Dayton is a craggy gem of underrated worth. Dayton is “sneaky like that,” as I was recently told by a like-minded individual. Dayton reminds me of Philadelphia, where I went to art school, in the early 2000s. Dayton also reminds me a little of Northeast Portland in the same era, where I nannied over school breaks. Dayton has enough going on to make it work, and what’s going on is really pretty good.
I earn less here, but my life is so much improved it doesn’t even compare. As mid-life begins its descent, I realize that I don’t need “all the things,” I just need good people with fresh ideas and the potential to make some things happen with enthusiasm. Here in Dayton, I’m teaching, painting, and writing while living in a house, with clean air outside, and meeting creative people who have more time to share their talents rather than hoard them - this would have blown my mind back in Brooklyn!
Daytonians, in my experience, are approachable and root for one another. Here are examples of Dayton synergy in my two love languages, food and art: the Culinary School-trained chefs at Grist sell their bread to the gourmet sandwich slinging folks at Tony & Pete’s while the little farm an hour south sells their syrup to the Silver Slipper wine bar and the Silver Slipper owners champion their artist friends and the artist friends are nice and talented and agree that they, too, will live in Dayton and it works, this symbiotic relationship that is just enough to polish slightly the rough gem that is Dayton.
Everyone, just please let me enjoy Dayton, Ohio.
Hannah Kasper Levinson holds a BFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and an MFA from Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. She teaches K-6 art in Dayton.