Cheviot isn’t a city where you'll be dazzled by the spectacle of abstract Burning Man exhibits. You won’t think you are walking inside an enchanted room at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory; however, behind the curtain, there is a side of Cheviot with which you might not be as familiar: the Arts. I sat down with one of those artists, Julie Beason, and we talked about…well, we talked about art, among other things.
Julie purchased her own art studio on North Bend 19 years ago, but she's been doing art her entire life. A graduate from Mount Saint Joe, she earned three degrees. She earned a BA in (Bachelor Art) education, a BFA, (Bachelor of Fine Arts), and a MA (Masters of Arts) in Art Education. Julie still attends classes to renew her Ohio teaching license as she's a substitute art teacher who provides her own lesson plans. Julie recommends art for everyone, and says, “You don't have to be a master.” Although she enjoys teaching all grades and ages, right now she is keen on elementary students. She says, “I want to try and inspire the kids to want to continue making art through school, outside of school, picking up a sketchbook and pencil and doing art while on a hike, in the car, or anywhere. I'm trying to inspire kids to go to museums and look at nature, just simply appreciate the art all around us. I love to teach the kids and adults to have an open mind to learn and express themselves. It is so important these days to express feelings and reduce anger.”
Younger children seem ripe for Julie’s approach to teaching. She talks about how the imagination is so important to one's mind, body, and soul. "Creativity," she says, “can be awesome for an artist, but also, a curse.” It is funny she mentions that, although I am not an artist, I am a procrastinator, a common trait found in an artist. I get an idea and then before I know it, I have another idea. Once that has happened it is very hard to make myself finish something from which my mind has already drifted away. I was hoping Julie could give me the cure, but no such luck.
Julie herself is not immune to this curse, however, just because she is a substitute teacher doesn't mean she doesn't spend countless hours inside and out of the classroom preparing her lesson plans. It is a common myth that teachers only work nine months of the year. Often, because of funding, they spend their own money on supplies; furthermore, they don't have a time clock for all the hours spent at home preparing to captivate 25 young minds the next day. One of the biggest challenges other than funding is discipline. Again, this falls directly at the teacher’s feet. She or He can provide the best lesson plan in the world, but if they cannot grab their student’s attention, one bad apple can ruin the bunch.
Switching gears from teaching, I wanted to ask Julie what she thinks of the Cheviot art community. “I see the art community in Cheviot rather hidden,” said Julie; she went on to talk about how an artist will converse with another artist, but sometimes throwing yourself out there to the public is challenging. I remember we both laughed when Julie told me, “This is a big step for me,” as she pointed to her business cards sitting on the counter.
It seems that art is all around us in Cheviot, and at times, hard to find. In fact, Julie’s art studio is only a block away from where I have lived for over eight years, and I had no idea. That is not Julie’s fault, nor mine, and certainly not the City of Cheviot. As Julie showed me around her studio and I observed her work, I thought to myself, "These aren’t just paintings." These are real people, and often, very close to home for the artist. I am sure we can all relate to one time or another showing someone something that was near and dear to us and it was for a lack of a better word, not received with applause.
One of Julie’s pieces I liked a lot was of a woman. I liked it more once Julie explained to me that this was not painted from one model; the legs, the hair, the arms, everything that made this woman a woman, was taken from the essence of all women. She is also very good at capturing expressions for animals. You might find yourself staring at a painting of a lion and unable to look away because its powerful eyes are speaking to you.
Julie is set on doing her part to make the Cheviot art community more prominent. Cheviot being a central area is why she chose to set up shop here in the first place. Cheviot is the bridge that connects Green Township, Monfort Heights, Cincinnati, and Westwood. She explained that when her son was younger, she wanted to take him to art classes, and nothing was on the West Side. It seems she decided to remedy that problem herself.
Julie hosts art classes, art parties, shows, all in the name of wanting to see Cheviot become burgeoning with culture. “I wanted inexpensive classes for people on the West Side. I would love to see more people want to travel to Cheviot for unique shops and experiences, not just pass through to the next community.”
Julie is hosting her first Halloween Art Show/Sale at her studio on Friday, October 11th, from 6-9 pm. Feel free to show up in costume (as long as it has a pocket for your wallet). There will be a costume contest with the best costume winning a prize! Julie’s studio is located at 4010 North Bend Rd, Suite #302 in Cheviot, Ohio 45211. Come out and support the arts!