The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Authors Posts by Jessica Stringfield

Jessica Stringfield

Columnist - Raised nearly 45 minutes outside of Cincinnati in rural Okeana, Jessica Stringfield has always considered herself a proud Cincinnatian and happily adopted a new life as a ‘City Mouse’ closer to Downtown in 2012. She is the Marketing and Communications Associate for the Cincinnati Art Museum as well as a Journalism and Political Science graduate of Miami University where she also completed a Communications/PR internship with NBC Washington’s “Meet the Press”. Despite having an interest in Politics, she decided to ultimately follow her heart and dedicate herself to the Arts community. She is involved with several non-profit organizations including Give Back Cincinnati, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Butler Tech School of the Arts. With her past experience as a journalist, she hopes to shed a new, exciting light on one of Cincinnati’s oldest treasures; the Cincinnati Art Museum. Contact her at

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Spring is on its way and with it comes wanderlust. Sadly, an emergency trip to Tahiti can get pricey, but what about some urban exploration closer to home? Our art expert shares some of the best kept secrets in Cincinnati.

The Mary R. Schiff Library
The Mary R. Schiff Library

If you need a break, consider a trip to beautiful Eden Park where Mary R. Schiff Library is waiting just for you…and there is coffee! (Although, it doesn’t say “Drink Me” like in Alice’s Wonderland) The Mary R. Schiff Library, nestled within the walls of the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM), has something for everyone and may possibly be one of the best kept secrets in Cincinnati.

With more than 100,000 items from a 6,000 year span, this collection also includes a vast archive featuring old letters, photos and journals from artists and past directors associated with CAM.* There are literally hundreds of books, catalogues and magazines to keep your head spinning like the “Mad Hatter’s” (in a good way, of course!)

But — this certainly is not the “Red Queen’s” stuffy, formal library either. The Mary R. Schiff Library has a lovely balance of work and play. Galina Lewandowicz, Librarian for the Mary R. Schiff Library, says that this well-loved Library is a special place for everyone. “It’s a comfortable space where you can take a quiet moment with a book and a coffee or bring your kids in to look at our Children’s section,” said Lewandowicz, “I love to stay behind after work occasionally. I enjoy the space so much.”

What sounds better than grabbing a cup of coffee and heading out onto the Library’s terrace to enjoy a gorgeous view of Downtown Cincinnati? How about a free Sunday afternoon film? Or free access to a unique and diverse book and magazine collection?

We know you want to look at those vintage fashion magazines.

Even guests wandering around CAM have found themselves pleasantly surprised by the Library. “A woman stopped by one day just to see the view because she heard it was nice. Then, she saw our full collection of Photography books and ended up staying for an hour or more,” said Galina Lewandowicz, Librarian at Mary R. Schiff Library, “She didn’t expect for us to have those kinds of books but we have something for everyone. Anyone who stops by can find something that they’re interested in here…whether it’s researching childhood memories of Cincinnati history, music, art or fashion.”

Diving head first into the ‘rabbit hole’ of art? The Mary R. Schiff Library has programming designed to introduce you to art. In the past year, Lewandowicz has worked with Gary Gaffney, Art Academy of Cincinnati, to create an informal local artist discussion panel called “Dialogues with Artists” to cater to everyone, from art collectors to those who just want to learn more about art.

“We felt that there were a lot of people who would like to understand, connect and discuss more with local contemporary artists and hear more about what they do and how they do it,” said Lewandowicz, “There is no lecturing or pushing in one direction or the other. Some say ‘I don’t know much so I don’t want to go near it’ but so what? Art is for everybody. We want everyone to feel welcome.”

Do you love film? Brian Sholis, Associate Curator of Photography, has also utilized the breathtaking Library space for his recurring film series; “Moving Images” . “The Cincinnati Art Museum used to collaborate to produce a film series and I wanted to recommit us to showing films,” said Sholis, “My series, “ ‘Moving Images’, offers a mix of films by and about photographers and artists; a secondary goal is to present films about art or art institutions.

