Exhibit 2015

A year of Art Everywhere

By Joyell Nevins

Photo: One of the final installations created by the three artists at this year’s Locked In in Yellow Springs;photo: Rod Hatfield

Newcomers to the Gem City might think with a medium-sized population comes a medium-sized and slightly narrow-minded artistic community.

They would be wrong.

Dayton’s artistic community is rich, diverse and filled with talented people who are willing to explore a myriad of mediums and themes. That’s not just my opinion. In interviewing artists across the city and its accompanying towns, I’ve found they keep referencing a deep community of art lovers and art makers. So how could one article possibly sum up a year of their creative pursuits?

Of course, it can’t. But several prominent themes stood out in 2015. So here are just a few highlights of some of the exhibitions and projects that fall into these Dayton art trends.

Collaboration

Collaboration was present in many of the art offerings in 2015—and not always with other artists! Dayton Art Institute (DAI) teamed up with the National Museum of the United States Air Force and the American Red Cross to develop the summer exhibition A Call to Duty: World War Posters. The exhibit of 85 original posters compiled by Reading Public Museum in Pennsylvania all came from Allied military recruiting and funding efforts.

They were accompanied by a display of the journal of the late Ohio soldier Captain “Ace of Aces” Eddie Rickenbacker. The Air Force Museum, already engaged in a major digitization effort, digitized Rickenbacker’s entire journal especially for DAI. The Air Force Museum lent other related items for display as well such as trench art and uniform pieces, and brought in their experts to train the DAI docents for the exhibit.

Call to Duty marked the first time DAI and the Museum collaborated, and the impact of the real objects next to the posters was palpable. There was also nursing memorabilia on display from the American Red Cross.

Team efforts showed up in other arenas as well. Locked In, hosted by the Yellow Springs Arts Council, took three sculptors, allowed them three tools each, and gave them three boxes of unknown ‘stuff’ to work with (community members brought in random objects for a month prior, including a kid-size umbrella, teapot, deflated beach ball, masks, stuffed animals, etc.). One artist was an aviation-inspired sculptor, using language and materials present in aviation, one worked mostly with industrial metals and wood and the third had an emphasis in ceramics.

For three days the team was locked inside of the Arts Council’s Community Gallery with the sole purpose to eat, sleep and create (although little sleep was going on!). The resulting artwork included several wall hangings, a contraption of light, strings, light, metal frames and a three-dimensional sculpture comprised of several levels, boxes with items purposely overflowing out of them and a holographic screen. See a video and slide show of the whole process at
ysartscouncil.org
. The video was created by photographer/videographer Rod Hatfield, who was the only outsider allowed in the gallery for the three days.

Some collaborations brought back together old friends, like Digital Abstractions at Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC). The project was a throwback to the first Computer Art: An Ohio Perspective exhibition, presented at DVAC in 1993. The co-curators approached DVAC about doing an updated version, showcasing how art and technology have changed over the last two decades. They were able to bring together 12 artists, 11 of which were in the original show. Works were shown on fabric, print, clay and computer monitors, but all involved a creation and manipulation of digital data.

The World Around Us

Art can come from deep within the artist’s soul as introspection, but it can also be an interpretation and ode to the outside world around them. Such was the case with several exhibits this year, including Reflections by John Lemker, S.M.

Lemker called himself “captivated by the awesome beauty in so much that surrounds us.” The exhibition at Gallery Saint John featured a sampling of this captivation. There was a wide range of photographs from Lemker’s 35 years of nature photography—from small flowers to majestic mountains. But no matter the terrain, each image enveloped a sense of tranquility.

While Lemker was looking outside, Jason Morgan stayed inside the home for his still lifes, featured in Full Circle: Paintings by Jason Morgan at the Springfield Museum of Art. He would find innocuous objects around the house, such as a toy dinosaur or decorated glass egg, take some fruits or vegetables from the kitchen and arrange them in a still. Morgan would photograph the tableau, blow up the photograph, and then paint from that. His exhibition at the museum included portraits and motorcycles he had painted as well.

Out of Left Field

Some exhibits were just completely unexpected. Kelsey Projects (kelseyprojects.com) started Pop-ups, art exhibitions installed for a short period of time at non-gallery locations. Their first one was Project 1 at Front Street Warehouse. Paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculptures from 16 Dayton and regional artists were installed on the white walls of the industrial warehouse. The art was only up for one week, but was met with feverish excitement from the community.

Antioch College’s Herndon Gallery looked to the obscure philosophic concept of the rhizome for its artistic inspiration in A Thousand Invisible Threads: Mapping the Rhizome. The rhizome is a rootstock that looks like a vine growing underground, and became the cement representation for a philosophy introduced by a French philosopher and psychoanalyst.

The philosophy was that narrative history and culture does not always have a cause/effect, beginning/end, but rather is a mass of “ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles,” according to their treatise “Capitalism and Schizophrenia” (later continued in “A Thousand Plateaus”). In the Mapping exhibition, eight different artists explored the concept of connection, mapping and the rhizome through photography, video, drawings and sculpture.

What connections and concepts did you see in the Dayton art scene for 2015? What do you think should be added to this list? Let me know at JoyellNevins@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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Joyell Nevins
Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com

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