See the light installations and murals at this outdoor art festival

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Muralist Jenny Ustick and motion designer Sean Hafer, both professors of art at the University of Cincinnati, created a piece titled sister city. It depicts a Ukrainian woman wearing traditional clothes, including a headdress of flowers. The mural was a collaboration between the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City partnership and cincy4ukraine.Photo: Courtesy of BLINK

CINCINNATI—BLINK, the largest immersive light and art event in the United States, has returned to Cincinnati, Ohio for the first time since 2019. Spanning 30 blocks in northern Kentucky, the free event from four days, which ran from October 13-16, featured 39 large-scale projection mappings, 16 new murals, interactive light sculptures, over 80 bands, and entertainment from local and international artists.

Produced and organized by three executive partners – the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, AGAR and the Haile Foundation – and produced in collaboration with ArtWorks, Cincy Nice and ish, the biennial event provided opportunities for regional artists as well as global creators. It is funded by ArtsWave, which annually supports 150 cultural organizations and projects like BLINK. And global production solutions company GRP (Production Resource Group) returned as the technical partner of the event.

Referring to Cincinnati’s initiative to reinvest in the community, André Salzbrunmanaging partner of experiential agency AGAR and co-founder and executive creative director of BLINK, said: “We are grateful and humbled by the audience that showed up for what was a historic event. As BLINK strives to achieve our shared vision of a future city, it takes an incredible team to bring that vision to fruition. “

According to organizers, in 2019, BLINK had an economic impact of $86.7 million on the region. This year, the third edition of the artistic affair had record attendance, with more than 2 million people present over four days. The Cincinnati USA regional chamber predicts an economic impact of more than $100 million from this year’s event, although exact numbers have yet to be released.

BLINK is typically planned and executed on a two-year cycle due to long fundraising, curatorial, and logistical lead times. But for the 2022 event, the added element of a global pandemic meant organizers had just 11 months to pull it all together. To make this happen, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and event partners worked closely with the cities of Cincinnati and Covington, Ky., which is located just across the Ohio River.

This year, organizers have expanded the festival’s footprint in all directions to inspire people to further explore the Tier 4 city. BLINK has divided the photo ops, installations and art murals into five zones, extending for about 3.5 miles. But the expansion was seen as a downside by some, with festival-goers taking to social media to complain that the facilities were spread too thinly. On an Instagram post from the official BLINK account, one attendee commented that the event was “too big. Too spread out. Too crowded. Too watered down. Lots of food and drink. Not much creativity.”

Also new this year, the event included a drone show, in partnership with Sky Elements Drone Shows, at Smale Riverfront Park. It included 300 drones during a 10-minute show that displayed 3D images, animations and lighting.

Did you miss it this year? Fret not, because we’ve rounded up highlights from this year’s BLINK event, and caught the rumblings of a 2024 iteration already in the works. Scroll to see more…

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