Willis ‘Bing’ Davis documentary to premiere in 2024



The cultural contributions and activism of iconic Dayton artist Willis “Bing” Davis will be captured in an upcoming ThinkTV documentary.

The documentary, created in partnership with Public Media Connect and the local PBS station, is currently “deep in pre-production,” according to the studio. It is expected to premiere in May 2024.

“Willis ‘Bing’ Davis represents the fabric of this community,” said Kitty Lensman, president and CEO of Public Media Connect, in a news release. “He is not only an incredible artist, but a person who has impacted this community and beyond in an uplifting and positive way. His life and his story needs to be told and we are honored to work with Bing on this documentary.”

Davis has long been a creator in the Dayton art scene. As an art educator, he has taught at and worked with Dayton Public Schools, Miami University, Central State University, University of Dayton and Wright State University. He currently owns and curates art for the Willis “Bing” Davis Art Studio and EbonNia Gallery in the Wright Dunbar district, where he still creates his own work.

Davis said he’s looking forward to sharing his art in a new medium with the documentary.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with the creative team at ThinkTV to produce a documentary about growing up in Dayton as an African American male with interest and skills in sports, art and culture,” he said. “The Dayton Miami Valley community has nurtured and supported me as an athlete, artist and in community service.”

His art and activism in the Dayton community has earned him numerous awards including a spot on the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame just down the street from his gallery, physically cementing Davis as an honorable and notable Daytonian. Much of his work showcases African American culture and social justice issues in society.

Davis’ “impact on Dayton is tangible,” according to Ann Rotolante, the lead producer on the film. She said feels the weight and longevity of Davis’ legacy and is excited to bring the documentary to the Dayton community.

Producer Rodney Veal, a former pupil of Davis, also feels the tangible impact of Davis’ contributions.

“As a native Daytonian, I have admired the work and life of Bing Davis,” said Veal, host of “The Art Show” and the “Rodney Veal’s Inspired By” podcast with ThinkTV. “My first ever summer art camp was with Bing Davis, and it left such impression on my life. He was the first African American artist I ever encountered and that interaction informed my life spent in the arts. This is such amazing way to pay homage to such an iconic man, activist and artist.”

The documentary will be broadcast on TV as well as livestreamed on YouTube and the PBS app.

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