Time to do-tu-it

Dutoit Gallery offers member artists showcase space

By Joyell Nevins

When Adjunct Art Professor Colleen Kelsey approached colleague Glen Cebulash about opening a cooperative gallery space in Dayton, she was thinking about a future project, maybe in the arcade building. But Cebulash had something a little sooner in mind.

“He said, why don’t we try to do this now?” Kelsey recalls.

That was February. In April, the Dutoit Gallery in the Front Street Warehouse opened with an inaugural members’ showcase—and was packed for the entire open house.

“People remarked how strong and engaging the work was,” Kelsey says.

Kelsey teaches at Wright State University and is the director of Kelsey Projects, an artist run pop-up/project gallery. Cebulash is the chair of the art department at Wright State University. Both are painters leaning toward the abstract. The two of them brought together 26 other local artists with a wide range of talent to form the Dutoit co-op.

“It was really important to us to have an expansive view of the artists in Dayton,” Kelsey says. “There’s not one way [in particular] that they work or think, or represent a single university or group. It’s an extremely diverse grouping of artists.”

The membership reflects the art mediums of painting, printmaking, drawing, installation, sculpture, conceptual art, ceramics, photography and textiles. Works vary in intricacy, size and material. Artists include teachers, gallery owners, those who are well-established and artists whose stars are still on the rise.

Member artist Nicholaus Arnold, who owns Blue House Gallery with his wife and fellow artist Ashley Jude Jonas, says, “I think that there’s need and room for a lot more visual arts in Dayton. I feel that the visual arts community is really starting to coalesce and grow and needs as many outlets as possible to create a sustainable fine arts environment here. This is another step in the right direction.”

Although Kelsey’s lived in metropolises such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., she has been impressed by the passion and art found in Dayton.

“The artistic community in Dayton is one of the strongest I’ve lived in—their strength, their talent and how they come together,” Kelsey says.

Arnold is a semi-conceptual artist and Jonas is an abstract painter. Another member painter, who also does drawing and printmaking, is Gretchen Durst Jacobs.

“I definitely see a need for this gallery in Dayton,” Jacobs says. “It represents artists that, I think it’s safe to say, have an affinity with each other or at least similar ideas about making work.”

The other members are Erin Holscher Almazan, Julie Anderson, Bridgette Bogle, Michele BonDurant, Stefan Chinov, Landon Crowell, John Dickinson, Hansoo Ha, Glenna Jennings, Ann B. Kim, Jean Koeller, Suki Kwon, James Luckett, David Leach, Jeremy Long, Tracy Longley-Cook, Patrick Mauk, Mychaelyn Michalec, Issa Randall, Rebecca Sargent, Francis Schanberger, Leah Stahl and Emily Trick.

Just like the artists that comprise it, the name of the cooperative has several shades to it. The gallery is at the intersection of Dutoit and Front Streets, but the question is, how do you say it? Some pronounce the gallery “du-tawh” like the French style, some say “Du-toit” with a hard “t” sound, and some like Kelsey say “do-tu-it.” Members appreciated the play on words and double meanings.

Although their interests vary, Kelsey stresses that all of the artists are committed to the success of the Dutoit gallery.

“We don’t want this to be a fly by night venture,” Kelsey says.

Another important aspect of the project, along with diverse membership, was the ability to be self-sustaining.

“We wanted an affordable space that would enable us to show original work without having to concern ourselves with sales to remain viable,” Cebulash says.

Jacobs agrees, “It’s not a gallery that’s terribly commercial, so it leaves a lot of room for a particular standard or sensibility that I feel—and I think others would agree—as important. It’s a different way for both the observer and the artist to experience a gallery setting an artist whose work is represented in a gallery.”

Member fees cover the overhead, and members themselves help clean, ready and staff the space. Kelsey handles the administrative side.

“We all pitched in and made it a success,” Kelsey says.

All members are guaranteed an exhibit schedule spot over the next two years. Member artists will be exhibiting in monthly programs with installations opening every First Friday of the month. Although membership is full at the moment, if a slot becomes available, the group will either solicit applications or invite another artist to join.

The first solo exhibiting artist is Jean Koeller in her show Jean Koeller, Inside and Out. Although Koeller is already an established artist in the area, she will be showing work never shown in Dayton before along with new pieces that have been “percolating” in her studio for the past few years.

“It’s nerve wracking and exciting at the same time to be the first person to have a one-person show at the Dutoit Gallery,” Koeller says. “I have to admit I volunteered for this torture because I knew it would push me to get myself together and think. This is a venue that has been a long time coming—it brings together a lot of hard working artists that need more representation and conversation.”

The first solo exhibition at Dutoit Gallery is Jean Koeller, Inside and Out, which opens May 6 from 6-10 p.m. and runs the month of May. The gallery is located at Front Street Studios, 1001 E. Second St., third floor, building  #1000 in Dayton. Hours are Saturdays 11-3 p.m., Sundays 1-5 p.m., and by appointment through emailing jeankoeller@aol.com. For more information, please visit dutoitgallery.com or call 937.952.0246.
Joyell Nevins believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com.

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Joyell Nevins
Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com

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