Community Gallery Reflects History

Yellow Springs Arts Council Presents its Permanent Collection

By Emma Jarman

Yellow Springs is perhaps the closest thing the Miami Valley has to a utopian artists’ colony. Its thriving arts scene draws people from across the region to experience the folky vibe and organic nature of the eclectic collection of restaurants, bookstores and boutiques lining the pedestrian-friendly roads. But behind the pomp and circumstance of the funny little pizza place, Friday night, at the end of the road, or the royal row of shops hidden behind the straightaway, floating on cobblestone and creativity, lives a collection of people — real people — that have lived and died by what they can and have created.

The John Bryan Community Gallery, located on the second floor of the John Bryan Community Center in Yellow Springs, will host the Yellow Springs Arts Council’s presentation of their Permanent Collection exhibit through the month of February. The opening reception for this 20th year viewing will be held Friday, February 17 from 5 to 8p.m.  According to their mission statement: “The Arts Council is a community gallery striving to empower member artists, performers and presenters to showcase local works … providing space and support for artists to create artistic experiences.” They support all types of endeavor including dance and music.

The Permanent Collection of the Arts Council is full of unique pieces ranging from photography, watercolor and oil painting to sculpture and fabric art. There are 45 artists that currently contribute to the collection and have donated pieces to the exhibit. The youngest artist, a local 12-year-old girl, made the only piece that was ever purchased to be part of the collection. Other artists are all local and either current or previous residents.

“The collection was started to preserve the legacy of some of the artists in town,” said Yellow Springs Arts Council Gallery Coordinator Nancy Mellon. “It’s an historical collection that we hope will continue for a long, long time. We hope to continue collecting.”

The Permanent Collection is more than a display of local art. It is a testament to the artistic history that Yellow Springs has evolved from and the direction in which it is headed. In order to help visitors understand this delicate tapestry of art and history woven into the collection, local artist Anna Arbor will lead a gallery walk through the exhibit at 7:30p.m. during the opening reception. Anyone interested in getting more interactive with the pieces, including learning their history and relationship to the town, and some of the stories of the artists who created the works should be sure to catch this presentation. Before and after Anna’s gallery tour, viewers will be able to take their own comprehensive tour guided by historical Yellow Springs Arts Council memorabilia.

“During the reception we are going to have pieces up that are memorabilia,” noted Mellon. “Things like flyers from original shows and postcards and pictures from the last 20 years. People will get to see people that they haven’t seen in many years. It’s interesting to see the kind of history the pictures like these bring.”

Special guest musician Ben Hemmendinger will also grace the exhibit’s opening with his unique style of accordion playing. The event press release describes a “unique fusion of Balkan, Irish and ‘60s rock” played on an antiquated instrument with a quirk only Yellow Springs could pull off gracefully.”

The Permanent Collection exhibit opening will be a great place to start a night out in Yellow Springs. Sip wine and nibble cheese while perusing the diverse amalgamation of measure and medium that epitomizes Yellow Springs. There is no theme to the collection aside from the place each artist calls home, and there are no restrictions or limitations on who can attend, who can contribute, who can be a member of the Council or who is permitted to show their support at the opening of the exhibit. If you’ve never been before to Yellow Springs and are considering making the trip, start it at the opening of the Permanent Collection with 170 feet of wall space that, more or less, defines the attitude of the town by its people in its 49 pieces.

“It’s really about the history of the arts in town,” said Mellon.

Unfortunately, the only thing permanent about the Permanent Collection is that the Arts Council keeps it. “It stays as a heritage collection,” said Mellon. There will be no art for sale aside from a few postcards. Going to the opening reception or exhibit during any time of February will not be like going to a gallery to shop. “It’s coming to appreciate the history behind the art of Yellow Springs,” said Mellon.

The Yellow Springs Arts Council Permanent Collection will be on display until the end of February and is available to view during open hours of the John Bryan Community Center: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the YSAC should visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Emma Jarman at

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