Commissioned by the City of Cincinnati in 1970 and concealed since 1987, the abstract constellation of 30,000 tiles is one of Harper’s only public abstract works
CINCINNATI, OH – November 10, 2015 – In 1970, the City of Cincinnati commissioned renowned local artist Charley Harper to create “Space Walk,” a constellation of 30,000 colorful tiles that would hang above the doorways to the newly-constructed convention center’s Hall A. In 1987, the mural was covered with drywall during a renovation – a secret masterpiece hidden for 28 years. Now, as part of a $5 million Duke Energy Convention Center upgrade, the mural has been uncovered and restored, returning a rare abstract work by Harper, now an internationally-known artist, to Cincinnati’s thriving public art scene.
On November 10, the Duke Energy Convention Center (DECC) revealed the restored murals for the first time during a special event that honored Harper as an influential national artist with a lifetime love for his adopted hometown. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and City Manager Harry Black spoke to the mural’s importance in the city’s arts community.
“Cincinnati’s public art scene continues to grow and receive national recognition for initiatives like the Artworks Mural Program,” said Mayor Cranley. “I’m excited that “Space Walk” will now be a part of this up-and-coming movement, and attract a growing number of residents, convention attendees and visitors with an interest Charley Harper’s work.”
Internationally-recognized designer Todd Oldham flew in from New York City to officially unveil the mural alongside Brett Harper, Charley’s son. Oldham rediscovered Charley Harper’s work in 2001 and collaborated closely with him near the end of his life to create Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life, a 424-page retrospective covering Harper’s entire six-decade long career released in 2011. Oldham’s career has included an eponymous award-winning fashion line, collections for Target and La-Z-Boy, and a stint as creative director at Old Navy, among other high-profile collaborations.
“I treasure the time I spent with Charley and my friendship with the Harper family,” said Oldham. “It’s been my mission to help people experience his work — work that continues to have an incredible impact on my life and on American art. The unveiling of ‘Space Walk’ is especially exciting, as it connects a major piece of Charley’s work to the thousands who will pass through this convention center and the city he loved.”
A Cincinnati-based American Modernist artist, Charley Harper was best known for his highly stylized wildlife prints, posters and book illustrations — many created in a style he called “minimal realism,” capturing the essence of his subjects with the fewest possible elements. His work has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years following his partnership with Todd Oldham, including a line of children’s clothing for Old Navy and fabric for La-Z-Boy.
About the Duke Energy Convention Center The Duke Energy Convention Center is managed by Spectra and located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, within blocks of top-rated restaurants, bars, pro-sports venues and attractions. The Center boasts innovative design features that welcome creative event plans and versatile spaces to accommodate both large and small groups. The 40,000 sq. ft. grand ballroom is the largest and most spectacular in the Midwest. In addition, the Center offers 200,000 sq. ft. of exhibit spaces and 36 deluxe meeting rooms. DECC offers free Wi-Fi areas, an in-house AV company, telecommunications provider and show-stopping catering cuisine. For details on the convention center or to book exhibit or event space visit www.duke-energycenter.com or call 513-419-7300.