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Last Saturday Yellow Springs Arts Council members worked to help ready their new home on Xenia Avenue, the arched structure built by Alan Macbeth. The space will serve as a Welcome Center for the YS Experience, which kicks off Friday, July 9, at 4 p.m. at the building. Shown above are, seated in front, Arts Council Coordinator Carole Braun, Phyllis Schmidt, Jerome Borchers and Joanne Caputo. Standing in back are Sally Palmer, Michael Fleishman, Anita Brown, Michael Brown and Macbeth.

Arts group new home work of art

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Even artists can disagree about what, exactly, constitutes art, but the leaders of the Yellow Springs Arts Council are unified on this: the organization’s new space at Alan Macbeth’s Oten Gallery fits the description, and the space also offers the group a wealth of new opportunities.

“The space is artwork in itself,” said board member Phyllis Schmidt at a work session in the gallery last weekend. “It’s a pleasure for all of us to have these beautiful spaces, where many kinds of media can be exhibited and performed. We’re very excited.”

The Arts Council’s first event in its new space at 309 Xenia Avenue takes place this Friday, July 9, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. with the launch party for the Yellow Springs Experience. The party will include live music, art exhibits, improvisational dance and refreshments. The space will serve as the Welcome Center for the 10-day event.

For the launch party, Dr. Skillet will perform at 4 p.m., Gary Arnold at 5, and Bluzion with Gerry Greene at 6 p.m.

The Yellow Springs Experience is an artistic and cultural immersion, from July 9 to July 18, featuring more than 80 events, including classes and workshops on wellness and arts, a street carnival, a women’s retreat center, youth and adult theater and readings and live music, among other activities. Events will take place at various locations around town. For a listing of the events and locations, go to . Organizers emphasize that participants in all events, even free ones, need to sign up online in order to ensure space.

Organizers hope to attract to the Yellow Springs Experience both villagers and out-of-towners, artists and those who seek creativity, adults and children, according to newly hired Arts Council Coordinator Carole Braun. Organizers aimed to build on two longstanding local summer traditions, the YS Kids Playhouse production and the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, and add on a wealth of other cultural and educational activities.

“We are presenting all different ways that people can be creative,” Braun said.

Organizers also want the immersion experience to help support local artists, Braun said, and consequently, some specific events charge fees, while others do not.

The Yellow Springs Experience launch party is a perfect opportunity to show off the council’s new space, with an art exhibit in the gallery and Jill Becker and Friends doing improvisational dance on the outdoor patio. Arts Council President Anita Brown envisions a multitude of possibilities for the space, including outdoor musical and literary performances, exhibits in the new gallery, meetings in the glassed-in terrace room and even refreshments whipped up in the kitchen facilities.

“We think this will be the kind of place that people will want to gather,” Brown said. “It’s absolutely the perfect home for us.”

Longtime villager and artist Macbeth also sees the Arts Council as the “perfect fit” for his gallery, which he’s been working on for, oh, about 40 years so far. The space is a Yellow Springs landmark, a fantasy of curving archways at the southern entrance of downtown. Originally a home that was built even before Antioch College, the space was purchased by Macbeth in the 1960s, and he set to work to transform it.

“I wanted a space for a restaurant and gallery,” Macbeth said.

While a series of restaurants has been housed there, none of them lasted long, Macbeth said. He has also used the front indoor area as a gallery, and it currently houses the retail store Asian Imports, which will continue at this location. The Arts Council will rent a two-room curving gallery in the back, along with a terrace room on the side and the outside patio.

The Arts Council has been served well by its current home upstairs at 108 Dayton Street, according to Brown, but the new space offers a “more prominent and visible presence” for the group downtown.

“We spent the past two years dreaming of two things,” she said, and those dreams included a more visible space and a paid employee. With the hiring of Braun in May and the group’s new Xenia Avenue home — both funded by a grant from the Morgan Family Foundation — the group’s dreams have come true.  

The Yellow Springs Experience is a collaborative effort between a variety of local partners, including, besides the Arts Council, Antioch University Midwest, Antioch College, the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce, YS Kids Playhouse, Glen Helen, the Center for the Arts, Tecumseh Land Trust, the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, the Little Art Theatre, Nonstop Institute, the Village of Yellow Springs, and WYSO Public Radio.

Organizers see this year’s effort as the beginning of an local tradition, according to Braun.

“We see this year as an educational and growing experience,” she said. “We’ll be bigger and better next year.”

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