Exhibition extended: Black life is subject of art show in Dayton, ‘It creates a dialogue’

“Love Our Women, ” two evocative portraits by Morris T. Howard, are among the powerful pieces in “Black Lives As Subject Matter II,” which is on display virtually and by-appointment at EboNia Gallery in Dayton, February 15 through April 30.
“Love Our Women, ” two evocative portraits by Morris T. Howard, are among the powerful pieces in “Black Lives As Subject Matter II,” which is on display virtually and by-appointment at EboNia Gallery in Dayton, February 15 through April 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Artists respond to tumultuous times in show curated by Bing Davis

In times of upheaval, the arts help people make sense of the world around them. That’s crucial when dealing with the fallout from a tumultuous year that saw a raging pandemic, a contentious election and the troubling rise in blatant racism. These are some of the topics examined powerfully in “Black Life As Subject Matter II,” at EboNia Gallery in Dayton. The exhibition has been extended and will be on display through May 31.

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“This is an exhibit we did first in 2016,” said show curator Bing Davis. “Artists are always in tune with what’s going on and, when things are critical, artists respond to the temperature of the community. This is a chance for our local artists to respond to what’s happening in the streets and around the country.

“An exhibit like this is important because it creates a dialogue and gives fresh views to common concerns,” he continued. “Any aspect of the Black experience is subject matter. We’re here in Dayton and it goes back to the shooting in the Oregon District and the tornado and, now, the pandemic. It’s been a tough year-and-a-half period. I know musicians, artists and poets have a lot to respond to right now.”

Artist and gallery owner Willis “Bing” Davis, 83, takes on police shootings and law enforcement training in his high concept tabletop installation, “National Police Ricochet Boomerang Bullet Project 1,” which is on display virtually and by-appointment at EboNia Gallery in Dayton, Feb. 15 through April 30. CONTRIBUTED
Artist and gallery owner Willis “Bing” Davis, 83, takes on police shootings and law enforcement training in his high concept tabletop installation, “National Police Ricochet Boomerang Bullet Project 1,” which is on display virtually and by-appointment at EboNia Gallery in Dayton, Feb. 15 through April 30. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Showing Art

As a visual artist, educator and gallery owner, Davis, 83, has been championing African American artists since the 1960s and he remains passionate about promoting artwork in Dayton.

Of course, because of coronavirus concerns, this show will be different than it would be in non-pandemic times. “Black Life as Subject Matter II” is available virtually at www.bingdavisartstudio.org. Small groups of 10 masked people or fewer can view the art in person, or by appointment at EboNia Gallery in Dayton. For Davis, it’s a welcome spark of life for his space on West Third Street in Dayton.

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“We had a big downturn last year,” he said. “We canceled our summer program and haven’t had much activity. I’ve been working on the new exhibit and trying to hold the studio open. I’m looking forward to getting people back in the gallery, even in small groups.”

The work

“Black Lives As Subject Matter II” showcases potent work concerning the disproportionate number of gun deaths among African Americans. Morris T. Howard’s honors those lost in a pair of evocative oil paint portraits, “Love Our Women.” Andrea Walker-Cummings delivers a beautifully understated quilt and applique piece, “Say My Name.” Davis himself takes on police shootings and law enforcement training in his high concept tabletop installation, “National Police Ricochet Boomerang Bullet Project 1.” Larry Winston Collins presents elaborate mixed media pieces with relief paintings memorializing murder victims John Crawford III and Sam DuBosel.

John Lewis is honored in two works in the show, one a clay bust by Lois Kirk-Fortson. The other is an oil painting by Clifford Darrett depicting the recently deceased politician and civil rights activist receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor from Barak Obama in front of a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. While most artists contributed one or two pieces, 76-year-old artist Yvette Walker-Dalton is exhibiting a series of 26 vivid collage pieces called “Celebration of American Woman A-Z.”

Yvette Walker-Dalton, 76, created a series of 26 vivid collage pieces called “Celebration of American Woman A-Z,” which is on display virtually and by-appointment at EboNia Gallery in Dayton, February 15 through April 30.
Yvette Walker-Dalton, 76, created a series of 26 vivid collage pieces called “Celebration of American Woman A-Z,” which is on display virtually and by-appointment at EboNia Gallery in Dayton, February 15 through April 30.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

On the road

Long before the new show opened, Davis was getting interest to mount expanded versions of “Black Life as Subject Matter II” at the Springfield Museum of Art in Springfield and Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery in Columbus.

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“The Springfield Museum wants to collaborate and bring it up there later this year,” Davis said. “We’re going to start here, then take it Springfield from Oct. 1 to Feb. 28, 2022 and then we’ll take it to Columbus April 28 to July 9, 2022. For Springfield, we’ll take the core of 15 or 20 artists from the Miami Valley and add about 10 or 15 more artists to take advantage of the big gallery in Springfield. I’ll get one or two African American artists working on the same theme out of each city, Columbus, Cleveland, Youngstown, Cincinnati and Akron.

“Then, we’ll expand it again when it goes to the even bigger gallery in Columbus,” Davis continued. “It’s going to be really, really nice. It’s one of those things where you have the appetizer here, the meal here and the dessert here. The show will increase in size and volume with each new site and that’ll give us a nice opportunity.”

“Black Life As Subject Matter II” is on display at EboNia Gallery through May 31.

HOW TO GO

What: “Black Life As Subject Matter II”

Where: EbonNia Gallery, 1135 W. Third St., Dayton

When: Virtually or by appointment 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Feb. 15 through May 31

More info: 937-223-2290 or www.bingdavisartstudio.org

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