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The Contemporary Dayton Announces the Final Phase for its Capital Campaign and Prepares to Move into the Dayton Arcade

The move to the Arcade also includes program expansion with a new commitment to addressing critical issues of social justice.

DAYTON (March 22, 2021) – The Contemporary Dayton (The Co), formerly known as Dayton Visual Arts Center, is excited to officially announce plans to complete their capital campaign and move into the historic Dayton Arcade. By almost doubling its space at the new location, the capital campaign funds will allow The Co to bring more artists to Dayton, as well as advance those whose work emanates from Dayton and Ohio, whose practices speak to prominent issues of our time on both the national and international level. The Co is making a bold commitment to presenting living and working artists who work at the intersection of today’s biggest social justice issues and community building.

Only its second capital campaign in its 30-year history, The Co has raised $854,600 of the $1,695,000 goal through significant donations from individual donors as well as generous gifts from the Eichelberger Family Foundation and The Kettering Fund. Besides construction costs and a special reserve for new programs, The Co also hopes to secure funds for its first ever Endowment Fund.

“I am simply ecstatic to share that despite the past long and winding year, we have reached a critical milestone. We now invite the entire community to join us by supporting the campaign so we can realize our vision to expand the definition of contemporary art for Dayton, serve larger and more diverse audiences, and become part of the arts, innovation, and entertainment hub at the reborn Dayton Arcade,” says The Co’s Executive Director, Eva Buttacavoli.

Designed by LWC Incorporated, The Co’s Executive Director, Eva Buttacavoli, and Curator, Michael Goodson, the 6,224- square-foot art center will be part of the Arcade’s 9-building complex featuring popular local restaurant, bar, and retail neighbors as well as the University of Dayton’s School of Entrepreneurial Leadership.

With large storefront entrances on both 4th Street and onto the Arcade’s infamous glass-domed Rotunda, The Co’s new space will serve as a statement to its future while honoring its past. Notable features include a massive 74-footlong floor to ceiling wall that bisects the entire footprint of the space allowing for dramatic, show-stopping murals and installations. The reception desk, commissioned by Dayton-based artist and Stivers faculty, Shon Walters, was sculpted from Ash trees that fell in Sinclair Park during the devastating 2019 tornadoes. Other remnants from the trees were milled and placed into flooring for one of the galleries. Additionally, gallery track lights, office furniture, and even the original DVAC metal letters (the acronym for the institution’s former name) are being repurposed in the new space.

The Co is proud to have kept all design and construction contracts with local companies, including Copp Systems, Datayard, Digital Fringe, Elements IV Interiors, Garber Electrical, Graphics Terminal, LWC Incorporated, Model Group, Mutterspaw Lumber, L2 Engineering, Printpoint, Inc., Rumpke Disposal, Select Signs, and STRATACACHE.

Additionally, The Co acknowledges that the expansion and move would not have been possible without the incredible dedication of Cross Street Partners at all stages of this process.

“Cross Street Partners has been committed, from day one, to ensuring that contemporary art was part of the strategy to bring excitement, relevance, and vibrancy to the Arcade— to reflect all the ways that arts and innovation intersect now and into the future,” said The Co’s Board President, Stephanie Keinath.

The Contemporary Dayton has plans to open April 30, 2021 with a socially distanced preview, followed by a celebratory weekend of tours and extended hours. The Inaugural Exhibitions at the Arcade will feature three exhibition premieres, two of which were produced exclusively for this occasion. The exhibitions will feature the work of Dayton natives, Zachary Armstrong and the late Curtis Barnes Sr., and LA filmmaker, Cauleen Smith— each who play a role in social justice education, community building, and social activism.

The Contemporary Dayton at the Dayton Arcade Inaugural Exhibitions, April 30–July 17, 2021

Zachary Armstrong: Grids & Abstracts

The premiere of new work by internationally renowned artist, Dayton native and resident, Zachary Armstrong, will christen The Co’s new galleries’ most distinct feature—a dramatic 74-foot wall—with floor-to-ceiling “wallpaper.” The exhibition, curated by Michael Goodson, will feature a dizzying design of repetitive, swooping forms sourced from Armstrong’s childhood drawings, family history, and a gathering of iconic Dayton signs and symbols (such as the Elder-Beerman logo) all executed entirely in shades of gray. An original short film produced by The Co will be on view during the exhibition along with a full-color catalogue that will include essays and interviews by Goodson and De. Greer Pagano, Instructor, Columbus College of Art & Design and former Chief Curator, The Pizzuti Collection, Columbus.

Curtis Barnes, Sr.: Love & Peace I The Dr. Robert L. Brandt Jr, Family Gallery and The Chase T. and Jon A. Hale Gallery

Consisting largely of self-portraits and paintings of family members and friends by the late educator, mentor, and Dayton legend, Curtis Barnes, Sr., the paintings represent a generation of black painters whose contributions are still deeply felt today. The exhibition is curated by Michael Goodson and Zachary Armstrong who worked closely with Barnes’ family to restore and present a never-before-exhibited immersive grid of 36 “community portraits” made by Barnes during his long affiliation with Dayton’s Westwood Community Center. An original short film produced by The Co will be on view during the exhibition along with a full-color catalogue that will include essays and interviews by Goodson and De. Greer Pagano, Instructor, Columbus College of Art & Design and former Chief Curator, The Pizzuti Collection, Columbus.

Cauleen Smith: Remote Viewing I The Eichelberger Video Gallery

The Co is thrilled to present the regional premiere of LA-based, globally recognized filmmaker and recent Studio Museum Wein Artist Prize winner for her work on Black Identity, feminism, and Afrofuturism, Cauleen Smith. Remote Viewing depicts a true story about a boy who witnessed the whites in his town attempt to obliterate every trace of the black community’s history by digging a deep hole in which to bury a historical schoolhouse. Curated by Michael Goodson, the exhibition will be accompanied by a screening of a selection of Smith’s short films and Virtual Artist Q&A.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021 8:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m.
The Contemporary Dayton in the Dayton Arcade
25 W. 4th St., Dayton, 45402
Pastries and coffee provided


Mission: To provide art for the community and a community for artists.

Overview: The Contemporary Dayton (The Co) is the region’s contemporary art center. Established in 1991 as Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC), a 501c3, The Co produces and presents original exhibitions and programs, art events, community partnerships, and artist opportunities. Exhibitions and education programs feature artists living and working today, both nationally and in Ohio, with an emphasis on those whose work focuses on issues of social justice. In addition to its three galleries—open to all and always free—its retail store, the CoSHOP, provides income for Ohio artists and extends The Co’s accessibility to art, from visitor engagement to educational outreach through store products, programs, and experiences.

The Co is proud to support the creation of connections among the arts, community building, civic engagement, community planning, and use of public space, and makes an annual economic impact of 3.4 million to the region. Recently raising 1 million during the Pandemic to expand and move into its new home in downtown’s historic Dayton Arcade, The Co is led by Executive Director Eva Buttacavoli, a 30-year art museum administrator, curator, and educator, whose previous roles were at The Contemporary Austin, TX and The Perez Art Museum Miami, FL; and Curator Michael Goodson, who previously served as Curator at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Beeler Gallery, Columbus College of Art and Design, OH; and as Director at James Cohan Gallery, NY.

The Contemporary Dayton receives operating support from Culture Works, Montgomery County Arts & Cultural District, Ohio Arts Council, the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, and Members.