Monday, August 15, 2011

Renowned artist returns to DXC to sign his work

There was a young man who came here to DXC, quite a number of years ago. He took part in activities – playing ping pong and doing crafts. He might have especially liked doing crafts. He had an artistic side to his nature as later events would show.

Last week, that young man – award winning Dayton artist James Pate -- now a renowned artist, returned to DXC to put his name on a painting he did to show his gratitude for those happy hours he spent here.

The mural, showing the Dayton skyline along with scenes of gardens, had no date on it and neither Mr. Pate nor our long-time staff members could remember just when he presented it to the center; we think it might have been 1996-97. But since the day it presented, it has been a focal point of DXC’s Common Room where it sat in a place of honor on the stage.

Mr. Pate had never signed this particular work, and, had it not been for the fond memories of a couple of staff member who remembered him, the importance of the painting might have been lost to all concerned. But Ms. Ruby and Ms. Goins did remember – with good thoughts – that young boy who had come here often and who had said thanks in the best way he knew how, so DXC Associate Executive Director Sarah Williams got in touch with Mr. Pate and asked him if he would come in to sign the painting.

It was important to have him do that, you see, because the painting is going to be donated next month to Montgomery County Public Health Department to be displayed in the lobby of the Reibold Building.

“We decided to do that for a couple of reasons,” said Sarah Williams, DXC Associate Executive Director. “For one thing, we don’t really have the ability or the expertise to care for the painting as it should be. But mostly, we felt that this work, that shows such a hopeful and sustainable future for Dayton, really needs to be in a place where more people can see it. It’s a beautiful work of art and art should be for everyone to enjoy.”

During his visit, Mr. Pate was able to enjoy a short reunion with Ms. Goins (Ms. Ruby had left for the day, unfortunately) and the two shared fond moments.

Mr. Pate grew up in Cincinnati, attending the School for the Creative and Performing Arts there, where he earned a scholarship for the Art Academy of Cincinnati. In 1997, at age 33, he moved to Dayton, where he has remained ever since.

He taught art at Col. White and has been an art consultant with Dayton Public Schools. Twice, he has been awarded Montgomery County Individual Artist Fellowship and the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. His works are shown museums around the country.

“We really feel very honored to have an original work of art by such a respected artist,” Sarah said after meeting him. “And to be part of bringing his work to a much wider audience is really exciting.”

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another way to make the neighborhood beautiful

We’ve been doing a lot of beautification events this summer and we’ve talked about nearly all of them here on the blog. But neighborhood beautification can mean a lot more than patrolling the streets picking up trash or planting flowers. It can also involve art.

A few months ago, we were contacted by Tracey Obenour who, along with her husband, paints murals on buildings. She wanted to do a mural on the building over on East 5th Street building that would capture the spirit of the urban farm there and of urban farming in general. Of course, we were more than happy to agree.

The project was started in April, and the first week of August, we got an email from Tracey saying that the mural was about 90% finished and she wanted to know what we thought. We rushed right over and, as we drove into the lot, we had to smile.

Tracey’s mural certainly does capture the spirit and the essence of urban farming, and is beautiful to boot. It gives a whole, new, fresh look to a building that was serviceable but plain and, frankly, industrial. Now, it is cheerful and bright, and it will bring a touch of spring and summer even during the harshest of winter months.

While we were there, we took a look at the progress of the crops planted by volunteers this spring. Wow! Were we pleased! Tomato plants shoulder high, teeming with cheery and regular-sized fruit; beans that had grown, had been harvested by Ken and his volunteers; chives that were spreading over the ground, ready to reseed themselves; and even a couple of melons, tempting us in the summer heat.

Gardening has its pleasures, not the least of which is the witnessing of the growing and maturing process. To see a plant grow from a seedling to a mature, productive adult has the feel of a small, natural miracle and never fails to bring a smile.

Together with the great mural Tracey and her husband created, that small part of East 5th Street is a whole lot better than it was at the beginning of the year.

And we’re very thankful to Tracey, Ken, and of course, all the volunteers who made that possible.