LunaFest will feature local films by inmates

Kay Koeninger, Professor of Art History at Sinclair Community College, will discuss the Dayton Art Institute’s newly opened Native American Art Gallery on March 30. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Kay Koeninger, Professor of Art History at Sinclair Community College, will discuss the Dayton Art Institute’s newly opened Native American Art Gallery on March 30. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Chinonye Chukwu, assistant professor of motion pictures at Wright State University, has been teaching screenwriting to the women at the Dayton Correctional Institute as part of her “Pens to Pictures” project.

The result is five short films, two of which will be shown today — Sunday, March 26 — at The Neon movie theater in downtown Dayton as part of this year’s LunaFest. The traveling film festival of nine award-winning short films — by, for and about women — travels to more than over 175 cities raising funds for charities. The screening, which will take place from 3-5 p.m., typically incorporates some local films as well.

The local films screened will be “Bang,” which portrays “a woman who has been rejected by nearly everyone, has two starving children, no job and has been pushed to the limit,” and “For They Know Not,” which chronicles the story of a woman battling heroin addiction.

As part of the project, Chukwu brought crew members, cinematographers, a professional film editor and actors from Ohio, Indiana and Chicago to meet with the incarcerated women. When it was time to film, she brought in five co-directors, all current or former Wright State students. The films were shot outside the prison without the inmates over a 10-day period in June. One location was near Wright State, another at the old jail in downtown Dayton, some in private homes and one in Cincinnati.

Wanza Jackson Mitchell, warden of the prison, said the project has empowered the incarcerated women by giving them a voice to tell their stories to the outside world.

Chukwu hopes the films will play at film festivals and be screened at prisons, community centers and juvenile detention centers around the country, and find their way onto public television.

She says the incarcerated women have developed meaningful film-making skills and that several hope to go into the movie business after their release.

Funds raised by this year’s LunaFest will go to the Breast Cancer Fund and to Pens to Pictures. Tickets are $10 ($5 for students). The event is sponsored nationally by Luna, makers of the nutrition bar, and locally by Dayton Women’s Rights Alliance and the Dayton chapter of the American Association of University Women.

All five of the films written at Dayton Correctional Institute will also be screened at Wright State’s Lake Campus in Celina (7600 Lake Campus Drive) from 2-3 p.m. on Monday, March 27. They were also screened at the prison on Nov. 29, drawing about 125 people.

Autism event at DAI

In honor of World Autism Awareness Day, the Dayton Art Institute is planning an inclusive event that will celebrate the unique talents and skills of people with autism. The event is slated for 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, April 2.

The Lange Family Experiencenter has planned autism-themed art activities, resources and presentations about understanding autism and the healing power of the arts. The program is appropriate for all ages and levels of artistic ability. All materials will be provided.

The program is free to members and included in admission for non-members. Preregistration is required. For more information or to register, contact Sarah Fisher, Museum Educator for Youth, Family and Adult Programs, at (937) 223-4278, ext. 328 or

Also at the DAI

A curatorial conversation with Kay Koeninger, professor of Art History at Sinclair Community College, will focus on the Dayton Art Institute's newly opened Native American Art Gallery.

A champagne toast will follow the 6-7 p.m. presentation on Thursday, March 30. Tickets are $5 members, $10 non-members in advance and all tickets at the door are $12. Advance reservations are recommended: call (937) 223-4ART (4278) for reservations or register online at

“Mary’s Garden” exhibit opens at UD

An opening for the new exhibit blossoming at the University of Dayton library is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. today, Sunday, March 26. For the first time, the school will feature a living indoor garden filled with some of the hundreds of flowers and plants named in medieval times as symbols for the Virgin Mary.

Brief remarks will begin at 2:30 p.m. Parking for the opening event is available without a permit in lots A, B and P. We’ll be telling you more about this special exhibit in next week’s Life and Arts section.

Springfield native featured at Fairborn exhibit

Fairborn’s Art Association will host a gallery showing by photographer Tina Hatfield during the month of April. Hatfield is a native of Springfield, a graduate of Shawnee High School and alumnus of Clark State Community College.

“I always loved spending summers outside and would use my grandma’s old Polaroid camera to take pictures of nature scenes,” says Hatfield. ” I always had hundred’s of photos at the end of the season.”

In 2016 she joined Focus Photography Group in Dayton, where she won several awards including first, second and third place awards and several Honorable Mentions. She took first place In February this year in a black-and-white-themed competition with her photo "The Woods."

Hatfield says she loves taking photos and printing them out as a raw photos and then as black-and-white prints. “A photo tells a story,” she says, “any type of photo. It reminds us that, sometimes, we need to stop being so ‘busy’ and get outside to enjoy all the beauty of nature.”

Her work, including “The Woods,” will be on display in her show titled “Nature Inspiration” from 1-4 p.m. at the FAA Gallery Sundays in April. The gallery is located at 221 North Central, Fairborn, Ohio.

Rembrandt etchings in Cincinnati

An exhibition of etchings by the Dutch 17th-century master, Rembrandt van Rijn, is now open at the Skirball Museum on the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The exhibition, which will be on display through April 30, features 21 etchings by Rembrandt of Jewish and biblical subjects as well as a self-portrait from 1634. Also included is a drawing by Pieter Lastman, Rembrandt’s teacher.

In highlighting Rembrandt’s etchings of Jewish and biblical subjects, the exhibition explores the artist’s innovative approach to depicting Old Testament narratives with expressive emotion and dramatic realism. Rembrandt never formally joined any church, but he was an astute student of the Bible. At times, he turned to Amsterdam’s Jews for theological insights into new ways of depicting biblical imagery. Jewish community leaders were among his friends and advisers. He also hired models from the Jewish community and received commissions from Jewish patrons.

Of particular local interest is the scholarship on Rembrandt by Dr. Franz Landsberger in his 1946 book, "Rembrandt, the Jews and the Bible." Landsberger was among a group of European Jewish scholars rescued by Hebrew Union College beginning in 1938.

At a noontime “Lunch and Learn” on Tuesday, Kristi Nelson, University of Cincinnati Professor Emeritus of Art History and specialist in Dutch and Flemish art, will present an illustrated talk on Rembrandt’s place in the Dutch Golden Age; his prolific career as a painter and print maker; and the unique milieu of Amsterdam in the seventeenth century. A light lunch will be served and the exhibition will be open for viewing before and after the program.

All events are free and open to the public and take place on the Clifton campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 3101 Clifton Avenue. The Skirball Museum is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. For information, reservations, or to arrange a tour call (513) 487-3098 or

Artisan applications open for Oktoberfest

The Dayton Art Institute is now accepting applications from artisans interested in booth space at the museum’s annual Oktoberfest celebration, taking place Sept. 22-24, 2017.

The three-day community festival, held on the museum grounds, draws 25,000-30,000 people each year, and features two large tents devoted to artisans selling their works. More than 50 artisans from around the country display pieces available for purchase — paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, photography, jewelry, pottery, metal works, wood works, fashion and accessories and leather goods. A Best of Show Award and up to three Invitational Awards are presented during the festival.

Artisans are selected through a jury process, and all applications must be submitted online, via The deadline for artisans to apply is April 21, 2017.

Each week arts writer Meredith Moss shares information about the people and events making arts news in our region.

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