Alissa Sammarco Magenheim – Lawyer and Arts Curator

October 22nd, 2013  |  Published in October 2013

Alissa Sammarco Magenheim – Lawyer and Arts Curator
– An Innovative Combination


Laura A. Hobson

From law school to the arts may seem like a long stretch,
 but for Alissa Sammarco Magenheim, it was a natural transition.
  Born in New Orleans and raised in Cincinnati, Alissa knew at age 13
 she wanted to be a lawyer.  A graduate of Summit Country Day in 1983, 
she went on to the University of Rochester to obtain a B.A. in 
economics and minor in creative writing.  “I like to advocate for the
people,” she says, but at the same time she has an obsession with
 poetry and prose as well as the other arts.  While her mother Melissa 
was a Rockette, painter and printmaker, Alissa took piano and violin 
in addition to attending the symphony, ballet and opera.  Her summers 
were often spent at Chautauqua Institution, New York, birthplace in
 1875 to the Chautauqua Movement of educational and cultural centers.
Her father James Sammarco, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, performed
 opera as a boy and filled his household with dancers and musicians
 whom he treated as a physician.

As a practicing attorney, she began her legal career in 
San Diego, California in 1991 and returned to Cincinnati in 2004 to
work for O’Connor, Acciani & Levy and then opened her own solo
practice in 2012 as a specialist in personal injury, employment and
 discrimination law, FMLA and Wage Hour Law learning toward the 
plaintiff side.  Her competitive edge has served her well in her 
academic and professional lives.  As an undergraduate, she received 
first prize in the Creative Writing Contest.  At Case Western Reserve
University Law School, where she received her law degree in 1990, she
was awarded the Student Public Interest Fellowship.

Alissa Sammarco Magenheim


In her legal career, she has butted heads with the large 
firms in town. She has represented individuals who have fallen at
area hospitals and nursing homes.  Whether it is a complex case or a
minor one, Alissa represents her clients completely.  Over the years,
she has had many clients return to her and ask for help for their
 families.  At the end of the day, a client’s smile means the most to 
her when the case is settled, the trial ended and the jury gone home.  
To recognize her work as a lawyer, she received a Service Award from
the Ohio Association for Justice in 2013.

By happenstance, Alissa started representing creative
 clients.  She learned what an artist needs in terms of legal 
representation.  Through that representation, she became more 
interested in art and started curating shows.  By word of mouth, she
 began attracting artists to her shows, particularly with eclectic 
taste, abstract or modern.  “I like pieces that make you think or
 evoke a strong emotional response.”  A recent show entitled “Season’s
Change:  Perceptions in Time, from Moments to Infinity” held at 
Passages Gallery in North College Hill opened on Saturday, September 
14 running through October 25.  Artists included Cedric Michael Cox, 
Andrew VanSickle, Mary Barr Rhodes, Jolie Harris, Shawn Shiveley and 
Jeremy Buck Lewis.

A budding arts curator, she has organized such shows as
“Crescendo of Soul” at the Harvest Art Gallery in Over-the-Rhine, 
“March on Women:  An Exhibit of Art by Women, on Women,” at Harvest,
“Arrival, an Exhibition of Original Paintings by Cedric Michael Cox, 
Aaron Glorius, Jeremy Buck Lewis and Shawn Shively” at Harvest. Her
next show in 2014 will center around photography.  “My artists are
edgy,” she says.  At some point, she would like to have her artists work be seen out of the Midwest.
“You take the opportunities and go with it,” she says.

With the combination of law and art, Alissa regularly 
puts in 50 to 60 hours weekly depending on her case load and art
 openings.  With her art curation, she chooses different styles that
 come together for a show.  Divorced, Alissa has a family consisting of
 David, 19, Elliot, 13 and Peter, 8 l/2.  She lives in Madeira.  
“I enjoy working with artists, who bring a fresh approach to life.
  They come from very different backgrounds,” she says.

An art curation career blossoms as Alissa’s legal career
 continues.  A fascinating mix.

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