoods and other cities around the country.”

Find out more:

• Visit: the American Sign Museum now open at 1330 Monmouth Street for a sneak peek at the CoSign signage before it is installed in Northside.

• Mark Your Calendar: For Nov. 23, Black Friday, when Northside will unveil its new signs at a “shop local” event for the start of the holiday season.

• Watch for: Queen City Projects video documentation of the project, so that others may learn from and replicate this collaboration in different neighborhoods and cities.

By Becky Johnson

New seafood restaurant makes a splash in Over-the-Rhine

Cincinnati isn’t on the coast, but that didn’t stop Derek dos Anjos and his wife Jocelyn from opening their seafood restaurant, The Anchor, on Sept. 14 in Over-the-Rhine. The Anchor’s menu boasts fresh oysters, a catch-of-the-day whole fish and a New England-style lobster roll, all lovingly prepared by Derek.
The dos Anjoses are Cincinnati natives, but they’ve spent the last 16 years in New York City, where Derek was part owner of Brooklyn Fish Camp. The couple moved back to Cincinnati with their two young children last August. Their plan was to open a restaurant and share their passion for seafood with Cincinnati.
The following September, they began looking for a space for their own restaurant. The Race Street building provided the ideal location: The Anchor-OTR is across the street from the newly renovated Washington Park and a mere block from Cincinnati Music Hall, and in close proximity to the thriving restaurant scene in the Gateway Quarter.
Although The Anchor isn’t on Vine Street with many of Cincinnati’s up-and-coming restaurants, Derek hopes it will start a new trend in the Washington Park area and become a destination eatery for Cincinnatians. The dos Anjoses also wanted to be part of the neighborhood.
The dos Anjoses are excited to be part of Over-the-Rhine and to help contribute to its revitalization. The Anchor is the first of what will soon by many restaurants and businesses to open around Washington Park.  
“We love the urban feel of the area,” says Jocelyn. “It feels like a little piece of Brooklyn in Cincinnati.”
The Anchor has a rustic feel but with an upscale atmosphere. The outdoor seating area that overlooks the park and Music Hall allows diners to imagine they’re eating anywhere in the world.
As a chef with years of experience under his belt, Derek wanted to bring different things to the table when it came to his menu. The Anchor gets its seafood daily from Bluefin Seafoods in Louisville and Mike Luken at Findlay Market.
The Anchor features a raw bar and a boutique wine list. The menu is small and changes to reflect available produce and seafood. There’s a tomato salad on the menu that will be changed to something else in the coming weeks when tomatoes go out of season, says Jocelyn.
For diners in search of the perfect meal, the couple suggests starting with a dozen oysters, six East Coast and six West Coast, a glass of Muscadet wine, followed by a cup of The Anchor’s clam chowder. For a main course, the dos Anjoses suggest the whole fish, grilled or fried, with a bottle of rosé. And for dessert, homemade blueberry crisp with ice cream is a must.
Currently, The Anchor is only open for dinner, but in the next few weeks, the dos Anjoses plan to introduce a lunch menu that features lighter fare, such as salads and sandwiches.

By Caitlin Koenig
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Misfit Genius makes home in Covington

Jason Matheny and Monty Collier chose an unlikely spot to launch their business, which is tucked in a storefront next to the Waffle House just across the river in Covington.

But when the two Thomas More College graduates found out about a vacancy in the spot, its very unlikeliness seemed a perfect tie-in for the brand they had worked together to create: Modern Misfit Classic Genius.

They opened TK's House of Misfits in June and haven't looked back.

Part hip graphic tee design company and part values-driven lifestyle brand, MMCG experiments with the notion that fashion can be about more than aesthetics. One shirt, for example, features the words "Byootefel Luhvle," or "Beautiful Lovely," in a script typeface.

The company's young founders understand that people who see things differently than others often see themselves as misfits. Only by embracing their authentic selves can they unleash their own geniuses.

"Modern Misfit Classic Genius is an inspirational brand that uses design as a main avenue to inspire people to embrace the misfit and become the genius," says Matheny, who graduated from Thomas More with a graphic design degree in 2012.

