By Duante Beddingfield
The breezy days of spring are upon us once again and as Dayton begins looking toward summer, the warm-up begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 14 with Urban Nights, downtown’s open-air house party, an evening-long celebration of all the color, joy and excitement offered in the heart of the city.
“Urban Nights is like a giant open house for downtown restaurants, nightlife, retail and art,” said Molly Eaton, marketing manager for the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “Also, many of our residents open up their units for tours so people can get a taste of what it’s like to be a downtown resident and it also features a lot of live local entertainment.”
Indeed, in addition to walking tours of many loft living spaces, half a dozen different stages from Courthouse Square to the Wright-Dunbar District will feature dozens of acts throughout the evening. The Courthouse Square main stage, sponsored by DP&L, will host New Harmony, an ensemble spun off from the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight, as well as the Reece Lincoln Band playing hits from the 1950s to today, cult favorite Rev. Cool Arkestra & Dance Ensemble and, in a definitive nod to the lazy days of summer, a two-hour set from Jimmy Buffet tribute band Parrots of the Caribbean. Satellite stages include the return of the popular Community Stage at Third and Jefferson Streets, with four hours of 10-minute performances by everyday citizens and talents waiting to be discovered; and the Oregon District’s Live on Five, with performances by the SEED Theatre Project, singer Yvette Williams and Groove Crew, plus a special presentation by the cast of the Encore Theater Company’s upcoming production of Rent. Riverscape MetroPark will also host entertainment at its brand-new Festival Plaza stage, as well as chalk art, disc golf, food from Second Street Market vendors and free bike rentals.
In regards to biking, right across the street at Fifth Third Field, Urban Bikes, a spinoff from group ride Courteous Mass, will depart en masse for Courthouse Square at 5:30 p.m.
The downtown art scene will be in full swing that night, with over a dozen galleries sprinkled across the cityscape showing special exhibitions with artists on hand and in particular, the Dayton Visual Arts Center will combine with the Victoria Theatre Association to present a steamroller printmaking event on the roof of the Arts Garage at Second and Ludlow, with statewide printmakers and local artists hand-pulling prints pressed live with a real steamroller and showing visitors how to create mini-steamroller prints for free.
In addition, a new “Scan-venger Hunt” will be held, in a nod to Smart technology.
“Anyone who has a Smartphone,” Eaton said, “can equip it with a barcode reader downloadable for free at ScanDayton.com. There’ll be barcodes hidden in over 25 different downtown locations. When you scan the barcode using your photo setting, you’ll be asked a question about Urban Nights. Answering will enter you in a drawing to win an Apple iPad from our sponsor, Comtactics.”
Retail shops, bars and restaurants offer specials and many feature their own local entertainment and though Urban Nights’ official events end at 10 p.m., thousands stick around and the party continues through last call.
Also kicking off May 14 are three weekend-long events: the second annual FilmDayton Festival, twice as big as before, including Wright State student films and Academy Award-nominated films and directors; Sideshow Five at the Armory Building, an explosion of multi-media art and performance; and the beloved cultural celebration A World A’Fair at the Dayton Convention Center.
“Downtown offers something for everyone and Urban Nights is a great way to sample that,” said Eaton. “There’s always something exciting and fresh.”
For more information, visit online at www.DowntownDayton.org
Arming Yourself With Art
Dayton Circus Presents Fifth Annual Sideshow
By J.T. Ryder
On Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15, the Dayton Circus Creative Collective will present its fifth annual Sideshow at the Armory Building, 201 E. Sixth St. The Sideshow has become one of the most anticipated events of the year as well as one of the cornerstones of Dayton’s Urban Nights.
“When these (types of) events started, there wasn’t much going on for your average person or artist,” said Sideshow lead organizer Kidtee Hello. “Unless you were a graduate of a really good school and had something to show in a really fancy gallery, there wasn’t really anything available except for small art shows like the ones at the Pearl – which actually kind of sparked the Sideshow. (The Sideshow) brings the community together through the arts and give artists who have never shown before a chance to display their work in a larger setting. It’s the idea of putting on an event that a single person would be unable to put on by themselves without the help of others.”
“The original Sideshow idea started with Laurana Wong,” echoed Jeff Opt, who has been involved in all five Sideshows. “It was her idea to throw an art show where the artists worked together to define the show and one that didn’t cost money to throw. It was a community building exercise. There was no theme to the show other than what the participants worked together to create. The first show was so successful that it gave birth to the Dayton Circus, a group of like-minded people who wanted to see the spirit of art and community continue year around in Dayton. Since then, the Sideshow has become the premier event for the Dayton Circus.”
Margaret “Maggie” Ottoson was very direct and emphatic with her description of Sideshow’s essence.
“Empowerment! Freedom to express in any way you like, a collection of the best music, art, creativity and activism in Dayton,” she noted. “What is the purpose of the Sideshow? To bring together like minded people who would otherwise have never met and teach that you can do anything if you simply dare to act.”
In addition to offering a sense of community for artists and patrons, the Sideshow allows everyone to be influenced by forms of art that they may not have been exposed to. It also creates collaborations and experi-mentation that an individual may not have dared attempt without the safety net that the Circus and particularly the Sideshow, provides. The Sideshow is truly a multimedia event featuring everything from sculpting in various mediums, paintings, drawing, carvings, installations, performance art, music and video pieces.
