Main Library exhibit drops a needle onto Cincinnati’s music history

Shake It Records recently worked with ArtWorks to design a set of 36 trading cards featuring original portraits and biographies of recording artists that represent the diverse and fascinating history of music in Cincinnati. In partnership with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, those portraits now have their own exhibition titled Cincinnati Musical Legends: Art from the First Deck.

Starting Sept. 5, the musician portraits, as well as the source materials used by the artists to create the portraits, are on display on the second floor connector in the Downtown Main Library. Music legends represented include Rosemary Clooney, Lonnie Mack, Katie Laur, Mamie Smith, Haven Gillespie, Caldonia, Hobo Jack Adkins and The Cotton Club.

“The deck sets out to be a fun introduction to some known, and not so known, Cincinnati musical artists,” said Darren Blase of Northside's Shake-It Records. “We hope the exhibit of the card art at the Library piques the interest of viewers to go out and discover even more artists on their own.”

The project was headed up by master sign painter and comic legend Justin Green, with assistance of ArtWorks Lead Teaching Artist Joe Walsh; ArtWorks youth apprentices Josie Masset, Katelan Thomas, and Kadin True; and guest artist Joe Kuth from Shake It Records. The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 31.

For more about Shake it Records and the trading cards, go to