It takes a village

Hayner’s Handmade Christmas showcases Troy talent

By Joyell Nevins

Photo: The log cabin built by the late Frank Copeland and submitted by family member Victoria King at A Handmade Christmas, on display now through Jan. 3 at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center

The latest exhibition at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center is more about the heart than the art. A Handmade Christmas: a juried exhibit of hometown treasures features original and handcrafted Christmas decorations from ages 10 to 80, and all come from the people of Troy.
“This is the first time we’re taking items from the public,” explains Exhibit Coordinator Leona Sargent.
Sargent said the exhibit committee wanted to do something new for Christmas, and ensure the concept was something doable as well. The 41 submitted items range from small, beaded snowflakes and ornaments to quilts that take up most of a wall. There are Santas carved out of wood, painted on gourds and representing other cultures. Clothing like a crocheted Christmas tree hat or a child’s dress is on display, and paintings and photographs line Hayner’s walls.
The exhibited entries are wide-ranging in their materials, size and subject. Mediums include polymer clay, paper and fibers. What connects them is that each one has a memory, a story. “Best of Show” went to a log cabin doll house built by Frank Copeland, the late grandfather of Victoria King. The two-story cabin is filled with tiny furniture and even includes a floor-to-ceiling fireplace.
One of the honorable mentions went to Rita Hollenbacher for her quilt “Pretty Yites.” It is so titled because as she was appliqueing the Christmas lights that rim the quilt, Hollenbacher remembered when they took her oldest son to see the light display at Ludlow Falls. At that time, he was only 2 years old.
“He just kept saying ‘pretty yites, pretty yites,’” Hollenbacher laughs.
That son is now 36 years old, and was married in the Hayner center.
“The Hayner always has a special place in our hearts,” Hollenbacher says.
One of the three jurors for the exhibition, master knitter and art enthusiast Lori Riemer, was moved by the connections that came with the pieces.
“I love that community members value the Christmas memories attached to the entries and are willing to share them with the Hayner community,” she says.
Riemer was asked to be a part of the jury by Julie McMiller, juror and member of Troy-Hayner Board of Governors. McMiller taught visual arts at Troy Junior High School for 35 years before her retirement, and has served at Hayner both as exhibitor and exhibition committee member. She is still a practicing artist and instructor.
They were joined by third juror Cindy Evans, who is a master knitter and painter. Evans is also a member of the Country Workshop Artists, a group of women in Troy who established the organization in 1961 to produce art, educate and encourage the arts. (The Dayton City Paper ran a feature story on the women for their 40th anniversary in 2011.)
Riemer said the hardest decision came from picking winners in the youth division.
“The youth division is one in which every entry is Best of Show as far as I’m concerned,” she declares.
One of the winning entries in the youth division was a jeweled tree made from a collection of costume jewelry inherited by 11-year-old Madison Frey.
“Madison designed about 12 to 14 jeweled trees and gave them to close family members and friends in exchange for donations,” her mother Rebecca says. “She then took the donation money and spread it around among local charities.”
Organizations that benefitted from Madison’s creativity included the Miami County Animal Shelter, Toys for Tots, the Dayton Children’s Hospital and the Salvation Army.
First place in the youth division was awarded to 10-year-old Emma Miller for a small, three-dimensional fireplace she created. Miller takes homeschool art and ballet classes at the Hayner and wanted to be a part of what they were doing with the exhibition, her mother Sheila explains. The vignette was made out of paper and other materials gathered from around the house.
“She works based on what the pieces that she has suggest to her,” Sheila says.

A Handmade Christmas will be on display through Jan. 3 at The Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, 301 W. Main St. in Troy. It is open to the public Monday from 7-9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, please call 937.339.0457 or visit

Joyell Nevins 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 or reach her at

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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 or reach her at

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