Keeping the arts alive


Darke County Endowment for the Arts recently announced recipients of the organization’s 2020 grant awards assisting projects promoting, strengthening, or advancing the arts in our community. Among those earning recognition was Main Street Greenville, which sought funds to award prizes to artists participating in the First Friday Artisan Stroll on August 7, an event eagerly anticipated in this column last week. Well, health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19 intervened, sadly forcing the cancellation of the Artisan Stroll (and the equally sad subsequent return of the grant money.)

But wait, good news awaits! Historic Bear’s Mill received a DCEA grant to assist with art being hung on Mill walls, so that outstanding artwork can enhance the interior of the beloved rustic structure. Although the Mill has been closed in response to the pandemic, the inviting local treasure will be open 11 a.m. till 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays beginning today; and soon, exciting artworks featuring a trio of incredibly talented local artists, Katie Clark Gabbard, Jenny Clark, and Mike Elsass, will be on display for your viewing pleasure and consideration for purchase.

Abundantly creative Katie is well-known for the floral creations purveyed from The Ivy League, her former shop in downtown Greenville, but has recently devoted her energies to painting vivacious, abstract images that spark energy, joy, and curiosity. Her mother, Jenny, produces soothing nature-inspired acrylic paintings expressing her love of woodlands, sunsets, and rushing waters. Nationally known Dayton-based art entrepreneur Mike shares his artistic vision through contemporary abstracts inspired by his vision of nature and time, utilizing a creative process that blends industrial materials with organic chemicals and weather to foster a fascinating and colorful reaction.

Ansonia High School’s Art Club is also a recipient of funds from the Endowment. Art teacher Danielle Rhonemus’s granted request will provide cultural enrichment and activities for high school students outside of the usual art class curriculum. Although the specific use of funds will be determined by the school’s necessary response to issues related to the Corona virus, the students will be given needed supplies for creative projects and, if possible, visit an art museum to broaden and expand their knowledge.

Mississinawa Valley School has received a grant from the Ohio Arts Council supporting a 100-day residency by a professional artist to provide a photography class for students; however, that grant does not supply materials for the project. MV art teacher Ashley Austerman’s application to Darke County Endowment for the Arts for funds to purchase the cameras needed for a photography curriculum was favorably received, enabling her third- through twelfth-grade students to develop creative skills in this popular field as well as helping develop an ambitious community photography project led by photographer Timothy Wells, who earned his M.F.A. at Wayne State University and currently teaches at Edison State Community College. The cameras will be vital to supporting the photography program following the completion of this term’s innovative project, serving students’ needs well into the foreseeable future.

Darke County Endowment for the Arts was established to receive and manage charitable gifts which are invested to produce income benefiting the arts through three funds including the General Fund from which annual grants are awarded. Additionally, the Darke County Center for the Arts Fund underwrites the community arts council’s mission to culturally enrich our community, and the Memorial Hall Fund is dedicated to the preservation of historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall. Donations to DCEA will help keep the arts alive in our community, providing a vibrant presence now and forever. For more information about how you can donate to the Endowment, visit its Website at or contact the organization at P.O. Box 155, Greenville, OH 45331.

By Marilyn Delk


Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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