All The Pieces Fit

K-12 Mosaic Mural K-12 Mosaic Mural

K-12 Gallery Is Embedded In The City

K-12 Mosaic Mural

Shimmering along Fifth Street, across the street from Stivers School for the Arts, is a lovely addition to the city landscape. The historic neighborhood of St. Anne’s Hill is fortunate to have a beautiful new community art project in its heart.

I was aware that something was to be installed on the low concrete walls that front a parking lot for the building that houses Dayton Liederkranz-Turner, Dayton’s oldest German organization. It seems everyone was in agreement that it was time to freshen the faded murals that had been painted years before. As with most successful undertakings, it begins with a person who has some skin in the game. And in this case, that person is St. Anne’s resident Jerri Stanard, who is also the founder and director of K12 Gallery for
Young People.

“About five years ago, I asked them about the murals,” said Stanard. “Those walls seemed like the perfect canvas to create something big enough to stick.” She also hopes it will encourage others to spruce things up further along East Fifth Street, which she rightly calls a bit of an eyesore.

Somewhere along the way, I had heard those inventive and ambitious folk at K12 were creating a massive glass mosaic in front of the distinctive Leiderkranz Hall on the corner of Fifth and Henry streets. Depicting thematic elements from Dayton’s Germanic history and the civic organization’s start as a singing club in 1890, the new artwork offers a glimpse of what can happen when more than 150 volunteers contribute to creating a neighborhood gateway.

Working from drawings created by lead artist Jess McMillan in August 2009, this realistic tribute to German culture includes multi-generational, family-focused images of people singing, sewing, knitting, riding horseback and selling newspapers. About 35 10-to-16-year-olds did the lion’s share of the glass cutting and setting. They are part of the after school Artists in Training program that K12 has been running for 18 years. Stanard said program manager Kelly Sexton was really pleased by how the kids took ownership, showed a great deal of dedication and were determined to finish the project.

Jerri knows how to get things done, having created two other large art projects with funding from the MetLife Foundation, for the Webster St. Market and Habitat for Humanity. And she believes the more people who contribute to the project, the better. So, members of the neighborhood association were tapped to help get approvals from the local contingent. Drawings were enlarged to full size at Digital Fringe, located just up the street from K12, at the Front Street Studios complex. Glass was “imported” from Busy Beaver in Beavercreek. Local artists and community members were invited to work side by side with the kids. Oregon District architects Earl Reeder and Karen Planet of Earl Reeder Associates put their heads together with Tom Budde of Budde Sheet Metal Works, and they came up with a solution for how to hang the five massive panels, each weighing between 200 and 300 pounds.

And aptly, on Labor Day weekend, a large group turned out to grout the panels in. My one asthetic question revolved around the question of why one panel is smaller than the rest. Of course, Jerri had an answer. K12 is offering commemorative plaques for $100, made by local potter Bill Foremen, to help underwrite the project. It’s not too late to buy one!

Speaking of conglomerations, don’t forget that this is the time of year local galleries and arts centers create a mosaic of gifts made by area artists for the benefit of holiday shoppers. The Dayton Visual Arts Center has been mounting its ARTtoBUY Holiday Gift Gallery for 18 years and stocks work by more than 75 artists. Of late, it has been joined by The Cannery, which offers “Live Art, Give Art” with 50 artists. The way all these little pieces fall together make it fun to be in Dayton.

Jane A. Black is a fiber artist and the executive director of the Dayton
Visual Arts Center. Visit the gallery at 118 N. Jefferson St. or the Web site at Follow
her on at lookingabout. She can be reached at

Jane Black

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