"We offer a line that really has meaning," says Collier, who graduated in 2011 with an accounting degree and minors in both art and business administration. "Our whole purpose is to change the way people behave."

Collier adds that the business is about more than selling t-shirts; through the designs, he wants people to be able to express both who they are and who they want to become.

The core values that inspire the brand—passion, loyalty, intelligence, confidence and humility—serve as the basis for the company's first fall collection, set to debut Oct. 20.

Collier says the new products, which will be for sale in the Covington shop, include more limited edition designs as well as crew-neck sweaters, hoodies and henleys.

By Elissa Yancey
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'Everything Under the Crust' cooks up sweet, savory fare on Fourth Street

Look out, cobbler lovers, there's a new pastry shop downtown. 

Or there will be soon, when Aunt Flora opens "Everything Under the Crust" on Fourth Street in October. Look for the peach cobbler Martha Stewart helped make famous as well as more lunch-friendly savory cobblers, like the chicken-filled variety. 

Aunt Flora and her husband, who she calls "Uncle Flora," started selling pies based on her grand-aunt Flora's recipe in Findlay Market in 2006. They closed their successful Market shop last year because of health issues, but have spent the last few months catering and supplying their devoted followers. 

They snagged the storefronts at 211 and 213 Fourth Street for a new venture that Aunt Flora hopes will embody a "European cafe" feel. "It's such a cool little spot," she says. 

While she has plans to expand into a skillet-based restaurant in the space's second storefront, she's most excited about getting back into the kitchen and opening her doors to serve cobbler, pies, cakes, casseroles and homestyle desserts like banana pudding, bread pudding and rice pudding.

"It's gonna be whatever I decide to cook that day," she says.

The time she has spent preparing the new space has both excited and frustrated her. "I really want to work in the kitchen," she says. "I'm going to be doing some cooking classes and cooking demonstrations."

For now, Aunt Flora could use some design help to put the finishing touches to the pastry shop, perhaps a cobbler-loving restaurant stylist to guide her in creating the perfect atmosphere so that she can focus her energy on the food. 

Now that the floors and walls are ready, she has just one question left: "What do we make this place look like?"

To offer support or artistic services, please email Flora.

By Elissa Yancey
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MPMF Box Truck Festival features fun, games, Third Man Records

The Midway of the circus that is the Midpoint Music Festival gears up this year with a fresh Box Truck Festival, produced for the second time in partnership with SpringBoardArtworks' creative entrepreneurship training program.

Open and free to all ages, the Midpoint Midway features 10 box trucks transformed into interactive installations that range from words of wisdom to art-in-the-making to improvisational theater. Oh, yeah, all that, food, beverages, music AND a visit from Jack White's Third Man Records' Rolling Record Store.

Sarah Corlett, SpringBoard director, says that the Box Truck Festival embodies the creative spirit of the artist/entrepreneurs her program attracts. 

"The intention for both our entrepreneurs and the other artists involved is that this event provides another platform for experimenting with ideas, creating unique experiences to engage audiences and maybe even serving as a launching point for a new entrepreneurial adventure," she says.

Two of the trucks feature SpringBoard entrepreneurs: 

• Magnetic Force, created by Loose Parts Projects, is a moveable, interactive magnetic sculpture made from materials that can be moved, built upon and combined.

• The Hyperbolic Healing House, created by Lucius Limited, offers a serene psychedelic oasis in the form of a biomorphic micro-temple.

Other trucks encourage dancing, remote-control car-racing, striking a documentary-friendly pose and poster shopping, Corlett says. "As we had hoped, this project, in the vein of SpringBoard, is truly  sparking creative enterprise."

By Elissa Yancey
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LIVE MAKE launch in Brewery District highlights ARCHinati Festival

Bradley Cooper knew about Maker Works in Ann Arbor and the TechShop franchise, as well as other independent spaces around the country that encourage DIYers and design professionals by providing tools, space and a supportive community.

