A Quirky and Offbeat Weekend in Cincinnati

The Singing Mural - Cincinnati

The Singing Mural – Designed by C.F. Payne

The first week of April 2014 provided a great fun time for my wife and I as we went to Cincinnati for a weekend getaway.  The main reason was to see my good friend Antsy McClain perform with a new “Trailer Park Troubadours” band that included amazing Aussie musician Pauly Zarb and the fabulous finger picking virtuoso Pat Kirtley and his brother.  We decided to make a weekend of it and visit a few places around Cincy that we have not seen yet.

Cincinnati Skyline

Cincinnati Skyline

Our first stop in town was a place that I have wanted to visit for quite a while.  Called the “Mushroom House,” it is truly one of the quirkiest places in the city.  The Mushroom House is located in the Hyde Park District of the city at the corner of Erie Ave. and Tarpis Ave.  It was created by architect/artist Terry Brown (who died in a car accident in Texas in 2008).  As a professor of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati, Brown created the building with the help of university students from 1992 to 2006.

The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati

The Mushroom House in Hyde Park area of Cincinnati

The house was built using a variety of materials including wood, colored glass, shell, ceramics, and various metals.  Care was taken to craft these materials into irregular shapes like those found in nature.  Following are a few shots of the house I took.

Mushroom House front side

Mushroom House front side

Mushroom House Chimney

Mushroom House Chimney

Mushroom House side wall

Mushroom House side wall

Mushroom House back side

Mushroom House back side

Sumoflam at the Mushroom House in Cincinnati

Sumoflam at the Mushroom House in Cincinnati

One more view of the Mushroom House

One more view of the Mushroom House

From the Mushroom House we made our way to the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincy.  Over-the-Rhine (OTR) has been around since the 1780s and encompasses 362.5 acres of the original German community. The majority of structures are two-, three-, and four-story brick or stone edifices erected in the last half of the 19th century for residential and commercial uses.  All types of architectural styles can be found including Greek Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne. The area was once one of the largest German-American neighborhoods in the United States.

Historic buildings in the Over-the-Rhine district

Colorful historic buildings in the Over-the-Rhine district

Over-the-Rhine is also home of the Findlay Market.  The Market is touted as Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market  and is considered one of Cincinnati’s most cherished institutions.

Findlay Market, Cincinnati

Findlay Market, Cincinnati

Findlay Market is home year-around to about two dozen indoor merchants selling meat, fish, poultry, produce, flowers, cheese, deli, and ethnic foods. On Saturdays and Sundays from April to November the Market also hosts a thriving farmer’s market, dozens of outdoor vendors, numerous street performers, and lots of special events.  We got there a little late for the farmer’s market, but had a nice time shopping in the crowded indoor market.

Findlay Market indoor shopping

Findlay Market indoor shopping

We love spices and were thrilled to see a “Gourmet Spice” shop…  Colonel De Gourmet Herbs and Spices has an amazing variety of spices and mixed herbs and spices.  We couldn’t resist the temptations.

Spicing it up at Findlay Market's "Colonel De" Shoppe

Spicing it up at Findlay Market’s “Colonel De” Gourmet Spice Shoppe

Spices Galore!

Spices Galore!

Colonel De's Gourmet Herbs and Spices

Colonel De’s Gourmet Herbs and Spices

We also found some unique Mediterranean pastries, some unique Olive Oils, vinegars and more.  One can find fresh meat, fish, vegetables and lots of other wonderful goodies.

Sumoflam at Findlay's Market in the Over-the-Rhine District of Cincinnati

Sumoflam at Findlay’s Market in the Over-the-Rhine District of Cincinnati

Frank's Fish & Seafood in Findlay Market

Frank’s Fish & Seafood in Findlay Market

All around the neighborhood there are murals and wall art.  Those who follow my blogs know how much I enjoy seeing these great works of art.  There are actually murals all over the city thanks to the ArtWorks organization.  A partial photo listing of many of the great works, including their locations, can be seen here.

Murals on wall near Findlay Market

Murals on wall near Findlay Market represent different shops

Mural representing Findlay Market

Mural representing Findlay Market

Sunflower Wall mural near Findlay Market parking lot

Sunflower Wall mural near Findlay Market parking lot

The most unique mural we saw was a huge one on the side of a building on Race Street called “The Migration of Tradition.” It is a beautiful work made with tiles and paint. It was designed by Tina Westerkamp, another Cincinnati artist.

