creative research gallery and drawing center
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization




A Culture in the Pursuit of Quality

Led by Jason Franz, Manifest’s Founding Executive Director

Mondays, 9am-noon


"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives, the cumulative experience of many masters of craftsmanship. Quality also marks the search for an ideal after necessity has been satisfied and mere usefulness achieved.”

— John Ruskin


[ COURSE REGISTRATION CLOSED – Course proceeds through summer 2020 for continuing students only. Enrollment opens again in September 2020.]


LYCEUM will meet weekly for 10 weeks throughout fall of 2019. The purpose of the class is to provide a coaching and feedback environment whereby Jason’s considerable experience both as teacher at the college level for nearly two decades and as Manifest’s founder and chief curator for the same number of years can come to bear on the growth and development efforts of serious learners at any level in the visual arts.


The instructor’s comments on this class:

This is an experiment. While Manifest was born from engagement with students in my own college classroom studio, and from bringing creative learners together from various schools, I personally have never led an instructed class at Manifest. Rather, I have always felt it my job to create an environment—to ‘curate’ it—that itself teaches or causes the beneficial effects of shared learning in all who enter it.

Now that Manifest has passed its fifteenth year and as we transition into its new and slightly clouded future, I would like to see what I have to offer at the ground level in this wonderful studio program. Asked often if I would teach a class, yet always too occupied with running the organization, I’ve usually said ‘not yet’. No more.

I do not envision this to be a class on any particular subject, media, or technique. Although my general expectation is that we will always start with drawing. Rather it will be a quest for quality. Students should only register to participate who are committed to rigor, asking themselves hard questions (and having them asked of them), accepting challenges and the instructor’s feedback, pushing boundaries, and believing in themselves. My plan will not be to have routine lectures, handouts, or a ‘course plan’ for the ten weeks. Instead I will diagnose each student’s status as a drawer (or maker) via exercises which will help us discuss and determine areas to focus on for the coming weeks. Weekly reviews of work made in-studio and out of studio will refine our direction over the ten weeks.

My goal will be that each student will come away from the class having identified challenges, worked on exercises to improve, and accomplished advancement that can be considered a significant step up in quality—an expanded toolbox of critical self-awareness and spectrum of skill.

Participants will be expected to make a lot of work. You will be expected to maintain a portfolio suitable for the size and nature of the work you make, including sketches, exercises, potential finished works, notes, etc., all in chronological order.

It will be assumed that most people who would register for this course will be wanting to improve observational drawing (or painting) skills. However, exercises may not always be aligned to the assumed standard practices. Feedback and creative epiphanies may lead to non-observational work. Within the confines of a strictly led (rule-based) class, there will be no limits to what may be recommended.

By enrolling in this class participants agree, for the duration of their work in and for class, to trust the perspective, advice, and input of the teacher. After the class is complete, it can all be discarded. During the class, we have a contract.

Conversations may be continued by email. Suggestions for upcoming classes may be communicated by email.

Level of Study

This class is suggested for individuals with observational drawing experience at the very least. Basic knowledge of drawing materials and techniques is expected. The class is ideal for those prepared to take on independent and directed advanced study.



$400 (covers 10 consecutive weeks*, 3hrs per week)

Tuition includes FREE access to all Wednesday Open Figure sessions during the duration of the course.

Class Size

Minimum: 3
Limit: 10    


Required Materials:

- Sketchbook for routine exercises and drawings: suggested 14 x 17 spiral bound with perforations. open to larger sizes. General quality.
- Small notebook for taking notes (could also use the larger sketchbook above).
- Graphite pencils: an even range from 4h to 4b. Other hardnesses welcome in addition.
- Black ultra-fine sharpie
- Black fine sharpie
- Kneaded eraser
- White Mars or Pink Pearl eraser
- Pencil sharpener
- Itoya (or similar) black cover with clear sleeves to fit your standard working sketchbook. If you plan to work on larger paper, get a larger portfolio.

Various materials may be recommended on a per-person basis from time to time.