Video artist Christine Gaffney will notably have a video piece on display titled “Street Dance.” She detailed the importance of the Sideshow for all artists and especially artists working in non-conforming mediums.
“To me, the Sideshow is a multimedia arts event that recognizes local artists of all ages, races and social classes,” she said. “It’s an art event for the community. It may be a grass roots production or seen as an urban underground show, but it’s also a collection of Dayton’s most progressive and avant garde artists. The Sideshow is more than just an art show. It’s an experience you can’t have anywhere else in Dayton. Dayton is full of talent. Much of this talent hasn’t made its way into the traditional art galleries yet. Installation artists, video artists, performance artists and more are oozing with talent and have nowhere to show it. We can’t wait around for traditional galleries and public venues to be ready for us to have a show. So, we come together each year and make it happen.”
The Sideshow will be presented Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15 from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Armory Building, 201 East Sixth St. The entrance is in the rear of the building. For more information, visit online at www.DaytonCircus.org
FILMDAYTON MOVES FORWARD
Dayton’s film collective expands festival and creates future plans
By T.T. Stern-Enzi
Some of the more sophisticated political commentary regarding the rise of the Tea Party engages in discussions about the nature of this brand of reactionary politics. Is the Tea Party a movement, a collection of disaffected voices shouting to be heard or a galvanized organization with a real platform that has long-term staying power? Of course, to truly understand the distinction requires seeing beyond specific manifestations towards the broader scenario — the forest rather than the proverbial trees, if you will — and the realization that the sentiments that inspire movements can become the ideological foundations for systemic evolution.
On the cultural landscape, FilmDayton arose in the Miami Valley as a vital reaction to jumpstart the lagging creative heartbeat of Dayton. As the group prepares for its second annual series of events celebrating Dayton’s network of connections throughout the film industry, festival organizers are already turning an eye towards that broader self-definition. After all, the only way for FilmDayton to have a meaningful impact is for it to advance beyond its movement status into a major player in the region.
Director Eva Buttacavoli came on board following last year’s inaugural festival pitching a five-year plan intent on “creating a successful non-profit in the community.” With a background in art history and education and years of experience curating and managing in the arts arena, Buttacavoli envisions building on a three-pronged approach centering on film, education and the establishment of FilmDayton as a regional film commission. FilmDayton, through its monthly meetings, already serves as an invaluable networking resource for area filmmakers and crews.
“My passion is the impact,” she said. “We’re in year two and we’re on track to become the go-to organization that promotes and connects Dayton’s several hundred film industry-related professionals to the people — both regionally and nationally — that make films, TV and commercials. My vision is to grow future filmmakers. We have plans to grow to connect kids with scholarship and funding opportunities, serve as a fiscal agent on emerging projects and become Dayton’s Film Commission with a downtown studio and education hub.”
Consisting of a three-day schedule (Friday, May 14 through Sunday, May 16), the second annual FilmDayton Festival is packed with everything from local rock videos to Academy Award-nominated films, to a story pitch session and a “screenless screening” to student films. There is a high concentration of activity for artists and the regional audience. But it is in Buttacavoli’s outline for the future where FilmDayton hopes to deliver on the greater promise of developing into a sustained force.
By next year, one major step forward involves opening up the screening selections process by allowing filmmakers to submit films for various programs and institute a process to present festival awards and special recognition. The ambitious plans for the fourth year would include establishing a curriculum-based partnership with Muse Machine that would lead to a filmed production of a musical. The aim here would be to capitalize on networks across the arts spectrum. Of course, FilmDayton would continue to stick to its core belief that the festival experience should guarantee audiences have access to filmmakers with connections to the Dayton community.
Location plays a key role in the conception of the festival. Based around the tri-corner hub of the Neon Movies (130 E. Fifth St.), Gilly’s nightclub (132 S. Jefferson St.) and the former Greyhound station on Fifth Street in the City of Dayton Transportation Center, FilmDayton is firmly rooted in downtown Dayton with additional events also to be held at Think TV (110 S. Jefferson St.).
“The FilmDayton Festival is Dayton-centric,” Buttacavoli added, “films that have roots or take their cue, from right here in the Miami Valley. Films made by people who grew up and learned their craft here. Films starring people who live and work in our town. Films inspired by people and places in our midst. True Nature (which will be screened Saturday, May 15) was a labor of love by a filmmaking power team that is much beloved in this community — Pat Steele and Ann Rotolante. Plus, the talented Maro Farglione and Vanessa O’Kelley and the generous Beth Duke and hundreds more who all have Dayton roots are providing us a glimpse of what is possible when you imagine the kind of resourceful, creative and fun film community FilmDayton believes can flourish here.”
For grassroots efforts to take effective root, strong foundations and a significant investment from all members of the community are necessary and vital. It takes careful, skillful planning and execution to ensure continued success. Another key component is the ability to focus on the present, while never losing sight of the road ahead. Art is the ultimate modern endeavor — the challenge for both artists and audiences to use all of their critical and creative skills to test the current boundaries and hierarchies.
Film, as an arts medium, has the ability to entertain, educate and empower. By empowering artists and audiences, FilmDayton aims to pave the way for their movement to reach and be embraced by the mainstream throughout the region.
For a complete schedule of FilmDayton events, visit online at www.FilmDayton.com