At The Contemporary Dayton, revered local artists are in the spotlight

mdunnDayton Daily News

July 1, 2024 –

Recent work by four of the Miami Valley’s best-known and well-respected artists is currently being showcased at The Contemporary Dayton.

Artists Katherine Kadish and David Leach are featured in an exhibit entitled “Crossroads.” In addition to their individual work that’s on display, the two have collaborated on two new monoprints for this exhibition. A monoprint combines printmaking, painting and drawing mediums and is often considered the most “painterly” of printmaking processes.

Photographer Andy Snow is showing “Time Bends, Space Blends,” a fascinating look at the ways area cities and towns have changed in the years since the devastating 1913 flood. Artist Tess Cortés has created “Vanishing Point,” two videos that incorporate family movies, photos and heirloom objects.

Pairing two artists

The pairing of Leach and Kadish was the brainstorm of The Co’s former curator, Michael Goodson.

“The initial idea was about ways of seeing,” Goodson said. “David’s abstractions are culled from the real world and his visual interaction with it. Those are his building blocks. They’re not about the way paint moves on a surface; he looks for structure and pulls architecture into the work as well as landscapes. Katherine has a specific way of seeing form and color because of her visual impairment.”

Kadish, who is legally blind, was diagnosed with macular degeneration at age 17 and now has mostly peripheral vision.

Goodson said he also paired Kadish and Leach because both have been consistent in their work ethic and their practice. “In contemporary art there tends to be a preoccupation with young artists and while that makes sense, I like to revisit the work of artists who’ve been developing their ideas over a lifetime.”

Leach taught printmaking and drawing at Wright State University for more than 30 years. Kadish has also taught and both have exhibited their work extensively.

Meet David Leach

It was on a trip to Costa Rica more than six years ago that Leach came up with the idea of putting a pencil to paper and keeping it moving — without lifting it.

“I was struck by the feeling of being surrounded by nature and the fact that you can’t quite capture it in a representational fashion,” he recalled. “If you’re a landscape painter, it’s fixed. Whereas the fecundity of nature for me is that it’s always in motion.”

That thought has been inspiring Leach in the years since. He draws the abstracted landscapes using graphite, colored pencils, chalk, and watercolors.

“I start with making a line and then making another line and those lines suggest where the other lines should be,” he explains.”It’s a kind of interior logic. When I draw a line and think about that line, it’s not unlike one sentence leading to another and another until you have a story.”

Their exhibit is labeled “Crossroads” and the term refers, not just to the ways in which lines intersect in his work, but in his relationship with Kadish who creates painted colorscapes. “Even though our work is different, we’ve known each other a long time and our paths have crossed professionally.”

In addition, he said, there’s another crossroads. Both he and Kadish have recently lost someone dear to them. Leach lost his twin brother, Randy, who was an architect; Kadish lost her husband, Robert Fogerty, editor of The Antioch Review in Yellow Springs.

Meet Katherine Kadish

“My mother’s older sister was a public school teacher and taught art and I don’t know what would have happened to me without her influence,” said Kadish, who grew up in Pittsburgh. “She paid for my art supplies when I went to Carnegie Mellon. After we sold the house, I found some drawings of hers in the cellar and they looked like I might have done them. That gave me a chill.”

Kadish has always loved color and you’ll see that in her large oil paintings at The Co. At the moment, she’s especially interested in red and green. And you can’t miss the ladders in some of these pieces.

“I like the ladder image; it means so many different things,” she said. “It’s a way of structuring the painting, but it’s the idea of travel, going from one place to another, Jacob’s ladder.”

Special tributes

Don’t miss the final gallery, “In Remembrance.”

“We wanted to honor the people whose shoulders we stand on,” said Leach. “Whatever your profession you come along because other people have put you there. People who help you find your voice and help you get on your own two feet should be acknowledged.”

The pieces on display come from his personal collection as well as Kadish’s.

There are sculptures by Charles Eldred, who taught at The State University of New York at Binghamton where Kadish also taught.

“He was an incredibly serious artist and our work is totally different but he encouraged me and liked my work,” she said.

Leach has contributed art by Neil Anderson, Ray Must and his brother. He said the linear abstractions he’s currently creating are “oddly similar” to work by Anderson, his first painting teacher at Bucknell University. “Ray Must was a natural mentor and my closest colleague at Wright State. He and his wife were like surrogate parents who helped us raise our kids.”

Blending past and present

Andy Snow is hoping that visitors to his current exhibit at The Co will be struck by the way in which Dayton and surrounding areas have been amazingly resilient. In 2012, The Miami Valley Conservancy District commissioned him to photograph cities up and down the Great Miami impacted by the The Great Flood of 1913 in order to demonstrate the ways in which specific locations have been transformed in the years since.

Thirty-five of those sets of images were on display side-by-side at the Dayton Art Institute in 2013 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the flood.

Now Snow, recipient of the 2020 Ohio Governor’s Award for the Arts for Individual Artist, has come up with a clever way to blend history and modernity using both the historic photos and those he took for the original project. Thanks to Photoshop and his own artistic eye, he’s brought past and present together in blended photos.

In one of the pictures, for example, he merges an historic photo of the Requarth Lumber yard and shows us how it has been transformed into the Dayton Dragon’s baseball stadium.

“Each historic location became a creative puzzle,” he said in the gallery guide. “Sometimes photos show how things haven’t changed, which is just as important–it shows how the community honors a place and the care it takes to preserve it.”

You’ll see how the Beaver Power Building in Dayton became St. Clair Lofts, view a number of familiar locations in Piqua, Miamisburg, Troy, Franklin, Middletown, West Carrollton and Hamilton.

“I’m hoping people will have new perspectives and the idea that anything can happen,” Snow said.

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