When I retired I picked up a camera, learned how to use it, and became a volunteer photographer. My first project was taking photos of animals for the Humane Society. I enjoyed that so much that I started doing projects for other nonprofits. As I was doing these volunteer projects, and finding other places of interest with my camera, I felt like I was finally getting to know the area where I had lived all these years. I decided to share photos of what I was discovering on a facebook page called “Dayton at Work and Play.”
At the start of 2019 I made a New Year’s Resolution to take and post at least one photo on my facebook page from each of Dayton’s 66 neighborhoods.
After fifteen tornadoes hit Old North Dayton I photographed volunteers from all over the area helping in the cleanup efforts. A few months later, I again photographed people from all over the region as they gathered together in reaction to the mass shooting in the Oregon District. Then I started to rethink this project. I decided I didn’t want to go into a new neighborhood and take photos of buildings or some interesting landscape. I just wanted to take photos of people from all 66 neighborhoods, people from every corner of Dayton.
The reaction to this project idea was wonderful. Mayor Whaley and her husband Sam posed for me one Saturday morning and then introduced me to the leaders of some of the Neighborhood Associations. Bryan Taulbee and others on the city’s staff helped me understand when and where all of the city recreation activities were happening. City planning division manager Tony Kroeger helped me understand the exact boundaries of the neighborhoods. People invited me to block parties, to neighborhood events, and into their homes and their businesses. It was great.
I remember driving around Dayton’s Pineview neighborhood and seeing a man watering his lawn. I stopped and told him about my project. He said he’d grown up on this block and then left to go to college. After college he lived in Chicago and then New York. He had recently moved back to Dayton.
“I like being around the people I grew up with, and I like the size of Dayton” he told me. “In Chicago or New York you couldn’t get the whole community to come together the way Dayton did after the two tragedies we had this summer. This project of yours seems timely, Bill. Having an exhibition of photos of people from all corners of Dayton is a good thing for us to do now. I would be glad to have my photo up in your exhibition.”
The exhibition was being organized by Rebecca Sargent, then the Program Director at K12 Gallery. The photos were printed, the promotional materials were prepared and everything was ready for an opening April 2, 2020. Like many things that were planned in 2020, it never happened. I’m glad the Dayton Metro Library has decided to exhibit these photos now.
Those 66 photos are now on display through September 25 in the Dayton room of the Dayton Metro Library.
I have been working to get photos from each of Dayton’s 66 neighborhoods for a show that opens April 2 at K12 Gallery and TEJAS (341 South Jefferson). The last neighborhood on my list was Mount Vernon. There I met Carmen Gooden, co-founder of of The Linda Vista, Inc. (1011 Linda Vista Avenue).
Carmen and a partner bought and refurbished an 11 unit apartment building. Carmen knew from her own history that childhood sexual abuse can lead to a life filled with bad choices. She filled her building with women who have suffered childhood sexual abuse and are homeless and are ready to make the changes required to get their lives back on track.
Each of the women and their children lives in a fully furnished apartment for up to 2 years. They work with a case worker to develop a self-sufficiency plan. Carmen says her program “replaces the negative, complacent mind-set that often accompanies a lifestyle of poverty and homelessness with a mind-set that supports success and self-sufficiency.”
Count me as a fan of Carmen and her work. You can expect more photos from Linda Vista.
Walking around the Wright Dunbar area, I’ve admired the vacant Allaman building at 1000 West Third. It was built in 1914 by Dr. Allaman and once housed doctor’s offices and apartments. In 2002 it was bought and refurbished by Wright Dunbar Inc. but remained empty.
Now you can add this building to the list of properties recently sold to a developer. Plans are to turn the upper two floors into four condos and rent the ground level to a store or coffee shop. Great news.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK Brother John Lemker
with one of his photos currently being exhibited at Gallery St. John (4400 Shakertown Road in Beavercreek).
I have been a fan of Brother Lemker’s work for years. He taught a photography course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute a few years ago.
I tried to take that course but it was closed out by the time I applied. I am similarly late in telling you about Brother Lemker’s exhibition.
The last time it’s open to the public is Sunday from noon to 3 pm. If the weather isn’t too bad that day you should check it out.
If that doesn’t work just wait a year and he’ll have another show at that gallery.
I asked Brother Lemker to pose with a photo I love called “Reeds and Reflections.” It looks more like an abstract painting than a photograph.
“That photo sort of put me on the map,” he told me. “I submitted it to the Sierra Club and they included it in their calendar. I must have gotten
100 letters about that photo, and a lot of requests to use it in other publications. I took the photo at a small lake where I was camping. That’s what
I used to do when I was younger. I would camp at a spot and wait until the conditions were perfect for a photo. Now that I’m 88 I don’t camp like I did,
but this show includes a lot of nature photography I’ve done right here in Dayton.”