So set aside some time for YOU and you’ll soon be singing Alice’s song “In a World of My Own” as you get lost in the Library. Grab a coffee (or ‘move down’ for tea if that’s your thing), enjoy the warm weather, a beautiful view of Cincinnati and flip through a vintage copy of “Vogue” …or swing by for a Sunday afternoon film.

The Mary R. Schiff Library is open Tuesday – Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the second Saturday of every month, Sept. through Jun. Plan your trip here.

Save The Date:

> Sunday, March 29, 2 p.m. — “Moving Images Film Screening: “Moon Dust” (2014)
Enjoy a low budget, hilarious sci-fi comedy created by Scott Reeder. “When I saw the short trailers for “Moon Dust” on YouTube, I was completely sold,” said Sholis, “It’s a riot of color, kitschy special effects and fun costumes. All on hand-made sets. This is going to be a fun screening.”

> Friday, April 24, 7 p.m. — “Dialogues with Artists: Making Judgments”
Featured speakers; Jill Rowinski, (Art Academy of Cincinnati graduate/regional arts advisory committees/grassroots arts organizations involvement), and Emil Robinson (Cincinnati artist/educator with international and national museum involvement).

**The Library Archives are not open to the public due to their fragile state (onion paper and microfilm items require special love and care!) but the archives are available to researchers or academics by appointment. Please call (513) 639.2978 for more information.

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Our new art columnist shares a few of the latest wedding trends from the team at the Cincinnati Art Museum, a picture-perfect wedding venue.

030915ARTVincent van Gogh once said that “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Planning a wedding is no different. You may feel stressed but if you can pull together all the little details and resist the urge to cut off your own ear, you’re doing great! (Pun intended. Sorry van Gogh. We still love you.)

Although stressful at times, a wedding now has the freedom to be whatever the lucky couple wants it to be. The wedding planning trends seen 25 years ago (all aboard the ‘poofy sleeve’ train — choo choo!) have lost a little steam and the simplicity of “Pinterest” shows us that a “DIY wedding” can be just as beautiful as a traditional wedding in a grand church. Even on a strict budget, weddings can literally be anything you want them to be by simply pulling together that “series of small things” to create the perfect day you’ve always dreamed of.030915ART1

The only trick is pulling it all together.

So what should you do first? Pick a venue and a date. The Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM) has been around for nearly 130 years and could be considered a ‘seasoned veteran’ of the wedding venue world in Cincinnati. From gorgeous Summer weddings in the CAM Courtyard to the rich colors of Fall weddings in our Great Hall, the Art Museum hosts an average of 35-45 weddings a year and some pretty amazing, jaw-dropping photo opportunities for those tying the knot.

It’s a big decision to take the plunge and book your venue but Dan Bavis, CAM’s Hospitality Manager, is confident that couples will be pleased with their Art Museum wedding…and so will their guests. “Spring and Fall are our most popular times and the museum truly gives events a quiet elegance,” said Bavis, “I never get tired of it. I always enjoy the look on guests’ faces when they enter.”

030915ART3Then what? Colors and decorations. Bavis has seen quite a few color schemes for weddings in the last year. “I love to see the weddings in the Fall and Winter months. I’ve seen a lot of rich plums, pinks and a spectrum of reds used,” said Bavis, “The stone wall in the Great Hall has a rich, red warmth to it. Blues, cooler tones are pretty but those richer, deeper colors look the best.”

Aside from what you and your sweetheart will be wearing, what other details go into planning? Perhaps you are a family of tradition! Bavis welcomes that at your ceremony and reception too. “Families have their own traditions built right into receptions,” said Bavis, “For example, there was a Swedish wedding recently where they played little games all during dinner and every time the groom went to the restroom, people would sneak a kiss on the bride!”

Or perhaps you need to pin down the details for florists, photographers, event planners or…OH! The cake! Not to worry, CAM has a full network of wonderful vendors and rental equipment providers.

With this entire “series of small things” being done, you’re bound to get a little stressed and worried but with the staff at CAM, you can relax…well, at least a little bit. “Brides stress about everything”, said Bavis, “But I always try to tell them ‘Your day is going to be quick. Relax and let flow. Let us take care of the details because we don’t want you to waste your big day worrying about it. This is our passion.”

