Rediscover Business Spotlight: The Contemporary Dayton

Mike Colvin Downtown Event


Tell us a bit about your gallery.

The Contemporary Dayton (“The Co”), originally Dayton Visual Arts Center, was founded in 1991 as a community arts center and a coalition of Dayton area artists. We saw a need for interaction between the public and regional artists to create a space where the artists can show their work to the community. Recently, we moved into our new location in the Dayton Arcade and almost doubled our size to be able to show more art from Ohio-based and nationally known artists. Our focus remains to be a community for artists, but also to bring artists that are bigger names to Dayton and give our community the opportunity to view well known artists.

We just opened a new exhibition featuring a powerhouse trio of women artists that will be on view through October 24, 2021: Oakwood resident Mychaelyn Michalec: From A Basement On A Hill, New Jersey based artist Nina Chanel Abney, and Brooklyn based Sarah Cwynar: Soft Film.


What do you enjoy about working in downtown Dayton?

The Dayton community is so supportive of The Contemporary Dayton, especially while moving into our new location. We’ve felt overwhelming support from Daytonians and we love the sense of community here. We have felt support from so many local businesses who have helped us through donations, and we have tried to make everything in the gallery (from furniture to video) from locally sourced resources and support our local community the way they have supported us.


Tell us something about your gallery that may surprise people to learn.

Dayton-based sculptor Shon Walters created our welcome desk. The sculpture was created from Ash trees that fell in Dayton’s Sinclair Park during the devastating 2019 tornadoes which Walters painstakingly milled; glued together, shaped, and joined 26 layers; then sculpted and sanded to form the massive, 1,120-pound sculpture. It’s a permanent installation, and its 18-foot long organic, bulb-like form is presented in the space as both a work of art and as a reception point for visitors. Walters describes the distinct “spear” of the work–which is designed to literally pierce the walls of the gallery–as his interpretation of “a delicate vulnerability stricken with inexperience, wonder, and will that push beyond what we know and where we have been.”

Photo credit: Nina Chanel Abney, Femme Games, 2020, 96 x 96 x 1 5/8 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. © Nina Chanel Abney


How is your gallery coping with the pandemic and how can people support you now?

We are a non-profit, so we focus on donations and sponsors. We are running our Evolution Campaign that helped us move into this space. There are still opportunities to sponsor in our main gallery and at every price point. Becoming a member of The Co is also a great way to support us. Membership is not just for artists – it’s for the general public as well. There are many levels starting at $50. It’s a great way to support The Co and be involved. Any member gets a preview of the opening exhibition before the general public.

Photo credit: Mychaelyn Michalec, The lone and level sands stretch far away, 2020, hand and machine tufted yarn on stretched cloth, 64 x 68 inches. Image: John Sousa.


The Contemporary Dayton

25 W. Fourth St.
(937) 224-3822
Social media: @thecontemporarydayton

Mon–Tue Closed
Wed–Sat 11am–6pm
Sun 11am–4pm

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