I tend to think of Guerilla Art in places like Detroit, Pittsburgh or Chicago. Big murals spray painted at night on an abandoned building. Not graffiti but a commentary on the community or social condition, placed anonymously, carefully, but in the public square. That is how I imagine big city street art.
Dayton likes public art. We see it everywhere. Even suburban cities like Kettering are known for their large collections of public art in parks and public spaces. However, Guerilla Art and Street Art is different. It doesn’t ask permission or obtain permits. A Guerilla Artist doesn’t expect the work to stand forever but hopes it sparks a conversation. This week, in what may be the first in a series of Guerilla Art pieces found it’s way into Dayton.
Finding this piece on Instagram I reached out to a few of the photographers and began asking questions. I ended up speaking with Peter Benkendorf, Founder & Catalyst at Dayton’s Collaboratory, and I was able to get a few questions answered by the DaytonWood artists.
Tell me about DaytonWood:
“The specific concept came to us about a year ago. One of our other members was already doing stuff on his own. That’s what got us thinking about getting a group together. We were looking for some spontaneous creativity, in a city that prefers managed and controlled creativity. When we shared DAYTONWOOD, everyone said, hell yeah! “DAYTONWOOD” was intended as a humorous play on the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign. It was NOT related to the mission of Film Dayton or the fact that Boy Band is being shot here right now. ”
How many people were involved in the construction and placement?
How many man hours did it take to construct and place DaytonWood?
“30 – 40 hours total and a little more than $200 in materials.”
Where is the work now?
“Parts unknown. We assume it was picked up by the Conservancy District. ”
Would you consider the piece to be Guerilla Art? Yes
Was this a one-time occasion or do you hope to do more?
“The group is fired up. I think we can expect to see more activity. Nothing specific is planned, however, we all share a frustration that for all the talk of a vibrant arts community, there is little support for the individual artists, particularly the visual artists, that tend to be the leaders in community-based development. ”
“We wanted to create some buzz and start a larger conversation about art, specifically Street Art, Public Art, Performance and Guerilla Art.”
Tell me more about how you see Dayton’s acceptance of this type of art:
“Dayton seems to prefer art only if it is officially planned or organized. Dayton is run like a SixSigma company, a Lean Manufacturing operation. The primary purpose of which is to reduce defects and improve efficiency.
In lean manufacturing the last thing you want is unbridled creativity. Because all that does is increase defects from lack of conformity. We don’t really value individual talent in Dayton, a legacy of our history of manufacturing and military. Both sectors are very much “command and control” and see talent as replaceable. Until that changes, we will continue to nibble around the edges. A real transformation in the arts will be elusive.
On a more positive note, we recognize that for a city our size, we are very fortunate to have the arts organizations we do, DPO, the Ballet, Opera, DAI, DCDC, Human Race, DVAC, etc. These are wonderful assets for the residents and when people are considering relocating for work. ”
So, the conversation has been started and we are left with two questions:
Is Dayton ready for this type of art and where did the DaytonWood art piece go?
Find more DaytonWood photos on Instagram at @nicholaus