Reginald Harmon showcases art and music at Crowne Plaza

Photo: Reginald Harmon, musician and artist

By Tim Walker

Reginald Harmon is a busy man. Continually creating, the 65-year-old local musician, artist, educator, sculptor, and community activist is a true polymath—a person of wide-ranging knowledge and learning.

And now, through the National Arts Showcase that he has almost single-handedly organized, Harmon is continuing his mission to share a lifetime of knowledge and his many enthusiasms with the people of his local community.

“We’re doing a national arts showcase here in Dayton,” Harmon says. “A showcase in which I’ve compiled a lot of local artists that have played nationally… I’ve also incorporated some national and international artists who are also from Ohio. They’re joining me to celebrate the greatness of our heritage, right here in the city of Dayton, Ohio, and in the surrounding communities throughout the country.”

The 2017 National Arts Showcase will take place on Saturday, Aug. 12, from noon until 10 p.m., at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. In addition to the paintings and sculpture works of a number of local and nationally known artists, there will also be a fashion show, live performances, and exhibitions of wearable art, in collaboration with the Monteen Gates Wearable Art Collection.

Regarding the honorees of this year’s event, Harmon says, “Well, naturally, one of our biggest is the poet and writer, Dayton’s own Paul Laurence Dunbar—and Charity Adams Earley, of course. Then we get into some other local people. Another artist, who I will say basically grew up here in the city, Curtis Barnes, was also an educator down at Sinclair Community College, and we actually shared a studio downtown together.”

While celebrating the rich creativity of Dayton’s African-American community, Harmon also understands the need to celebrate the educators and historians who have contributed to our understanding of this history.

“There’s another gentleman who’s a historian, Larry Franklin Crowe,” Harmon continues. “He’s a historian for a company out of Chicago who writes the history of African-Americans throughout America. He is just an amazing guy, he’s been writing this history and perpetuating studies and promoting an understanding of history throughout the country. He started out in Dayton and then ended up in Chicago, and he’s been involved in so many arts organizations.”

Harmon’s life and career in the arts might be described as “phenomenal,” as well. Harmon first exhibited his artistic nature as a young child growing up in Dayton. In the words of one of his online biographies, “Early in his life, he broke any rules of single talent identity by showing mastery in visual arts, music, design and poetry. His artistry reflects the social consciousness that embodies the culture of the black community. His mediums [sic] for expression are as widely ranged as are his subject matter and style.”

Today, Harmon has toured as a jazz saxophonist throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean, captivating audiences with his smooth style. His original composition “R U Ready” was recorded by nationally known artists Pieces of a Dream.

But it is through education that the artist really reveals his love for creative expression— Harmon believes the arts are a critical part of the academic experience. He believes that, on a personal level, his most important education came from sharing and growing with other national recording artists from Dayton, Ohio. Eileen Colquitt-Rey, who is serving as a consultant to the National Arts Showcase, agrees.

“He’s been very active in the local community,” Colquitt-Rey says. “Part of his education was at Central State University, but also part was at the Fashion Institute in New York. He definitely is a renaissance man, because he is so well versed and gifted in the different areas of the arts. He can bring all of those artists together, as part of all of those communities. I think that’s what’s going to be different about the showcase.”

The National Arts Showcase promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, a celebration of artists and performers from a wide range of artistic disciplines, developed and curated by Harmon, who, himself, deserves to be celebrated.

The National Arts Showcase will take place Saturday, Aug. 12, from noon until 10 p.m., at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 33 E. Fifth St. in downtown Dayton. Tickets are $30 in advance. For more information, please call 937.475.7070.

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Tim Walker
Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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