“Five artists, each a Marianist Brother, share this gallery. We each have one exhibition here every year.
So as soon as this show closes I will start work on next year’s exhibition.”
I visited Jeremy Long in his studio in the Creative Arts Center at Wright State University.
As I entered, I saw that Jeremy was working on a small painting of his wife, artist Colleen Kelsey.
I asked about two photos placed on the wall to the left of his painting of Colleen, where Jeremy could see them as he painted. “Those photos show details of a piece by the 18th century painter Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin,” Jeremy told me. “He was able to create remarkably life-like textures in his paintings. I like to look at his work as I paint just to remind myself of what is possible if I get everything right.”
I noticed another painting of Jeremy’s wife on the floor.
“That painting is how I managed to first get to know my wife,” Jeremy explained. “We were both at the Chautauqua School of Art that summer. I asked her to pose for me, and after a few sittings we started to date. I never did finish that piece, but Colleen and our children appear in most of my large works.”
I knew that Jeremy was best known for his large paintings (typically 6 foot by 8 foot) which include members of his family. I asked how long these works take. In place of a direct answer Jeremy suggested I look at the painting below as he walked me through some of the steps.
Jeremy told me he started painting on a smaller canvas, possibly 3 feet by 4 feet like this one. First he paints something abstract, in this case just three bands of color. Then he adds complexity to the abstract work. Next he tries adding figures in various configurations in ways that fit his original abstract design. He also tries out various ways of getting the viewer to look intently at the piece, like the way one of the arms he has drawn on the left might belong to either of two figures. He changes all or part of the composition many times, until this small canvas has numerous layers of paint and Jeremy has a design to use on the large canvas.
Painting the large canvas is also time consuming because Jeremy does indirect painting. That is, he builds the final image by painting several layers of paint, one over another. The upper layers modify, but don’t completely conceal, the lower layers.
A poster I saw in Jeremy’s office came from a show he recently had at the Bowery Gallery in New York. The poster featured one of Jeremy’s large paintings.
I told Jeremy that I thought he had only one son, but the painting showed two young boys. “I added a son for compositional purposes,” he explained.
Jeremy said a retired gentleman came to the Bowery Gallery show because he was drawn (as I was) to the painting on the poster. The man had never purchased any art before, but he bought Jeremy’s painting and found a space to hang the 6 foot by 8 foot piece in his small New York apartment. The man lives alone, but now he shares his small space with a wonderful work of art and with an image of Jeremy’s family. Somehow that makes all of the time Jeremy put into that painting worthwhile.
I asked Jeremy to pose for a quick portrait.
Then I left and Jeremy returned to the painting of his wife.
A group of volunteers from Synchrony Financial work on a new downtown mural under the supervision of Brittini Brill Long. Brittini is the Community Engagement Coordinator for Montgomery County Juvenile Court who facilitates the HAALO program. The mural is on Stone Street, near the Neon Movies. HAALO people will be doing the bulk of the painting this summer, with help from artists from K12 Gallery and TEJAS. HAALO stands for Helping Adolescents Achieve Long-Term Objectives.
Brittini showed me the design for this block long mural. The original idea, from artist Morris T. Howard, would have used only two panels on this long concrete wall. But that original idea has grown, and the mural will now fill all of the block’s 21 panels. The mural is called The Land of Funk, and will incorporate designs from several Dayton artists. I’ll be sure to share more photos as the project continues.
Francis teaches photography at UD and he has an exhibition at the Dutoit Gallery (Front Street Warehouse, Building 100, Door BC) opening Friday. The exhibition, titled “Nothing Can Go Wrong,” also features his wife Bridgette Bogle.
Francis has an interest in historic photographic processes. When I asked if his pieces for his upcoming show would be made using historic processes he walked to a shelf with several older cameras and picked one up.
“This is a replica of a Diana camera (a camera developed in the 1960’s with a plastic lens) that I used for most of my photos in this show. I had a problem with film being scratched so I had to make some modifications to the camera. I also added an extension tube so I could take close-up photos.”
“The photos I took with this camera are close-ups of parts of my skin. I took the photos here in my dining room when my twins were napping. They were taken using only natural light, with long exposures. Then in the dark room I used a solarisation technique that was popular in the 1970’s.”
The photo above shows Francis with an anthotype, a photographic process that dates back to the 1800’s. Dyes made from some plants are sensitive to light, and an anthotype uses that sensitivity to create an image. Here Francis has coated paper with two different dyes, one made from the petals of a neighbor’s red tulips and another from a neighbor’s purple irises.
