The art of peace

DAI commemorates the Dayton Peace Accords

By Tim Smith

Photo: A selection of commemorative art, like this famous photograph by Marc Riboud, is on display at the Dayton Art Institute now through Feb. 28

Dayton has long been recognized for its achievements and contributions, and in 1995, it added the Dayton Peace Accords to its resume. The agreement that ended the war in Bosnia was negotiated at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in November of that year. One this historic event’s many commemorations is taking place at the Dayton Art Institute. 20 Years Later: In Celebration of the Dayton Peace Accords runs through Feb. 28, 2016 at the institute.

“The DAI believes that our museum represents a place of inclusiveness, unity, history and culture,” says Michael R. Roediger, Director and CEO. “We participated 20 years ago with the dedication of the piece that is currently on loan from the University of Dayton. We want to, again, commemorate this historic occasion in Dayton’s and the world’s history.”

The selection process was tightly focused on the subject matter of peace, due to the space limitations: one large wall in a highly trafficked area.

“We wanted the work to be iconic,” says Chief Curator Aimee Marcereau DeGalan. “We were familiar with the painting from the University of Dayton and knew that it would figure in the exhibition, so we selected two of the most iconic works from the museum’s collection to complement the work from UD.”

The additional pieces in the display are a 1947 lithograph of a pigeon by Pablo Picasso and a 1967 photograph of a female protesting the Vietnam War by French photographer Marc Riboud. The latter became a signature image of the peace movement in the late 1960s.

“The bird featured in Picasso’s lithograph is actually a Milanese pigeon,” DeGalan explains. “However, when the artist created an almost identical print two years later in 1949, he called it a ‘Dove.’ Picasso’s ‘Dove’ became a universal phenomenon and was selected for the poster of the First International Peace Congress in Paris.”

The Peace Movement distributed images of “Dove” signed by Picasso, which were then multiplied throughout the world.

The Riboud photograph documents one moment in an event that occurred on Dec. 21, 1967, when a crowd of some 100,000 encountered more than 2,500 gun-wielding soldiers blocking their way.

“The rally was in protest of the Vietnam War and became known as the March on the Pentagon,” DeGalan says. “Riboud noticed a lone girl posturing inches from the soldiers’ sheathed bayonets. He would not learn the girl’s name for three decades, but his resulting photograph became a defining image of the anti-war era and was reprinted in newspapers around the world.”

The painting on loan from the University of Dayton was originally commissioned by board members Bruce and Rebecca Hitchner, who were looking for a work to symbolize the Dayton Peace Accords. They found it in an artist’s rustic cottage studio in the small English village of Swaffham Prior near Cambridge. They felt Thomas Newbolt’s painting could transcend race and culture.

“‘Nocturne’ was selected to commemorate the end of the conflict in the Balkans because of its powerful depiction of a fallen comrade being carried by his brothers or comrades,” Roediger says.

The institute is featured in a documentary about the peace accord celebration, for which Roediger and DeGalan were interviewed.

“We were approached by the Dayton Peace Accords Committee as part of a larger project that identified people and organizations who are participating in the celebration,” Roediger says. “We were asked about the pieces that our curatorial team selected for our focus exhibition and about why it was important to the community and the museum.”

Many people may not realize that the Dayton Art Institute started as a school before growing into an art museum with nearly 27,000 objects from a span of 5,000 years of history.

“I think it is always good to remind people that we are a civic museum that holds our collection in trust for the community,” Roediger says. “We strive to present art objects in a meaningful way that educates, inspires and entertains.”

Roediger would like visitors to take away a sense of hope and optimism after they view the exhibit.

“We all play a part in world peace, unity and inclusiveness,” he says. “It is a small focus show with great meaning. With our current world crisis, it is even more important to create opportunities for dialogue around peace and unity. Art can do just that.”

20 Years Later: In Celebration of the Dayton Peace Accords runs through Feb. 28, 2016 at the Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. The institute is closed on Mondays and holidays. The cost of admission is $8 for adults and $5 for seniors, active military personnel and groups. Members, college students and those 17 and younger are free. For more information, please call 937.223.4278 or visit 

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at

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