Kettering’s ultimate outdoor art festival

Art on the Commons annual art show draws thousands

By Joyell Nevins

When someone is willing to travel from Washington and Florida to Kettering, Ohio, there has to be a good reason. In the case of Rosewood Arts Centre, there are about 7,000 of them.

That’s the number of attendees expected at this year’s 26th annual Art on the Commons at Lincoln Park Civic Commons, hosted by Rosewood. This year will bring in 104 artists from Florida, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington state and, of course, the Miami Valley.

“We limit the number of artists because we insist on doing it in the park,” Cultural Arts Manager Shayna McConville said. “The space really complements the artwork.”

To keep the artist number low and the quality high, Rosewood uses a jury each year with two professionals in the arts field – one outside of the region with a breadth of knowledge, and one with a specific specialty – as well as a representative of the Kettering Arts Council. The 2014 jury consisted of Lynette Santor-Au, arts manager for the City of Upper Arlington, Ohio, Leesa Haapapuro, a Dayton-based artist who works with 3-D art sculptural materials and arts education and Kettering Arts Council president Mike Beerbower.

The artists vying for spots submit not only pictures of their work, but a vision of how they would lay out their booth as well. The jury also pays attention to the amount of handmade aspects in the artists’ pieces, especially when it comes to the jewelry or three-dimensional media – asking “are the parts of the final products handmade, too?”

The trio had a difficult task this year, choosing from 240 applicants to be in the show – the biggest number of applicants Art on the Commons has ever had.

“That’s always the hard part – selecting the artists,” McConville said.

This was the first year the show used Zapplication, an online site used for art festival organizers. McConville relates the increased number of applications to not only to the show’s success, but to the wide range of Zapplication as well.

“The show is competitive,” Dan Powers, of Powers Photography, said. “When a show is successful, artists want to be a part of it.”

Powers has participated in Art on the Commons for the past 10 years. He does traditional (read: not digital) photographs of cities, and has his own dark room for developing. He feels it is important for photographers to be involved in the developing process, as well as taking the photos.

“There are many subtle decisions you make when developing that influence the final photograph,” Powers said.

Powers has been to places like New York’s Central Park, Rome, Austria and Russia, just to name a few, to photograph and capture their “timelessness.”

“When I see a photograph that I love, I feel it,” Powers said. “I appreciate painting, but I love photography.”

This year, he is joined by his wife, ceramic artist Kate Lally. Their son Mack, while only seven, is already showing “impressive” artistic and creative talent in his pictures – though Powers admitted, he may be a little biased.

He’s not the only biased parent at Art on the Commons. Jason Boyer, who does stained glass and leaded glass, will have his 14-year-old daughter Madison assist him at the show. Boyer has been at Art on the Commons for four years, ever since his wife Cassidy was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“I love the venue and I love talking to people,” Boyer said. “It’s always interesting to see what other people are doing.”

He learned the art of stained glass from a friend of the family. The friend thought Boyer’s style of art, which is very “tight and realistic,” would translate well to stained glass, which has to be very precise. Yet, the possibilities for the final result are endless.

“There are thousands of choices – each sheet of glass isn’t the same,” Boyer said. “I love finding that one piece of glass that speaks to me.”

That’s a common theme in the Art on the Commons artists – a passion for their work and a dedication to quality. Other media displayed in the show are fibers (basketry, embroidery, weaving, leatherwork, tapestry and papermaking), jewelry, mixed media, painting, sculpture and works on paper (original, two-dimensional design on paper created with printmaking, collage, chalk, charcoal, pastels, pencil, inks and wax crayon). Miami Valley artists include Gustie Alvarado, Jason Bove, David Brand, Thomas Croce, Keith Culley, Michael Davis, Jim Delange, Thomas Drummer, Carole Fox, Pam Geisel, Kathy Gross, Alena Hagedorn, Trish McKinney, Greg Neal, Christine Noah-Cooper, Sandra Picciano-Brand, Sharon Stolzenberger, Sheila Stewart Shook, Jay Teilhet and Angela Valley.

“What we pride ourselves on is having the best of the art that we can,” McConville said.

Powers agreed, “This is not a craft show. People come expecting to find quality art, and they do find it.”

Beyond visual art

There will be live music, dancing and interactive demonstrations at the show, all organized by the Kettering Arts Council.

