A sculpture of a 30 foot green alien leaning out of a parking garage and peering through a magnifying glassThe truth isn’t out there. It’s right here in Northern Kentucky. Area code 859 is slowly transforming into Area 51 with the arrival of Clive the Alien — an out-of-this-world art installation that’s landed in a parking garage in Covington.

Standing at 30-feet tall, the not-so-little green man is a fiberglass and Styrofoam sculpture created by Marc Phelps, owner of local digital design and art studio AlloyFX. He also creates installations for Burning Man.

Artist Marc Phelps hanging above the green head of his sculpture Clive the Alien

Artist Marc Phelps installing Clive the Alien

Perched across multiple floors of the Midtown Parking Garage at Fifth and Scott streets in Covington, Clive’s giant head and hand pop out of the structure, with his massive magnifying glass held at the ready to examine anyone who passes by on the sidewalk below.

And while he’s looking at you, this larger-than-life extraterrestrial creation invites you to pause and snap a selfie to capture your close encounter. (Don't forget to use the hashtag #ClivetheAlien when sharing your memorable moment.)

But who — or what — is Clive? And why is he here?

Clive the Alien's Origin Story

Clive is Squizzle, a mischievous green alien from the vibrant galaxy of Artalon, many light years away. Squizzles are known for their love of pranks and exploration, and Clive is no exception. One day, as he was zooming through the cosmos on his rainbow racer, he caught a glimpse of the shimmering city of Covington below. And, according to artist Marc Phelps, he couldn't resist the urge to take a closer look.

“He parked his racer atop a multi-story parking garage and pulled out his trusty magnifying glass. With his emerald skin glowing in excitement, he leaned over, spying on the city's inhabitants below,” he says.

Clive magnifying glass

“The people of Covington were a kaleidoscope of talent, and Clive couldn't stop looking as he saw groups of people making creative installations for the community and artists transforming building walls into captivating masterpieces. Inspired by the ingenuity and joyous atmosphere, Clive is deciding to stay for a while. He uses a magnifying glass to examine the creative brains and report back an explanation for the entrepreneurship and creativity of the beings living and working in Covington.”

Why Covington, Kentucky?

Clive was created as part of Covington’s Quality of Place grant program, which seeks to “creatively enhance the physical appearance of the city’s business districts” via public art and other creative elements that enhance fixtures such as benches, bike racks, etc.

As to why an alien sculpture was built here — a region probably better known for its bourbon and chili than intergalactic activity? Well, he just looks cool. But also, the NKY and Cincinnati region has a rich UFO history that predates the arrival of Clive.

  • Cincinnati is the headquarters of the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, the world’s oldest and largest civilian UFO investigation and research organization.
  • The city was also home to famous UFOlogist and author Len Stringfield.
  • It’s about 45-minutes away from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, rumored to have stored the top-secret remains of the alien ship that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in the 1940s.

A Futuro house, shaped like a silver flying saucer, in Covington, Ky.

Photo by Instagram user jhboggess

And another reason? If Clive hadn’t taken up residence in a parking garage, he could have tried to buy Covington’s Futuro House. This flying-saucer-shaped prefab pod is one of only 60 still in existence.

But, regardless of local alien lore, Clive is just another example of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s unique and thriving public art scene.

Note: As of this writing, Clive is almost fully installed but still a bit under construction.

Art in the Cincy Region

Historically, the NKY and Cincinnati region has been a champion of the arts since its days as a frontier outpost. Today, it’s a global arts destination thanks to an unrivaled public programs and the free biennial festival, BLINK, the nation's largest light, art and projection-mapping experience, held every other October.

A building in downtown Cincy lighted up for BLINK

Photo from BLINK Cincinnati in 2019

If you want to check out the region’s artful offerings for yourself, there are multiple walking tours. On the Kentucky side, NKY Art Tours has a list of self-guided experiences for you to explore, ranging from a historical riverfront statue tour to a tour of the murals, sculptures and street art of Covington’s business district.

On the Cincinnati side, the nonprofit ArtWorks offers public, private and self-guided tours of the 300+ murals it’s installed in the downtown area, depicting everything from the region’s unique history and quirky culture to famous residents.

Whether you’re exploring historic bronze, modern abstracts or even a giant fiberglass alien, the region’s rampant public art scene enhances the quality of life and adds a sense whimsy for everyone — residents, visitors and extraterrestrials alike.  

Check out our Arts and Entertainment page for even more fun arty things to do.