Katherine Kadish's most recent collection, Inside Out, Outside In, is currently on exhibit at the Dayton Visual Arts Center.
Photo: Contributed
Photo: Contributed

Daytonian of the Week: Katherine Kadish

Dayton-area artist Katherine Kadish is a Pittsburgh transplant who, at one time, never envisioned leaving her Upstate New York home to live in Ohio, let alone enjoying it. 

But that all changed after moving to Yellow Springs in 1984 with her husband Robert Fogarty, longtime editor of The Antioch Review. Her latest collection, Inside Out, Outside In, is on exhibit now at the Dayton Visual Arts Center (118 N Jefferson St). 

"It's actually the conclusion of a series of ideas I've had and things I've collected -- parts of houses -- over a number of years," Kadish explained. "I've always been interested in the idea of gates, windows, doorways and the garden. What has always interested me most about gardens are the pathways into another garden. It's sort of like the thing you sense but don't know."

Kadish started her journey taking art classes as a young girl. Her growing ability earned her the privilege to further her studies at the prestigious art programs of both Carnegie Mellon and The University of Chicago. Kadish went on to become an educator in the subject.

Despite being diagnosed with Macular Degeneration in both eyes, the condition hasn't affected her work.

"It hit me at age 17. So I think I've had a long time to learn how to deal with it," Kadish said. 

Aside from DVAC, her work has recently been on display at The Ohio State University, and will soon be a part of the remodeled downtown Dayton Public Library branch. Kadish's work deals mostly in the abstract rather than finite details.

"I was never interested in the leaf on the tree. I was much more interested in the whole shape of the tree -- the light and dark -- and whatever it was next to," she added.

Katherine Kadish’s “Arched Window” oil and mixed media. currently at the Dayton Visual Arts Center. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY PAMELA DILLON
Photo: Contributing Writer

What do you do?

"Hang out," Kadish said laughing. "I often say I'm a painter, but not a house painter, and a print maker. I've always thought of myself as a painter who works in print, rather than a print maker who sometimes paints."

What superpower would you love to have?

"I just want to be an excellent artist. That's what I really want."

What do you love about life in Dayton?  

"I think Dayton, like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, is kind of self-effacing -- not putting on airs. It's taken time -- because I was very much settled in in Upstate New York -- but I feel like I have some really good friends and that matters a lot to me. There's some very good artists around."

What's your favorite spot in Dayton?

"I can't say there's a favorite, but the Dayton Visual Arts Center is really a remarkable institution. I don't know of any other city that has something so useful and interesting to artists. I also like the Dayton Art Institute. It's only recently that I went to Carillon Park (for the first time), and I find that terrific. I didn't know it was as good as it is. 

"I like Woodland Cemetery. It's a beautiful cemetery. It seemed to me at first that there was very little attention paid to the Great Miami River -- and thank god they've been working on the RiverScape project. I think it's really lovely. When I was commissioned to do some work for the new library, what I decided to focus on was the river because it's so important to remind people that it is there. 

"Another place I should mention is the Schuster Center, and thank god Dr. (Benjamin) Schuster and his wife built it. That's fantastic to have such a wonderful venue for concerts and performances of all kinds. It's beautiful by any city's standards. We're really lucky."

Why did you decide to settle in Dayton?

"Well, my husband had taught at Antioch for a long time. It was easier for me to get some teaching work here than for him to get a full-time job somewhere else. Then, as we began to make friends, it just seemed like a comfortable place to be."

How did you get involved with your line of work? 

"My aunt was a public school teacher and she taught art among other things. She herself was a pretty good artist. She just never took it seriously as a profession. She encouraged me. She had art magazines around and she was a visual person. When I went to college, she gave me some money for supplies. I think, if it hadn't been for her, I don't know what would have happened."

If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, what would it be? 

"I'd add more people to downtown. We need more moving bodies down there."