7 reasons to be excited about the arts in Dayton in 2017

The year 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the arts. It’s time to begin filling your new calendar with some of the Miami Valley’s most exciting arts and entertainment options for the new year. While there’ll be more exciting announcements coming in the weeks ahead, we’ve put together a sampling of a few things to be excited about:


The Dayton Art Institute has just released its 2017 special exhibition schedule, and we can look forward to three traveling exhibits: a major retrospective of Native American artist Kay WalkingStick, a newly organized tour of the African beadwork of the Ubuhle women and Art Nouveau lithographs by Alphonse Mucha.

  • "Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist" will come to the museum Feb. 11-May 7. Co-organized by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the American Federation of Arts, the show is the first major retrospective of one of today's most accomplished Native American artists and a leading practitioner of contemporary landscape painting. The exhibit features 60 of her most notable paintings, drawings, sculptures and notebooks. It's arranged chronologically around themes that reflect her artistic journey.
  • "Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence," showcases a new form of bead art, the ndwango ("cloth"), developed by a community of women living and working together in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Dayton is the first city for this new tour that's organized by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. It will be in town from June 24-Sept. 10.
  • "Art Nouveau designs of Alphonse Mucha." Drawn from one of the finest private collections of Mucha's work in the United States, this exhibition features 75 works by the Czech master, whose work helped form and shape the aesthetics of French Art Nouveau at the turn of the 20th century. You'll see original lithographs and proofs, paintings, drawings, and ephemera. That exhibit will run Sept. 16-Dec. 31.


When it premiered, "Kinky Boots" took home six 2013 Tony Awards, the most of any show in the season. The hit Broadway musical comes to Dayton for the first time May 23-28. It's the creative collaboration between four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein, who wrote the book, and Grammy Award-winning rock icon Cyndi Lauper, who won the Tony for Best Score.

The plot, inspired by true events, transports audiences from a gentlemen’s shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. It’s the story of Charlie Price — struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and to continue the family business. With the factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.

The Victoria Theatre Association will also host other popular Broadway shows including “42nd Street (Jan. 10-14); “Dirty Dancing” (March 14-19); “Motown: The Musical” (April 11-16) and “Circus: 1903” (June 13-18.) The circus acts range from acrobats and knife throwers to high wire walkers and contortionists. The elephants featured in the show are puppets brought to life by the award-winning puppeteers of “War Horse” fame.


Sometime between mid-March and mid-June, the renovated and expanded Dayton Metro Library will open in downtown Dayton. Thanks to the anonymous grant that’s commissioning artists to create art for each of the libraries, we’ll be treated to new art installations by six regional artists.

The artwork for the main library has been inspired by three pieces from the Dayton Art Institute’s permanent collection: Monet’s “Waterlilies,” Nam June Pak’s “Four Decades” and the Peruvian mummy mMask.

The piece with the "wow" factor is sure to be Terry Welker's "Fractal Rain," a large, kinetic sculpture of wire and acrylic prisms representing rain. It will hang between the two main staircases and three floors of the atrium.

“Monet used a contemporary palette in ‘Waterlilies’ to give an impression of refracted and reflected light,” Welker explains. ‘Fractal Rain” relies on natural light to project a shared memory of rain with polished steel wires. This work also responds to our infamous 1913 flood. Rain can evoke a positive emotional response while also reminding us that strong rains are a precursor to floods.”

Other artwork at the new library includes: a 360-square-foot rubber tile piece by Susan Byrnes of Cincinnati; six fabric collages by Andrea Myeres of Columbus; an oil painting by Dayton’s Gretchen Durst Jacobs; a series of five monotypes connecting the elements of water, sky, and landscape by Katherine Kadish of Yellow Springs; and a large floral photomural by Paula Wilmot Kraus of Dayton.