“This piece of clothing attached to the paper was worn by my daughter when she was 3 months old” Francis told me. “The finished anthotype will show the outline of her clothing. I have exhibited many of my anthotypes, and I may show this one, but because of the sentimental value it will probably be marked Not For Sale.”
I told novelist Molly Duncan Campbell about one of my favorite books.
In 1953 photographer Roy DeCarava took amazing photos of the people of Harlem, but he couldn’t get them published. He gave some of the photos to Langston Hughes, without telling him anything about the people in his photographs. Hughes wrote a story to go with the photos, and got “The Sweet Flypaper of Life” published.
Inspired, Molly asked me to send her a photo, and tell her nothing about the person. Then she wrote the following:
My name is Juniper Mary May. I am called Junie. I am the only person in the world who gets called by my whole name all the time. Junie May. When I started kindergarten, they kept saying, “Junie May who?” Like I didn’t remember my last name. I am in First grade now, and Mrs. Hapner did it again! I felt like telling her what the hell ask Miss Franklin it took her all last year to figure this out. I have asked my mom why on earth she named me this. I would prefer to be named a normal thing, like Kathleen. Then everyone would know to stop after just the Kathleen part.
I got this hula hoop for my fifth birthday. I could only jump rope before. Here is what you do: you grab it hard and lift it over your head and lean it against your belly button, and then you wiggle like hell. My mom said I shouldn’t say that. So I wiggle like the devil is after me, which is what Nana says, and that isn’t swearing. I got the dress with the goofy swan on it from Nana. She lives in the past. Mom said it reminds her of a poodle skirt, which makes absolutely no sense, because who has ever heard of a poodle skirt?
I have gotten really good on the hula hooping. I can go for exactly one minute and seventeen seconds. That is my record. I can also roller skate, but you can’t do that inside. So I hula all the time in my room, and I made a playlist. I put Stevie Wonder on it. All the songs from Cars. Yellow Submarine. And my most favorite of all, but my mom says it’s an ear worm: Mahna Mahna by the Muppets.
You might think that I am a girly-girl. That is because we took this picture to send to Nana in Cleveland. We put it in the cloud so she could look at it on her phone. Usually I wear jeans and my favorite tee shirts. I have two favorites: one has Bill Nye, the Science Guy on it. The other one has a wolf. And guess what? I have a pussy hat!
Photographer Bill Franz of Dayton at Work and Play says, “this is my favorite spot at the University of Dayton and it holds my favorite sculpture by Hamilton Dixon. It is Serenity Pines, a site that honors those who died while they were students, faculty or staff members at UD.
When someone dies, like UD basketball player Steve McElvene did a few months ago, Hamilton Dixon takes a metal leaf he has crafted to Dayton Stencil. They inscribe the name of the student on the leaf and Hamilton Dixon attaches the leaf to one of his metal trees.
It is only steps away from a busy campus, but Serenity Pines is a quiet, calming place. We were surprised at how many of you got this one! Congrats to our randomly drawn winner Youssef from Dayton- watch your mail for your Rapid Fired Pizza certificates!
And now for this week’s photo- can you identify where this picture came from? If you know the location of this photo enter it here: http://goo.gl/forms/dyU55fzc48. We’ll let you know next Monday if you got it right! Good Luck!
Morris returned to his home town of Dayton a few years ago when his mother became ill. “I thought I would stay in Dayton for only a few weeks,” he told me. “That was a couple of years ago, and I’m still here.”
Since returning to Dayton, Morris has been welcomed into the area’s art community. He designed the mural that was installed at the Transportation Center Garage, across the street from The Neon Movie, last fall. Then he was chosen to paint a mural at Dayton Visual Arts Center called “Back in the Day When We Used to Dance.” Morris also teaches art for K12 Gallery and TEJAS at JCARE, one of the Montgomery County Juvenile Courts facilities where K12 coordinates art classes for court involved teens.
I saw that Morris was a perfectionist as he showed me some of his paintings. With each one, he told me what he could have done differently to make it better. The painting in this photo has already been shown in one exhibition, but Morris decided to change one small detail to improve the work.
This year his paintings have appeared in two Dayton exhibitions. The first, Dayton Skyscrapers, was shown at the Schuster Center, at the DP&L Headquarters, and at the Ebonia Gallery. The second, Breathing Deeply, Pushing Back, is currently at the Dayton Visual Arts Center.
I asked Morris if he planned to stay in Dayton. “I’m not sure if I will be staying here” he said “but it seems like people want me to stay. That’s a good feeling.”