Dayton at Work and Play
Erin Smith-Glenn is one of the artists participating in the exhibition “Unity: Creating a Better Tomorrow” sponsored by the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area. In this photo Erin is working in the studio where she teaches at Central State University. I asked Erin about the exhibition and about how she’s weathering the pandemic.
“I entered a painting in the exhibition inspired by my daughter. She’s a big fan of the Black Panther movie and her favorite character is Shuri, a princess of Wakanda. I started doing a painting of Shuri as a demonstration for my class, and fell in love with it.”
“The pandemic has been an interesting time for me as an artist. When I was told that Central State was shutting down, I saw that most people headed to the grocery store to stock up on food. I went to the art supply store and bought a lot. I went home and immediately went to work on a large piece and felt my stress going down as I worked. This has been a productive period for me, and a time of learning and growth.”
“Classes start again at Central State soon, and I’ve spent a lot of time getting ready. My art classes will be a combination of in person and online. When students are in the studio here I have things set up in a socially distanced way. Easels and supplies are labelled so we can keep track of which students use which items which can be important for contact tracing.”
You can bid on Erin’s work online starting August 26 at https://www.liveuniteddayton2020.org/.
We all know that Dayton is a bike friendly community. Bicycles For All may be the friendliest part of that bike community. They give bikes to kids and they sell reconditioned bikes to adults at reasonable prices.
Bicycles For All is a nonprofit – a good place to donate your old bike, or your helmets or other bike gear. Most of their bikes are fairly new, but Matthew is showing me a classic Huffy bike that was recently donated. It has a 1972 City of Dayton license plate. All of the workers at Bicycles For All are volunteers. When Matthew isn’t fixing bikes he’s making my favorite apple turnovers at Evans Bakery.
Bicycles For All is located in the basement of the red Armory building at 201 E. 6th Street, Dayton, Ohio 45402. Access to the entrance is off of Patterson in the parking lot behind The Armory Building. They are open on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6-9 pm.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK Tess Little working in her Fairborn studio.
Actually, Tess doesn’t have a Fairborn studio. She has two. One is a clay studio in a dairy barn that is over 150 years old. When I visited, two of her students were working there. Tess was working in her other studio, where she makes metal sculptures.
“This piece is called Healing Circle” she told me. “It was one of my earlier bronzes – done around 2005. We were moving it and two of the welds gave way so are repairing it today.”
Tess worked alongside her husband Jim. “Now that Jim is retired he helps me a lot. He does a lot of my set-up work. Jim was in the tool and die business, so that’s something he does really well.”
Tess’s home is filled with art, both hers and that of others. “There would be a lot more to show you, but so much is away right now. I have some large pieces rented in Chicago. Renting sculptures is becoming more popular. A location rents the piece for a year or two. Then you bring it home or take it to another site that wants to rent it. I also have a lot of work in two Dayton galleries, but you can see those pieces on Thursday at a progressive reception.”
The reception of “The Journey: Work by Bing Davis and Tess Little” starts today from 4:30 to 6 pm at the Burnell Roberts gallery at Sinclair and then continues from 6-8 pm at The Contemporary Dayton formerly Dayton Visual Arts Center (118 N Jefferson) . Both receptions are free and open to the public. The exhibitions are part of REACH across Dayton, which Tess Little and Bing Davis founded 27 years ago.
A group of volunteers from Synchrony Financial work on a new downtown mural under the supervision of Brittini Brill Long. Brittini is the Community Engagement Coordinator for Montgomery County Juvenile Court who facilitates the HAALO program. The mural is on Stone Street, near the Neon Movies. HAALO people will be doing the bulk of the painting this summer, with help from artists from K12 Gallery and TEJAS. HAALO stands for Helping Adolescents Achieve Long-Term Objectives.
Brittini showed me the design for this block long mural. The original idea, from artist Morris T. Howard, would have used only two panels on this long concrete wall. But that original idea has grown, and the mural will now fill all of the block’s 21 panels. The mural is called The Land of Funk, and will incorporate designs from several Dayton artists. I’ll be sure to share more photos as the project continues.
Dayton at Work and Play:
Before moving to Dayton, Shelly taught at large art retreats around the country including Art is You in California and Connecticut, Artfest in Washington, Art Unraveled in Arizona and Art & Soul in Nevada. She said she was a little surprised by the popularity of her teaching but also a little worn out from the travel. For now she’s not teaching anywhere, only painting in her new Front Street studio (door BC, 2nd floor).
A great side effect of Shelly’s teaching has been the connections she’s made with people all over the country who love art. She recently visited one of those friends in Milwaukee and took a lot of art with her. Shelly’s friend arranged an exhibition where people could see and buy Shelly’s art.
As I visited Shelly she painted several pieces at once, sometimes with a brush but mostly with her fingers. Her hands got more and more colorful as time passed. I’ve got to return to her studio late in the day sometime to photograph her hands with all of the day’s colors.
You can see Shelly’s work at May’s First Friday celebration, or message her on her facebook page and arrange another time to visit her studio.
I told novelist Molly Duncan Campbell about one of my favorite books.
In 1953 photographer Roy DeCarava took amazing photos of the people of Harlem, but he couldn’t get them published. He gave some of the photos to Langston Hughes, without telling him anything about the people in his photographs. Hughes wrote a story to go with the photos, and got “The Sweet Flypaper of Life” published.
