By Marilyn Delk
Jennifer Overholser is Darke County Center for the Arts’ Artistic Director of Visual Arts, a newly-created position entailing supervision of DCCA’s Anna Bier Gallery located within Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall and also directing the installation and expansion of works on the Art Trail, a project DCCA shares with the Darke County Park District. Jen is excited to be a part of these efforts where “all kinds of things are happening,” and hopes to keep these exciting things going strong.
While she humbly states that she is new and learning (which is, of course true—she started her position on Oct. 1), she brings a great deal of skill and knowledge to the job. A practicing artist herself, she is impressed with the number of talented active artists within this small community, as well as the public embrace of those artists and their work. Prior to the expansion of DCCA’s involvement with the visual arts ultimately requiring the creation of her new position, Jennifer had twice been a featured artist at the Anna Bier Gallery, and had served on the DCCA committee overseeing the Gallery.
A native of Jefferson, Ohio (located in Ashtabula County), Jennifer has lived in Greenville since 2016, after graduating Summa Cum Laude from Otterbein University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art. It was there that she met her future husband Josh, a graduate of Ansonia School who was enrolled in the college’s Broadcasting and Communications program which shared a building with Otterbein’s Art Department, a factor ultimately enabling the meeting that led to her residing in Darke County.
The new Artistic Director of Visual Arts can’t remember a time when she was not interested in art. She fondly, yet ruefully remembers having drawn a horse which earned a second place ribbon at the county fair. However, the judge announcing the award congratulated the artist on her excellent rendition of— a cow! Rather than being disheartened, Jennifer used the gaffe as motivation to “do better,” and has worked constantly to create “better” art ever since.
Since its beginnings, DCCA has been committed to presenting professional artists to enrich lives locally; offering outdoor public art is an exciting and beneficial extension to DCCA presentations. According to DCCA Executive Director Andrea Jordan, the organization recognized the opportunity for expanding the visual arts in our community with the establishment of the Darke County Art Trail. This expansion soon made evident the need for an Artistic Director of Visual Arts to complement DCCA’s already existing position of Artistic Director of Performing Arts (currently filled by David Warner); when Jennifer learned of the new opportunity to pursue her dedication to the arts, she promptly applied for and won the new position.
The new Director of Visual Arts is busy planning and scheduling upcoming exhibits in the Anna Bier Gallery which through December 16 is showing “Legends and Bombshells,” acrylic portraits of legendary musical artists and fascinating females by Pam Frazier. The paintings and photographs of Parker City, Indiana artist Cassie Dunmyer exploring our changing relationships with nature as well as the artist’s journey into homesteading will be on display from January 20 through February 24. Jen looks forward to welcoming visitors to the Gallery Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and prior to DCCA events at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, and wants to make clear that, in addition to the pleasure derived from viewing the work on display, viewers are encouraged to consider purchasing art to enhance their homes and enrich their lives.
She is also eagerly working to continue the advancement of the Art Trail, with new installations anticipated soon at historic Bear’s Mill and the Bish Discovery Center, complementing the already installed “Tecumseh” at Shawnee Prairie Preserve and the recently unveiled Buchy Bench honoring longtime local public servant Jim Buchy. Although she has only just begun, Jennifer Overholser has many good things going on currently, as well as excellent ideas for thefuture. Her plans and dreams elicit the expectation for exciting prospects to be enjoyed by our entire community in the not-too-distant future.