Thanks to the Dayton Art Institute’s latest exhibition, 90 Treasures from its Permanent Collection, I can relive one of my childhood fantasies. When we were kids, our gang was fascinated by superheroes, of course. Pirates were a close second.
We all had Treasure Island books in kids’ versions. The very word “treasure” connoted pirate maps with buried chests of ill-gotten spoils there for the taking. A regular neighborhood activity was the actual treasure hunt. Some trinket was hidden and a map, full of mysterious clues and frustrating deviations, could lead us in a full day of snooping, digging and finally, victory, the trinket was found! I’m far from a kid but the thrill of a search remains exciting.
The concept of this Art Institute exhibition and its treasure hunt stemmed from several sources. DAI director Jan Driesbach wanted a special commemoration of the Grand Lady of Riverview Avenue’s 90th birthday. She also has been fascinated by the richness of the collection of the museum.
There are 26,000 objects in the permanent collection. Selecting a mere 90 could be a formidable task. To choose the works, Jan asked four experts to advance their personal selections. The panel: DAI’s Chief Curator Will South, former DAI European Curator Dominique Vaseur, now with the Columbus Museum of Art, Lisa Morrisette and Alejandra Gimenez-Berger, both professors of art at Wright State and Wittenberg, respectively.
To add to the excitement, these 90 treasures are not displayed together in special galleries. They live in their regular spaces in the array of beautiful galleries of our magnificent museum.
What happens when you attend “90 Treasures” is a very exciting hunt for treasure. The thrill of finding the treasures within the familiar gallery walls is matched by rediscovering so many old friends and making new friends hanging in the same gallery.
More fun follows as you wonder why this piece was chosen rather than your choice. A convenient gallery guide leads you throughout the museum. There is an unique “talk tour guide” by cell phone. This exciting bit of technology welcomes many of us to the 21st Century as the experts defend and explain their choices.
My suggestion - do not miss the 90 Treasures and find a few of your own. After visiting the exhibition, come to the museum for some of the interesting lectures. I am going on August 30th to hear the panel discuss and maybe argue their choices.
The exhibition, like our museum, is free to the public. From now to December 31st, “90 Treasures” deserves many visits!
What is Art Street? OK, I’ll tell you. Art Street is an innovation which has been thriving on the University of Dayton Campus for several years. Somehow, it has slipped under my radar and that of many others, as well. The arts at UD thrive. I attend many performances at the Jesse Phillips Building’s Sears Auditorium on campus and report on their high quality.
Fortunately, I met Susan Byrnes, director of Art Street, and have received an eye and mind opening tour of this fascinating initiative. First, Art Street is an actual place. Sitting on Keifaber Street adjacent to the Main UD campus are a series of attractive frame buildings. They contain classrooms, studios, a radio station, a photographic studio, a recording studio, a cafe and other riches. Over 50 students live in the upper story apartments of these buildings.
What occurs there is a teeming interplay of the arts, young minds, enthusiastic professors and the special chemistry which living with the arts creates. The program is bursting at the seams with performances, artists-in-residence, films, lectures - all experiments in artistic expression.
I met several of the students living on Art Street. Each had that special élan which removes the mundane and adds copious quantities of enthusiasm and purpose. One, a pre-dental student, was an example of this triumph of the magic of the arts-in-life. He is working hard at chemistry, physics, math and, most important – life. He will be a dentist, a great dentist, but he will subject his patients to something other than a successful filling. They will see a professional touched by the fire of imagination and art.
To help us discover this special place and its riches, go to http://artstreet.udayton.edu. Better than that, go to Art Street and see for yourself.
Dayton has so many community theaters. They are almost too numerous to count. We attend our share but miss many. The acting combination of good friends, Professor Chuck Larkowski and Pam McGinnis, enticed us to attend Playhouse South and their production of James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter.
Pam and Chuck made local theater history several seasons ago. The drama, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? was unforgettable with them as the leading characters. The Lion in Winter is a magnificent play. It fictionalizes the stormy times of Henry II of England and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
The history is complex, exposing the characters and their times very successfully. The Playhouse South production was hampered by local factors, Ninety degree heat and no air-conditioning made the audience and the actors suffer a bit. The poor diction of some of the cast kept the Act I exposition difficult and a bit cumbersome.
In Act II, the play came alive. The intense verbal sword plays of king and queen, ambition-ridden sons and the king’s mistress (who is to be married to one of the king’s sons), became a compelling experience.
Pam and Chuck were marvelous. They were joined by veteran actor Alex Carmichael in the strong diction, good acting department. While it was a somewhat flawed performance, a good history lesson and an appreciation for the comforts of modern life resulted.