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Glass Center for the Arts gallery opens with ‘Get Together’ community exhibition

By Dave Larsen

University of Dayton President Eric Spina noted the “two front doors” on the new Roger Glass Center for the Arts, one facing the city and the other facing campus.

“This is a space where we want the community and the University to come together — to collaborate, to work, to enjoy each other’s artistic talent,” Spina said in late January at the opening of the Glass Center’s visual arts gallery and the Get Together exhibit.

The exhibit opening marked the first public event at the Glass Center, a 51,200-square-foot facility named in honor of the late alumnus and philanthropist Roger Glass ’67. In addition to the art gallery, it features a concert hall, experimental theater and experiential learning facilities for Flyer TV, Flyer Radio and Flyer News.

UD students started courses Jan. 8 at the Glass Center in audio production, animation effects, advanced television production, media performance, documentary filmmaking and stage makeup.

The Glass Center’s opening gala celebration is April 13.

Get Together, the art gallery’s first exhibit, features works by 90 artists from the Dayton region. The show runs through March 17 and is free and open to the public.

“We wanted to fit with the theme of the Glass Center being the gateway to the Dayton community, so we came up with the idea of having a show that represented all the local institutions and tons of local, independent artists,” said Nick Arnold, gallery coordinator for the UD Department of Art and Design.

The show’s opening reception drew more than 500 people, including many of the artists and their guests.

“I’m extremely impressed with the gallery and its function, and also the atmosphere it has created here,” said Willis Bing Davis, a Dayton artist, educator and community activist. “This is an unbelievably rich and inspiring community for the arts, and this facility is only going to elevate that.”

Davis, whose archives are housed at UD, has a painting in the show, titled Ancestral Spirit Dance #612.

Kyle Thiele, a Dayton artist whose painting Pack of Dogs is featured in the show, said the gallery gives local artists another venue to collaborate, build community and share their work with a new audience. He also praised Arnold’s ability to bring together many different styles of art and create a cohesive show.

“This space is really welcoming and I appreciate how it is laid out,” Thiele said. “They are able to accommodate a lot of artists in this particular opening and that’s not an easy thing to do.”

The 2,000-square-foot Glass Center Gallery is more than double the size of the art and design department’s Radial Gallery in Fitz Hall. It features a 15-foot-high ceiling, computer-controlled lighting, multimedia ports throughout the space for audio-visual installations, and a state-of-the-art climate-control system.

“If you have spikes in temperature of more than three degrees in a day, you can’t host a museum-quality exhibition,” Arnold said. “But this gallery is built for that.”

RGCA Gallery opening, 2024

Darden Bradshaw, UD associate professor of art education, said the greatest benefit of the Glass Center isn’t its size, but its accessibility. Located on Fitz Hall’s second floor, in the midst of the art and design department’s classrooms and studios, the Radial Gallery can be more difficult for visitors.

“Having this here at the intersection of South Main and Stewart streets, where people are going to be able to come in and access the arts and engage with it, is so much richer,” Bradshaw said. “I think it is a better example of the ways in which we are trying to be more equitable and inclusive in the work that we do at UD.”

Bradshaw, a textile artist, is featured in the show with Unbound 22: Climbing the Walls.

Allie Trangenstein, a senior art education major from Dayton, is one of several students working as gallery assistants. Working with Arnold and Zachary Collopy ’20, the department’s galleries preparator, she is learning how to set up gallery shows, which will be helpful when showcasing her future students’ artwork.

“For my senior presentation, I’m writing a research paper on the importance of curation in art education,” Trangenstein said. “This is giving me a ton of experience, which I’m very thankful for.”

Joel Whitaker, professor and UD Department of Art and Design chair, said the Glass Center Gallery is the first truly public, top-tier exhibition space for UD. He said it will allow the University to cultivate diverse and alternative perspectives through the department’s exhibitions and visiting practitioners in the arts.

The gallery won’t duplicate the mission or objectives of other arts organizations in the Dayton region. Instead, it will provide a space for collaboration with community partners, Whitaker said.

Whitaker, a photographer and member of the Roger Glass Center for the Arts steering committee, is featured in the show with Birds Nest in Heaven.

“The Roger Glass Center for the Arts has been holistically conceived,” Whitaker said. “It has intent and it has presence, providing an incredible space in which to engage and appreciate the transformative qualities of art. Mr. Glass, through his leadership, vision and generosity, has made all of this possible. Now it is up to us to share, promote and live Roger Glass’ vision for the arts and for this facility.”

The Roger Glass Arts Center Gallery, 29 Creative Way in Dayton, is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit the University of Dayton Galleries and Roger Glass Center for the Arts websites.

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