Rosewood Gallery’s “Works on Paper” highlights Dayton’s artists

Michele BonDurant; Secret House In The Woods; 2017

by Tracy Flagg Centers

On view through February 23 at Rosewood Gallery in Kettering’s Rosewood Arts Centre is the 28th installation of the Dayton-area Works on Paper exhibition, an annual juried art show featuring many of Dayton’s most talented artists.

After two snowy days spent processing over 200 works of art by 75 hopeful Dayton-area artists, I shook hands with Cincinnati-based curator, writer, and lecturer Maria Seda-Reeder for the first time. As the coordinator of Rosewood Gallery, one of the wonderful and sometimes frustrating things about my position is the fact that I am removed from the process of selecting artists and artworks for exhibition. As such, it can be hard to find ways in which to satisfy my own creative impulses. One means by which I am able to scratch that particular itch is by inviting professionals to participate as jurors whom I find to be exciting and whose sensibilities I appreciate.

When I find the right juror, the result is always a strong exhibition. And this year, I definitely found the right juror. Having admired several of Seda-Reeder’s previous curatorial projects, I was thrilled to discover that she was as engaging, smart, and talented as I had expected. As a result, this year’s Works on Paper exhibition is accordingly thoughtful, charming, and attractive.

Seda-Reeder selected 40 works of art of the roughly 200 entries, representing 34 artists living and working in and near Dayton. These artworks span the innumerable applications of the paper medium from photographs and prints to papier-mâché to collage. Emily Elam’s handmade book titled Felt even boasts paper yarn as one of its components. Having fully embraced the nature of the exhibition, Elam, a Franklin resident, took home an award for Most Creative Use of Paper for another piece titled To Stir the Soul Not the Soup, a monoprint on handmade paper.

Seda-Reeder chose six works of art in total to receive United Art and Education Awards. In addition to Elam’s, other awards include Best in Show to Douglas R. Fiely (Dayton) for his intaglio print, Curtain Call; First Honorable Mention to Michele BonDurant (Oakwood) for a mixed media collage titled Secret House in the Woods; Second Honorable Mention to Rachel Botting (Dayton) for her mixed media sculpture, Spores; Third Honorable Mention to Edward Steffani (Xenia) for his etching and aquatint titled Church Interior With a Fan; and Most Inspiring Use of Materials to Sydney Joslin-Knapp (Dayton) for a mixed media sculpture called Lovers.

Of her experience jurying Works on Paper, Seda-Reeder wrote, “I was refreshingly overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of high-caliber artworks submitted. Incorporating a wide range of styles – all fashioned on or with paper – they were a delight to sift through, consider the concerns (both formal and conceptual) of the artists, and choosing ‘winners’ was not easy.

“Of particular note were not only the six selected winners of the United Art and Education Awards, but the work of all 34 artists here, whose passions and talents are clearly on display in this exhibition hall.”

For the last four years I have approached the end of the holidays with mingled excitement and apprehension. Of the twelve exhibitions I coordinate, arrange, and install annually, Works on Paper is inevitably the one with the most moving parts, but it never fails to be one of my favorites.

I think it’s safe to attribute both of these circumstances to the jury process. Although I facilitate four regular group exhibitions throughout the calendar year, Works on Paper is the only one for which a juror evaluates and selects works “in the flesh,” so to speak. In my experience this is the purest means of understanding an artwork – of truly knowing that a piece is conveying its own merits as well as its weaknesses, despite the extra time and labor involved. To jury an exhibition from digital images, which has become the industry norm due to the time- and space-saving benefits it allows, presents inherent challenges. To jury an exhibition from the actual works inside the gallery space is, in my opinion, a gift to the exhibition.

Sifting through the quantity of artworks submitted was no small undertaking. Jurying from the works in person is certainly a physical effort as well as an intellectual one. Many jurors, Seda-Reeder included, spend several hours taking in the hundreds of works of art available for consideration. Eventually they are narrowed down to only a few, a necessity dictated by space and the need for cohesion. The result, in this case, is a Works on Paper that is at once traditional and quirky, bright but reflective, thoughtful, and most of all elegant: 40 works of art by 34 incredibly talented artists, chosen by one insightful juror. It is a stunning exhibition, and I am most thankful to all who participated.

Works on Paper will be on display through February 23 at the Rosewood Arts Center, 2655 Olson Dr, Kettering. Hours for the exhibition are Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Sunday 12 – 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Tracy Flagg Centers is a University of Dayton alumna and Gallery Coordinator for the City of Kettering. She lives in Franklin, Ohio, with her husband.

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