|Carolyn Manto’s clay model for full-sized statues presented during the interview process.|
• Tyrone will be refining text for the interpretive panels of the monument
and also creating epigraphs which interpret the high relief bronze panels illustrating
Erik Brown—Graphic Designer
• Erik will do the graphic design for the monument including typefaces,
signs and maps.
• John will create two life-size bronze sculptures and several bronze relief
panels depicting various aspects of the Black Brigade story.
• Carolyn will create two life-size bronze sculptures of a mother and child and several bronze relief panels depicting aspects of the Black Brigade story.
The first piece of public art to be commissioned in Smale Riverfront Park is a monument to Cincinnati's little-known Black Brigade. The Black Brigade was formed in 1862 to construct barricades to defend Cincinnati from Confederate attack. Initially, members of the Black Brigade were forced into service. Then, after a public outcry, 718 African-American men volunteered for the service and formed The Black Brigade—which, alongside many other local soldiers, successfully built the critical fortifications in Northern Kentucky.
A monument to their valiant efforts has been built as part of the first phase of the park. A call to artists and a Request for Qualifications—issued in Spring, 2009—brought 40 responses. A review process, led by Jan Brown Checco, Art Administrator for Cincinnati Parks, resulted in a short list of potential artists, from which the final group was selected. The team worked collaboratively, yet each artist had specific assignments. The artists included John Hebenstreit and Carolyn Manto, Sculptors; Tyrone Williams, Writer; and Erik Brown, Graphic Designer.
The monument has now been installed south of new Mehring Way in the park's East Tree Grove. The monument's concept called for it to be built into the earth, much like the original Black Brigade fortifications. It consists of bronze statues and plaques, interpretive signs, and carved stones which includes the names of all 718 members of the brigade. Sasaki Associates, the park’s designers, worked with the artists team to create the overall site plan and landscape plan, ensuring that the monument was well-integrated into the site. Cincinnati foundry Casting Arts Technology completed the bronze castings.
The Honorable William Mallory, Sr. championed the cause of the monument, saying that this important story in Cincinnati's history should be memorialized for all time through a permanent monument to the bravery and sacrifice of the men of the Black Brigade.
Flag of the Black Brigade