April 25th, 2020  |  Published in April 2020

The places you can go these days are few and far between.  With the outdoors our now fondest of friends, CampSITE is a hand worth holding, or beholding from a safe distance.  Located in the neighborhood of Camp Washington, the sculpture park is a landmark for the creative community and beyond.  It’s natural setting being more advantageous than ever, it’s somewhere you can go and contemplate, if even from behind a locked gate.

Park Art

Redefining the formal and fauna-filled connotations of traditional sculpture gardens, CampSITE is unconventional and urban and a little more untamed.  Blossoming across the yard are sculptures made not of steel and iron but of wood, cotton, plaster, and frill, materials that may weather and wear with time. The work, then, has a life to it, one that is living and breathing and will keep you wondering which way the garden will grow.  This in-finality is the heartbeat of the park, reveling in the impermanence of the installation and welcoming it with open arms. It’s a conglomeration of artists, too, featuring work from a variety of perspectives.  This eclecticism furthers the park’s state of flux and miscellany.

View from outside of CampSITE, photo courtesy of the writer

From an aesthetic experience, CampSITE offers the viewer a visual playground, bright with color and abounding with structures and forms.  Conceptually, and seasonably so, the pieces sway somewhere between a future optimism and a present cynicism.  An Airstream trailer and fire pit give way to the implication of home and hospitality, beckoning the time when we’ll all be together again.  Strategically placed in the center (or serendipitously strewn), the COVID strain replica a bleak reminder of why we’re not.


Pioneering the open-air-art-concept-movement, if there ever were such a thing, is folk artist Howard Finster and his infamous Paradise Garden.  A sculpture park of divine proportions, his environmental installation was a sanctuary for the maker, the mind, and all things mysterious.  In Norman Girardot’s book Envisioning Howard Finster: The Religion and Art of A Stranger from Another World, he reflects on the artist’s work saying, “Unlike human beings, environments can be resurrected…all existing gardens, worlds, persons and communities need periodically to be refreshed and rebuilt.  Then, through the special efforts of those who have the eyes to see and the art to make their vision real, unexpected and seemingly fantastic worlds will be produced for public exploration and habitation” (p. 167).  With the current state of our pandemic-prone world, one where personal sanity suffers on behalf of public safety, it’s important to have such “fantastic worlds” as CampSITE where a little piece of weird-normal still exists.

For more information visit:

For their geographical location go to: 2866 Colerain Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45225

–Hannah Leow

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