Local visual arts: A year in review

Winslow Homer, “On the Beach: Two Are Company, Three Are None,” woodcut

Lively flux and changes in 2011 visual arts scene

By Jud Yalkut

Winslow Homer, “On the Beach: Two Are Company, Three Are None,” woodcut

Winslow Homer, “On the Beach: Two Are Company, Three Are None,” woodcut

2011 in the Dayton area visual arts scene was a traumatic series of changes of personnel, albeit comparatively smooth and malleable in the end. As representative of the support of both the visual and performing arts in the area, the personnel changes crossed discipline barriers and through musical (visual) chairs resulted in what may well prove to be a much needed charge of lively energy to the oftimes financially troubled cultural milieu.

Jan Driesbach, who served for three years starting in January 2008, injected a passionate openness about the many possibilities of art and its place in the community, retired at the end of July 2011, “to pursue other interests, including special arts projects and community service. A great highlight of her tenure was this year’s Special Exhibition “Creating the New Century: Contemporary Art from the Dicke Collection,” spotlighting the vast and varied personal collection of James F. Dicke II of New Bremen, Ohio and a generous supporter of the museum.

Interim Director Linda Lombard took a leave of absence from the Board to helm the institution temporarily, with a history of having served as development director during DAI’s first capital campaign in the late 1970s. On August 26 the Board announced the appointment of two Daytonians to lead the museum as a team: Michael R. Roediger, a 13-year veteran of the Victoria Theatre Association as executive director; and Jane Black, the eight-year executive director of the Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC), in the newly created position of Associate Director. Not to leave DVAC bereft of leadership, that organization’s search led to the Board’s appointment beginning December 1 of Eva Buttacavoli as executive director. She is the former director of education at both the Miami Art Museum (Florida) and the Austin (Texas) Museum of Art, and most recently the first Executive Director of FilmDayton.

The year began with the overlapping impetus of several major exhibitions, most notably DAI’s presentation of the African American collection of Arthur Primas spanning 100 years, carefully culled by DAI Curator Will South, and teamed with a major retrospective of the paintings of Dayton’s Willis “Bing” Davis, supplemented with shows of his ceramics, masks and photography at the University of Dayton through January. The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery in Columbus ran through January 9 with “Against the Grain: Modernism in the Midwest,” curated by Fowler Shearer, former director of the Massillon Museum (Ohio); real and imaginary landscapes were explored in abstract terns by “Constructed Territory” at the galleries of Wright State University, also through January 9; and the Riffe Gallery continued the year with “Here’s Looking at You: Portraits in Ohio,” curated by Kay Koeninger of Sinclair Community College, and including among 14 artists, four from Dayton: Amy Kollar Anderson, Leesa Haapapuro, James Pate and Francis Schanberger.

Columbus artist Yasue Sakaoka created a giant Origami sculptural installation at the ArtStreet Studio D of the University of Dayton, February through March; the joint collaboration between Sinclair and DVAC in Reach Across Dayton featured the evocative work of two artists through February, the meditative installations of Takeshi Mora and the large format photos by Chris Bucher; former WSU professor David Leach mounted a print, painting and drawing retrospective at Wright State, March through May; while Joe Barrish, S.M. impregnated the atmosphere with floral “Color Capriccios” at the Gallery Saint John.

“Double Sexus,” featuring the work of sculptor Louise Bourgeois and Surrealist Hans Bellmer had a more than subliminal “adult” exhibition at Columbus’ Wexner Center for the Arts in May through June; “Stickwork” artist mounted a permanent snaking giant reed sculpture in June at the Wegerzyn Garden Center; the Springfield Art Museum staged a stunning retrospective of Abstract Expressionist Angelo Ippolito through March 13; through October 2 DAI exhibited over 50 of the stunning woodcuts by American pioneer Winslow Homer; and as part of an ongoing series DVAC showed the imagery of WSU’s Danielle Rante and Nicole Maury of Kalamazoo, Mich. through October 15.

A notable change in the Dayton scene was the move by the influential Visceral Gallery from Centerville to the Middletown Pendleton Center for shows centered around weekends starting in June. Sculptures by Deer Park, Ohio artist Jarrett Hawkins occupied the ground level of Cincinnati’s Weston Gallery at the Aronoff Center through December 5, with the downstairs galleries featuring acrylic paintings by Roy Johnston and the graffiti-influenced “architectonic configurations” of Cedric Michael Cox. Women in and about art are featured in the massive “Out of the Shadows” two-part exhibition at the Miami University Art Museum through May 2012; and the striking ceramic and wood sculptures of Minkyu Lee (Wisconsin) were paired with the panoramic photography of Gary Mesa-Gaido through October 21 at the Rosewood Arts Center in Kettering.

New photography by Dayton’s Tom Patterson was paired with the evocative prints on watercolor paper of Armenian hilltop monasteries by Robert Breen at the Fifth Street Gallery of Stivers School for the Arts through November 4; the Springs Gallery in Yellow Springs paired the surrealistic woodwork clocks of Tom Hawley (Yellow Springs) with the paintings and prints of Doug Fiely (Stryker, Ohio) through December 14th, and followed up with a wonderful pairing of husband-and-wife artists Jim (ceramics) and Christine (paintings) Klinger; DVAC showcased the abstract “Alchemy of Art” installation, running concurrently with its ArtToBuy gallery through December 30;

And the excitement continues through February 5, 2012 with DAI’s latest blockbuster exhibition “American Chronicles” by the ever popular Norman Rockwell.

Reach DCP visual art critic Jud Yalkut at Visuals@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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