Only his office these days is atop a 50-foot scaffold where he directs the ArtWorks Mamie Smith Mural located between 12th and 13th. The mural
was designed by Julia Bottoms, Buffalo, NY. This current mural is dedicated to Mamie Smith, born in Cincinnati, and the first person to record a blues jazz record. It is 47 feet high and 34 feet wide.
“My Photoshop image was scaled so one-inch equaled one-foot on the wall. The wall was gridded off using plumb lines and snapping chalk lines, then we drew outlines with charcoal. We mix the colors and show the 12 apprentices how to fill in the shapes.”
“I like working with ArtWorks because I get to teach young artists, (14 to 21) and pass on what I know. It is an opportunity for these young artists, and makes Cincinnati look better. There is a project manager for each mural. On our team we have a teaching assistant and a junior teaching assistant. They are talented artists, good at working with teenagers, and crucial to getting the job done.”
“I started working with ArtWorks in 2015 when I designed the “Grain to Glass” mural on the side of the Moerlein Brewery. In 2016 I designed the Canal mural on Central Parkway at Marshall and a smaller mural in the Brewery District on Vine Street that was painted on actual wooden barrels, I helped on Jonathon Queen’s Toy Mural. In 2017 I was co-project manager on the Ralph Steadman murals at 12th and Walnut.”
His friend, Ray Hassard, had a personal way of complimenting Jim: “I did one big mural-size piece once in Buffalo for the subway system and swore never again. For someone who almost never paints larger than 18 x24, it was nerve wracking! Cannot imagine how Jim does it!”