Friday December 10, 2010

Celebration of 'Bing' Davis

A series of exhibitions and events mark a citywide celebration of Willis "Bing" Davis, one of Dayton's most notable artists.

The University of Dayton will celebrate Willis "Bing" Davis, one of Dayton's most notable artists, with a series of exhibitions and events.

"Marking the Past/Shaping the Present: The Art of Willis 'Bing' Davis" is a series of exhibitions on display now through Jan. 30. At the University of Dayton, the exhibitions feature ceramics and masks at the Rike Center Gallery; photography at ArtStreet Studio D and a shrine installation on the first floor of Roesch Library.

"It's a rare opportunity for people to have a chance to see such an extensive amount of 'Bing' Davis' work," said Judith Huacuja, art history professor and curator of the on-campus exhibits. "He has been making and promoting art in Dayton for 50 years, and this collaborative effort is celebrating his contributions and this significant milestone."

The University of Dayton also has planned two opportunities to meet the artist:

A reception, 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in the Rike Center Gallery.
A lecture, 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, in Sears Recital Hall, Humanities Building.

All exhibits and events at the University are free and open to the public.

The on-campus activities are part of a wider community celebration of Davis' work in collaboration with The Dayton Art Institute, which features a gallery of his oil pastel paintings.

Davis said art can serve as a link to the past and as a path towards a more engaged present.

"My work relates to the kindred spirits of those who came before us, the makers of art as part of ceremonies and rituals," he said. "These works are infused with the music, the dance and the philosophy of the past. They are meant to strengthen present culture and community."

Davis began his teaching career in 1959 at Colonel White High School. As a leader in art education, Davis is one of the first in the region to create African and African American Art History courses, which he taught at numerous universities including the University of Dayton, Miami, Central State and Wright State universities.

"Davis has dedicated his life to engaging all kinds of people in creative activity," Huacuja said. "Since 1960, he has been an arts organizer and arts educator in Dayton, creating educational art workshops, co-organizing citywide explorations of diversity and helping to develop cultural festivals. All these activities to create dialogue about our common humanity."

Davis has helped create many art organizations such as Genesis III, the African American Visual Artists Guild, and the Dayton Chapter of the National Conference of Artists, an organization that works to develop African American and African culture internationally. His studio on West Third Street in Dayton includes the Shango Center for the Study of African American Art and Culture, which offers workshops, seminars and scholarly research, and EbonNia Gallery, a center for making and exhibiting art, and celebrating African American events.

He also helped organize cultural programming such as the Kuzaliwa Festival, Kwanzaa celebrations and the African American Art and Cultural Festival, which later became the Dayton Black Cultural Festival, a three-day event with more than 50,000 attendees. To this day, Davis continues an exhaustive program of outreach to schools of all educational levels.

A catalog featuring Davis' work and scholarly essays about his art is available for purchase in January.

The Ohio Humanities Council, the Ohio Arts Council contributed funding for the exhibitions and programs.

The Rike Center Gallery
The Rike Center for Fine Arts is located on the University of Dayton campus, on the south side of B lot, across from St. Mary's Hall. The gallery entrance is on the lower level. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday; closed Saturday and Sunday. For more information, contact Todd Hall, Rike Center gallery coordinator, at 937-229-3261 or

ArtStreet is located at the intersection of Lawnview Avenue and Kiefaber Street on the University of Dayton campus. It is open 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday. For more information about ArtStreet events, call 937-229-5101 or visit

For more information, contact Judith Huacuja at 937-229-3210 (office), 937-554-8029 (cell) or

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