For more information on tying the knot at the Cincinnati Art Museum, please visit our website or email

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How do you identify a strong woman? Tough and thick-skinned? Kind but assertive? Career woman or homemaker? Our new art columnist explains how correct answer is all of the above and more.

How do you identify a strong woman?

Is she tough? Is she kind but assertive? Is she nerdy? Is she a diva? Is she cool? Is she a business-focused woman with a successful career or a classic homemaker-type who can cook dinner every night and raise three kids?

The correct answer: all of the above…and more.

Throughout history, there are numerous stories of strong women supporting other women and the best way to continue to inspire these stories is to continue to pass these stories down to future generations – creating a supportive cycle of “girl power.”

Even the Cincinnati Art Museum has quite a few stories to tell. When it comes to the Cincinnati Art Museum’s (CAM) collection of 65,000 items spanning 6,000 years, even the smallest item can tell an intricate story. Historically, independent, artistic women have always been a large part of the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM), established 1881. The museum itself was, in part, founded by the Women’s Art Museum Association (WAMA). Women have been closely involved ever since.

So what does armor have to do with it? Well, our newest exhibition, Masterpieces of Japanese Art, actually tells a surprising story of female empowerment and a suit of Japanese armor.

When Asian Art curator, Dr. Hou-mei Sung, started at CAM 12 years ago, she had no idea that the museum even had an Asian Art collection but after years of research and digging up information, several of her favorite items are now featured in the brand new exhibition.

This detailed collection of Japanese Art is the oldest in the United States and Dr. Sung has worked tirelessly to catalogue this information to create the first published piece on this particular subject entitled “Masterpieces of Japanese Art.” A labor of love, she holds the process of finding the suit of armor especially close to her heart.

“The discovery of the Suit of Armor was dramatic. It came to the museum very early,” said Dr. Sung, “We had three suits and two of them told a very unique story.” This story, told in her catalogue, reveals that one suit of armor, generously donated by Mrs. Enoch T. Carson (1837-1921) through WAMA, was on view in 1883 in the world armor exhibition. The other two were sold to CAM by Dr. Adeline Kelsey for a very worthy cause.

In 1885, Dr. Kelsey, a medical missionary with the Woman’s Union Missionary Society, traveled from Cincinnati to Japan and was inspired by two young Japanese women, Kaku Sudo (1869 – 1963) and Hana Abe (1873 – 1921), who were eager to obtain their medical degrees in the late 19th century. Dr. Kelsey took a special interest in them and was determined to help them obtain this goal and did so by selling many of her Japanese gifts, given to her as a result of her missionary work, to fund the girls’ education.

Dr. Kelsey’s sold two suits of Japanese armor to CAM, along with other items from Japan, to pay for Sudo and Abe’s tuition and board as they settled in Cincinnati to attend the Laura Memorial Woman’s Medical College , one of the few U.S. medical schools that accepted female students at the time.

“The doctor helped these two female students and sold the two suits so that they could go to school,” said Dr. Sung, “I found this story inspirational.”

The duo graduated from Laura Memorial Women’s Medical College in 1896 and promptly joined Dr. Kelsey in Japan to found the Negishi Hospital near Yokohama. In 1907, the three doctors returned to the U.S. after serving the poor for several years.

Although this story was atypical of the time, Dr. Sung sees it as tremendously significant to the era. “It tells a touching tale of humanity in an almost forgotten chapter of local Cincinnati history,” said Dr. Sung.

Without the generosity of the strong women in our past, Mrs. Carson of WAMA and Dr. Kelsey, where would these treasures have ended up? Without the funding that these suits of armor provided, how different would the futures of Sudo and Abe have been? As for the present, what kind of history would we have missed out on?

You can enjoy Masterpieces of Japanese Art, on view Now through August 30. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Read the entire history of this exhibition and the Japanese Art collection at CAM in the Dr. Hou-mei Sung‘s catalogue, “Masterpieces of Japanese Art” sold at the CAM Gift Shop.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To plan your trip, please visit