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DAI’s ‘Limited Editions’ prints a study of the times

Limited Editions, the latest exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute, is an accurate title.  On display are prints on paper from the Ponderosa Collection which has been owned by the art institute since 1987.

The title applies to the actual prints displayed.  Each is an artist’s original work as recreated by master printmakers. Each original is printed a specified number of times and then the original work is destroyed. Thus, the editions of the work are limited.

What is unlimited is the dramatic story of the original Ponderosa Collection and the art institute’s acquisition of it on the sale of the corporation.  This is a saga of Dayton. It is a great measure of the devotion to the community, the arts and the Dayton Art Institute.

The collection - paintings, sculpture and prints - was a result of the keen interest of Jerry Office, Jr. as CEO of Ponderosa.  He continued to amass this major collection with the assistance of Cincinnati art dealer Carl Solway.  In Solway, Jerry Office found an expert guide and mentor.  In Jerry Office, Carl Solway found a devoted pupil and client.

The concentration was on the art of the times.  Acquired in the two decades ending in the corporate sale in 1987, established artists such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Helen Frankenthaler were joined by budding artists, many of whom are now quite famous.

I had several opportunities to view the acquisitions with Jerry’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable guidance.  When the Ponderosa office building opened at the Dayton Airport, it was equally a museum of contemporary art and business center.  

The purchase of Ponderosa was one of the hostile take-overs in vogue during that period. The purchaser, Asher Edelman, was relentless in his pursuit of the company. Fortunately, he was an art enthusiast and knew the importance and value of the collection.

I met Edelman quite by accident while skiing in Taos, New Mexico.  He made it clear that he valued the collection and was interested in having it acquired by the Dayton
Art Institute.  Armed with this revelation, I phoned Bruce Evans, then director of the DAI.  He was already working with his board and Carl Solway to bring the acquisition to fruition.

In short order, agreement was reached, the money raised, a very successful fund drive initiated.  Thus, the Dayton Art Institute made a mega-leap with its contemporary art collection.

Patrons of the museum have been enjoying many of the Ponderosa works on display.  The prints are, however, fragile by comparison to paintings.  They cannot be on display for long periods of time without risking damage.  This exhibition, over 100 works on paper, has never been shown in its totality.  The works, stored by the museum, have been increasing in value logarithmically.  Now they will increase in visual value by the same measure.

The prints, lovingly selected by exhibition curator Eileen Carr, represent a wide range of the art of the times.  Cartoon characters such as Warhol’s Mickey and Howdy Doody vie with exquisite color compositions by Jasper Johns and Richard Diebenkorn.

Personally, I have never been enthusiastic about prints as major works of art. That is until I experienced this exhibition.  Careful grouping, exciting contrasts, eclectic combinations of colors, forms and subjects came together with vibrant life in the idealized gallery designs by preparateur Martin Pleiss.

The labeling of the individual works of art is another valuable addition.  Prints are a major collaborative effort.  The artist’s conception must be analyzed by master printmakers to find the ideal method of reproducing the original. Some of the prints have fifteen individual silkscreen applications to achieve the desired finished product. There were many woodcuts exhibiting texture and colors not unlike an original oil painting. The labels give credit to all the creative participants, artist, print maker and publisher.  Reading the labels after viewing the works expanded my appreciation for the artistry and the technologic art of the artisans.

This is Janet Driesbach’s first exhibition as director of the Art Institute.   Her enthusiasm for the riches of the entire collection is very refreshing and important.  To have this major exhibition an expression of our own collection and in an area of art in which Jan has substantial experience and expertise is, indeed, serendipitous.
It is a triumph to have this exciting collection, gained by such positive action from so many.  On view for the first time, it is an equal triumph.  I hope that we can look forward to having our own riches displayed with the same emphasis and sensitivity in the future.  

The exhibition will be on display through April 27th.  There are many adjunctive programs to explain the printmaking process, discuss the artists and highlight the collection.  Check the DAI website, You’ll be amazed what is waiting for you to learn.

Fundraiser for Stivers at DAI March 7

The seedling Foundation, in support of Stivers School for the Arts, will host an evening of Hot Talent/Cool Gems on Friday, March 7, at The Dayton Art Institute. The evening will feature a jewelry auction, fine wine, generous hors d’oeuvres, gourmet desserts, coffee and other beverages. Individuals and small student groups will entertain during the 5:30 to7:30 p.m. auction and buffet. Sixty Minutes of Wow! showcasing the award winning Stivers Jazz Orchestra and Stivers Dance Ensemble plus other student groups will take place from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The evening’s sponsors include The seedling Foundation; DP&L; Time Warner Cable; and The Dayton Art Institute. Proceeds from Hot Talent/Cool Gems will provide a critically needed foundation for the 2008-2009 goal of another $180,000. The Dayton Public Schools board has expressed an intention to restore cut adjunct funds and positions upon passage of a new levy. In the meantime the school and its adjuncts rely on community support provided through The seedling Foundation.

Tickets for the evening are $100 per person. Patron tables are available at $500 for Sapphire Level (four tickets, program listing, patron identification card on table) or $750 for Emerald Level (six tickets, program listing, patron identification card on table). Tickets and patron tables may be ordered at or by phoning (937) 251-6602.

MEEC seeks art entries on peace, environment

The Marianist Environmental Education Center (MEEC) is seeking submissions for an upcoming art and education show on the theme of peace and the environment.
The exhibit will be held March 30 through April 27 at Gallery St. John in Beavercreek, Ohio.  

Each year MEEC hosts an art show to facilitate a deeper understanding of human impacts on ecosystems, and the important role that ecosystems play in maintaining life. This year the theme of the exhibit is “Peaceful Earth Works: An exploration of the relationship between peace and the environment.”

MEEC is calling for visual artists, writers, musicians, and educators to participate in the exhibit. All age groups are encouraged to submit entries representing the artistic expression of the theme, peace and the environment.  Artists and educators may also wish to take part in a special exhibit that will concentrate on aspects of climate change and peace.  

MEEC is located at Mount St. John on East Patterson Road.  MEEC stewards 100 acres of natural area as part of its educational mission to “preserve and act in communion with the land and educate other communities in sustainability through ecology-based simple living, social justice, and spirituality.”

For submission information, see the MEEC website at or call the MEEC office at (937) 429-3582.

Entries sought for Oakwood Film Festival

The Oakwood Jr./Sr. High School Film Club will be sponsoring the sixth annual Oakwood Film Festival on Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 1 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Film age groups are: K- second grade, third – fifth grade, sixth – eighth grade, ninth – twelfth grade and community members.

If you would like to enter a film, the deadline is April 30. You can pick up film guidelines and registration forms in the high school or junior high offices. There is       no fee to enter a film.  Turn in registration forms and films (DVD or VHS format) to the Oakwood High School office by April 30.

If you would like to help sponsor the film festival, contact Debbie Smith at
(937) 297-5325 or .

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March 4, 2008
Volume 17, No. 10

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