Mary Kathryn Burnside hardly needs an introduction.
Business owner, event planner and patron of the arts, the West Virginia native opened Clash Dayton at 521 E. Fifth St. in 2011 to create a new spot that combined unique artwork, fashion and small events like fashion shows, art exhibitions and collaborative photo-shoots, she said.
"Clash has become a home for many Dayton artists who fall into alternative genres such as lowbrow and pop surrealism art," she said. "While these styles of work were often turned down by many galleries in the area, I was always a diehard supporter and wanted to provide a space in which they could display their creations."
She moved to Dayton in 2003 to attend the Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology, and it's been her home ever since. She was an event planner when the idea bloomed to open Clash.
"Opening day happened in about two months. I just threw myself into it with very little experience, and I continue to learn something new every day," she said.
Not only is Burnside one of the Oregon District's many female business owners, but she was also named as one of the 2016 Women to Watch by the Better Business Bureau's Women in Business Networking. We spoke with her about some of her upcoming events, Women's History Month, and why she made the Gem City her home.
You are constantly putting on/involved in events around downtown Dayton. Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming Bad Friday event and other upcoming event?
Mary Kathryn Burnside: I am currently involved with the planning of at least a dozen upcoming events that will take place within the next several months
Bad Friday is a dark arts expo that will consist of performance art, visual art, local vendors and a dance party to end the event. You will see burlesque, sword swallowing, fire breathing, glass walking, comedy and local artwork. The performance artists are from all over the U.S. and here in Dayton as well. The Wicked 'Wich of Dayton food truck will be at the event for those who come hungry. It will be held at Vex on March 25 from 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m.
Our next fashion show will be held at Masque on April 24 at 7 p.m. We will be showcasing 10 local fashion designers, vintage from our shop and Feathers Vintage Clothing, and several ready-to-wear lines from Clash and Iona Boutique in Yellow Springs. A few of the Rubi Girls will be participating as our special guests of the evening.
We are very excited for all of the First Fridays this year. The first Friday of every month, we open a new art show featuring local artists, collaboration shows, and we often work with different charities in the area to raise awareness of their cause. Some of this year's shows are Stivers Student Works, Phobia, Derby Fashion,and various solo artists and group shows.
What is one fact or issue that you believe people should be particularly conscious of this year for Women’s History Month?
MKB: I feel we all need to be more conscious of women's health issues here in Ohio. I know that doesn't necessarily relate to Women's History Month, but it is something we should all pay attention to. There are local organizations like PUSH (Professionals United for Sexual Health) Dayton that help raise awareness of these issues.
What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self, if you could, or to younger women in general?
MKB: Don't be afraid to take risks. You never know what could happen until you actually do it.
Where do you go for a good time in the area?
MKB: The Oregon District is definitely my favorite destination spot. There is something for everyone. Corner Kitchen is one of my favorite new places. Try their nachos!!
What’s one word that you think people would use to describe you?
What do you love about life in Dayton?
MKB: I love the small-town feeling Dayton has and how much potential there is for Dayton to grow. Aside from not having a good grocery store, you really don't have to leave much!
If there were one thing you could change/improve about Dayton, what would it be?
MKB: I would love to change the misconception that Dayton is a dangerous and/or boring place. I have heard so many people say they are scared to come downtown and that literally makes my skin crawl. Ever since moving here at 19, the colorful urban living has provided me with countless opportunities and a wonderful community.