"The Migration of Tradition" by Tina Westerkamp on Race St. in Cincinnati

“The Migration of Tradition” by Tina Westerkamp on Race St. in Cincinnati

Detail of "The Migration of Tradition"

Detail of “The Migration of Tradition”

All of the shopping and looking piqued our appetites (and it was already 3 PM), so we sought for a local place that offered some vegan faire.  We found a place called Myra’s Dionysus, a small place with an eclectic menu.  They had a variety of Mediterranean Cuisine as well as some other entrees, many of which are vegan.

Sumoflam at Myra's Dionysus in Cincinnati

Sumoflam at Myra’s Dionysus in Cincinnati

Myra's Chalkboard Menu

Myra’s Chalkboard Menu

Inside Myra's - small but clean

Inside Myra’s – small but clean

My meal at Myra's Dionysus - a pesto fettucine, some bread and hummus.

Our appetizer at Myra’s Dionysus – sesame noodles, pita and some tabouli

After our meal we took a drive down the Central Parkway so we could see the mural I had long wanted to visit.  Called “The Singing Mural,” this mural represents the community coming together in celebration of the arts.  It was designed by nationally renowned Cincinnati artist and illustrator C.F. Payne and completed in 2011.  At 25 feet tall and 135 feet long, it is Cincinnati’s largest mural and features some famous faces including Elton John, Bach, Sesame Street’s Grover, Cab Calloway, Beverly Sills, Mr. Rogers and even “Mr. Redlegs.”

Cincinnati's "The Singing Mural" (detail) by C.F. Payne

Cincinnati’s “The Singing Mural” (detail) by C.F. Payne

Another detail of "The Singing Mural"

Another detail of “The Singing Mural”

From the mural it we headed across the river to Hebron, Kentucky to our hotel and then back north to Harrison, Ohio where we would watch the always quirky and fun Antsy McClain and his friends perform.  We visited with them before the show — got to see Antsy’s new grandchild, got to see Pauly (who has been performing in Europe for the past year) and then Pat.

Looking at Antsy's new granddaughter - a real cutie!

Looking at Antsy’s new granddaughter – a real cutie!

Hanging with my Aussie mate Pauly Zarb, who came to the states for a few shows and then back to England

Hanging with my Aussie mate Pauly Zarb, who came to the states for a few shows and then back to England

Kentucky musician Pat Kirtley was on hand to help Antsy.  Pat is an amazing guitarist.  I have known him for about 4 years.

Kentucky musician Pat Kirtley was on hand to help Antsy. Pat is an amazing guitarist. I have known him for about 4 years.

AntsyCincy

Antsy McClain performing live in Cincinnati

After Antsy’s amazing show, Julianne and I returned to the hotel for a good night’s rest (needed!!).  The next morning (late), we headed to Cincinnati’s Northside area for a breakfast brunch at a small eclectic place called Melt. They have an awesome variety of dishes including quite a few vegan and vegetarian dishes.  The food was fabulous!!!

Melt in Cincinnati

Melt in Cincinnati

Great Vegan Brunch at Melt

Great Vegan Brunch at Melt

Melt Cafe

Melt Cafe – Cincinnati

One of Melt's Menu Boards

One of Melt’s Menu Boards

After breakfast we took a drive around the Northside… more murals and a great Graffiti wall reminiscent of what I saw in Toronto a few years ago.

Large Mural on side of building representing the Northside district

Large Mural on side of building representing the Northside district

Artist at work on Graffiti wall in Northside

Artist at work on Graffiti wall in Northside

Colorful Graffiti wall in Northside of Cincinnati

Colorful Graffiti wall in Northside of Cincinnati

More colorful graffiti in Northside

More colorful graffiti in Northside

Graffiti everywhere - very colorful

Graffiti everywhere – very colorful

Sumoflam at Northside graffiti walls

Sumoflam at Northside graffiti walls

A few blocks away was another giant mural on the side of a building.  It too was unique and really stood out….

Tall mural on side of a building in Cincinnati's Northside

Tall mural on side of a building in Cincinnati’s Northside

Sadly, all things mus come to an end.  After a drive around the Northside, it was back on the road south to Lexington.

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