Marking the end of the first decade of the 21st century
By Jud Yalkut
2010 climaxed the first decade of the 21st century with major exhibitions in the Dayton area, not the least of which was a series of extraordinary shows at the Dayton Art Institute, an inventive season at the Dayton Visual Arts Center and the solid establishment of the newest creative force, the Missing Peace Art Space.
DAI had a two month-long survey of Yellow Springs artist Katherine Kadish who brightened the lower galleries with her “Seasons,” curated by Kay Koeninger of Sinclair Community College. Twenty 2009 monotypes illuminated her post-Impressionist verve which vibrated in the gallery, culminating with large triptychs mimicking kimonos filled with growing forms in a transcendent fusion.
Overlapping the Kadish show which ran through April 11 and bringing more sunshine and color into wintry Dayton was the survey of American Impressionism from California in conjunction with the Irvine Museum. “All Things Bright & Beautiful” opened up a rich heritage, revealing how American artists had learned their lessons from European masters like Monet.
American art history continued into September with “Prints from the Great Depression” from the Richard and Linda Scott collection. The 16 printmaking workshops of the WPA around the country documented the time, captured vignettes of urban life, or brazenly projected sociological messages. In July this was paralleled by selections from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in “Modern Masters” which shared 43 key paintings and sculptures which took the viewer through geometric abstraction, the energy burst of Abstract Expressionism and its distillation into expressive forms of figural representation.
The year at DAI is extended into January 2011 with “100 years of African American Art” from the Arthur Primas collection, affording amazing discoveries as we traverse through American cultural history. The Primas show is complemented by a gorgeous adjourning survey of “Ancestral Spirit Dances” in the robust oil pastel style of Dayton’s own Willis “Bing” Davis, and Davis’ oeuvre is magnified by several installations at the University of Dayton.
The DVAC mounted several outstanding installations in 2010 starting with “Something Wicked This Way Comes” linked with Schuster Center’s production of “Wicked.” The dire motif of tornadoes was captured in painted gems by Columbus artist Jeff Regensburger with the towering “Tornado Installation” by Dayton sculptor/musician Michael Bashaw. Running into June was a curated selection of four area women artists in “Reaching Forward, Looking Back” with quilts by Winnie Fiedler, spiritual large-scale abstractions by Beth Hertz, pristine natural observations by J. Austin Jennings and stylized bird personages by Jessica JH Roller. “Future Structures” into October juxtaposed the hybrid print metamorphoses of insects and mechanics by Cincinnati’s Andrew Au. Through December 29 is the magical meeting of the limpid floral photographs by Paula Willmot Kraus and the shimmering mobiles of Terry Welker. A unique debut event was the giant Steamroller printmaking “Flat Out Fun!” executed on the roof of Dayton’s Art Garage in May.
Missing Peace Art Space finished its first full year with several strong graphic exhibitions: “Art Makes Us Human” by the late Mary Perry Stone devoted to peace and social justice through March 7; the deeply humanistic watercolors of Muncie, Indiana watercolorist Martha Gilliom through July 11; the satirical and comedic style of peace activist Frank Swift with his “Planet Gazimbo in Galaxy Zamz” through September 9; and the pristine political posters of Bulgarian/now New York Luba Lukova in “Graphic Guts” through December 12.
The Triangle Gallery at Sinclair Community College started the year with “Filled by Spirit” sculpture by Sinclair’s Tess Little with a focus on “the clay vessel, the circle and the triangle.” Juan-Si Gonzalez created a powerful installation in conjunction with the Annual REACH project with his political observations on the power of economics in our society in “America at Home.”
A rare one-man show by University of Dayton’s Peter Gooch reviewed his abstracted recollections of travel in Ethiopia in “Project Ethiope” at the ArtStreet Studio D Gallery through September 14. Jean Koeller’s paintings and those of her students made the “Seasons II” exhibition at the Synesthesia Gallery a delight through October 12 and Marianist Brother Joe Barrish celebrated “Buildings, Barns and Bouquets” with his coloristic verve in various media. Another highlight of the year is the re-opening of the Herndon Gallery at newly resuscitated Antioch College with its “Emergent Visions” by six emerging artist graduates through January 12, 2011.
The Visceral Gallery in Centerville showed the works of Bing Davis and his son Derrick Davis with “Kente Spirit” panels masterly executed with Prismacolor colored pencils through February 18; the rich Impressionist “Canvases from the French Countryside” by Richard Mantia through June 17; and the “Parallel Visions” group of works by Susan Scherette King with polished acrylics, organic hard-edged ceramics by Don Williams, and Constructivist prints and sculpture by Matthew Burgy through August 18. The engaging “Constructed Territory” runs through January 9 at Wright State.
With a year of such delights, I have been asked to cite things which do not turn me on and it is time to confess my distinct distaste of “clown art” and its sickly attempts at maudlin humanization. Belying that, this year’s presentation of circus imagery by Laine Bachman’s worked in the proper amount of Jungian and Tarot symbolism at Rosewood Gallery through October 8 and “Sawdust and Spectacle” at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus gleaned some good images from the Big Top in the Midwest.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jud Yalkut at JudYalkut@daytoncitypaper.com.