Final ‘Art at the Mill’ exhibit opens Nov. 26

Staff report

DARKE COUNTY — “Art at the Mill,” a fixture at historic Bear’s Mill for well over a decade, will come to an end following the close of the upcoming exhibit in the Clark Gallery.

This final exhibit featuring sculptural candle holders created by the Millrace Potters, Julie Clark, Rita Wiley, and Dionne Mayhew, as well as abstract paintings by Morrow, Ohio resident Liz Zorn, will open with a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26. The artists will share information about their work, methods, and inspiration in brief talks beginning at 7 p.m. The exhibit will close Sunday, Dec. 31, 2021. “Art At the Mill,” curated by Jan Roestamadji and Julie Clark, is free and open to the public.

According to a statement issued by Kimberly Rudnick, chair of Friends of Bear’s Mill Board of Directors, the Clark Gallery will be the setting for art, workshops and other events involving the schools, artists, naturalists, and more beginning in 2022.

“The Friends of Bear’s Mill wish to take this opportunity to thank Julie Clark and Jan Roestamadji for all they have done for the ‘Art at the Mill’ series that has been hosted at Bear’s Mill throughout the past years. “We have been honored to exhibit many wonderful artists at Bear’s Mill through Julie and Jan’s efforts in finding these talents,” Ms. Rudnick stated. “Also, thank you to all who have visited, volunteered and supported the ‘Art at the Mill’ series.”

Co-curators of “Art at the Mill,” Jan Roestamadji and Julie Clark, issued the following statement: “Providing quality, well-curated art exhibitions at Bear’s Mill has been a pleasure — meeting and collaborating with skilled artists being a most rewarding and educational experience. It’s been an honor to offer a program that pays tribute to the beauty and unique qualities of historic Bear’s Mill. The magnificence and ingenuity of the rustic mill building and its natural setting is such an appropriate backdrop and inspiration for art. We wish the FOBM much success in their future endeavors with Bear’s Mill, the gallery space, and their programming.”

The featured two-dimensional works to be on display at this final exhibit are by Liz Zorn, a multimedia artist who primarily works in oil on canvas, as well as in acrylics and collage in a style ranging from abstract expressionism to post modern minimalism; her work can be seen in public and private collections around the world. The transplanted Kentucky native began taking painting classes in Indianapolis after winning a poster contest when she was in fourth grade, and has literally been painting ever since. She describes the group of paintings to be on display at Bear’s Mill as being about “women’s work” and the history all women share with those who came before.

“What I ended up with is a zigzag of working my way through the same personal, political, societal and cultural dynamics that Virginia Woolf had originally observed in her 1929 classic A Room of One’s Own,” Ms. Zorn explained. “The evolution of women in the arts is real and tangible — artists, writers, trailblazers of all sorts, women with bold ideas, full-throated opinions, keen observations, joy and grace — and in many ways there is still a long way to go; the more things change, the more they remain the same,” the artist stated.

For this exhibit, the Millrace Potters are creating unique one-of-a-kind pieces that will hold beeswax candles; the work varies depending upon the potter and her particular techniques, whether that be manipulated extrusions, wheel throwing, or kurinuki, a Japanese sculptural technique. “Art at the Mill” curator and former Bear’s Mill co-owner Julie Clark’s work has a modern, simple and rustic aesthetic that was inspired by and has evolved due to her environment and experiences, leading her to especially appreciate Japanese aesthetics.

“Creating a utilitarian piece that can be touched and used daily can be a very rewarding experience,” Ms. Clark stated, but she went on to say that creating sculptural forms and vessels that can add depth and definition to a room can also be quite satisfying.

Rita Wiley has been inspired by nature, by the clay itself, and by other potters, including her friend and neighbor, Julie Clark, to create her graceful pieces, which are formed on a potter’s wheel, hand-built from slabs, or coils of clay. A retired teacher, Ms. Wiley started making pottery over 40 years ago because of her fascination with the limitless possibilities in clay for creating shapes that can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Both Ms. Wiley and Ms. Clark have over the past 20 years mentored Dionne Mayhew, who says that while she enjoys a full-time career in transportation, ceramics is her passion, which inspires her goal of exploring firing and glazing opportunities to create unique clay forms and glaze applications. As her technique and artistry has evolved and matured, the Versailles resident has earned a loyal following for her amazing and creative work.

Pottery by Franklin-Monroe art teacher Scott Thayer will be displayed at Bear’s Mill alongside the impressionistic yet realistic oil paintings of his former student, Vincent Saulnier, through Sunday, Nov. 21.

The Clark Gallery and the Mill Shop are operated by Friends of Bear’s Mill. The Mill and surrounding grounds are the newest addition to Darke County Parks. Bear’s Mill is located at 6450 Arcanum-Bear’s Mill Road, about five miles east of Greenville.

“Art At the Mill” is funded in part by a grant from Darke County Endowment for the Arts, and can be viewed during regular Mill store hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The park and trails are open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. For more information, contact Bear’s Mill at 937-548-5112 or www.bearsmill.org.