Inspired, Molly asked me to send her a photo, and tell her nothing about the person. Then she wrote the following:
My name is Juniper Mary May. I am called Junie. I am the only person in the world who gets called by my whole name all the time. Junie May. When I started kindergarten, they kept saying, “Junie May who?” Like I didn’t remember my last name. I am in First grade now, and Mrs. Hapner did it again! I felt like telling her what the hell ask Miss Franklin it took her all last year to figure this out. I have asked my mom why on earth she named me this. I would prefer to be named a normal thing, like Kathleen. Then everyone would know to stop after just the Kathleen part.
I got this hula hoop for my fifth birthday. I could only jump rope before. Here is what you do: you grab it hard and lift it over your head and lean it against your belly button, and then you wiggle like hell. My mom said I shouldn’t say that. So I wiggle like the devil is after me, which is what Nana says, and that isn’t swearing. I got the dress with the goofy swan on it from Nana. She lives in the past. Mom said it reminds her of a poodle skirt, which makes absolutely no sense, because who has ever heard of a poodle skirt?
I have gotten really good on the hula hooping. I can go for exactly one minute and seventeen seconds. That is my record. I can also roller skate, but you can’t do that inside. So I hula all the time in my room, and I made a playlist. I put Stevie Wonder on it. All the songs from Cars. Yellow Submarine. And my most favorite of all, but my mom says it’s an ear worm: Mahna Mahna by the Muppets.
You might think that I am a girly-girl. That is because we took this picture to send to Nana in Cleveland. We put it in the cloud so she could look at it on her phone. Usually I wear jeans and my favorite tee shirts. I have two favorites: one has Bill Nye, the Science Guy on it. The other one has a wolf. And guess what? I have a pussy hat!
Last week NPR released a story about “How Reading Aloud to Therapy Dogs Can Help Struggling Kids.” It really resonated with me. Here are the highlights of the story:
While many people are familiar with therapeutic pets and how they can help lift up people’s spirits, bringing them into the classroom might sound far-fetched. How can a therapy pet possibly teach children the life lessons of kindness and empathy? Can a pet really alter the way that students feel about learning?
Educational therapist Rebecca Barker Bridges believed that a dog could help students feel more confident about learning, and so she adopted Stanley, a golden retriever.
Pets are very nonjudgmental, and their calming presence distills stressful situations,” Bridges says. “For children who feel insecure about their capacity to do things like reading, therapy pets bolster their self-confidence, which reduces their anxiety.”
“Students feel self-conscious about reading because they’re afraid of being judged by students and teachers if they don’t do a ‘good job.’ But Stanley dismantles this fear for them. He makes learning joyful,” says Bridges.
“Riley is a certified Animal Assisted Therapy dog trained at Dogtors Animal-assisted Therapy” Leslie said. “The training was 10 weeks during which time the professional trainers test the dog/handler teams for aptitude and temperament, instruct us on various topics, observe us in role playing exercises, and put each team through a practical test, plus a written exam for the handler. Dogs must already be obedience trained coming into the program.”
“Riley and I did some visiting at Hospice of Dayton and an assisted living residence, but he is such a natural with kids that we only do reading now. We go to Wright Library, Centerville Library and Parkwood School in Beavercreek. There is no scientific evidence on reading dogs, but there are theories about kids getting over their fear of reading aloud because of the calming, non-judgmental presence of a dog.”
Just one more of the many positive, cool things Dayton has going on. So proud of our Region and all those who make a difference in such a caring way!
“My grandfather made the money he used to start this store by writing crime stories. They were published in pulp magazines like Black Mask and Thrilling Detective. We found a letter he wrote saying that he had sold 5 stories for $50 each, so maybe that was what he used to start this store.”
“The original name of the store was Bonnett’s Back Issue Magazines. Pulp magazines often had long stories told in installments. So when you finished reading an installment you could sell your used magazine to my grandfather and buy one with the next installment of the story you were reading.”
“Most of the toys you see in the store date back to my father’s time. A customer who was moving out of town gave my Dad a toy to remember him by, and he placed it on a shelf in the store. My Dad thought that toy looked lonely and added a few. Then other customers started giving toys to the store and here we are. People are constantly asking about buying some of the toys, but they aren’t for sale. They’re part of the store’s history.”
Reza Masoudi recently took the time to tell me how he and his wife came to open their couture shop Bahar & Reza in Oakwood (2308 Far Hills Avenue).
“My wife and I first met when we were college students in Iran. Like many young Iranians – especially those interested in fashion – we dreamed of building a life outside of Iran. I left first, and studied at Wright State. Then Bahar joined me in Dayton and we were married eight years ago.
“Before the revolution Empress Farah, wife of the late Shah of Iran, was known for the fashions she wore. She had gowns made for her that were modern in design but used fabric decorated with ancient Persian motifs. We decided to try something similar.
“Our first venture was on Ebay, selling a few simple items like ties and scarves using fabric with Persian designs. We were amazed at how many we sold. So we tried a few more items and they also sold well. Next we put up a website and started taking part in some of the larger U.S. fashion shows. The business continued to grow. Our fashions have been worn on the red carpet in L.A. and Empress Farah, who now lives in exile in Washington D.C. and in Paris, is one of our customers.
“People in the fashion industry advised us that our next step should be a shop in L.A. but we drug our feet. The cost to rent space in L.A. was very high, and we had both grown to like living in Dayton. Then 10 months ago I saw a For Rent sign in the window of this store. I was the first person to call the landlord and I signed the lease immediately. Results have been good so far, and we hope to be able to continue to grow our business while staying here in Dayton.”