So when he and fellow architect Paul Karalambo took on the job of creating a design competition to create such a space in Cincinnati's Brewery District, he understood its inherent importance. Creating a large space for shared tools and a budding entrepreneur community could not only assist current businesses and residents, but also entice new graduates to find ways to build their businesses in Cincinnati.

The result of that thinking is the LIVE•MAKE competition, an initiative of the local branch of the American Institute of Architects, which grew out of the updated zoning for the Brewery District's updated zoning: urban mix. 

"It's important to have an entity like this in the city for people to take advantage of," says Cooper, a Cincinnati native who graduated from UC's architecture program and received his Master's degree from University of Michigan. 

For now, the competition remains theoretical, Cooper says. Its official launch on Oct. 6. serves as the culmination of the week-long ARCHinati Festival, which includes a full slate of building-friendly events that start Sept. 28. 

The LIVE•MAKE kick-off at the Christian Moerlein Brewhouse on Moore Street features not only brewery district tours, but a sampling of local artistic and design-focused entrepreneurs whose work provides a glimpse into what LIVE•MAKE could become. Guests include members of the Losantiville Design CollectiveHIVE13 and Brazee Street Studios.

Reservations won't be accepted; the first 160 guests to arrive will get free tours and beverages courtesy of Christian Moerlein. "We want people to show up and be there for what's happening," Cooper says.

LIVE•MAKE designs have already been submitted from as far away as Texas and California, all before the competition's official launch, and months before the competition's Dec. 20 deadline, Cooper says.

"It's generating interest as a way of spurring development," he says. 

After winners are announced at the end of January, the local AIA chapter hopes to hold a celebration in the late spring. Gaining interest, and funding, could spur real-life development next year.

By Elissa Yancey
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Tacocracy opens for lunch, builds on Northside connections

Part taco shop, part neighborhood reunion, Tacocracy opened in Northside in August and has already created its own popular niche in the community's lively local food scene.

Located in the new Northside International Airport and the former Jacob's nightclub space, Tacocracy sits in the center of the action, serving up airport-themed items, like a range of "taco flights" that include as few as two and as many as seven of the spot's primary menu items.

Duck tacos, Korean beef tacos, "schmashed tater" tacos and chips baked with sea salt and lime juice round out the simple, tasty menu developed by owner Kevin "Pogo" Curtis. The Middletown native has called Northside home for the past six years, and has worked at nearly every restaurant in the neighborhood: Melt and The Comet as well as former venues The Hideaway, Northslice and Portofino. 

"I'm always looking for how to make it better," he says of his dishes. 

Curtis says that with his first foray as a restaurant owner, attention to detail is everything. He's proud of the duck taco—"It's so rich, it's like meat candy"—and looks forward to adding his soups to the menu. 

But his investment doesn't stop there. He and friends worked for a year to transform the space into Tacocracy, a name he landed upon as he considered creating independent taco shop with no intention of being authentically Mexican. 

They turned a hallway into a dish room and decorated creatively for a very DIY, Northside feel, he says. For example, the strings of LPs hanging in the patio were part of a "tacos for vinyl" exchange, explains Northside International Airport "queen mother," Aileen McGrath.

Curtis, whose artwork hangs throughout NIA, has been overwhelmed by the positive response so far, and a friendly partnership with nearby Listing Loon has made life without a liquor license a lot easier.

Tacocracy opens for lunch starting this week, and Curtis hopes to add late night hours during the weekends in the future. 

"I love the hood," he says, "and I want to see if it can be even more awesome."

By Elissa Yancey
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Northside International Airport boarding this week

For shoppers on the Prowl in Northside, shopkeeper and neighborhood entrepreneur Aileen McGrath has good news: Northside International Airport shops open this week, starting Sept. 19.

It has taken about a year of work, and lots of times at lots of different jobs, but McGrath has never faltered on her mission to bring new life to the space two doors from her indie-craft haven Fabricate.

NIA includes the restaurant Tacocracy and an assortment of independent boutique businesses. It has the looks of a carefully curated indoor flea market that you'd love to stumble across on a trip out of town, without the hassle of having to go out of town.

