Cleveland, Ohio – For many in northeastern Ohio, William “Bill” Denihan was known as a lifelong civil servant, an advocate of addiction and mental health, and a rare selfless civil servant.
Few people knew Denihan, an artist who used acrylic paints to render dozens of gallery-worthy works inspired by the city he loved and his people. Eighty-five-year-old Denihan is only three from sharing his passion and collection of his work with the public at a gallery exhibition on the campus of Cleveland State University, who died on Monday following a heart attack on May 12. It was a day.
The gallery’s opening, William M. Denihan – The Art of a Change Agent, will take place Thursday from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at CSU’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. Here, Denihan holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies. In 1998, he completed the University Civil Service Leadership Academy and the Ohio Executive Institute and was awarded an honorary doctorate as a civil servant.
In an interview with cleveland.com, Kara Keating Copeland, Levin College’s partnership and special project assistant Dean, said Thursday’s program aims to focus on Denihan’s art. Now it will also celebrate his life and his contributions to Cleveland and public services.
During his decades of career, Denihan played Cleveland’s police and public safety directors, the county’s managing director of the Child and Family Services Division, and many other roles in state and local governments. Most recently, Denihan was CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Commission, assisted in the founding in 2009, led for 15 years and retired in 2017 at the age of 80.
“Many of Bill’s achievements speak to his motivation and leadership,” said Roland V. Anglin, Dean and Professor at Levin University. “I can’t fully talk about Bill as a person. He was the best example of mankind. He was humble, devoted, tough and resolute, but always kind and compassionate.”
Denihan’s talent may have led him to a completely different career path. He is a self-trained artist and refused the opportunity to paint professionally. Legend has it that former Browns owner art model proposes to buy one of Denihan’s original acrylic scenes from the team that lost to the Minnesota Vikings in the January 4, 1970 championship game. However, Denihan refused.
Denihan has been working hard to prepare for Thursday’s art exhibition for the past six months and is nearing completion, Keating Copeland said, adding that he was looking forward to his phone call every day. He frequently checked the progress of the gallery installation.
In his last few weeks, Denihan appeared in the gallery, Keating Copeland said. He perused his art and told his story that influenced each of his works.
Among them was the jewel of this story. When Denihan was working in the administration of Mayor of Cleveland, Michael R. White, the mayor was looking for great ideas for the city’s 200th Anniversary Ceremony in 1996. Inspiration struck Denihan. He raided the Christmas Lights hiding place and persuaded Flats to run an extension cord to a nearby bridge, convincing a friend who owns the bar. So Denihan put up a light and lit the bridge to take a stunning picture. This has been approved by White. The $ 8.5 million City of Bridges, with permanently illuminated Flats bridges, was one of the projects adopted and realized by the Cleveland 200th Anniversary Commission.
Of course, the bridge is the subject of some of the most notable works in Denihan’s collection. So is the Westside Market, the sunset behind the city skyline, and the past of Cleveland’s industry.
The gallery opening on Thursday will be held by Dr. Thomas F. Campbell. An exhibition gallery on the ground floor of the Levin College of Urban Affairs. Participants can register here. The exhibition remains open until July and can be visited Monday through Friday from 10 am to 3 pm.
You can reach Leila Atssi at [email protected]