Daytonian of the Week: Eva Buttacavoli

If you ask Eva Buttacavoli how she ended up in Dayton, she might just tell you she was charmed into it.

Buttacavoli, who has lived in Brooklyn, New York; Miami, Florida and Austin, Texas, was convinced by her husband to move to his hometown seven years ago.

She stepped in as executive director of Dayton Visual Arts Center in 2011 – a time she describes as tumultuous for Dayton’s art scene. Now, Buttacavoli said she is optimistic about DVAC’s immediate future, which includes an inaugural event later this year and a partnership with

Here, meet Eva Buttacavoli, our Daytonian of the week.

How did you become DVAC's executive director?
Eva Buttacavoli: 2011 was a crazy time in Dayton's arts & cultural scene. The DPAA was being formed, the DAI was shifting, galleries were closing and alternative spaces emerging. I was 2 years in as the Executive Director of FilmDayton with 20+ years under my belt as Curator and Director of Exhibitions and Education at two museums. It was just timing.

Can you briefly describe a couple of upcoming DVAC events or exhibitions in 2016 that you're excited for?
Eva Buttacavoli: I am most excited right now about our inaugural CSA — Community Supported Art project.

1.) We are empowering artists with the freedom and the funds to create NEW WORK. That’s a deep commitment to our creatives – it sends a strong signal, unlike any other vote of confidence going on in the area right now, to young grads, mid-career-just-moved-back and mature artists – that they are valued.

2.) We're inviting people to purchase shares to invest back into these artists and to DVAC — AND they receive 6 fresh, original, signed works of art at our inaugural Harvest Party August 9 at Dayton Beer Company. More info and shares available at

What's one word you think people would use to describe you? 
Eva Buttacavoli: Enthusiastic.

March is Women's History Month. What is one fact or issue that you believe people should be particularly conscious of this year for Women's History Month?
Eva Buttacavoli: As a YWCA Board Member, I'm conscious every day of the ways we can work together to empower women. Particularly, how each one of us can change a conversation we hear in person or see in the media from blaming to empowering. Just speak up.

Dayton has a prolific local art scene, and, in my opinion, a plethora of amazing female artists. Who are a few local women whose art you particularly love or respect?
Eva Buttacavoli:
I'll tell you what – how about calling out the amazing arts leaders this region has who are women! RoNita Hawes-Saunders of DCDC, Mary Campbell Zopf at Muse Machine, the curatorial team at the DAI of Aimee Degalan & Katie Siegrath, Sarah Tangeman at DSPS, Lisa Grigsby of FilmDayton, Jerri Stanard, Rebecca Sargeant and Kelly Sexton at K12;  Shayna McConville & Tracy Flagg at City of Kettering/Rosewood Art Centre, Tess Cortes at Stein Galleries at WSU, Shari Rethman, Dean of Liberal Arts at Sinclair; Liz Whipps, Julie Anderson, Paula Kraus & Leah Stahl at Stivers; Judith Huacuja, Dean of the Dept of Art & Design at UD; Ashley Jonas at Blue House, Colleen Kelsey, Dutoit Gallery. These leaders are making a difference.

What inspires you about Dayton?
Eva Buttacavoli: My husband. And Mayor Whaley. And Ken Neufeld. And WYSO. And the people I work with.

Where do you go for a good time in the area?
Eva Buttacavoli: A good time for me is visiting artists studios—and everyone can do this, actually—check out the Facebook pages of Front Street Studios, Davis-Linden Building and K12 Gallery & Tejas. I also always have good times at 2nd St. Market, Square One Salon & Spa, Lily's Bistro and Corner Kitchen. In good weather, any place that includes being outdoors—walks around Deweese Park or an urban bike ride ending up at Carillon Brewery. I'm also a sucker for the fountains at Five River Metro Parks in the summertime.

Can you describe your new collaboration/upcoming feature writing with
Eva Buttacavoli: I'm thrilled to launch this thing that will be the written manifestation of how I've talked about art for years—you know the theory that we are all connected by no more than six links? Well, it applies quite well to art, so I'm going to have fun with it by starting with an art flashpoint and connecting it to our lives in the Miami Valley.

>> Read Eva's first column here: 6 degrees of ... piped-in mall music

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