Art in the Heart (in the city)

A rt has always been a part of any culture. It tells our stories by depicting how we live, what we see and how we interpret the world around us. Whether that was by pushing fingers into soft clay on cave walls, detailing the smallest paint stroke with a fine brush, or the beauty of […]

Downtown Dayton celebrates its community of artists

Tattoo artist Benjamin “Boy Blue”  Baugham has taken to doing sidewalk art with chalk.

By Sarah Monroe

Art has always been a part of any culture. It tells our stories by depicting how we live, what we see and how we interpret the world around us. Whether that was by pushing fingers into soft clay on cave walls, detailing the smallest paint stroke with a fine brush, or the beauty of dancing bodies on a theatrical stage, we have always used images to explain our existence.

The Downtown Dayton Partnership, along with many community sponsors will be celebrating the love of visual and performing arts through ‘Art in the City’ on August 3, where the event will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Their website offers a map that breaks down the footprint of the activities offered, where visitors will witness “Demonstrations, live performances, hands-on art-making activities, and dozens of pop-up Party on the Patio locations.” Visitors will also have the opportunity to vote on a multitude of different art pieces featured at the event for a 2-week period following the kickoff, and the winner will take home a cash prize.

The arts community in Dayton has been heavily supported throughout the city’s history, made obvious by the multitude of galleries, exhibits, theatrical companies and iconic music history. According to Val Beerbower of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, “Our city’s arts and cultural amenities have long been a source of community pride. We have the second-oldest ballet company in the country, and The Dayton Art Institute was established not long after flood waters receded in Dayton in 1919.”

Not only is the support for local artists of all mediums steadfast, the impact from art lovers has been a financial asset to the community. “In our region alone,” Val explains, “arts and culture create a $213.7 million economic impact, support 8,829 full-time equivalent jobs, and generate $23.9 million in local and state government revenues.” That’s impressive.

The event is entering its 3rd year of celebration, but didn’t always include all mediums of the current format. “Art in the City started off as two events” says Val. “One for visual and another for performing arts. Last year, we combined both into one mega-arts event.” As with all newly created events, the contributors and overall awareness of Art in the City has certainly grown. “Last year we had 106 artists participating, and we’re well on track to surpass that number for this year’s event!”

What can one anticipate from Art in the City? “Visitors can expect an immersive arts experience,” Val tells me. “Stop by our information booths first and pick up a map. Locations for info booths will be posted online and on social media. Then explore downtown as you engage with artists and arts organizations. Watch live demonstrations and live performances, create your own original artwork at make-and-take stations, or contribute to a collaborative community arts project.”

“Arts programming will be concentrated on sidewalks around the major venues and arts destinations. Major activity hubs include the Schuster Center, K12 Gallery, DVAC, Victoria and Loft theatres, the Main Branch of the Dayton Metro Library, the Metropolitan Arts Center, and Second Street between Main and Jefferson where our artisans marketplace will be. RiverScape MetroPark will host ‘Pickin’ in the Park,’ and there will be activity on Courthouse Square with the United Way of Greater Dayton hosting its kickoff event there.”

Rebecca Sargent from the K12 & TEJAS gallery explained some additional activities that they will be hosting within the event. “We’ll be creating our Yarn Bomb Installation along Jefferson, St. Clair and 5th Streets, and will have 2 exhibitions on display—our Regional Fiber Art Exhibition, and Art from the Hart, a retrospective of Marilyn Hart’s artwork. Additionally, we’re having our Creative Children’s Artist Market, which will showcase area artists and their creations that will be for sale. We’ll have live musical performances from Alexis Gomez, an American Idol finalist and by Kellen Williams. Food trucks and beer will also be in our parking lot. Events are from 4:00 to 9:00, with music from 5:00 to 9:00.”

“At the end of the evening, congregate with fellow arts enthusiasts at a special event located at 200 S. Jefferson St,” Val Beerbower tells me. It is the open patio area across the street from Gilly’s. “We will have lots of dance programs and art-making areas from 5-8 p.m. Then we’ll close the night out with music by local band Sonic Mojo. We will have beer and wine for sale at this location from 5-9:45 p.m.”

If you’d like to help out at the event, Downtown Dayton Partnership has plenty of volunteer opportunities still available. Check out their website to find out more. If you would like to share your talent and be involved with the event, you can sign up on their website for a time slot on the community stage. “Another way to get involved is to patronize these artists and arts organizations after the event,” Val urges. “Buy some art. Go see a show. Take in a concert. We can’t have a robust arts scene without the community’s support.”

For more information on this and other events or volunteer opportunities, visit

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Sarah Monroe, a native to the Gem City, is currently writing her first novel. Reach DCP writer Sarah Monroe at

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