Kip Eagen: An Unsung (or at least under the Radar) Arts Professional

August 2nd, 2013  |  Published in July-August 2013

Kip Eagen: An Unsung (or at least under the Radar) Arts Professional

By Laura A. Hobson

Kip Eagen

Growing up in Cincinnati, Kip Eagen at age twelve was transported to a different time and place by the mummies at the Cincinnati Art Museum. It was his introduction to the world of art, which he never left. Now, he is nationally recognized as an arts administrator, public art consultant, curator and museum professional. A 1978 graduate of The Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri, he also worked for the Morgan Art Gallery helping out with exhibitions, collectors and artists.

In 1979 he returned to Cincinnati to work at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). After the CAC, he became director of the Tangeman Fine Arts Gallery at the University of Cincinnati where he worked for ten years. “We did a lot of shows,” Kip recalls. Some of the artists highlighted were Howard Finster, a folk artist, and Laurie Anderson, a performance artist as well as many museum caliber touring exhibitions.

By 1989 Kip moved to south Florida to become the director of Palm Beach Community College Museum of Contemporary Art in Lake Worth, Florida. There, he focused on its contemporary glass and ceramic collections amidst changing exhibits. After nine years as the director/curator of the contemporary art museum, he took the job as director of the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida. This museum featured the original drawings for comic strips, comic books and animation. In addition, he actually worked for Mort Walker, the author of the famous comic strip, Beetle Bailey.

Moving on in his career, Kip became director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Columbus Gallery. At this point, he wanted to be closer to his family in Cincinnati where he returned in 2001. For the last twelve years, he has worked as an independent arts administrator, curator and public art consultant working with clients both here and in south Florida. Locally, he has organized the popular “StreetScapes: A Street Painting Festival” since its inception in 2001 until 2012. An unusual project, it consists of recreating famous masterpieces with pastel chalks directly on Telford St. in Clifton. Among several exhibitions he has curated, the “Ideas into Objects: Reinterpreting DaVinci’s Notebooks” exhibit at the Weston Art Gallery received both local and national attention for its quality and innovation.

In the second phase of his career as an independent curator, he finds project-oriented activities of interest. These entail public art projects, art education projects and consulting for organizations. He enjoys partnering and likes the idea of synergy and building community. “The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. And I enjoy putting the parts together, not unlike a mosaic,” he says. Kip found the transition to his new role quite easy. “There’s no bad place to show good art,” he comments, “whether it be in a museum, at a restaurant or in a park.” He stays connected to the art scene by participating on boards and committees, doing studio visits and organizing exhibitions. “I’m a visual guy, and I think visually,” he says.

Just recently, Kip coordinated a mural located in Sitwell’s Coffee Shop on Ludlow Ave. in Clifton. Kids aged seven to eleven from the Clifton Recreation Center created a large (4’ tall by 40’ long) mural entitled “Clifton in the Future.” Colorful in nature and imaginative, it features flying cars, restaurants in the sky in addition to solar and wind powered buildings with several swimming pools and play fields.

In the summers of 2007 and 2009, Kip helped organize the successful public art project “The Outdoor Museum” for ArtWorks. High school students with local graphic designers created art billboards in the parks. In addition, he helped curate an exhibition for the CAC entitled “Form” based on Cincinnati signature architecture and chair design. Another of his projects was a large scale (32’ tall x 160’ wide) Tie Dye Quilt exhibit in Columbus, Indiana. A Cincinnati-version of a quilt exhibit was installed at Duke Energy Center. Thirdly, a digital quilt made from photos in each neighborhood was shown on the Jumbo Tron at Fountain Square downtown.

Kip was one of the curators for the recent FotoFocus, where he curated “Cincinnati Yesterday and Today,” an exhibition of historic and contemporary photographs of Cincinnati. This was shown on the Jumbo Tron, at the Cincinnati Museum Center and on YouTube. He also worked with the Clifton Cultural Arts Center to curate the front green sculpture project. A black and white portfolio is planned for the future. In his far-reaching career, he also curated exhibitions of contemporary art, pre-Columbian art and art deco, for galleries both in Cincinnati and south Florida. Next on the horizon is a project involving utility boxes painted in the Uptown area of the Queen City. In all his projects, he notes the sense of creating partnerships and community building as a primary focus.

Art Car – “Warhol”

Art Cars


In collaboration with ArtWorks, Kip developed “ArtCars,” where famous works of art are painted permanently on cars. It is, in effect, the museum of the streets. Recently, he curated an exhibition entitled “Gravity’s Daughter: Nine Abstract Painters,” featuring the work of nine regional women artists. In the fall, Kip has two innovative public art projects under way.

Kip‘s creative energy and vision are reflected in the diverse projects he does, whether he is working with kids from the local Recreation Center or nationally known architects and painters. He has had a mosaic career and continues to have one.


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