The Human Race Theatre Company is pretty excited about two world premieres they'll be staging in 2017. New York playwright Eric Ulloa's "26 Pebbles" focuses on the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012. The event — which took the lives of 20 young children and six adults — was described by one local resident as pebbles thrown into a pond that created ripples that captured the entire nation. Ulloa's drama, based on interviews with the people of the small New England town, captures the true stories and the aftermath.

Daniel Goldstein's "Family Ties," based on the popular CBS television sitcom from the 1980s, shows us what might be happening to the family members 30 years later when Alex P. Keaton, now running for Congress, returns to his parents' Columbus home with his sisters, Mallory and Jennifer, who are parents themselves. The show will be on stage June 1-25 and the Human Race folks are hoping some of the show's original cast members will come to town to see it.


It's always a treat when the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Opera and Dayton Ballet collaborate for a Dayton Performing Arts Alliance Signature Event. On May 19 and 21, they'll present Georges Bizet's "Carmen," one of the world's most frequently performed operas.

Other upcoming 2017 highlights include the Dayton Ballet's annual Valentine's Day treat — "Daring Duets" on Feb. 9-12; "The Best of John Williams," a Philharmonic Superpops concert on April 7-8; and the "Music of Queen," a Philharmonic Orchestra concert on April 29. Pop tenor Mark Masri will join the DPO on March 10-11 for "Once Upon a Love Song."

The orchestra will mark 10 years of its Stained Glass Community Engagement Concerts with a Jan 22 program entitled "Lift Ev'ry Voice." Church choirs from congregations that have hosted the Stained Glass series over the years will join the DPO for an afternoon of uplifting music in the Schuster Center.

The DPAA will be announcing all of its new seasons on New Year’s Eve. We’ll keep you posted.


The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company will introduce a world premiere when it takes a look at storytelling through dance with the help of celebrated New York choreographer Ray Mercer. "Vantage Points: A Read Between the Lines" will be on stage March 4-5 and will focus on the choreographer's perspective.

On March 24-25, DCDC2 will host its annual concert, also featuring the University of Dayton Ensemble Dancers. Guest choreographers and dance artists will tell their stories through memories, their voices.

In another collaboration, the Dayton Gay Men's Chorus has received a grant to join with DCDC on an original work slated for June 3.


Dolly Parton's hit musical, "9 to 5" will be on stage at Wright State University's Festival Playhouse March 16 to April 2. Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour" is slated for Feb. 2-12. Just announced is the Pulitzer Prize-winning "You Can'tTake it With You!" in September and an all-new "Fiddler on the Roof" in November.

Twenty-four artists from around the country will be showcased in Wright State's gorgeous new Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries from Jan. 17 through Feb. 26 in an exhibition that pushes the boundaries between traditional book making and new media. The show, "Structure Unbound: Interdisciplinary Book Art," includes paper wall installations, traditional accordion-style books, and cut paper structures that include LEDs and electronic components. Exhibition juror and featured artist is Colette Fu, a nationally recognized photographer and pop-up paper engineer who has designed for award-winning, stop-motion animation commercials.

Wright State's School of Music has a busy concert schedule including a Wind Symphony Concert (Jan 31), a Chamber Orchestra Concert (Feb. 14), and a Collegiate Chorale concert (Feb. 19). A Concerto Aria Night is slated for Feb. 21.

The Honors Recital featuring Young Artist Solo Competition finalists is scheduled for April 9. The winner of will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

The University of Dayton will plant a Mary's Garden inside Roesch Library March 25 through May 10. Visitors will be able to walk through a living indoor garden filled with flowers and plants named for Mary, mother of Christ. The exhibit, free and open to the public, also will include the history of the Mary's Garden movement and paintings by artist Holly Schapker.

Other UD arts highlights include a photo exhibit, "Ferguson Voices: Disrupting the Frame," (Jan. 17-Feb. 3) and a black box theater production featuring UpLift Physical Theatre and the Zoot Theatre Company entitled "Enmity of thePeople" (Feb. 24-26) The play centers around a town with a poisoned water source.