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Eddie to be honored at 14th Art Stroll

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In was in 1996 that long-time village shopkeeper and painter Eddie Eckenrode helped organize the first Art Stroll, an informal evening of art and entertainment in downtown Yellow Springs. So it seems only fitting that this fall’s Art Stroll be held in honor of Eckenrode, who died in May.

To celebrate his life and work, a gallery show of Eckenrode’s paintings will open in the newly-rededicated Eddie Eckenrode Gallery above Sam & Eddie’s Open Books, 232 Xenia Avenue, during Art Stroll, Friday, Oct. 15, from 6–9 p.m.

In addition, shops along Xenia, Dayton and Corry Streets will be open late featuring art and providing refreshments at the free semi-annual event, which regularly draws hundreds of people to town.

“Art Strolls by design were intended as a celebration of local places that display art,” said Sam Eckenrode, Eddie’s wife, business partner and event co-founder. “They were kind of an antidote to Street Fair,” she said, which can be less profitable for local merchants.

Though appealing to tourists, the event is also aimed at local residents. Just as those living in New York City don’t ever see the Statue of Liberty, Eckenrode said, many in Yellow Springs miss its art displays.

“Art strolls are really a way to get people out and about on a pretty regular basis to actually see what’s there and appreciate the art,” she said. Jocelyn Robinson, who helped the Eckenrodes organize the first stroll, along with Berle Hubbach, said she also sees it as primarily a “neighborly” event.

“There’s nothing like walking through downtown on a crisp autumn night, seeing art and drinking wine,” Robinson said.

A storefront awning featuring some of Eddie’s work will be installed for the opening of a new permanent show, “Eddie Eckenrode: Selected Works,” displaying Eddie’s never-before exhibited figurative paintings from the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he was living and working in New York City. The work is vastly different from his more recent colorful, abstract paintings, which have previously shown in the gallery and in other venues around Yellow Springs.

“A lot of the stuff we’re showing has never been seen,” said Eddie’s daughter, Miriam Eckenrode. “He didn’t like to show his work. It was more about doing it. It wasn’t for outside gain — it was just what he did. He painted every day.”

Eckenrode came to the Miami Valley in 1963 to attend the Dayton Art Institute, studying under New York abstract expressionists Jay Milder and Anne Tabachnick. In the mid 1960s, he left college and moved to New York City to “live the Bohemian life and focus on painting,” according to his wife, Sam.

While in New York he stretched canvasses for pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and abstract expressionists Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, worked as an assistant to sculptor Louise Nevelson, and painted artist Lester Johnson’s apartment in a trade for one of Johnson’s works.

Eckenrode’s work is characterized by several distinct periods, a desire to let the work stand for itself, and an expression of the entire range of human emotion. From his studios above Mr. Fub’s and what is now the gallery bearing his name, Eckenrode would work his craft on a daily basis.

“It was his reason to live,” said Sam Eckenrode. “Everything else he did was so he could go to his studio every day.”

This Art Stroll is also about honoring the memory of Eddie Eckenrode, a beloved community member, dedicated shop owner and talented artist.

Also on Friday evening, Oct. 15, Village Artisans will host a “Dare 2B Square” artists reception. The show, which is already up, features the work of more than 30 artists on 12-inch by 12-inch canvases. There will be an artist reception for Corrine Bayraktaroglu’s show, “Stitch Gasp!” at “would you, could you” In A Frame, 113 Corry Street, with stitched art meant to elicit gasps of both wonder and horror. The Arts Council will host an opening for Karen Russell with guest Sharon Mohler called “Out of My Box: An Exhibition of Extreme Quilting” in their gallery space at 309 Xenia Avenue. Finally, in Kings Yard artist Mike Garrett of the Royal Order of the Moi will be carving and displaying Hawaiian Tikis. Refreshments, including wine and food, will be available at many of the galleries and shops.

In addition to the Art Stroll on the Fridays following the June and October street fairs, opportunities for evening entertainment downtown have increased in the last three years with the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Third Friday Fling. This year the Art Stroll shares its weekend with the Artist Studio Tour and the Yellow Springs Art Council’s Artoberfest for what is being dubbed the “Fall Arts Excursion.”

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