It was a vibrant year for the visual arts in Dayton. Choosing only ten exhibitions and events is not an easy feat, and regrettably there were many that didn’t make this list. The ten here inspired me, and in my opinion were remarkable for the many reasons listed below! Enjoy!
Courthouse Square, Downtown Dayton
Ongoing, opened in September 2017
Robert Blackstone’s imagination, memories and stories infuse his monumental Crystal City with a wide range of emotion and wonder. Created in several versions over the past 25 years, Blackstone’s large-scale installation is dense with materials from thrift shops, garage sales, the garbage and off the street. Crystal City is a memorial to family, to Dayton, a testament to love and an ongoing passion for creating something meaningful. Check in at the Collaboratory to learn when Crystal City is open to the public at http://www.daytoncollaboratory.org.
Dayton Art Institute Experiencenter
December 2017 – April 2018
Inspired by movement, painting and technology, Susan Byrnes’ Motion Capture is a series of photo stills, animations, and clothing with imbedded light technology. Created with students at Dayton’s Cleveland Elementary School and in collaboration with artist Tess Cortes, Motion Capture demonstrates “light drawing,” and the ever-present technological tools that influence our daily lives. Download the Pablo app, put on the light-up jacket and shimmy on the exhibition dance floor to create your own light drawing! More information at http://www.daytonartinstitute.org.
The Secrets We Keep
New Works by Zoe Hawk, Ashley Jonas & Stephanie McGuinness
Dayton Visual Arts Centre
January 13-February 24, 2017
The Secrets We Keep featured paintings, prints and installations referencing domesticity and relationships. The intimate worlds created by artists Zoe Hawk (Doha, Qatar), Ashley Jonas and Stephanie McGuinness (Dayton, Ohio) reveal many ideas of the home and of the familiar, but also inner anxieties and the unexpected. Learn more at.
Springfield Museum of Art
January 21 – May 28, 2017
Texturally dense, found object tapestries made Michelle Stitzlein’s Industrial Nature a knockout exhibition. Stitzlein’s transformation of garden hoses, wires, hub caps, and other household items were pushed to a grand scale, giving the audience an opportunity to reckon with the environment, waste and nature, all while being drawn into beautiful abstract worlds. Learn more at http://www.springfieldart.net.
Beth Cavener Demonstration
Rosewood Arts Centre
April 27 – 30, 2017
It is not often that a three-day artist demonstration can impact people’s lives, but it happened with ceramic artist Beth Cavener. In conjunction with the Hi Fructose exhibition at the Akron Art Museum, Cavener spent three days at Rosewood explaining her ceramic sculpture process to a captivated audience while creating a 500-pound clay hare. Her tenacity as an artist, innovation with material and generosity in sharing her story was truly inspiring. Learn more at http://www.playkettering.org/rosewood.
Structure Unbound: Interdisciplinary Book Art
The Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries, Wright State University
January 17 – February 26, 2017
Structure Unbound examined how pop-up books and paper structures can create narratives and stories in three-dimensional space. Colette Fu was the featured artist, whose artwork demonstrated the mastery of documenting ideas, people and moments of rural Chinese traditions in the form of a pop-up book. Her artworks are remarkably constructed, visually compelling, fresh, and transform what could be traditional documentary images into contemporary times. Learn more at.
Dayton Metro Library
The Dayton Metro Libraries, through the conceptual direction of local art hero Jane Black, launched Reimagining Works in conjunction with the renovation and rebuild of their dozen-plus facilities. Reimagining Works asked artists to find inspiration in the Dayton Art Institute collection and propose a new piece to add to Dayton’s legacy. This year, the Main Branch in downtown Dayton opened to much celebration and included significant works by Terry Welker, Susan Byrnes, Paula Wilmot Kraus, Katherine Kadish, Andrea Myers and Gretchen Durst Jacobs. Learn more at.
Rosewood Gallery’s Year of Paper
Cynthia Gregory, The Poet’s Desk, March 6 – April 7, 2017
Heather Lea Reid, Intersubjective Indulgence, March 6 – April 7, 2017
Emily Moores, Cathedral, April 17 – May 19, 2017
Nicholaus Arnold, No One Was Having a Very Good Time, July 17 – August 18
Frank Travers, What Remains, July 17 – August 18
Andrew F. Dailey, Drawn Through, October 16 – November 17
Mid-career artists working with paper stood out in Rosewood Gallery’s 2017 solo exhibitions. The material was pushed in different directions by each artist, including Heather Lea Reid’s colorful depictions of her daughter, Emily Moores reimagined architectural space in cut paper, Cynthia Gregory’s re-creation of objects in paper, Andy Dailey’s intimate graphite drawings, Nicholaus Arnold’s ominous environment of paper bags, and Frank Travers anthropomorphic prints. Through these many exhibitions, these artists reinforced the material as a versatile vehicle for art. Learn more at www.playkettering.org/gallery.
James Luckett, The View Behind the Café, and Leah Stahl, Artifacts
Both James Luckett and Leah Stahl find the invisible in the world they inhabit, and create images that recognize the beauty, oddities and unexpected things most would not even think to notice. Luckett’s The View Behind the Café manages to find still lifes in a strip mall parking lot by his place of employment. Stahl’s children unintentionally helped inform her project Artifacts creating the evidence that Stahl documents of things they touched, lost and discarded in the nooks and crannies of their lives. Learn more at www.dutoitgallery.com.
Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence
Dayton Art Institute
June 24 2017 – September 10 2017
The DAI’s summer exhibition was colorful, intricate and awe-inspiring. Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence showcased the labor-intensive artworks created by a group of South African women. The subjects depicted range from AIDS awareness to the natural world to religious icons. An exhibition sure to cause anxiety for the impatient artist! Learn more at daytonartinstitute.org.
The Refugee Series
Yellow Springs Brewery
March 6 – April 2
Affected by the tragedy of the Syrian refugee crisis, artist Beth Holyoke has spent months volunteering in Greek refugee camps and translating the crisis into her artwork. Drawn onto ceramic pieces, Holyoke captures stories, feelings and the effects of transience and displacement. Learn more at yellowspringsbrewery.com.
Breathing Deeply, Pushing Back
Dayton Visual Arts Center
August 25 – September 22
A remarkable exhibition that hinged on so-called controversial artwork created by teenagers, Breathing Deeply, Pushing Back was an investigation of the artist as activist. The exhibition featured students from the Dayton Regional STEM School and guest artists Michael Casselli, Carris Adams, Juan-Si Gonzalez and Christina Springer.
Blue House Gallery
Tyler Peffley exhibition Diction explored moments of technology, place and popular culture in over 70 drawings. Often representing the figure in decades past, Peffley utilizes the intimate and immediate media of watercolors and graphite to capture each scene. Learn more at http://thebluehousearts.com/.