Other suggested or optional:

- Light, middle, and dark value grayscale markers
- India ink and sumi brush
- Watercolor pad of paper
- Ball point pens (blue, black, and/or red) (not gel pens - actual BALL point pens).
- Charcoal in various hardnesses including vine
- Adjustable viewfinder (purchased or made)



LOCATION: Unless otherwise specified, all courses are hosted at Manifest's NEW Drawing Center Studios in Walnut Hills at 656 E. McMillan St. (second floor) (see map and directions below). Manifest's new studio facility provides two studio classrooms, private lesson space, a darkroom, film processing room, and a multi-purpose lecture and class meeting space all totaling over 4000 square-feet. The studios are outfitted with professional equipment, furniture, and study aids.




Map to NEW Walnut Hills Studios   |   Studio Calendar    |   Darkroom Calendar

(Note: Manifest's Drawing Center is moving in January 2020! Our map links will be updated before our first classes meet at the new space.)

"School of Athens" by Raphael



"Syndrome", oil and aluminum paint on panel, rubber, steel and chalk, 92" x 96", 1998
(Featured in New American Paintings vol.23)



"Annuntiara", oil on canvas, 18" x 24", 2005


"2018_6_5", ball point pen on Bristol, 11" x 14", 2018

Paintings & Drawing by Jason Franz



About the Instructor

A native Cincinnatian, Jason Franz attended the (at the time) museum-school, the Art Academy of Cincinnati in Eden Park and Mt. Adams, receiving his BFA degree with honors in 1988. During the first decade of his career as a working artist Jason also served as exhibition designer and preparator at the Cincinnati Art Museum through 1998. He returned to academia in 1996 to pursue an MFA degree at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, receiving his MFA in 1998 from the School of Art.

From 1997 through 2002 Jason developed and taught new courses at all levels for the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati in the fields of both art and design. In 2002 he was recruited to head the painting and drawing programs at Xavier University in Cincinnati full-time. He spent two years rebuilding the programs, solidifying his teaching philosophy, and laying the philosophical ground-work for Manifest. While at Xavier, he served as the faculty advisor for the founding of the Society of Visual Arts (a student government organization), assisted with the planning for a new departmental photography program, and championed the integration of visual art displays and technology into all the classroom studios and the Department of Art public spaces.

In 2004 Manifest was launched, and in spring of 2005 Jason left his position at XU in order to focus his energy towards the burgeoning nonprofit. Then, in late 2006, he was invited to return to the University of Cincinnati's School of Design. From 2008 to 2011 he served as Content Coordinator for the Foundation Design Drawing program, which involved overseeing all drawing faculty and developing course content for roughly 250 freshmen design students in the year-long program. Jason continued at UC through the 2012 academic year when, at that point, he shifted all his time towards the ever progressing Manifest, working to build its staff and board of directors, add programs, and pave the way for the gallery expansion in fall of 2013 and Drawing Center expansion in 2016.

As an artist and educator Jason is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship, a Xavier University Faculty Development Grant, two Darwin Turner teaching awards from UC, and three Summerfair Individual Artist Grants. In 2009 he was recognized with a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He is a five-time Independent Publishers Association (IPPY) award recipient for his work on Manifest Press’s International Drawing Annual, International Photography Annual, and Manifest Exhibition Annual publications.

Jason has published articles and given lectures, panel talks, and presentations about Manifest, the philosophy and practice of art, and drawing as an art form across the U.S., and continues to exhibit his drawings nationally. He also accepts invitations to write articles, make presentations, provide guest critiques, and mentor students, working artists, and educators from time to time.

As the founding chief operating officer and chief curator of Manifest, Jason is involved in every aspect of the organization, oversees all programs, and serves on the organization's board of directors.



Manifest's 16th season is funded in part by a grant from the Robert H. Reakirt Foundation, PNC Bank, Trustee. This season's programming is also supported by an impact grant from ArtsWave, by a sustainability grant from the Ohio Arts Council, and through the generous contributions of individual supporters who care deeply about the visual arts.

current gallery hours:

tues-fri 12-2pm & 5-7pm, sat noon-5pm
(or by appointment)
view calendar

closed Sun and Mon

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2727 woodburn avenue
cincinnati, ohio 45206

drawing center map
656 E. McMillan St.
cincinnati, ohio 45206



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