It started a few years ago with a hot summer night. Squatters had staked their claim inside a vacant building known as the Flats Building on Price Avenue across from Holy Family Church. The loud noises and shouting from the building kept Sisters, living nearby in a non-air conditioned house, awake at night. The Sisters contacted Bill Burwinkel, a member of the church and an involved community member, to see if he could help them. He did.
“I bought the building,” Burwinkel says.
Burwinkel, a developer and one of the key people involved in the revitalization of the Incline District in East Price Hill, had been working with other community members to bring in specialty restaurants and entertainment venues to the area. He renovated the Flats Building, creating apartments on the second floor and 1,300 square feet of unused space on the lower level.“It was perfect for an art gallery,” he says.
“That was something we needed to fit the needs of the Incline District.”
In August, the Flats Gallery – A College of Mount St. Joseph Urban Arts Partnership, opened its doors. The art gallery is run by Mount staff and faculty and provides additional space for special events as well as art exhibitions including Mount faculty and student work, regional artists, and community collaborations. The first exhibition included works from the Mount’s faculty in the Art and Design Departments.
“The Flats Gallery gives us an opportunity to showcase the very best of the Mount’s talented art community,” says Marge Kloos, D.Min., SC, dean of the division of arts and humanities. “Just as importantly, we will be focusing on urban arts activities such as projected juried exhibitions for high school students and themed shows that celebrate locally recognized and award-winning artists and designers. This is an incredible opportunity for Mount students and the Incline District as we develop an urban arts partnership.”