Kettering’s arts manager builds community bridges

She oversees Rosewood Arts Center, public art program.

Shayna McConville is the Cultural Arts manager for the city of Kettering. Her biggest responsibility is Rosewood Arts Center, a 39,000-square-foot former elementary school, housing artist studios, camps, exhibitions and a plethora of classes — including an extensive clay program. Working under the umbrella of Kettering Arts, Recreation and Cultural Arts, McConville also runs the city’s public art program.

McConville, 43, grew up in Yellow Springs, where her grandparents settled for careers in the sciences. “The ‘50s and ‘60s were an interesting time in Yellow Springs. A lot of scientists were living there, and Antioch College was thriving. I’ve uncovered scientific reports over the years, going through boxes of stuff in these houses in Yellow Springs. You’re like, ‘I had no idea. I thought that was just Dave who was always downtown wearing those high socks and drinking coffee, and he is a published scientist.’ They were just the guys puttering around town (laughs).”

McConville lives in South Park in an 1872 fixer upper surrounded by friends, many of whom grew up in Yellow Springs.


McConville, herself an artist, studied Painting and Printmaking at Parsons in New York, living there during 9/11. After graduating with an MFA from University of Pennsylvania, she worked in Exhibitions and Programming at the Tyler School of Art, where she created an alliance of organizations within the community in North Philadelphia. “I think the arts are a different way of feeling safe with other people. The bridges were being built because of the arts and because we were so willing to see and hear and recognize and try to help each other.”


McConville left Philly in 2011. “Rosewood is a community art center. One of the things I discovered working at Tyler was how much I really wanted to be in community more than just within the academic bubble. How does our programming reflect our neighborhood, not just our students and campus?”


The alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. “And then it’s the struggle to get out of bed. Usually, a dog whining motivates me. I have two dogs: Bumblebee and Merlin. They’re both wacky rescue dogs. You know when you look at the internet late at night and find yourself on a rescue website. You see a picture, and you’re like — geez Louise — that dog is not a looker. I was like, I love him! Merlin, I’ve had for about four weeks. He’s an old curmudgeonly dude. He’s like a potato. After letting the dogs out in my cute little, tiny backyard, I do a French press coffee. The ritual is nice.”


For breakfast, “I bring something here and eat it while I’m looking through emails. I’m usually here before 8. I’m the first one through the doors. I’m checking email, drinking my coffee, and nibbling on yogurt or toast. My staff starts to trickle in. I’m responsible for 11 employees. We contract with about 40 to 70 artists, teachers and musicians during the year.”


“We’ve been under construction since September 2021. We’re in our third (and final) phase right now. I’ll walk around the building with coffee and look at what construction is doing. I try to pop around when classes are going on and poke my head in. In the morning, we have classes in the clay studio. We’ll have 3-year-olds in the dance studio. We have dance teachers who have been here since the ‘80s and have had three generations of families come through. And watercolor is taking place. Then we have the gallery and people are wandering through.”

Credit: Contributed/Hannah Kasper Levinson

Credit: Contributed/Hannah Kasper Levinson


“At least once a week we sit down for a construction meeting update. We work with the construction company, Brumbaugh, and we have architects through LWC. What I did not expect to come out of this was that I would know so many art and craft fields so much more intimately. Like, how do you think about air filtration in a clay studio? I’m not a 3-dimensional artist, and I’m studying a lot about tools for metal soldering for jewelry classes. That’s exciting because I better understand the needs that our teachers have.”


“The one thing I’m most excited about is that we will have a community print studio, which is something that the staff here is very passionate about. A lot of us are artists and a lot of us are printmakers.” McConville shows off a large printmaking press, recently brought in through a window and still in its crate. She sourced it from Conrad Machine Company, a family-owned press manufacturer in Michigan.


“Sometimes I’ll leave at 4, but sometimes I’m here ‘til 6 or 7 depending on if there’s a meeting. Because I’m part of Parks and Rec, we tend to have meetings off site, so I’ll be over at the Government Center frequently with committees. Today we have a meeting with our Art on the Commons committee. We organize (this) big event every year, which brings about 100 artists from around the country to Lincoln Park by the Fraze to exhibit their artwork.”


“I’ll usually go home and walk the dogs or take them to the dog park by Triangle Park in Dayton. I’ll typically go out to dinner — I love Silver Slipper — even their salad is stupid good. Or I hang out with my neighbor, Leila, who is my best buddy (and) lives across the street from me. She’s actually somebody I grew up with in Yellow Springs.”


“In the evening, I’ll go play tennis at the Kettering Tennis Center. I discovered tennis during the pandemic. It was a socially distant thing to (do to) get out of the house. I love playing and I’m on a league.”


Every month McConville attends PechaKucha, an evening of storytelling in which each presenter shares 20 images with 20 seconds to discuss each one. “I’ve been a co-organizer of PechaKucha Dayton since 2012 and have helped organize 30-plus events and hundreds of speakers. It is a fun way of teasing out the people and stories within our community. Our next event will be on Thursday, Aug. 31, at the Hope Lutheran Church in South Park.”

Credit: Knack Creative

Credit: Knack Creative


McConville keeps a studio in her neighborhood. “I tend to spend evenings and weekends in the studio. It comes in waves where I’ll be there working out some idea.”

“A lot of us that go through an art school program think, OK, now I’m going to be a full-time artist and have my gallery. And that’s not the reality. It was very strong in the culture at Parsons. I was like, hey, I got an internship at The Met, I’m gonna go work in a museum, and people thought I wasn’t taking (art) seriously. But I was on scholarship and had loans; it was different for me. I grew up with a single parent, and I was very well provided for, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t always have something stable.”


Rosewood Arts Center is located at 2655 Olson Drive in Kettering. For hours and more info, visit Currently on view at Rosewood Gallery through Aug. 26 are works by photographer Benjamin Montague and sculptor Layl McDill. Art on the Commons takes place on Sunday, Aug. 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Kettering’s Lincoln Park Civic Commons.

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