The council has brought together groups to do a photo booth, origami folding, Instagram scavenger hunt, printmaking, ceramics and mural painting. There will be a plein air watercolor, silkscreen printing and glass etching demonstration, too.

Watch out for the flames in the American Raku firing demonstration, where pottery is glazed in a high-temperature kiln and subjected to post-firing reduction or smoking. It’s put in a metal barrier container with material meant to catch on fire, which causes crazing in the glaze surface. The result is “magical looking,” according to McConville.

Live music and dance performances abound – spanning genres, backgrounds and aesthetics.

The Funk Lab Dance Studio, Dayton’s only solely hip-hop dance studio, will be represented. It is owned and operated by Andrew and Kelly Dailey, and provides classes in choreography, bboying/bgirling breakdancing, popping, locking, krumping and jazz funk. They are certain to bring it to the park!

Also present will be the Gem City Ballet, formed by Barbara Pontecorvo of Pontecorvo Ballet Studios in 1992. The company was originally meant to provide a performance outlet for advanced students of Pontecorvo, but is now open to any serious dance students in the Miami Valley area. Dancers are admitted by audition only. The company has produced 20 professional dancers since its inception.

Rosewood’s Nancy Boss, also known as Nadeja, will be performing ballet, tap and belly dancing, will also be on the commons. She has been teaching various dance styles for 40 years – 28 of which have been at Rosewood Arts Centre. She studied dance with Jorg Fasting from the Columbus Ballet Company and Ballet Arts in New York City.

Orgullo Mexicano, a group from the Hispanic Catholic church St. Mary’s, will perform Mexican folk dances from Jalisco and northern dances from Chihuahua and Sinaloa.

At the beginning and end of the day, Kettering Civic Band will introduce young ones and the young at heart to their “instrument zoo,” to show off each of the instruments in the orchestra.

The Kettering Civic Band originated in 1959 as a 12-member ensemble at the Fairmont Presbyterian Church Ohio under the direction of Paul Shartle. In 1960, it became part of the Kettering Adult School and is now sponsored by the City of Kettering as part of its parks and recreation department. It has traveled as a goodwill ambassador for the city of Kettering with concert tours to Kettering, England and Steyr, Austria. The band has also performed in Canada, Germany, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

The band, which consists of about 70 volunteer musicians, is now under the direction of David Keener, who has taught in the public schools for 37 years and recently retired from teaching conducting and methods classes from Wright State University. He is also a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

Local bands Funky G and the Groove Machine and Puzzle of Light will add some groove to the day as well. Funky G is a three-member high-energy R&B, funk and hip-hop dance band from Dayton, led by Greg Daughtry – a.k.a. Funky G.

Expect an “American creative” experience from Puzzle of Light. The band is a quintet of musicians based in Dayton, which plays a range from jazz and rock to ethnic and world music. Puzzle of Light’s original and experimental music demonstrates their respect for nature and their craft, as well as world cultures. Instrumentation includes Michael Bashaw on flutes, harmonica, vocals, and percussion; Sandy Bashaw on guitar and vocals; Richard Roll on bass; John Taylor on drums and Erich Reith on percussion.

If you’re hungry, Art on the Commons has partnered with several food trucks and Fraze Pavilion to offer regular concessions, Greek food and desserts. Vendors include Harvest Mobile, BJ Evets, Sweet P’s and Kona Ice.

Rosewood Arts Centre was founded in 1985 by the City of Kettering in the former Rosewood Elementary School. Since then, it has been dedicated to creative experiences through classes in media such as ceramics, painting, drawing, theatre, dance, photography, languages, creative writing, jewelry and glass. It also holds an exhibition space called Rosewood Gallery. Rosewood provides over 380 classes annually for youth and adults as well as gallery exhibitions, theatre performances, artist studios and special events with more than 100,000 visitors annually. Specialized facilities include a black and white darkroom, ceramics, glass and jewelry studios.

Proceeds from this event will go directly to the artists and the Kettering Parks Foundation. Art on the Commons is sponsored by Dayton City Paper, 91.3 WYSO, the Kettering Arts Council and the Ohio Arts Council.

Rosewood Arts Centre presents Art on the Commons 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10 in Lincoln Park Civic Commons, 675 Lincoln Park Blvd. For more information, please call 937.296.0294 or visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Joyell Nevins 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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