“I’m looking forward to seeing the first person walk into the gallery when it opens and see the space and the installation, and their jaw drops as they say, ‘Oh, wow,’” Eva Buttacavoli, The Co’s executive director, said.
The largest of the galleries, at 2,348 square feet, will be dedicated to original contemporary art shows. Another, at 780 square feet, will showcase new work by local and Ohio artists, and a separate gallery will feature film and video.
A 74-foot-long wall will bisect the galleries, opening up an area for murals or “artists who work large,” Butttacavoli said. A smaller “jewel-box” gallery will be used for sculpture installations and special programs.
Behind storefront glass doors opening into the Arcade’s rotunda will be an area that transforms into the annual Holiday Gift Gallery. The space will become a year-round art store and bookstore in 2022.
The move to the Dayton Arcade was the right fit “because it checked off all our boxes,” Buttacavoli said. “We can have more awareness and attention and give the community more.”
The Dayton Arcade provided The Co space to expand, more foot traffic and an opportunity to leverage relationships with the University of Dayton, Sinclair Community College and the city of Dayton, Buttacavoli said.
“DVAC and the Co have always championed helping advance Dayton artists and Ohio artists to the next level in their career and practice. We continue to do that. It’s a major part of our mission.”
The Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC) was formed in 1991 and moved to its current location at 118 N. Jefferson St. in 2006. In 2018, DVAC rebranded to The Contemporary Dayton.
The organization is in the final phase of a capital campaign that has raised nearly half of its $1,695,000 goal. Donations have come from individual donors and the Eichelberger Family Foundation and The Kettering Fund.
“I am simply ecstatic to share that despite the past long and winding year, we have reached a critical milestone,” Buttacavoli said.
“We now invite the entire community to join us by supporting the campaign so we can realize our vision to expand the definition of contemporary art for Dayton, serve larger and more diverse audiences, and become part of the arts, innovation, and entertainment hub at the reborn Dayton Arcade.”
The doors will open Friday, April 30 with a socially distanced members preview from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by an opening party from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Opening weekend hours will be Saturday, May 1, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, May 2, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The gallery hours beginning May 3 will be Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The galleries are closed Monday and Tuesday.
The inaugural exhibitions will feature three premieres, two produced exclusively for the opening.
The exhibitions will feature the work of Dayton natives Zachary Armstrong, the late Curtis Barnes Sr. and Los Angeles filmmaker Cauleen Smith, artists who play a role in social-justice education, community building, and social activism.
“The Co has been around for 30 years, and we’ve built ourselves for the community, in the community, with the community,” Buttacavoli said. “People are passionate about what we do, how we serve artists and the contemporary art that we bring.”
The Contemporary Dayton at the Dayton Arcade inaugural exhibitions will open April 30 and be on view through July 17, 2021.
Zachary Armstrong: Grids & Abstracts
The premiere of new work by internationally renowned artist, Dayton native and resident, Zachary Armstrong, will christen The Co’s new galleries’ most distinct feature — a dramatic 74-foot wall — with floor-to-ceiling “wallpaper.” The exhibition, curated by Michael Goodson, will feature a dizzying design of repetitive, swooping forms sourced from Armstrong’s childhood drawings, family history, and a gathering of iconic Dayton signs and symbols (such as the Elder-Beerman logo) all executed entirely in shades of gray. An original short film produced by The Co will be on view during the exhibition, along with a full-color catalogue that will include essays and interviews by Goodson and Dr. Greer Pagano, instructor, Columbus College of Art & Design and former chief curator, The Pizzuti Collection, Columbus.
Curtis Barnes, Sr.: Love & Peace I The Dr. Robert L. Brandt Jr, Family Gallery and The Chase T. and Jon A. Hale Gallery
Consisting largely of self-portraits and paintings of family members and friends by the late educator, mentor, and Dayton legend, Curtis Barnes, Sr., the paintings represent a generation of black painters whose contributions are still deeply felt today. The exhibition is curated by Goodson and Armstrong, who worked closely with Barnes’ family to restore and present a never-before-exhibited immersive grid of 36 “community portraits” made by Barnes during his long affiliation with Dayton’s Westwood Community Center. An original short film produced by The Co will be on view during the exhibition along with a full-color catalogue that will include essays and interviews by Goodson and Pagano.
Cauleen Smith: Remote Viewing I The Eichelberger Video Gallery
The Co will present the regional premiere of Los Angeles-based, globally recognized filmmaker and recent Studio Museum Wein Artist Prize winner for her work on Black Identity, feminism, and Afrofuturism, Cauleen Smith. Remote Viewing depicts a true story about a boy who witnessed the whites in his town attempt to obliterate every trace of the black community’s history by digging a deep hole in which to bury a historical schoolhouse. Curated by Goodson, the exhibition will be accompanied by a screening of a selection of Smith’s short films and Virtual Artist Q&A.