There's vintage clothing at On the Prowl Vintage, assorted band equipment at (False) Minotaur, a counter for Blink Makeup and Design Studiowax aesthetic and Wrong Brothers bicycles.

But the shops themselves, which start limited hours five days a week Wednesday, Sept. 19, are just part of the attraction. There's the bathroom gallery in the back, which is home to a photo gallery and features a Simon Leis Memorial Urinal (bulls-eye target included). It is also, quite possibly, the only bathroom with its own Facebook page.

By Elissa Yancey
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Funky Artsy jewelry makes a bold statement

According to Kirstin Eismin, jewelry artist and owner of Funky Artsy, there is no such thing as a piece of jewelry that is too big.

Eismin travels three to four weekends a month to attend art shows in the Midwest or along the East coast, creating most of her pieces in her rare free time; she works full-time as a social worker, in addition to spending nearly 40 hours per week on Funky Artsy in her Pendleton studio.

Originally from Lafayette, Ind., Eismin attended Purdue Universty, majoring in sociology and minoring in art and design. These days, she sees jewelry making as a way to help women explore their self-identity and have fun.

“I try really hard to create pieces that showcase women and their independence and their beauty," she says. "For me, it’s about finding something that will highlight some sort of color or inspiration that may come from the earth or that individual person.”

She frequently alters her pieces on the spot for shoppers and meets with women to sketch commissioned items in front of them after gathering information.

Her colors and materials' palette includes metals with natural accents, such as gemstones, shells, rocks, and, occasionally, found objects, such as antique broaches. As far as size, she says, “My big funky pieces are the large ones you can see from 100 feet away, and then I’ll do small simple, elegant petite pieces that still have some funk to them, that speak to a woman’s personality.”

The fun of owning Funky Artsy, Eismin says, is watching women take a risk on bold, oversized necklace and discover that their new look works.

“It’s really important for women to try new things, go outside their comfort zone and see that there are things that can brighten up an outfit or themselves. … They don’t have to wear just the classic pearls.”  

Earrings, necklaces and other jewelry items and accents are available at Oakley’s Trend Boutique and via the Funky Artsy website and Etsy shop.

By Robin Donovan

CODE aims to crack city's creative manifesto

For four days in October, local creatives will launch a rebranding of Cincinnati as an international hub for design. CODE, which stands for Cincinnati Open Design Event, debuts Oct. 18-21.

The event is a four-day creative conference showcasing local designers and tastemakers.

The brainchild of AGAR (formerly Ionic Collective), CODE brings together international firms like LPK and Landor, as well as a bevy of freelancers and other professionals who call Cincinnati home. Over the course of four days, CODE participants will carve out Cincinnati’s creative manifesto, intent on solidifying the city’s international reputation, and build on that reputation.

CODE partners include Mitchell’s Salon and Day Spa and Navarro Photography, along with sponsors like LPK and 4EG. It is part professional education and part creative collaboration with plenty of opportunities for networking and socializing.

Andrew Salzbrun, AGAR managing partner, says, “CODE creates a unified place where local designers can really stake their flag in ground.”

CODE’s educational component will be held at the LPK Brand Innovation Center on Garfield Park and will feature a series of talks and sessions. Professionals from large firms to small will present, as will representatives from the University of Cincinnati and Miami University.

The daytime sessions are organized into tracks, including style, consumer marketing and entertainment, with topics ranging from fashion to branding to film and back again. Speakers will highlight how to leverage local design and keep working on the creative edge. The goal is brash and bold: create Cincinnati’s design manifesto.

While sessions form the framework for daytime activities, the evenings bring a whole new level of networking with peers.

Spearheaded by AGAR, event and experiential marketers that are responsible for some of the coolest events around, the CODE evening lineup includes custom designed cocktails during the Creative Directors Happy Hour, and Rocktober on Fountain Square in partnership with 4EG. The event concludes with a City Flea-inspired Freelance Market and evening fashion show.

“The creative talent in this city is as good or better than you’ll find anywhere,” says Salzbrun. “CODE gives our city a chance to showcase that talent.”

Tickets cost $125 for all three days, and can be purchased online.

By Deidra Wiley Necco
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