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Top Ten for Dayton Visual Arts, 2015

December 27, 2015

The Dayton region is alive with visual art—and every year I am amazed at how much took place, and regret not attending all the art exhibitions, performances and studios throughout the Miami Valley. And from what was seen, it was an amazing year in contemporary art. Well done, Dayton!

Mallory Tay: Malaise
ArtStreet White Box Gallery
University of Dayton
January 15 – February 19, 2015


Mallory Tay gallery talk, January 2015

Mallory Tay transformed the ArtStreet’s White Box Gallery into a landscape of figurative/abstract, decorative/functional textiles. Her solo exhibition Malaise focused on family dynamics, both positive and negative. Tay, an alumna of the University of Dayton, crocheted walls, fabricated figures, and even made blankets to crawl under. Interaction was in full swing: visitors couldn’t stop taking selfies and kids (and adults) were delighted to weave through the textile maze. Learn more about the exhibition here.

Digital Abstraction and Nathanial Smyth: The Higgs Field in Pictures
Dayton Visual Arts Center
January 20 – February 27, 2015


Nathanial Smyth, “The Higgs Field in Pictures”

Two exhibitions at the Dayton Visual Arts Center explored digital technologies and artmaking, utilizing video, photography, print, animation, and more. The group exhibition Digital Abstraction, curated by the late Jud Yalkut with co-curators, Tom Baggs and Tess Cortes, featured artists Tom Baggs, Benjamin Britton, Lisa Britton, Netta Bits, Wynne Ragland, Jr., Ansen Seale, Jim Shupert, Andy Snow, Nancy Willman, McCrystle Wood, Sherman Walter Wright and Jud Yalkut. Concurrent to Digital Abstraction, Nathanial Smyth’s photo collage installation The Higgs Field in Pictures featured hundreds of images stapled together into a structure resembling a series of water drops, all depicting familiar Dayton hangouts. Learn more about the exhibition here.

Julie Green: The Last Supper
Dayton Art Institute
February 21 – April 12, 2015


Julie Green, “The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates”

Hundreds of plates lined the white gallery walls in Julie Green’s The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates. Green immortalized illustrations of final meal requests from hundreds of death row inmates in blue glazes on ceramic plates. Spanning decades and cities, the series is a jarring humanization of people’s end of life rituals in our judicial system. The exhibition was part of the yearlong symposium “Human Rights, Faith and Reason” through the University of Dayton. Learn more about the exhibition here.

Landon Crowell: Constructed Landscapes
Rosewood Arts Centre
April 13 – May 8, 2015

Landon Crowell, "Constructed Landscapes"

Landon Crowell, “Constructed Landscapes”

Landon Crowell presented a series of sculptures reimagining building blocks. Highlights included the plywood sculpture “Score and Curl,” a seemingly simple manipulation of a massive sheet of plywood, displayed horizontal with a curled edge, scored surfaces, somehow adding a delicacy to a rough material. “This work is meant to be stark and, in some cases, even feel unfinished,” said Crowell. Exploring issues including memory and landscape, Crowell strives to “create an inner tension between the artwork and the viewer.” Learn more about the exhibition here.

Colleen McCulla: Daily Collages
Rollins/Welker Studio
May 2015

Colleen McCulla, “050615”

Colleen McCulla has been impressing the Dayton art world with her hand cut collages, one made every day since 2012. From floor to ceiling on every available wall in the Rollins/Welker Studios, McCulla’s collages are powerful images that evoke charm, wit, humor and mystery, further intriguing by the seemingly infinite process of being creative daily, no matter what each day’s circumstances. Learn more about her work here.

HWD Sculpture Exhibition
Rosewood Arts Centre
August 10 – September 11, 2015

Rob Millard-Mendez, “Vest for a Precocious Futilitarian”

HWD began at Rosewood Gallery as a celebration of ceramics, and has since expanded to include all three-dimensional artworks.  This year’s exhibition included a range of fibers, wood, metals, paper, organic materials, clay, and so much more. The magic of a group sculpture show continues to be the relationships between techniques, materials and content—and the way individual sculptures can relate to each other through this 3D language. Learn more about the exhibition here.

Dayton Visual Arts Center
September 4 – October 17, 2015


“Holdfast” installation at Dayton Visual Arts Center

From a house boat anchored in the gallery to drawings and sculptures adorning the walls both inside the boat and out, Holdfast was a refreshing journey of sorts from the artist collective Four-Footed Fellows Correspondence Club (Travis Head, David Dunlap, Zach Stensen and Josh Black). In residence for several weeks to create the installation, the result was a diaristic approach to travel, artmaking and observations of the world around us. Learn more about the exhibition here.

Mychaelyn Michalec: No accounting for taste
Welker Rollins Studio

Mychaelyn Michalec installation

A mash-up of familiar American furniture and domestic environments in a muted palette, Mychaelyn Michalec’s paintings are incredibly seductive, comforting and offer a constant re-examination into each piece’s many layers. Learn more about Michalec’s work here.

Blue House Gallery
October 10 – 31, 2015


VanHecke, “Glitterettes” detail

Walking through dangling balloons under the glow of a neon sign reading “Katy Perry,” Blue House’s latest exhibition Wish Mountain brings new context to everyday objects. Featuring the work of Chicago-based artists Brian Edward Selke and Casey VanHecke, humor, material exploration and unexpected dichotomies are joyously abundant. Learn more about the exhibition here.

KP Project 1
November 15 – 17, 2015
Front Street Warehouse

Arjan Zazueta, “I’ll Be Your Horse, If You’ll Be My Rider,” 2014

Tucked into the downtown Front Street Warehouse was the inaugural pop-up exhibition “Project 1” of Kelsey Projects. Project 1 featured paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and sculptures work of 16 artists from Dayton and beyond.  Installed on the rough white walls of the industrial warehouse studio, the exhibition was hinged on relationships between each artwork linked by color, form and patterns. Learn more about the exhibition here.


Enchanted Forest
September 2015

bonus pick - enchanted forest
On a farm outside of Dayton, artists Christina Pereyma, Jane Black and Leesa Haapapuro led participants on an adventure in collaboration, spectacle and incredible creativity. Using sticks and wire, a wooly mammoth sculpture emerged in the forest and performances in both Ukrainian tradition and music were highlights, but the pleasure of enjoying the arts through making it with a group of folks that might not venture to do this for fun was the best part.

Downtown Dayton Murals

bonus pick - murals

Etch and Tiffany Clark mural at Toxic Brew Company

Dayton had an incredible year for murals. From the massive, 1,000 foot long “River Run Mural,” designed by Amy Deal, to the K12 Gallery and Tejas building façade, to murals by the collaborative team Etch and Tiffany Clark at Toxic Brew Company in the Oregon District and East End Community Services on Xenia Avenue, these murals are adding new color and character to Dayton’s urban spaces.

Terry Welker: The Consent
September 21 – October 16
Rosewood Gallery

P1010803The amazing architect, city planner and sculptor Terry Welker created an incredible kinetic installation inspired by the poem by Howard Nemerov of the ritual of ginkgo leaves each autumn. Kids and adults couldn’t stay away from the pillow pile at the installation’s center.

From the poem:

Late in November, on a single night
Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees
That stand along the walk drop all their leaves
In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind
But as though to time alone: the golden and green
Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday
Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.
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